Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist and fluteist Greg Abate. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Greg Abate: – I got interested in music as a young child playing clarinet in the sixth grade. I started to play out of Saxophone on the ninth grade because my band directors needed me to switch from Clarinet to Sax to playing the jazz band. I grew up in Woonsocket Rhode Island And stayed in New England through my years at Berkeley school of music. I then moved to Los Angeles upon graduation and lived there and played gigs in California and different parts of the west. I joined the Ray Charles orchestra in 1973 and played lead as a sax with him and his band.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
GA: – My sound evolve by playing a lot and just living my life in listening to a lot of great players on all the Saxophones. Mainly you try to sound like someone else because you want to get a sound like someone but everyone sound is unique and is in their head no matter what kind of mouth piece of meat you use for Saxophone you will sound like you.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
GA: – I play and write a lot at home and I do a lot of gigs. So I’m playing 200 days a year or 250 days a year and I’m playing like eight nights in a row sometimes 10 nice and roll on tour you keep your chops up and it’s like an athletic feat!
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
GA: – It takes a lot of willpower and love of the music and respect of the Art Form. There’s always a temptation but one has to be strong and not slip too often. I find that if I’m busy playing music on gigs and doing a lot of traveling I’m in the moment and I’m going in a cheerful bliss. Getting feedback from audiences is great because you’re making someone feel good and they show it by the appreciation and usually Jazz Fans very nice to us artists.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
GA: – I try to rest the night before and she’s not practice too much and play in use a lot of energy before the gig because I want to save it. So I might play long tones on all my instruments and I’m gonna play and try to just play some Etudes or learn some new tunes!
There could be talk or advertising about your CD
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
GA: – To me it goes together but more the soul than intellect. One must use intellect to learn but after it becomes part of you as your voice.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
GA: – I play for myself but always play to the audience and I have respect for the audience and I personally like to banter with them!
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
GA: – There are lots of memories but once leaving Moscow Russia there was a snowstorm and flights were cancelled and my visa was expired so they said you cannot leave but you cannot stay so I had a situation for a moment then they got me a flight to France and was able to leave somehow!
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
GA: – They have to be exposed to the music quite a bit to either love it or hate it. It takes time to understand Jazz . It’s complicated with melodic, harmonic,rhythmic and dynamic qualities.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
GA: – I can understand as when I play I feel a higher power and I have a connection with the higher powers that be! I feel it!
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
GA: – That more people would gravitate to real music having just pure art form with no gimmicks!
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
GA: – I am busy writing and playing and I usually listen to Jazz FM what ever comes on. I don’t even sit to listen to myself. I like to play live and record but I need time in between before I can listen to myself . I’m my worst critic.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
GA: – Sincerity, love, peace and positive energy consciousness.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
GA: – Go back to my youth growing up seeing my parents again!
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
GA: – I live in the moment, I play jazz in the moment I try to live by the four agreements, ”be impeccable with your word, don,t take anything personal,don’t make assumptions, and always do your best, and of course the golden rule!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan