Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Marvin Frey. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Marvin Frey: – I grew up in a small town called Montabaur in Germany. There wasn’t a big music scene but the school I went to had a focus on music, so I had instrumental lessons every week as well as music theory classes.
Also my mothers plays piano and my father trombone. Because of that, music was always around me when I grew up. I started with classical piano first and with the Age of 16 I started playing the trumpet.
After school I studied my Bachelor in Jazz Trumpet at the Conservatory of Maastricht (Netherlands), in the class of Rob Bruynen and Carlo Nardozza.
Currently I’m doing my Master of Music at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen with Ryan Carniaux and Ansgar Striepens.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
MF: – The shortest answer would be by listening a lot to the players I admire. But especially with brass instruments it’s a long way to be able to get the sound you have in your mind because of the technical problems that occur with playing that instrument.
So it was/is by improving my technical abilities to be able to figure out how I want to sound. It also depends on the situation you have to play in. When I play 2nd trumpet in a big band it’s my job to support the lead player as good as possible by matching his sound ideal, phrasing etc. So I have to make a switch in my head to not use the same sound ideal I would use in a small jazz combo setting. There are different things needed in different situations.
That also counts for Equipment. There are a lot of players that can sound great on one mouthpiece in all situations but for me that doesn’t work. I use a different setup for big band playing than for playing with my own band for example.
And of course people I studied with helped me to figure out the right sound „color“ for different jobs. Especially my teacher I studied with, Rob Bruynen who plays in the well known WDR Big Band gave me a lot of knowledge about that.
Last thing to add: It’s a never ending journey. I always try to improve my sound and getting closer to what I hear in my head. It’s still a long way but that’s what keeps it so interesting.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability?
MF: – In order to be able to express my musical ideas I have to work on my technique every day. I´m doing different exercises from playing all sorts of scales over the complete range and keeping the same „sound color” as well as different articulations, playing patters and some other stuff.
I´m also doing the method of Malte Burba which helps me a lot.
In my musical routine I try to listen a lot to players I like. As soon as my ear catches a phrase I find interesting, I transcribe it, play it with the recording so I catch the articulation and sound, then analyzing how the line is constructed (harmonical concept, over which chords), play it in different keys and applying it on a standard. When I have the feeling I „got it“ I try to change the phrase and make it more my own.
Of course when I play a concert I’m not thinking in that way. When a line I practiced comes out it’s good and if not, that’s also fine. For me practicing and performing are two very different things. While practicing I like to have full control about what I do and going into small details and when on stage I try to just make music.
Sometimes it works and sometimes not…
I also like to explore tone material of a certain scale by playing with a drone and getting the sound in my ears.
The last part in my practice routine is working on repertoire. Learning new tunes, preparing for upcoming concerts.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
MF: – I just try to be prepared before the concert. So I checked all the tunes, know the structure of the tunes. If I’m well prepared before the gig I’m confident enough which then leads to be able to let go and getting into the music, forgetting all the rest.
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?
MF: – It started with a private jam session every Monday in Cologne.That’s how it started.
The musicians on the album are not only great musicians, they are also very close friends of mine, with whom I like spend time with also away from making music.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
MF: – Intellect is important when you practice on things, trying to understand certain concepts (harmonically, melodically). On stage it’s the soul that counts. Make music. Give people a good time and touch them with your music.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
MF: – The audience comes to the concerts for having a good time. So it’s our job to make it a good evening with our music for them.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
MF: – We recorded all tunes of the current album on one day. It was an intense session and we all had periods where we were kind of done, but at the end it was a great feeling knowing that we accomplished our goal.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
MF: – Just because these tunes are old it doesn’t mean that they lost their beauty. There are many ways how you can transform a jazz standard into a very hip, modern sounding tune.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
MF: – Get the „bad side“ of ego away from stage/life. Appreciate what other musicians are able to do and don’t compete. Everybody has his qualities. Sometimes it is hard to find/accept them by oneself but as soon as you realize them, your view on things changes.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
MF: – Too many to mention all of them. The players that have a big impact on me and that I listen a lot are: Gerard Presencer, Till Brönner, Ryan Kisor, Brian Lynch, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard. There are many more, but these are on repeat all the time .
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
MF: – Keeping the tradition alive while looking for ways where to go next.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
MF: – Meeting and hearing Freddie Hubbard…
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
MF: – Where do you see Jazz in 30 years?
JBN: – The right here and beautiful views…
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
MF: – Work hard, stay on track, turn off the ego.
Know where you come from, where you are and where you want to be!
Thanks Simon for the Interview!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan