June 24, 2024


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Interview with Marcus Joseph: There’s an element of intellect but I tend to lean on the soul side more: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist and vocalist Marcus Joseph. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Marcus Joseph: – I grew up in the UK, in a city called Leicester in the East Midlands. My parents were both musicians, my mum a singer and my dad a saxophonist/woodwind technician. They exposed me to music and got me interested in playing musical instruments. My friends exposed me to the current sounds of Hip-Hop, UK Garage and Grime. At home I would hear Reggae, Motown, Soul, RnB and Jazz, with my friends it would be Hip-Hop, Jungle and UK Garage with us trying to imitate what we heard and writing down our own raps/lyrics.

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

MJ: – When I first picked up the Saxophone it took me about 18 months to get a decent sound from practicing long tones laboriously everyday. I found my sound developed when I spent 1 year in New Orleans at the University of New Orleans, there I was exposed to many different sounds and was told to really hone my own sound by thinking of colours.

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

MJ: – I think it changes over time, I used to stick to my practice routine religiously now I’m more flexible and try my best to work on my weaknesses and any new material that I want to master. I remember Jean Toussaint taught me a technical trumpet exercise which I still do to this day as a warm up. In terms of rhythm transcribing has helped me a lot and simply just sticking on a backing track improvising to that and coming up with my own rhythms.

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

MJ: – There will always be influences in my music and in my playing, I guess what separates myself from that is my lived experience and what I’m feeling at the time. It comes from emotion, thought and feeling playing from the heart and translating that into sound which I believe I do everytime I play or create music.

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

MJ: – I use the wim hoff app which has some really cool breathing exercises, I find this centres me and enables me to think and feel clearly. I also do long tones before every performance, again this is like the breathing exercises which ground me and makes me think about my sound production.

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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?

MJ: – I guess I evolved as a person and had more time to work on myself as a human being.

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

MJ: – There’s an element of intellect but I tend to lean on the soul side more. I respect and admire the effort that goes into intellectualising the music but it is the lived experience that I want to hear when I hear, play or create music as a whole..

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

MJ: – I think the audience wants the real me and to be as authentic as I can be so I’m more than happy in giving them that in the best way I can.

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

MJ: – It was a show in Nottingham at my favorite jazz club in the midlands called ‘Peggy’s Skylight’ I was playing with my band ‘Major Ruse’ to a packed audience and I got the audience to do some call and response. I love an engaging and interactive audience and they certainly were all that and more, it was a fun memorable night!

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

MJ: – I used to think that all the time and that’s why I created my comic book play ‘Paradigm Rhymes’ which introduces jazz to young people in a fun, exciting, engaging and interactive way though audience participation. Another way is introducing them to what is happening now in the scene, letting them hear the sounds of now, the sounds of today, and then work backwards teaching them the history of where it came from and why we honour the ancestors so much. Another fun way is taking something old and making it new again, making it ‘modern’. Exposing them to all the exciting diverse young musicians that are coming out now can only be nothing but inspirational.

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

MJ: – I believe we all connected on many different levels and are all just reflections of ourselves in many different forms yet each spirit is unique thus leading us on a journey whether conscious or not. I believe we create the meaning of our own lives and have the power within to create what we want to see and experience.

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

MJ: – That we could all go out and play again in venues around the world!

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

MJ: – A lot of the nu wave jazz artists coming out of the UK, they’re bringing their own sound and identity to the music which is inspiring. I always and will always listen to Bob Marley regularly, that always calms my spirit, soothes my soul and makes me feel good! Rap artists like Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Jay-Z and Rick Ross are playing in my car regularly. Radio stations Jazz FM, Radio2Funky and BBC 1Xtra are my go to stations.

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

MJ: – That my music takes you on a musical journey into a world of your own imagination, with life-affirming messages that make you think and move, whether physically or spiritually.

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

MJ: – I would like to go check out Charlie Parker. Go to his era and see how he developed as a player and how all the musicians at that time interacted with each other. I would like to ask them questions, what their motivations were, what they were thinking at the time and did they know they would eventually affect the world so much with their music, style and way of life.

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

MJ: – Why are you so passionate about Jazz and do you play any musical instruments? (this is me asking you a question).

JBN: – Jazz is my life !!! No, I am jazz critic.

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

MJ: – Through my creativity and freedom of thought.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan


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