May 18, 2024

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Interview with Wojciech Jachna: There’s a lot of emotion in my music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Wojciech Jachna. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music? 

Wojciech Jachna: – It’s interesting. My first experience with music, was not jazz – it was Punk Rock, New Wave and Reggae music…. I liked the energy of this music and of course the message it had. As a young boy I was also playing the guitar, because at the beginning I didn’t have any musical education. I started playing when I was 20 years old – it’s quite a late age for starting to learn this instrument. Slowly with time I was backing away and I was learning music deeper – through rock, hip-hop, rave, krautrock, jazz-rock, rhythm & blues to jazz…. I’ve put a lot of work into the trumpet exercises and I studied from many teachers – Janusz Zdunek, Miłosz Gawryłkiewicz, Marcin Gawdzis, Piotr Wojtasik, Andrzej Przybielski and others. At the age of 33 I started my studies. It was a crazy time!!!

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

WJ: – It evolved very slowly, but from the very beginning I knew in my head how this sound would eventually be like. This is the most important thing for me, because many people don’t know that sound and they don’t hear it in their heads. Fortunately for me, I’ve always listened to expressive and the original artists such as Davis, Shorter, Coltrane, Stańko, Komeda or Przybielski in Poland. I remember as Piotr Wojtasik always said at jazz workshops: Sound and Time. I’ve remembered it. Also… I have always tried to work with artists who built sound and did not show off technique. When I started playing under my own name, I was mainly meeting artists who played original music. The band as a whole also shapes the sound. I think it’s a whole process that starts with thinking about what I want to hear and what should it be.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

WJ: – Hmmm …. I think like everyone else – playing with a metronome … 🙂

By the way, I don’t think I’m remarkable at playing the rhythm. A lot of my music doesn’t have a clear rhythm, because I like playing Ad Libitum. This is a European approach to rhythm, and something that sets this music apart from American Jazz.  This is the fundamental difference between Europe and America, although of course it is disappearing these days. European musicians play like Afro-Americans, and American musicians like Europeans – like on ECM recordings. In exercises, he uses all traditional methods – playing the strong part of the bar, the weak part, I play with recordings, I use shifts if I feel them. But I have a lot to do, on the rhythm.

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

WJ: – It is not a problem for me. All these influences you’re talking about are normal to me. I have always searched for my sound by reaching deeper, and these were previous experiences – electronic musique, rock, ambient, different types of jazz, film music, etc. Also … today, the jazz audience is no longer homogeneous. The young audience is open to various infuences, so my aprroach to the composing process is very open too. I think that today’s jazz attracts young audiences who listen to different music. For my generation it was already normal.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

WJ: – It’s very difficult and I still don’t have a one good method. The Trumpet depends on many things – physical condition, facial muscles that cannot be tired, but also need to be warmed up. It’s the biggest problem that I have with this. Of course, the music I currently have to play affects the type of focus – if I improvise, I try to focus and clean up my thoughts. But when I play arranged music, I must be vigilant – not relaxed. The balance between these states of mind and body is the most difficult thing, and I can’t always catch it. It’s a bit like an athlete before a run. When I succeed, I play a good concert!

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?

WJ: – I know musicians from the old days, exactly – from the Jazz department at school. We recorded the album as a quartet in 2015 “The Right Moment” as students of the Academy. Marek Malinowski joined us, he is a great guitarist known for several well-known music projects. All the musicians in the quintet are well educated and versatile people, and I am really proud to work with them. As for the evolution of my sound in the band WJ Squad, it is visible. The music is more flexible, lively, and it’s changing while playing. I react as a soloist – these are normal things.

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

WJ: – Wow, that’s very important to me. There’s a lot of emotion in my music, so it’s good if the band adds some intellect to it. I don’t like music where these aspects are unbalanced. A lot of contemporary music contains many elements of intellect. This aspect of emotions has moved from jazz to other genres, and that’s why I often look at them… Musical experience has an impact on the soul element, and probably there was more of it in older music … Today there is more intellect, it is a question of how we live.

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

WJ: – It’s very complicated…. People are very intellectually lazy these days. Of course I’m not talking about everyone. If I give people music the way it was done in the 60s, 70s, I won’t reach to them… On the other hand, you can’t forget your message.  It is difficult to reconcile this at all in the Art. I’m still looking for the right proportions. We also have to use various techniques that reach out to the audience – the Internet, promotions through social media, traditional media, etc. I think you can’t give people what they want because people today don’t want much…. Jazz, improvise music should always force you think of course, you have to make sure that it does not become uncommunicative.

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

WJ: – Well…. The pandemic has interrupted most of our plans for the future. We played one concert before the album was released. Of course we have many common memories from our studies, but I don’t think it counts. Before that as a quartet, we played many concerts and I remember that it was always a lot of fun. They are very good musicians and improvisers, so regardless the place there’s always a good atmosphere and a good concert. When creating bands, I always pay attention to personal relationships, which translates into a holistic atmosphere. I don’t want to and I can’t work in a bad atmosphere, I’m not efficient then. We have a few concerts planned for autumn this year, but we don’t know if they will take place.

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

WJ: – That’s a very good question…. If we think about it, all genres of “around” jazz, just “do” such a job. That is why I don’t avoid working with musicians playing other genres, I often enter into music other than Classic Jazz. Of course the role of education is huge. But I don’t think only about music education, but more about basic education. Unfortunately, it looks more and more tragic, in fact the whole role is taken over by the Internet, which is so full of content that someone from outside is unable to find something interesting. Bands like: The Comet is Coming, Nils Peter Molvaer or Christian Scott attract young audiences, so I think the balance is maintained. There will always be a need to play Mainstream Jazz. People like to know what “jazz sounds” and “jazz sounds” like Miles Davis from the 50s… 🙂

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

WJ: – Spirituality is everyone’s personal matter. I do not identify music with any religion, although I know that Coltrane referred to religion. He talked about some universal values such as Love, Beauty, Pursuance, Ascension. Is music a spiritual thing? Yes, I think so. Although in times of growing religious extremisms, I would rather treat spirituality as something bigger than a specific religion. Generally, spirituality was characteristic of all the music of the 60-s Coltrane, Davis, Shorter, Lloyd, Rivers, in Poland – Komeda or Stańko. All this music had a spiritual element. Today, spirituality is more difficult to find in recordings, but of course this not mean that it does not exist. Speed and civilization make spiritual life difficult…I was raised in the Catholic faith, but today it is not based on it. I understand spirituality as part of a larger system, following principles that are universal. It doesn’t always work out, unfortunately…

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

WJ: – It’s really hard to say…. 🙂 There are many things to change really. But I think that if it had to be one, I would focus on music education all over the world. By music education I understand a wider interest in music and art, especially for children from an early age. I don’t just mean music education, which raises children’s qualifications, as is the case in Poland. All this is irrelevant in the face of a smaller population of people who can consciously approach jazz, classical music or any other kind of high-level music – rock, electronic music or others. I mean “making music” with children, having fun, creating an audience for everyone in the future… Grants and subsidies disappear…. But of course it’s all a dream, the world is going in a much worse direction…

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

WJ: – A lot of different music, I follow albums released in Poland, modern jazz, electronics, I come back to classic Rock albums like Hendrix or Cream. I listen to a lot of electronic music, I have always been interested in these sounds and textures, and very different genres. Of course, I follow the news – Kurt Rosewinkel, Dave Douglas, Ambrose Akinmusire, David Vireless, ECM recordings. But I enjoy searching in the past the most- I think a lot of interesting music has already been recorded, but it is not known.

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

WJ: – Jazz has always been a music of freedom. It carried the message of freedom… Although the situation today is very complicated, authoritarian regimes are returning all over the world …. Capitalism and money have “diluted” society – it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine who is the enemy and who is good. Of course, today’s Freedom appears in a different context than the struggle of the Afro-Americans in the 1960s. It is quite interesting that in Europe regimes are returning – but of course this is a global process that is affected by overpopulation, crises of social states, and a general crisis of democracy. And of course “Love” – music has always given people “Love” in every dimension! Today, in times of pandemic, we feel it especially strongly by not meeting with each other or sitting at home.

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

WJ: – I think the 60s and 70s were an interesting time in Europe. Full of good music, faith in different ideas. It was also a great time for music, its development and sale. Without the Internet, excess and all the rubbish we are currently surrounded by.  It was in Europe that various experiments took place, although of course American music was its basis There were also quite friendly social relations in Denmark and Germany, which had a positive impact on cultural development. Interestingly, I’ve never been attracted to the United States – maybe the West Coast? Sit down by the ocean, wander around Los Angeles and San Francisco… That’s my impression, but of course I may be wrong… I didn’t live there then.

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

WJ: – How do you see the future of jazz? In an apartment of various genres, or playing “straight ahead”?

JBN: – Fine !!! I am Jazz critic and journalist.

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

WJ: – I hope it’s the best, though speaking is easy. Making it is much more difficult….

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Wojciech Jachna | Wojciech Jachna

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