May 28, 2024

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Interview with Gadi Stern: The intellect and soul are the yin and Yang of humanity: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Gadi Stern. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Gadi Stern: – I grew up in Jerusalem in Israel, together with … other members Matan and David. Me and Matan went to high school together, and met David on the scene in Jerusalem. First time I remember a strong emotional reaction from music was when I hear beatle’s sgt. pepper for the first time. I was so overwhelmed that I had to take a nap afterwards:) Music as a form of natural expression has always been my immediate go to.

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

GS: – That’s a tricky question. Sound is like a personality, you don’t choose one (well, if you do choose one you’ll end up being fake and create some strong inner conflict.) like a personality, sound evolves naturally and gradually as life happens, according to the experiences you experience, the people you meet and the places you live in. The best way to develop one’s sound is to simply let things take their course, listen to the inner ear and find the time to listen to yourself.

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

GS: – Great question. for the last few years, the musical work I do is a lot around … music. so preparing for an album, going on tour and rehearsing is a big part of improving musical and rhythmic abilities. personally, I try to be creative and organized in my work process, I try to invent exercises that deal with concepts I am working on (for example left hand right hand relationship, or cross rhythms) and work on a few of them on a given week ot few days.

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

GS: – I have always felt very comfortable transcribing and learning from the masters. I was never worried from being “too” influenced because it was never an option for me. For better and for worse I have always sounded like myself. I was never fully immersed with one particular master (though I definitely have my piano idols) so sounding like someone never came naturally to me.

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

GS: – The most important thing for me before performing is to see where I’m at with the other musicians I am playing with, it is always about connection more than my specific state of mind. Meditation is nice and a great tool, but I would always prefer a good talk or a good laugh with one of my band members Matan and David before a show. In solo concerts the task is much harder of course. I would normally use meditation as a tool to tune in before a solo show.

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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?

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

GS: – Intellect and soul are the yin and Yang of humanity. the intellectual mind and the intuition, they are connected in music, the intellect feeds the intuition and the intuition is the one that’s doing the actual playing. When the intellect tries to take over, it usually ends up messy. The ego sleeps in the cave of the intellectual mind, and letting the intellectual mind control the music might result in lost of faith of the intuition, and that’s where the ego takes charge, that;s not a good state to be in musically:)

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

GS: – Sure thing, but it has it’s limits. I’m always a bit surprised when I look up from the piano and I see an audience, because while playing they do not exist at all, its all about the music and the musicians. But I would definitely consider public opinion when choosing songs for a set list, if there are … songs that people like more, they will be played extra, because when people hear a song they already know, they will enjoy the improvisation much more.

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

GS: – One tour with … that was extra memorable was because of its intensity, 60 days, 40 something gigs, all with a van that we were driving ourselves… was mega intense, and the music was fire as well… Last few tours before the corona were the best one’s we had. The band has reached an emotional maturity where we really listen to each other, and some magical things started happening in gigs…

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

GS: – Well, for me at least, the key is to stay open to being influenced by what’s going on at the moment. Jazz musicians should stay open to pop music and to anything good that’s going on and not get stuck on older music (which is hip as well of course.) I feel that … applies to younger audience because we dig some of the stuff they dig as well.

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

GS: – Well, not the musical world exclusively, but if people could listen more and with more patience, I believe it would do the world a lot of good.

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

GS: – I’m producing a singer’s album at the moment, so I am very immersed in her music and her influences, lot’s of Brazilian and Cuban music are on my playlist at the moment. old stuff mostly. I also re-discovered a pianist called Gene Harris and I’m digging him a lot these days.

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

GS: – Emotion has a lot of power in it, power to change and create life. we try to create from an emotional spectrum to touch on this realm.

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

GS: – Two places, one is NY in the 50’s cliche but true, I’d love to see bird, bud monk and all of these guys in action. second choice would be to go to swinging london of the 60’s, some GREAT music was taking place for sure…

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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