July 12, 2024


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Interview with Matthew Fries: I found my way to jazz in spite of never hearing it growing up: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if pianist Matthew Fries. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Matthew Fries։ – I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. My father was a pianist and my mother was a singer so music was a big part of my life growing up. My father was my first piano teacher and introduced me to basic theory and jazz chord changes.

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

MF: – I didn’t get to hear much jazz growing up. Once I got into college and heard pianists like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock I was hooked. Anyone who wants to play this music develops their sound the same way; by listening to as much music as possible!

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

MF: – I’ve practiced a ton of scales, arpeggios and finger exercises over the years. Basically anything I can come up with. Always practicing with a metronome and being really honest with myself about how clear I’m being with rhythm.

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

MF: – I think I encourage disparate influences to color what I’m doing! It’s important to be interested in as much as you can and to stay curious.

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

MF: – A good warmup routine and good technique is important to have success over long periods. Beyond that, for me the goal is to be in the moment as much as possible whenever I play.

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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?

MF: – I chose Phil Palombi to play with me because of our long musical history. He’s an amazing musician and makes the people he plays with sound good!

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

Don’t have a intellect and soul?

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

MF: – I’m OK with giving people what I have that I think they can like if they give it a chance. We as artists still have to do what is true to us or we’re just giving them a lie and that goes nowhere.

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

Don’t memorias, hahaha…

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

MF: – Let them hear the music and let them make up their own minds. I found my way to jazz in spite of never hearing it growing up, and fell in love with it as a young adult. The way this music was performed on so many of the records is magical and it can still connect with young people if we give them a chance to listen.

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

MF: – I don’t think I’m supposed to understand it. I don’t think any of us are. It’s bigger than our understanding.

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

MF: – The average person would go hear live music. We have giant pop shows in arenas, and we have starving musicians playing for tips. We’ve lost all the listenership for venues in between and that needs to change if music is going to survive. I’m encouraged by some of the alternate venues that have been popping up, like house concerts for example. I’m hoping these will continue to grow.

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

MF: – I have a lot of students turning me onto new jazz (or whatever other kinds of music) they are into. It’s inspiring and overwhelming how much new music is out there being created right now. But on my own I find myself sticking to my own personal collection of LPs and CDs and continue to listen deeper and deeper every time.

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

MF: – I don’t know that I have a verbal message to bring. Maybe love and honesty? I just bring music and try to be as authentic and honest as I can with it.

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

MF: – I’d go back about 40 years to when I could still hear some of the great jazz musicians I didn’t know about in time. Many of them were alive while I was, but I just didn’t learn about them in time.

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


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

MF: – I wonder where I’ll go as a musician from here. I don’t know how to answer that for myself completely, but developing as a musician is a journey, and I guess the journey is what makes it art. As long as I can stay curious and keep growing I’m on the right path.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Matthew Fries: Parallel States - Jazz da Gama

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