Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Joachim Caffonnette. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Joachim Caffonnette: – I grew up the inner suburb of Brussels, but my mother was (and still is) a touring actress… So I spend a lot of time with her on tour around Europe and America. Born in a artistic family, music was naturally around I guess… I took piano classes at the age of 5 and started to get serious about that in my teenage.. Since then, I never wanted to do something else than play the piano and improvise.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
JC: – Well… Being only 30 years old, I don’t think that I manage to achieve that development yet… Not sure I will anyway soon!
Speaking of sound for a pianist is quiet complicated considering the fact that you play every concert on a different instrument. But the way I play, I think, slowly begin to take a shape of is own. I try hard to be creative on every gigs and recordings and to never play licks and clichés…
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
JC: – I’m extremely busy at this point of my life, touring, being the chairman of a musicians association, being my own manager / booker / administrator / counsellor, cooking, being involve in some charities and writing… So practice routine as to fit into two or 3 hours in the morning… But it forces you to be effective. Mainly, I practice J-S Bach music (The Goldberg Variation at the moment) to work on the touch, the regularity, it’s almost like meditation. I spent some times transcribing tricky solo, it’s for me a good way to stay focus for hours and to go deep in someone music… And I write everything down as a sometimes challenging exercice. I love to learn standards as well, so I try to learn a new one every weeks and practicing them with the metronome on different time placement and tempos… I also practice trough my writing : I put myself out of my comfort zones when I compose with complexe harmonic progressions, uncommon structure and technically challenging pieces… It’s what I feel, but as a matter of fact, it helps me progress.
JBN: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?
JC: – Well… I write always melody and harmony together (at least for some years now). So, I start from an idea and build from there, sometimes the next idea is melodic, sometimes I hear the bass move I want, sometime the color… Then I try those idea on the piano I see what convince me the most… Then, as I just said, the piece comes up and I almost never rework it, even if playin it is challenging… But I’m really not into using concept to write music, sometimes when I stuck, I try a harmonic trick or cliché, and if it fits to the globally of the piece, I’ll go for it… But it’s almost never happen and I generally don’t keep those pieces in my repertoire for long…
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
JC: – By letting them! I’m not a really confident person, especially in music, but I write a lot of music, and the coherence of the repertoire comes up naturally. In the case of improvisation, it is a lifetime research I think, but as one of my teacher once said when I was practicing Bill Evans like crazy for months and I was afraid to sound «Bill Evans alike»: «Well, try to sounds like Bill, you’ll probably never get there, but you’ll certainly learn a lot and get somewhere else, just be patiente».
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JC: – It’s a bit of a cliché to say that but if it’s true… : It’s all connected, everything you see, live or do as an influence on everything you see, live or do… Music does not make an exception.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
JC: – I think that as long as you are being honest about what you do, it’s ok. But popular music as felt in a very dark and marketing-related area, making the ears of most people lazy.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
JC: – It could be many… Well to speak about my trio: We did 4 gigs in 4 nights when we met, and the last night was really magic… I understood what the so called «interplay» really mean during that concert, everything one of us three did was immediately understood make his own by the rest of the band…
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
JC: – It’s a question that would need years of studies… But I think that the problem is more about making people curious and open-minded that jazz-centered…
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
JC: – I’m more of a carpe diem person than spiritual. I think it’s all about people, music is for me a way to be part of the human kind as well as very egoist way to find a balance in my life (even if it’s sometime making things worst… lol).
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
JC: – Money, Money, Money… Just kidding, but I think politicians must understand that a good cultural education is the key for a better society. They obviously don’t by spending billions to get more billions, bombs and self-recognition.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
JC: – I could say Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau whom are the three pianist I listen the most… But I would say Aaron Parks latest works (Little Big and Find the way) are my lasts musical crush… Among plenty others.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
JC: – I’m really committed person. If instrumental music music is not the most common way to express this commitment and if my music express a personal feeling what it spoke about, I want to use my visibility and my art to pass some message about a world that is going in a disturbing direction.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
JC: – Nowhere, except maybe in a world of peace, love and tolerance… But I try to be optimist and hope that I’ll see that before I die.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
JC: – Is someone really going to read all of this? (ahaha)
JBN: – Thanks for answers. Yes, of course, and thousands of readers. This you can see at the beginning of the text: Post Views: …
Interview by Simon Sargsyan