Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Daimon Brunton. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Daimon Brunton: – I started piano when I was 4 years old and trumpet when I was 10. I practiced every day and I liked music but I loved soccer. It wasn’t until I heard a recording of Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band that everything changed for me and I had a light bulb moment where I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
DB: – I think the tone of the trumpet should be rich, golden, relaxed and expansive regardless of the genre or style and that has certainly been my focus .. for a long time; but even more intensely recently. But there are nuances in my playing that have been there for a long time that I think are indicative of me for some reason. I don’t know really how they came to be there. I do use circular breathing quite a lot and think that is possibly the legacy of having played pipe organ in church for many years .. an instrument where breathing doesn’t have to dictate the length of your phrases.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
DB: – I practice my pentatonics in quintuplets every single day and my most influential teacher had me doing a lot of work on hemiolas (playing in one time signature over the top of another). My compositions for my quintet and for my 6-piece funk band often use odd time signatures but outside of that nothing super specific.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
DB: – Improvising for me is about listening. Listening honestly and without ego. And when you can do that (which isn’t easy) what you play can’t help but be honesty and original.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
DB: – As a trumpet player the most difficult component I find is actually physical stamina. To play head after head solo with intensity over the course of a two or three sick kids is intensely challenging. I have a very structured practice routine which I adhere to without fail and I practice every single day. These strategies help me to deal with that most difficult challenge.
JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?
DB: – Nathan and I met while performing at the Mayfair, a now closed restaurant in Melbourne. After the restaurant closed we decided to record the session so having Nathan on the album was a no-brainer.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DB: – That is a great question! The intellect is the tool a musician is to craft but the soul is the message a musician should be delivering. When intellect overrides soul you end up with clever but shallow music. Likewise when soul overrides intellect do you end up with music that perhaps lacks sophistication and depth.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
DB: – If you’re playing with the correct balance between intellect and soul then you are playing with the music the audience wants to hear.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
DB: – Unfortunately I don’t have much to share on this question.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
DB: – Brilliant question! I think that one is difficult. I think bands like Snarky Puppy can be the “way in” for a younger audience; a way to introduce them to jazz. Once the genre is discovered and a desire to explore is fosted the standards and the history of jazz might find a larger popularity.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
DB: – Music, in my opinion, is an expression of one’s state of being. That state of being could be called spirit and in that case I align very strongly with John Coltrane’s philosophy.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
DB: – Ha! It’ll never happen but streaming. I think I would get rid of streaming so that people appreciated album graphics and liner notes again. On the other hand as musicians can’t really make a decent income from selling music it has forced everyone to be touring and gigging again which is a positive.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
DB: – Snarky Puppy, Roy Hargrove, Terence Blanchard, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Marsalis and ALWAYS Freddie Hubbard!
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
DB: – In this album, “The Mayfair Sessions”, there’s a space and time tends to stand still to the attentive listener. In this day and age that feeling of peace, calm, space and time is rare and Nathan and I really wanted to bring this to the listener.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
DB: – Oooo. This is tough! I have always said I would love to see John Coltrane play live. He is my favourite musician and I would love to be in the room to feel that energy. My second answer would be to watch Mozart pen his Requiem. That is the greatest piece of music ever written (or half written as it may be).
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
DB: – How does it sound to you in comparison with other jazz duet albums such as Oscar Peterson and Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison.
JBN: – Tha bad !!!
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
DB: – Staying in the moment; listening intently; focusing on exquisite sound and being aware of dropping ego when playing. This is what I am hoping to harness and what I am hoping to focus on moving forward.
Thanks Simon!! This is very kind of you!
JBN: – Thank you!!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan