May 18, 2024

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Interview with Szilveszter Miklos: Jazz means an endless creative energy: Video, New CD cover

Jazz interview with jazz drummer and percussionist Szilveszter Miklos. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Szilveszter Miklos: – I grew up in Muzslya, Serbia during the 80’s and 90’s, so anyone who is familiar with what was happening historically knows it was an even weirder time than today. This could be the reason why I got interested in art. I was lucky that I had, and I still have, a couple of very close friends from that period. We had a lot of discussions about books, movies, music and so on. I also went to music school, where I studied violin, but that didn’t work out. So finally, on the 9th of September, 1997, I started playing the drums.

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

Practicing, practicing, practicing! (Monk)

SM: – What makes me think differently about drumming is that I’ve listened to lots of live contemporary percussion music and I try to use these techniques on the drum kit. Basically, my inspiration comes from outside of music, because I think that beside the technical style you develop with your instrument, you need to simultaneously develop as a person.  Otherwise, you could become a virtuoso, but the artistic essence would be missing.

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

SM: – As playing the drums is a very physical activity, I’ve had to do a lot of technical exercises, but I’ve always tried not to play them except in the practice room.

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

SM: – Well, I don’t know the exact recipe for this. What helps me is that I never try to learn how other players do their thing. I am more curious why they do what they do.

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

SM: – I don’t have a special routine, I just try to live a normal life and I think that’s the most important (as well as the hardest) thing.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2020: <Trio Kontraszt – Cryptic Scattered Images of Time Forgotten>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

SM: – What I like about all of recordings that I’m on, is that the music aims to find its own way, it’s unusual (even if considered weird) and it has a message (I hope). On Cryptic Scattered Images of Time Forgotten, we play the music of pianist Kovács Tickmayer István and multi-instrumentalist István Grencso, heard here on saxophone. I’ve also recently worked on two new LP’s that came out just last week. Both of them are saxophone-drum duos. The first, with Peter Brötzmann, is called At Mu (Adyton records). The other is with István Grencsó and is titled Red Carpet (Prepost Records). In 2019 I also worked with Mr. Laszló Krasznahorkai on his new book Chasing Homer, which includes my solos. That can be found and listened to online. Next year this book will be published in English.

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

SM: – I would rather say: you need a balance! Both of them are important.

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

SM: – No, I’m not okay with that. True art is there to educate and lift up the audience, to change their way of thinking and even their life. And this means that the artist is an expert in his work and knows better than the audience.

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

SM: – When I first listened to Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions, I think it was in 1999, I remember the magic that I heard and felt.  That feeling still keeps me going on this path.

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

SM: – First we have to define what the word Jazz means. For me it doesn’t go so strictly together with the old standards. It’s like in Classical music: you don’t only have operas. I think there was a great period when standards were being played by the legends, but now we have to move forward. Once Anthony Braxton said to me, “we musicians have to come together and figure out the music of the third millennium.”  So for me, the word Jazz means an endless creative energy that you can use to develop your own personal musical ideas. I think this creative energy could be interesting to young people, we just have to allow them to be free and give them a chance to create.

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

SM: – I think what Coltrane meant is that his music is the projection of his spirit. I could not say that I understand, or how I understand the spirit. I could just say you have to be careful with it. I think there isn’t one great meaning of life. You can find many things that could give you a meaningful life. It’s also good if you have a plan.

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

SM: – Well, in my country most of the support goes to those artists who already have enough. I would change that. Also in regards to the media, I would give chance to people to hear real music, not only commercial garbage.

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

SM: – I’m listening to Kurtág György, Roscoe Mitchell, Bartók Béla, Jochan Sebastian Bach, Dukay Barnabás, Vidovszky László, Claude Debussy, Paul Motian and so on.

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

SM: – Stockhausen said: when we hear music, we are changed! I just hope that change moves in a good direction.

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

SM: – I’m ok where I am! I have a family here and I would never leave them!!

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

SM: – Are you familiar with the poetry of Attila Jozsef and Janos Pilinszky?

JBN: – Janos Pilinszky – yes, but Attila Jozsef – no, sorry…

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

SM: – I would say thank you for your questions, and thank you for promoting good music. I hope you and your community are doing well in this crazy time!!

                                                                                                                                           Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Túl a korlátokon – Miklós Szilveszter és az improvizatív jazz világa – – A fiatalság százada

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