Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Pekka Skogberg. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Pekka Skogberg: – I grew up in Malmö, Sweden. I started to play clarinet when I was 9 years old. My teacher was a jazzmusician/ saxophonist/composer so after a while I was inspired and interested in jazz music and improvisation. I started a quartet with schoolfriends and we had regular gigs for the school teachers and pupils. I was 15 years old when I started to play tenor saxophone. When I was 18 I joined a big band, and this band still exists. We played every monday evening during 10 years. This was a very stimulating and important time period for me and I met the best local jazzmusicians during this time period. We played also at jazzfestivals, sometime with hot guest instrumentalists and singers.At that time I knew that jazz is a way of living and I will never stop to play.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
PS: – The sound has always been important for me. I noticed that every musician has got his own sound which is fantastic and this led me to find My sound. I found the sound I wanted to have very early and then I always had try to keep this. Inspired of course of the best jazz tenorists. I started to play with metal mouthpiece Otto Link and played on this almost 40 years. The last 5-7 years I have played on bakelite mouthpiece and I think this keeps the right sound and voice that I looking for now.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
PS: – I started to exercise on all scales, intervals etc. I did not use any metronome in the beginning, I played very to often Aebersold. Later on I exercised on shorter phrases for all chords and keys and still do. Now I focus more on rhythm and timing of phrases. There are some good rhythm apps on the net I use for this. I have no special routine to exercise rhythm, I play phrases and standards in fast rhytms and different types of drum styles.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
PS: – I listen also a to different types of music like classical music, soul, funk, R&B but my trust and conviction to jazz and what I like to play within jazz is so strong that I have never had problem with disparate influences.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
PS: – I exercise on the theme for all tunes so I have the feeling for each tune I want to express. I analyze the chords. I never plan to what to improvise, I let my feeling at the performance express what I will play, this is exactly the main idea with jazzmusic for me. I also try to focus and relax and feel good physically and mentally.
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?
PS: – I selected the musicians who are friends of mine and have played together with before at jam sessions and big band.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
PS: – What exactly is the soul? I dont know. I believe the music generates from the intellect part which express the music and combines it with emotions, menthal mood and creativity at the moment.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
PS: – I will play the music that I feel and want to play and I hope this will be sufficient for the audience.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
PS: – My record release gig was fun, my children and other relatives was there too, is was a great and a very special evening for me. I must also mention all great gigs I had with Monday Night Bigband Sweden /Malmö. This band played every Monday evening during a 10-year period.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
PS: – If parents play jazz music at home the kids will catch up this and hopefully relish this music later. All music academy, music schools etc had also a responsibility to inform and offer jazz training and support marketing of jazz. All cultural activities as concerts, festivals, jam sessions, jazz clubs, are very important to keep and develop the jazz for the future.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
PS: – For me music always has been a way to express myself. To play the tenor in my way and with my sound.
I have never been a professional musician, I always has played on my sparetime. It is very tough to combine this with a full time job, and family. But I have never give up playing and will never stop. Jazz is an important part of my life and also helps to keep me in a good mood when life feels difficult sometimes.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
PS: – To turn back the time to 50-60 century, I am 20 years old and can see and follow all jazz music and all great musicians in real life.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
PS: – I listen to J Coltrane, W Shorter, M Davis, J Hendersen and Jerry Bergonzi among others.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
PS: – I try to play lyrical and with variation in rhythmics and keep swinging. Try to play simple and easy listen to.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
PS: – New York, 1950s,1960s. To follow and listen to all great musicians in real life.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
PS: – How can you motivate to become a jazzmusician today?
If you believe in music so just do it, even if you can not support yourself on it. Its a way to live and you dont have to be a professional musician to do this.
JBN: – You should have asked your question to me and not to yourself 🙂
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
PS: – I try to set up short term goals (gigs) so I can prepare and focus on all I need to do and to play as good as I can at this moment. I know what and how I want to play so I keep on practicing.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan