Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Albert Cirera. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Albert Cirera: – I grew up in Igualada, a small city close to barcelona. I started playing violin at the age of 6. When I turned 14 I started with the saxophone as well. After one year I attended a summer jazz camp in my city and I fell in love with jazz. The snow ball started
Other influences were my father and my brother. My father used to play keyboards, easy and latin music. Amateur, was his hobby. Every Sunday morning I woke up listening to Cha Cha, Boleros, Cumbias… There were always scores and an old Lowrey Organ (kind of house Hammond) at home. My older brother played trombone when he was young, and he had a band of soul and jamaican rhythms. I was a great fan, and I liked the saxophone sound in that context. Jamaixan sax from Skatalites Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso were my very early influences.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
AC: – First I was more into jazz. I was trying to assimilate the sound and music from Coltrane, Rollins, Shorter (my personal Holy Trinity, I always come to them over the time) But then I start to discover young sax players like Tony Malaby or Bill McHenry, or Joe Lovano, with a more modern taste, and amazing sounds. But after a while I started to discover people like Ken Vandermark, Ornette, Evan Parker and then a vast world of freedom came.
I guess developing sound is about listening to different music and musicians and being curious. Or having a very clear image of which sound you want. I’m a curious guy, constantly changing and searching for new things to my way of playing.
But if you talk about the “sound” itself, is about long tones and a bunch of flexibility exercises that I love to practice!
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
AC: – I have to say that I don’t have any practice routine pertaining to rhythm. Maybe learn Ornette melodies, or play classical studies…but I think of it more as a daily practice that involves different things…but not focused on rhythm. I can say that some years ago I was practicing or exploring Miles Okazaki Matrix book, and other exercises with rhythms that I created. But that was during a period of time.
I have a daily routine for sound, that for me is the most important thing in music.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
AC: – I have to say that I don’t really understand this question, because for me as much influence I can get them enrich my language. Jazz and creative music is about crossover with other musical worlds, I really like to listen to different kinds of music, and if they influence my language, great! More fun!
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
AC: – I don’t have any specific ritual or preparation, I guess it is just to let me fly during the performance, and try to always take a difficult or non explored way. With my musical partner, the drummer Ramon Prats we always talk about being in a dense jungle where you have to find some clearing that never comes, and when it comes is amazing. But the proces, the way to that place is the real shit!
So, I guess is to be prepare mentaly to find yourself in that situation.
There could be talk or advertising about your CD
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
AC: – I try to practice with the intellect and then forget everything and play with the soul. Practice what moves the soul. Listen to music, and what moves the soul, analize, understand why moves the soul and practice it, but from the intellect side. Two different visions from one thing, better than one.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
AC: – I don’t think that the art/music made with this thought in mind is art or music, is just a product. So, I don’t give what people want, I try to know what I want and do it, do it in my way, do it until I’m satisfied, or do it until I’m upset of it and then change to another thing. Then some people might like what I’m doing, my proposal.
When I started in this free-jazz world or improv music, I understood that might be people that don’t like your music and leave the concert. But there are some that stay and enjoy it a lot. I don’t want to create a “product” I would like to create an statement, a piece of art, if I can
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
AC: – In addition from the previous answer, the first impro gig that I played in 2007 with one of my projects DUOT (still playing), after our first 30min long improvised pieces half of the audience left the room and half of it started to clap along super energetic and enthusiastic, it was an amazing feeling.
Once, as always, there was no budget for travel expenses, so I used my saxophone case to put some clothes, also inside the sax bell. In the concert I started to play with one of my preparations, a can inside the bell, but it wasn’t sounding as always. I thought that was due to the new can, but after a while I realized that I forgot to pull out underwear from the bell. I had to stop playing because I could stop laughing. Fortunately I wasn’t playing alone!
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
AC: – I think that brings people to good jazz concerts is the best way. But all kinds of jazz, not only people that play old standards! Nowadays there are many kinds of “jazz”, music that has that risky feeling of doing something that is new, done at the moment, but has different tastes, influences and ways to approach.
Bring two people to good BANDS playing their music, either is classic jazz or more modern jazz, but musicians that don’t fake anything, that
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
AC: – To be true to yourself. To find the way to your own essence. To don’t fuck around with fake ideas just to impress or to put yourself in a certain box or aesthetic. Be honest with you and with the others.
Is not that easy, we are surrounded by a lot of “capitalism” ideas that only want you to be more successful, more productive, or just better…. the only thing is to be honest with yourself.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
AC: – Although I record a lot, I think that all would be better if the records would be forbidden, and only live music would be allowed. Sounds crazy, but I guess would be better for all! jejeje
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
AC: – These last days I’m listening to the music of my friends, and fellas. The records of the people that I know personally, I think that are amazing!
I’m focus to solo records, due I’m working on a new solo record. Solos from Ilia Belorukof, Sergio Mercé, Marcel·li Bayer, Jordi Santanach, etc…
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
AC: – I think that there isn’t any message in my music, at least with a certain consciousness, but as I said, I guess I’m trying to be honest, and follow my desires and obsessions, I don’t care if they are old fashion, weird or even corny… I try to be as free as possible
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
AC: – I guess in the future, at least to 2121, one century ahead… but in 3021 would be great as well. I’m curious about how the music and all around it will evolve. And which music from now a days will last. I’m not a romantic, I don’t want to go to the past.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
AC: – I guess, just keep up with what I was doing … if covid allowd us! Thanks for all …
Interview by Simon Sargsyan