June 25, 2024

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Interview with Nick Kerkhoff: Jazz has always been in development: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if bassist, problematic person, idiot Nick Kerkhoff. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Nick Kerkhoff: – I come from a musical family so I discovered jazz at a young age, while most of my friends were listening to pop music I was into Wayne Shorter and Pat Metheny for example. My father plays vibraphone and is an arranger. He also plays many instruments on the side. But it wasn’t until the age of 16 I started to pick up the bass. From that moment on it didn’t take long to know that this was what I wanted to do.

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

NK: – I guess just practicing and listening to music as much as possible. You start to discover musicians that speak to you and then you dive deep in their playing. That process repeats itself with different influences over time, which slowly evolves into forming your own sound.

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

NK: – I always try to incorporate timing in everything I practice. Without accurate timing it doesn’t really matter how interesting your melodic approach is.

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

NK: – It’s really hard not to let any influence shine through in your playing. The jazz history is very rich and in a way we’re all building on that. Prevent sounding like a copy by not limiting yourself by diving into just that one musician you love. Always keep your ears open for new music.

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

NK: – By making sure I’m arriving in time on the gig so there’s no stress. If possible, I also like to run some scale- and arpeggio exercises to warm-up and really connect with the instrument.

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

NK: – Whenever I’m playing or writing music, I’m always approaching it the organic way. I never strive to “sound intelligent”. Sure, I studied music, but the theoretical tools are in my opinion only meant to help you translate what’s inside.

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

NK: – The people that will come out to see us would probably kind of know what to expect. Or at least know what kind of music will be played. During the show you figure out what elements the audience responses positively to, so we implement a little more of that in our performance naturally.

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

NK: – Almada, which is the third song on the album, was written after a jam session and was inspired by a vocalist who sat in. I had never met her before. She wasn’t the most skilled singer, but I was immediately touched by her voice. Very delicate and soft, but at the same time controlled. Right away I could picture her voice and my bass playing a unison melody. The minute I got home that night I wrote Almada. As it turned out, we never played together again so on the album the melody is doubled by Jesse Schilderink on saxophone.

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

NK: – I think jazz has always been in development and undergone a lot of changes. The past couple of years brought us lots of new music and everything is moving forward, including Jazz.

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

NK: – That’s a question one can write a book about, and I believe a lot of wise people already did 😉

To me, music is a way of really getting in touch with your inner self, without getting interfered with negative energy. If I can pass this feeling over to others through my music, I’ve already accomplished something. In short, I think we’re all here for a reason and we’re all able to contribute to life in our own way.

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

NK: – Acceptance and the freedom to create whatever you feel like. But I think we’ve already came a long way since the time you could only display your music when a big label was involved. With all the possibilities the internet brings, this is by far one of the more positive developments.

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

NK: – I always loved Wayne Shorter. Especially his earlier work. Pat Metheny for phrasing. I also enjoy listening to players like Gilad Hekselman and Brad Mehldau. But that’s just to name a few. My playlist is very diverse.

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

NK: – Although every tune on the album has a personal meaning to me, the songs can provoke different emotions to different people. I think that’s the beauty of music – instrumental music in particular. That being said, the big message that comes with this album is about acceptance, being in the moment and going after what it is you want.

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

NK: – I would love to visit the golden age of jazz to see some of our hero’s perform. First stop; the Miles Davis Quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.

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

NK: – As editor in chief for a big platform like JazzBluesNews.com you have the ability to introduce musicians from all over the world to potential listeners. Would you say this is your biggest motivation to keep doing what you do?

JBN: – Yes, especially which of the musicians is stupid, who has a good intellect, who is just emptiness.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Video – Nick Kerkhoff

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