Jazz interview with jazz drummer Guillaume Nouaux. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Guillaume Nouaux: – I’m 43 years old, born in Arcachon and now living in Soustons, France. I started playing drums at 7 years old and I learned it in a music school. Then, at 13 I entered the conservatory of Bordeaux where I studied classical percussion. I discovered jazz around 15 or 16 years old by my older brother who played tuba in a Dixieland band.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
GN: – The sound we have come usually from what we listen to and what we like. I took my inspiration from all the great drummers from the jazz history. If I’m well know in the traditional jazz scene, I’m much more open in what I listen to. Of course I love drummers like Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, but also be bop drummers like Art Blakey, Max Roach, Jimmy Cobb and more modern jazz drummers like Tony Williams and Elvin Jones. In the contemporary jazz scene, I like a lot Gregory Hutchinson, Ari Hoenig, Shannon Powell and many more. I studied all these drummers doing transcriptions and trying to reproduce what they were playing. I learned a lot doing this way. I think we can hear the influences of all these drummers in my playing. All these influences are mixed in my playing to finally give me my own sound.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
GN: – I drive a lot and I practice most of the time in my car. I installed 2 small drum-pads in my car, one on the right and another on the left. If I have 4 hours driving, I practice 2 hours my right hand and 2 hours my left hand. And when I’m not touring, I’m doing transcriptions to expand my knowledge and ideas.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
GN: – In fact, I never ask myself that kind of question. I just let myself be carried by the music around me and I play what the music inspires me on the present moment.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
GN: – Of course, you need to learn the jazz music langage and be able to play your instrument the better as you can. But then, when you play in a real situation with others musicians, you must think and react only to the music played around you. That’s for me the balance between intellect and soul, you learn how to sounds good by practicing your instrument and using your intellect, but you can only sounds good by using your soul.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
GN: – If you play good music and i If the music is played with sincerity, you have a good chance to make the audience happy, the audience follows you. In my opinion, musicians on stage like the audience should always have fun !
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Do not memories?
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
GN: – Jazz music don’t have to be necessary «modern» for be hip ! Jazz is not what tunes you play but how you play it ! Also, there are many way of playing jazz today … trad jazz, swing music, bebop, free … with acoustic, electric or electronic sounds… For me jazz can be compared to classical music. There are many different approach, and also more and more specialists in each way.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
GN: – I think that you must be really into the music and let your soul fill the music. Playing jazz in an instrument for an audience is like talking to this audience… with an instrument ! No matter what stylistic langage to jazz we have, jazz is necessarily a spiritual music !
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
GN: – Jazz is a word using today by many festivals for many music who are not. For me, jazz needs some indispensable elements like blues, swing, a specific rhythmic langage, accentuations… If I could change one thing in the musical world, I would like ear jazz music in the jazz festivals everywhere in the world !
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
GN: – Various swinging jazz like the earliest Count Basie & his Orchestra with Jo Jones on drums, Buddy de Franco & Lionel Hampton quintet, Ray Brown Trio, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Wynton Marsalis, Alvin Queen…
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
GN: – Give happiness to people who listen to it !
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
GN: – I will be curious to go back during the early 1900 in New Orleans for see how this music really started around there.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
GN: – Why did you decide to contact me to give an interview?
JBN: – All jazz musicians take turns, you’re probably the 580th …
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
GN: – It was nice to share with you some of my point of view in the jazz music today.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan