June 24, 2024


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Interview with Petter Wettre: Jazz is a lifelong study: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Petter Wettre. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Petter Wettre: – I grew up in Sandefjord. A small town 120 km southwest of Oslo, Norway. My mothers part of the family was very interested in music, and my grandfather on my mothers side initiated the local big band – Sandefjord Bigband, which by incident is Norway’s oldest. My grandfather was also a vaudeville artist and a musician, (saxophonist). I grew up learning to play on his old instruments. My uncle, (my mothers brother), was a drummer in a pretty successful local rock band at the time, and my mother was somewhat ambitious on my behalf at the time, so I guess you can say I was “destined”. I was involved in the high school “marching band” from a very early age in addition to taking piano lessons. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden I played in the local big band myself along with a couple of other local band projects, (where I played keyboard)

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

PW: – My sound is a result of listening to a lot of saxophonists…. Brecker, Coltrane, Liebman, Branford. Those were my earliest influences, and probably my most important ones. Since then I have listened to countless saxophonists. Each and every one in their own way has influenced me somewhat. On top of that – practice, practice, practice. Always been focused on and inspired by the vibrato-free tone of Coltrane and Dexter and have tried to incorporate that in my own playing. I also had very good teachers at Berklee and later in life; George Garzone, Dave Liebman, Joe Viola who all contributed to perfect my sound.

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

PW: – You can never escape the importance of the metronome. Besides I have always practised with “imaginary” chord changes in mind. Jazz or classical. Just to be able to underline in my playing what I hear in my head. And that also helps me focusing on playing “musically”

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

Besides the metronome and my imaginary chord changes, I have always constructed my personal practice routines. That way I’ll always sound like myself, and no one else.

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

PW: – I don’t really prepare in any other way than making sure that I have a good reed and that I am in a good physical and playing shape.

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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?

PW: – The musicians on this album are actually a result of the pandemic. My initial band with members living in Denmark, Germany and England was unable to do the session considering we were supposed to record in France. So I decided to look no further than the city I’m living in now – Paris, to find my musicians.

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

PW: – I think that is very individual. In my case, I don’t really think much about it. Having said that I’m always giving it my best when I’m going at it, and it means the world to me to perform at the top of my game. Every time. I’m very ambitious on behalf of my music and my performance.

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

PW: – In order to give the audience “what they want”, I will always have to satisfy myself first. Meaning, play “my” music in “my” way. That way I will be satisfied and thus sound my best, and as a result, the audience will get “what they want”- “a satisfied me that play my best”

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

PW: – There are so many. A pretty recent funny memory is when I attended a session in Paris last year where I was invited to sit in. It is described in full detail at my blog. It is in Norwegian, but you can google translate it. Highly recomendable.

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

PW: – Good question, but wrong way of looking at it. Jazz is so much more than standards. The importance of jazz students learning about melody/harmony/rythm is invaluable. In which standard songs are a great tool. But as you mention  – the standard tunes are about a century old, and in no way influential on today’s kids. I did not grow up  listening to standards, but I love them now. I think it is much more important to expose the kids to an inspirational environment with experienced musicians that can express themself orally and musically.

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

PW: – I’m not sure if I do. I just try to play my best. Always. Branford Marsallis once said; “the music tells you”. I find that to be so true. You can’t escape the logic of music if you really listen. That is what I try to do. The world will have to judge me upon whether I succeed or not.

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

PW: – I would forbid all music reality shows like; “The Voice”, “Idol” “America’s got talent” etc etc.

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

PW: – My own album. Listening for mistakes 🙂

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

PW: – Listen to my involvement in this music. Hear how important this is for me. My only goal is to make it as obvious for the listener as it is for me how invested I am in the music. How important this is for me. I’d like to share with you the beauty, energy and passion of music

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

PW: – Most likely New York City, mid 60’s. Listening to classic Coltrane every night in a crowded jazz club. Soak in the atmosphere and the energy. Feed of the force it must have been when this music was new and fresh.

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

PW: – Jazz is a lifelong study. As I go along I experience changes, difficulties, success and failure. It is life in a nutshell, but within a musical framework. I find it fascinating and intriguing. I will never change it with anything.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Petter Wettre | ReverbNation

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