May 27, 2024

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Interview with Brandi Disterheft: Less computer looped music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz contrabassist Brandi Disterheft. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Brandi Disterheft: – I grew up in Vancouver, BC.  My mother is a B3 organist and jazz pianist originally from Chicago. I grew up studying piano, and played bass in my mother’s trio as a teenager.   Jazz music was always being played in the house and my mother was always transcribing.

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

BD: – My idols are Sam Jones and Ellington’s bassist Jimmy Blanton.  I strive to have a warm, round sound with a pocket and time feel that is right down the middle.  By transcribing, studying, playing along with records, and playing almost every night as a bassist here in Toronto and more recently in NYC, my sound and concept grew.    I always had a clear idea that I wanted ta bass sound strong and robust, mixed in with my unique feminine charm.

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

BD: – I like to practice to certain metronome markings.  I find certain temples harder and less natural, for example b=94 and b=208 are in between tempoes.  I’ve also spent numerous hours walking bass lines to a blues at very slow temples b=40 and bright uptempo b=400.  It is also useful to play along with the records to develop time, as certain temples seem to have a more forward motion.

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

BD: – New influences and inspirations are always welcome, although I seem to always find that from the classic records in my collection at home.

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

BD: – I warm-up my bass hands always before a gig which usually takes 30 minutes .  The spiritual warm-up includes reminding myself to be grateful each chance we have to perform.

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

BD: – The balance is that performance is all soul.  Or  better yet, an emotion I strive to portray and explore and share.  The intellect is developed at home during practice and study.

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

BD: – Yes, I think the best performers can please the audience while sticking to their vision.  Working with pianist Harold Mabern, I saw first hand how each tune would bring about a different feeling, sometimes challenging the listener, yet also giving the audience a song to tap their toes to and unwind.  These are the up and downs, pull and push: the arc of a concert.

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

BD: – The greatest memory of a studio session was recording with Hank Jones.  I remember him saying “I see why Oscar Peterson like you.’  He had a way of nurturing way of welcoming the younger musicians.

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

BD: – We can go back and watch the films and plays which were popular.  We can also record today’s pop songs to help the audience relate.

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

BD: – I wake up every morning wanting to conquer my instrument, striving to compose meaningful songs to share this uplifting feeling of jazz.  Music transcends race and gender and takes away all strife.  If we can inspire just one person with our music to feel a gratitude towards life, to be in a moment perhaps out of the daily routine and into a creative, honest, emotive place, that to me is the spirit of music.

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

BD: – Less computer looped music.  More heartfelt human music.

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

BD: – Clifford Brown, Charlile Parker, Rosa Pasos, Oscar Pettiford, Nancy Wilson …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Juno-winning jazz artist Brandi Disterheft as serious as it gets – TheYYSCENE

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