May 25, 2024

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Interview with Charlotte Keeffe: Diversity: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if trumpeter, problematic person Charlotte Keeffe. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Charlotte Keeffe: – I was born in Boston, in Lincolnshire, in England and I grew up in a town called Bourne, also in Lincolnshire. My Mum found me a piano teacher when I was just 4yrs old – I’ve been learning, practising and performing ever since…

My whole family has supported my music making and when I was 10 all I wanted was a trumpet, I was captivated by its brassy sound – it made and makes me feel so happy!

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

CHK: – Listening and questioning what it is I like about a sound, exploring and practising long notes – there can be so much space to explore in a long note…

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

CHK: – I practise in 20mins sections throughout the day. I write lists and journals about what I’m practising. I arrange lessons with musicians I’m into, I transcribe phrases/melodies I love… I love learning and challenging myself.

I’ve learnt several exercises that keep me in shape without using my horn and I learn a lot from just listening to other musicians/folks talking and playing…

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

CHK: – Listening to the world around me, meditating too. I feel my most connected, confident, creative when I’m freely improvising – I’ve learnt through freely improvising that I have something to say…

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

CHK: – If I’m feeling nervous I remind myself to breathe gently and slowly. I like to stay hydrated, no alcohol, or heavy foods before a performance, I like to be present – the (conscious) breathing helps with that…

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

CHK: – It’s more about feelings, expression and connection, so the balance is more SOUL for me, but I’m fascinated by intellect too and I love learning…

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

CHK: – People are going to have their own thoughts and feelings about the music I make and I’m aware not all of my music making is perhaps an easy listen. However, I want to inspire people to find their freedom.

I’ve found a deep connection to the world, to people, to life, to the moment all through making music, particularly freely improvising, I’m my most self, most confident etc – FREEDOM! I want to inspire others to find what makes them feel like this too, of course it may well not be freely improvising!

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

CHK: – I remember seeing Tomasz Stanko live at the Barbican, but he seemed to be so moody, angry before he went on stage, I still wonder to this day what on earth had happened – I had front row seats and the music was exquisite!

I’ve had some ridiculous remarks from men about being ‘pretty good’ for a woman, and that I will ‘have to work harder’ etc because I’m a woman! I remember going to a Ronnie’s jam session and seeing a WALL of white men/boys ALL playing the saxophone and ALL playing over each other, it was a very loud, off-putting environment!

More beautiful significant memories highlight the short history of jazz – free jazz and improvised music – like when I’m playing alongside jazz trombonist stalwart Annie Whitehead, I get goosebumps! And the wonderful trumpeter Henry Lowther, who’s such a part of the UK and international jazz scene/history, came to watch our Brass Monkeys gig the other week!

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

CHK: – Keep making and sharing the music you love, keep talking about it, listening to it, writing about it and trusting…

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

CHK: – Music = FREEDOM

JBN: – But my question about your life.

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

CHK: – Diversity.

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

CHK: – Jamie Branch, Tomasz Stanko, Ingrid Laubrock, Emma-Jean Thackray, Michael Jackson, Lester Bowie, Ingrid Jensen…

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

CHK: – I want to inspire FREEDOM.

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

CHK: – Right now, I’d LOVE to have been present in the 1950s/60s in London when free jazz and freely improvising were becoming  a ‘thing’… I’d love to have seen Miles Davis play live too…

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

CHK: – Simon, what does jazz mean to you?

JBN: – Jazz is my life!!!

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

CHK: – I’m human, I’m feeling very inspired to keep making music!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Music | Charlotte Keeffe

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