May 28, 2024

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Interview with Dominic Lash: I like both thinking about feelings and the feeling of thinking: Video

Jazz Interview with jazz a bad musian, as if contrabassist, problematic person Dominic Lash. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Dominic Lash: – I grew up in Cambridge, England. I started out playing bass guitar (because “everybody always needs a bassist”) and eventually made my way to double bass. I think to begin with I was interested largely in virtuosity, but gradually my tastes matured (at least a little bit!) and I became more and more interested in music that didn’t seem to work like any of the music I already knew. The local library was enormously helpful as I headed towards the weirder end of things but didn’t really have any friends who shared my tastes (King Crimson; some Zappa; Anthony Braxton; John Cage; Xenakis; and eventually Derek Bailey and John Zorn, though initially I couldn’t make head or tail of the last two). When I went to university in Oxford I made contact with Pat Thomas, Alex Ward, and eventually Alexander Hawkins, which was transformative.

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

DL: – I think your first question here is best answered by somebody else; it feels to me a bit like “How has your nose developed over time? Developing my sound was – and remains – mostly a question of trying to find out what I really value in the music that I find most exciting so that I can draw on it without simply copying it.

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

DL: – Practice regimes come and go. During the pandemic I’ve been playing electric guitar a lot, which feels to me (for some reason) more of a “practicing instrument” than the double bass – something to do with the way you can play around with patterns on the neck, across the strings, etc. With the double bass it’s more of a matter of staying in touch with the instrument, trying to become physically ready for whatever the music might throw up.

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

DL: – That sounds like an advantage to me.

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

DL: – I’m not sure there is much you can do here other than to play as much as possible. Although sometimes not having played much can be an advantage as it helps keep things fresh. It’s a constant mystery and the process of still getting it wrong after all these years (and sometimes even getting it right!) keeps things interesting.

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

DL: – I like both thinking about feelings and the feeling of thinking.

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

DL: – I don’t know what people want, so I wouldn’t know how to give it to them. That said, I don’t often deliberately try not to give them what I think they might want…

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

DL: – I wouldn’t know how to single one out.

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

DL: – Stop playing the same standard tunes so often.

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

DL: – I’ll tell you next lifetime.

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

DL: – More chances to play.

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

DL: – In my CD pile at the moment are Christopher Hogwood’s recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, the recent big box set of Prince’s Sign o’ the Times, and a double CD of Derek Bailey’s Company recorded at the Klinker, on the Confront label.

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

DL: – I didn’t get into music to pass on messages.

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

DL: – Hearing Bach or Beethoven improvise would be extraordinary.

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

DL: – How are you?

JBN: – Only an idiot like you could ask such a question in such an interview, I only wish you bad days.

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

DL: – I don’t understand the question.

JBN: – There are special schools for those who do not understand.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Dominic Lash in Cambridge in November 2011” by John Sharpe - Jazz Photo

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