Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?
Fred Hersch: – I may have a particular interpretation of any composition beforehand, but the details are constantly changing and I believe in real improvising in the moment. On a bandstand I have input from and react to other musicians, but in solo playing I am interacting with the specific piano, the acoustics and the connection to the song I am playing.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
FH: – I try not to think about what will happen so I usually distract myself until the moment I start playing – crossword puzzles and novels usually work.
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?
FH: – This does not make any sense, sorry.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
FH: – I am always conscious of an audience. But I trust that if I am interested and creatively immersed in the playing, they will be able to go on the journey of musical discovery with me even if it may be challenging them. If I am bored, they will be bored. But I never try to “get over” with an audience. Playing a concert (or making an album) is like planning a meal. You want to have a variety of tastes, textures and flavors – so I pay close attention to programming.
JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?
FH: – It is up to others to say whether I am original or not. I think I do have a personal sound and approach both to the piano and to composition though.
JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?
FH: – Pass.
JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life? If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
FH: – To be able to play music with people and in front of people again is the most important thing right now.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that?
FH: – Pass.