June 14, 2024


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Interview with Frederic Borey: Emotion, dreams, good vibrations, empathy, sharing, love … Videos, Photos

Jazz interview with Jazz saxophonist Frederic Borey. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?

Frederic Borey: – Well, in my point of view, I always try, first, to take care of the melody of the song I’m playing. There is an important difference between working some melodic or rhythm patterns on your daily work, and next to this, when you’re on stage, to forget ‘practising’, and just focuse on making some music.

JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?

FB: – I don’t know how to answer this question, because as a jazz musician, I’ve never been connected with ‘business’ majors. All I know is I’m really lucky to be supported since 12 years now, by a spanish label calls Fresh Sound New Talent.

Jazz music has always evolved since the beginning of his history. I think there was already some business majors when the ‘New Orleans’ style was successful, as ‘Hard Bop’ later (just look of the incredible production in the 60’s), and maybe today we can talk about the jazz/hip-hop production…

JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?

FB: – I can truly understand of becoming upset about this kind of situation, but I cannot understand quitting ‘music’. I’m truly fighting all the time to get some gigs in the ‘official’ jazz clubs, and it is not easy, but I have some gigs in other venues as bars or restaurants, which is not the same I know, but I can play some jazz standards, and I can continue to increase my playing all the time thanks to these ‘alternative’ venues.

Teaching is also a way to keep involved in music.

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

FB: – Just keep on beeing yourself and believe in what you do, in what you play ! I think it is important to be curious and aware of the new things, of the young musicians, because it can also gives you some refreshing ideas.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2019: <Butterflies Trio>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

FB: – What I love with my new project ‘Butterflies’ trio is about this kind of freedom’s feeling’. I’ve already felt this experience in a ‘pianoless’ quartet (tp, sax, bass, drums), where the harmony’s parameter takes totally a different way, different place…

Butterflies Trio was formed after several sessions with other musicians as trumpet players, piano, guitar…and naturally, I decided to work in a trio setting, maybe because my six previous albums were in quartet, quintet, and more…

The great side of this new project is that we gave more than 50 gigs around France, Europe (Belgium, Latvia, Lithunia, Estonia, Spain…), Switzerland, Luxembourg, Mexico, and after this, we went on studio to record the music. I never had this opportunity before. And recording after many performances is so different in a positive way that you can imagine.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

FB: – My experience showed me that the ‘soul’ in playing jazz music came more and more with years, because of the maturity which is totally linked to the process. When I was younger, I was thinking more about the intellect playing. Today, I always tried to focus on the emotion that I can give to the audience, which doesn’t mean playing ‘easy’ things, or not taking risks, but rather think about beeing involved in each note I’m playing.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

FB: – I’m very happy about this question, because I just wrote a project about the relationship between the musician and the audience. The main thing is to communicate with your audience, and through this, you can play anything you want. My experience showed me that it works.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

FB: – I have many memories about gigs and all I know is that I prefer playing in small places, acoustically, close to the audience, with this fantastic possibility to explore dynamics from the extreme pianissimo to forte. Big stages don’t give me this emotion, even if I can admit that it is also a great experience to play with sonorisation (if the sound engineer is a good one hahaha…).

About jams, I had one special a special memory. I waited 2 hours before having the luck to play one song. Usually, musicians always play loud and medium up or fast tempo…And when I get on stage, I asked for a medium slow song (All or nothing at all), and I wanted to set up a relaxing atmosphere by playing the melody in my kind of way, but another saxophonist came close to me, and exposed the melody with a ‘big’ sound, I mean he played very loud, and the rhythm section had to follow this mood…I waited my turn to improvise, but it was impossible to make them going in my way. I didn’t feel any interaction, any breathing in the band, so I just fighted against myself, against my wishes.

To day, I much rather doing some sessions at home 😉

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

FB: – I teach jazz since 15 years now, and my graduation allowed me to teach at great levels. I totally understand what you mean with this question. Usually, young students have some musical cues with contemporain artists, which is a great thing. For example, saxophonists students are listening to the greats Mark Turner, Donny Mc Caslin, Ben Wendel, also Chris Potter which is very well publicized … the main influences today (and since a couple of years) are Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks, Gilad Hekselman, Lage Lund, Mike Moreno, Tigran Hamasyan, Lionel Loueke, Ambrose Akinmusire, Eric Harland, Miguel Zenon, Marcus Gilmore, Robert Glasper, Vijay Iyer, … all these great and so interesting musicians. And of course, the way of playing this music took naturally another direction, because of many influences of pop music, hip-hop…so it is difficult today to talk about the 50’s or 60’s, but my way is to educate those students with some ludic transcriptions to learn jazz langage. So I use the greats Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mullingan, Hank Mobley, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Sonny Clark, Bud Powell, Red Garland, Paul Gonsalves, Art Pepper, Grant Green, Steve Grossman, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Blue Mitchell, Oscar Peterson, Jim Hall, Joe Diorio, Pat Martino…and later John Coltrane, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bob Berg, Michael Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Wynton Marsalis…

For example, after a listening of Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, I make them listen the Miles Davis second quintet, and they straightly recognised the deep relationship between those two generations. The deal is to make them understand that Fletcher Henderson was a strong influence for Duke Ellington, and so on…My jazz history class help me a lot to show the evolution of this music through the masters of jazz who became what they became thanks to their own masters.

In this way, my students understand that we can’t pass through the pioneers of this music.

JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?

FB: – By teaching, I learned how to play piano, and even today, I often have the luck to play piano in my workshops when the student is absent for example. Sometimes I play the drum. All these experiences next to my dominant instrument (saxophone), learned me a lot about how it feels to be in another place in the band. And it also helps me a lot for composing easier and with a larger process of thinking the music.

JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?

FB: – With years, I can admit that we all have a kind of signature in our composing process. It usually come from what we are listening, and from what kind of music is talking to us. That’s why I try to be as eclectic as possible in my music listening, to cause changes in the usual process of composing. Playing in a new setting band, as my trio today, also brings me to another kind of writing, the compositions are more focused on the interaction melody/rhythm, with automatically less harmonic arrangements as my last quintet with piano and guitar.

JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?

FB: – Again, my main focus today is to give emotion through my music, through my playing, through my sound. Even through playing some avant-garde music, I want to see a shiny light in my audience eyes. I really think that you can play anything you want for the audience if you give the maximum of yourself, with honesty and authenticity. Just be yourself, which is not so easy 😉

We know that when be-bop style arrived – a so great evolution for the jazz langage – , this ‘new’ music became a kind of ‘challenge’ bteween musicians, and I think that even today, it stills there. As jazz musicians, I feel that we always have to fight with our ‘ego’…

JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life? If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

FB: – Since 3 years now, I teach 2 days a week, and the reste of the time, I’m travelling with my band and also as a sideman with different projects (quartets, quintets, medium bands, big bands…). I think I am already in my extended future. I feel now a real balance in my musician life mixing transmission and performances.

It came lately in my life because I made some very long classical studies, and I began jazz when I was already 30 years old. After my jazz pedagogy graduation, I teached around 22 hours a week to win my life. I was dreaming to reduce this time of teaching, and my dream became reality 3 years ago.

I don’t think about changing something in the musical world, I just hope that our governments will understand one day that transmissing ‘arts’ with a true education balance is the key for a better world.

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

FB: – Since a couple of months, I’m listening again all the last 50’s works of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter 60’s. My listening is different, and I feel more and more that those masters were playing their lives, as all the great musicians of this period, and before. Jazz evolved with the society, and today, I feel that there is a deep relationship between how we live and how we play. The playing of our contemporain jazzmen has a real high technic level and everything seems to be so perfect, very well mastered … very close to our technical society isn’t it ?

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

FB: – Emotion, dreams, good vibrations, empathy, sharing, love…

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

FB: – Two options? 😉

1 – I would like to be in the early 30’s in Chicago, when the new-orleans musicians immigrate because of Storyville’s closing. All this emulation should be incredible !! I would like to be a member of this ‘swing’ area, inside the great big bands we know.

2 – Middle 50’s is my second wish. The hard bop production was amazing. This music is so joyful and enthousiastic, and so many great musicians were there.

Anyway, thanks that we have some records, pictures, books and videos to feel virtually involved!

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

FB: – Dear Simon, how does this ‘jazz’ passion came to you?

JBN: – Thanks very much for answers … Since 2001, when I had live jazz concerts in London and the jazz festivals of Istanbul …

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

FB: – I will always continue to transmit jazz music to young generations, through the history which is so important, and through the no doubt science of this music. I will always be involved in showing that Duke Ellington is as essential as the great classical composers of the 20th century. I will never stop playing this music everywhere I will be able to do it, with honesty, sincerity, authenticity, with the same involvement for a 3 or 1.000 audience, with my modest level. Jazz is alive and will be for many many years to come.

Dear Simon, thanks for your trust and support. Sincerely yours, Frederic.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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