May 24, 2024

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Interview with Gordan Spasovski: The music is a spiritual movement: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Gordan Spasovski. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Gordan Spasovski: – I grew up in Kriva Palanka, a small town in Macedonia. At that time my father was working in a local radio station that was right across my school, so every day after school hours I would go there and spend some time at his office. They had this wonderful collection of LP’s, audio cassettes, and CD’s, so whenever he had an opportunity he would play something off air for me. From this point of view, I understand that it was really a blessing to hear all this wonderful music, but I don’t think I was realising it at that age. Still, I believe this was the environment that got me interested in music.

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

GS: – I was never thinking about achieving a certain sound. The development of a personal sound is a natural process that is mainly influenced by one’s musical experience, both active and passive, as long as that person doesn’t get obsessed with one role model. I’m always trying to find new artist and music that inspires me, but there are certain musicians that are stuck on my daily playlist, so I would say that they have a big role in my musical development. I also noticed that my playing was always changing a bit when I was spending some time with a certain band. By that mean my colleagues musical experience has also a big role in the process of shaping my sound.

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

GS: – I always try to focus on one or a few specific elements while practicing and one of the things I do often is to record myself and analyze my playing. Since sometime it gets hard and frustrating to get results it is actually helpful and inspiring to hear our improvement. We constantly compare ourself with our musical heroes and try to follow their path, but since that road is really long it’s good to remind ourself that we are not standing in one place. I sometimes feel that my rhythm is not strong enough so I’m constantly working on it. I feel that playing with a record helps me a lot. The metronome is also a tool that can be used in many creative ways. Another way that is really fun for me is trying to play over a drummer’s solo. It’s often hard to stay together with them, but since they are the masters of the rhythm it helps us understanding it in its core.

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

GS: – I actually don’t try to prevent it. I believe that the natural growth of every musician is shaped by their own musical experiences and the musical experience of their colleagues. The disparate influences are inevitable. In my opinion the point is to try and keep our musical essence, but at the same time allow it to progress naturally.

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

GS: – Since I often get nervous before performances, I try to keep myself with a positive thought and be surrounded with positive people. Right before the performance I spend some time alone and I try to clear my head and let the music breathe with me. Another thing that I learned from my mentor Olaf Polziehn is to “practice performance” even when we are alone. I often try to put myself in that mindset and go through a certain program.

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

GS: – I believe these two things are deeply connected. The intellect helps us in the process of translating the music into the physical world, but its origin comes directly from our soul. The music is a spiritual movement, it is born inside as a feeling, as a drive that keeps us moving forward.

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

GS: – What you described is actually the nature of music itself. I think that during the process of creation, as jazz artists we usually try to keep the essence of the original idea and develop it in our own way of expression. The audience appears as a natural reaction of the creation.

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

GS: – It’s hard to name a few… Some of the memories that I would share, would be the collaboration between the ZJM big band in which I participate in, with the great jazz giant Don Menza on tenor saxophone, a duo concert and album with the great jazz singer John I. Apelgren, a studio session with one of my favorite bassists Martin Gjakonovski etc. These are all moment that have helped me grow as a musician and as a person. I’m very thankful to have these experiences.

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

GS: – Well I think the creation of new music plays a big role in it. Standards have become standards for a reason. Some of them were theater music, some of them were music for film or music that was simply popular in the early days, but what they all have in common is that they are all great compositions. Another thing that can have a big impact is when certain songs from other genres are translated in the language of jazz, in the way that Herbie Hancock or Fred Hersh are doing it.

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

GS: – I believe every human being is able to connect with this energy and truly find their purpose in this life. To me being a musician is a sacred thing, and I’m grateful to be able to create. I’m happy that there is an infinite void of musical inspiration and there are many things to learn and discover yet.

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

GS: – Hm… Well considering that in the modern musical industry the streaming services are playing a huge role in the musical judgment, I would remove the “popular” and “top” categories since they are passively dictating the audience’s opinion on what is good music for them.

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

GS: – I often try to find new music, but from time to time I go back to my all-time favorites. The last album that I was listening to was Gerald Clayton’s “Tributary Tales”, and before that I was listening to Cedar Walton and Ron Carter’s “Heart and soul”.

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

GS: – Music should bring comfort and interest in our feelings while listening to it. I would love everyone to feel their own hour of comfort and find an inspiration in it.

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

GS: – I would definitely travel to 1960. Many important things happened during these years, but the main reason would be the Bill Evans trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motion. I would definitely go to one of their concerts and meet them.

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

GS: – Do you find contemporary jazz music still connected with the essence of the jazz tradition and spirit, and do you think that jazz is progressing in the right way?

JBN: – Yes, of course, In addition to jazz rap․

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

GS: – Music has become a part of me. I’ve devoted my life to understand music and find a way to connect my inner voice with it.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Џез-пијанистот Гордан Спасовски меѓу десеттемина финалисти на натпревар за најдобра биг бенд-композиција во Финска

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