Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if saxophonist Carl Harris. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Carl Harris: – I grew up in Smithfield a small town in southeast Virginia. I became interested in music after I received an offer to play the drums in our junior high school band program. I came to playing the saxophone because there too many students who wanted to play drums so my band director asked me to switch to the sax. It is the best decision I every made because playing the Sax has helped sustain be through life’s difficulties.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
CH: – It aged with time. I started playing music at an early age. I was formally trained in classical music so my foundation is classical music. In fact, I obtained an undergraduate degree from Virginia State University in music as an instrumental performance major studying to be a classical saxophonist. My style developed from playing in bands during my high school and college days and fashioning my sound after Coltrane and Grover. I will say however my sound it still evolving. I am still work on it.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
CH: – I am a classical music trained musician as a result my practices and skill improvement efforts are based on the fundamental modes, scales, and jazz rhythm exercises.
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?
CH: – With contemporary Jazz it’s true I tend to play more on the sensitive smooth jazz sound rather than dissonance harmonies but my playing more harmonically has more to do with the chords structure of what I playing.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
CH: – I constantly remind myself that what’s for me is for me. And God is in control of all of my blessings. I try hard to focus on my gift from God and not how He blessed someone else.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
CH: – It is all about the soul in music for me. The music I create must speak to my heart and move my spirit.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
CH: – I give the people all I got. And pray that what I got is what they want. I am all into giving the people what they want as long as it’s not in a huge conflict with what I want or feel.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
CH: – I was doing this gig at an Art Festival in a small room and this very old lady came up and sat very close to where I was performing and she stayed for the whole set and at the end she came up to me and said, “Son that’s some fine playing you did” That really moved me. I felt like I reached her.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
CH: – It starts in the home. We have to get back to playing jazz music in our homes and take our young people to the jazz festivals and shows with us. We need to get music education back into the schools as a critical must have class.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
CH: – Music is truly a spirit. It transcends time and place. For me music has been the saving source of my strength. Music is my comforter for my dark and happy moments in life.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
CH: – I would like to see some de-commercialization of music. Commercialization is locking too many jazz musicians into the same grooves and sounds. It is getting too tough to distinguish performers.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
CH: – I am listening more to new artists.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
CH: – My music is happy music. I want people to feel uplifted and joyous when they hear my music.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
CH: – If we go to the future, I’d like to go to Mars. I think that would be an amazing adventure. If I go back in the time machine, I like to go back to the bebop days. I want my music to travel around the world and bring happiness and peace to all.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
CH: – Music has been a life long journey. My question to myself is can I keep the faith than one day I will rise to the top.
JBN: – Thanks for answers, but our question is that you ask your question to us, and do not to yourself 🙂
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
CH: – Faith that God will continue to bless me and my music.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan