April 20, 2024

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Interview with David Wildi։ Guitar Poetry – Endawin: Video, new CD cover

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist David Wildi. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

David Wildi: – I grew up in northern Switzerland, in the city of Aarau. I always wanted to play the guitar, even as a five-year-old. I started at the age of 10. As a teenager I played a lot of music (rock, funk), but first I learned the profession of an architectural draughtsman and only later, at the age of 23, I studied music. Only then did I think about a professional career as a musician. In the course of my music studies, I became interested in jazz. Pat Metheny, Chuck Loeb, George Benson, Robben Ford but also Ed Bickert and of course Wes Montgomery were important influences during this time.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

DW: – Stylistically, the sound of my compositions was strongly influenced by the fusion of the 80s at the beginning. Larry Carlton or Lee Ritenour were certainly also influences. In the course of time, a certain melodic quality of the compositions became more and more important. The sound moved more and more in the direction of guitar poetry, as I call it. Today I use diatonics more and more often in the melodies and pure triads also appear more often in the chords now. I can’t say exactly why the compositions are moving there. But it is certainly the case that spiritual themes are becoming more and more important in my life.

My guitar sound was influenced by the archtop sound of jazz guitarists. But for a long time I played a Guild X500, which is an archtop but doesn’t have a swinging top. Its sound has more sustain and is not as percussive. About 10 years ago I changed to a Gibson L4 to get the shorter but more percussive archtop sound. Pat Metheny’s sound certainly had a big influence on my current guitar sound. I was also inspired by his use of reverb.

For the recordings I used a Fender Hot Rod George Benson Signature amp. In my opinion one of the best tube amps for jazz. But I also play the old Henriksen transistor amps very often. These two types of amps certainly had an influence on my guitar sound.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

DW: – For me, basic exercises with chord arpeggios have always remained important. I always improvise strongly out of the chord and think less in scales. So it is very important for me to have the harmonic structure present. Sometimes I just think through the chords when I practise, but I don’t play. .

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

DW: – Yes, I have certainly changed over the years. The stresses of being a musician, especially travelling, are a bit more of a burden. One development I would mention is digitalisation, which also has a great influence on the music business. Music is everywhere and can often be consumed for free on the internet. That is a problem for musicians who finance their music productions themselves. If you experienced the 80s, you know that it was completely different back then and the music business was bigger.

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

DW: – Before performances or recordings, I practise much more intensively and reduce other activities a lot. This focus enables me to handle the pressure well.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: David Wildi Guitar Poetry – Endawin, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

DW: – What I like about Endawin is the uncompromising nature of the compositions. I concentrated entirely on taking the melodies that were created as purely as possible and not using any compositional techniques. The small instrumentation brings out the essence of the compositions. They were created by processing individual ideas that I had collected over a long period of time. These sketches are constantly being created in a variety of places. Today I am working on other pieces not dissimilar to those of Endawin. I have a lot of collected sketches in the drawer. I am constantly working on them.

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

DW: – I found them on the recommendation of musicians.

David Wildi Guitar Poetry - Endawin (2022) Hi-Res ISRABOX HI-RES

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DW: – The content, the musical substance of a piece should spring exclusively from the soul of the composer or the improviser. That is the goal from my point of view. Whether one achieves that in each case is a completely different question. The intellect should only be needed for the realisation of a soulful concern. In the end, for me it is always about the message.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

DW: – There is always a reciprocal relationship between audience and artist. But this can be of a very different nature. It can range from deep inner connection to fanatical dependence.

For me, the relationship of the audience to the music is in the foreground. Not the relationship of the audience to the artist. The artist is really only the channel. The source, I believe, is ultimately the same for all artists. And it is not of this world.

I don’t see myself as a “purveyor” of emotions. I try to write music that springs from my innermost being and primarily reflects my longings. This appeals to people who resonate similarly to me. That’s really all there is to it.

As I said, spiritual themes are becoming more and more important in my life. That’s why I see music more and more as a mouthpiece for the soul and try to do justice to this more and more uncompromisingly.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

DW: – I was once allowed to take part in a studio session by Fritz Renold, where many famous musicians were present. For example, Danny Gottlieb, Bob Berg, Mike Richmond, Adam Nussbaum, Christian Jacob, Franco Ambrosetti and Randy Brecker were there. Although I only had to play one line in a piece, it was still an experience to watch these people record.

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

DW: – It’s absolutely no problem that some of the standards are half a century or older. That’s not a lot of time. Jazz was a musical evolution. This era may be past its prime, but it is far from over. The jazz and blues of the last century can and should be as inspiring to all young improvising musicians as the classical music of past centuries is to young classical musicians. Bach is just as timeless in my eyes as Coltrane. Jesus also lived in a certain era. But what he said is timeless. Every epoch has left behind statements that are timeless, and that’s what it’s all about.

One way to inspire young people is to propagate jazz more in the media and thus make them more aware of it. The media have the opportunity to give jazz more space. That would achieve a lot.

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

DW: – The meaning of life? A big question. A very big one. My very personal, current view is:

Matter follows spirit. We are not material beings inhabited by an intellect and having spiritual experiences. We are eternal, spiritual beings who create our reality and have material experiences. If we are not aware of this, we destroy our environment. If we are aware of this, we protect and preserve our environment. The meaning of life for me is to increase our awareness more and more. The more we know who we are and what we are animated by, the more we can recognise what, for example, an animal or a plant is animated by. The higher the consciousness vibrates, the more we move from having to being. And this can and will save the planet.

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

DW: – I would give less space in the media to music that is made by machines. And I would give more space in the media to music that is made by people, especially improvised music. These media are not promoted enough and therefore function too much according to the laws of the market. But valuable music has always been dependent on public money or on support from institutions. This was already the case in the Middle Ages and even the great classical composers were only able to complete their works because they were paid composition commissions.

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

DW: – I listen to old recordings just as often as the current ones.

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

DW: – In my eyes, it’s about the essence: What has the music said to the world? What has it revealed? For me, true music, in its innermost essence, always has the same core message: Love. It doesn’t matter to me whether this is expressed by Mozart, Miles Davis, Paul McCartney or Freddy Mercury. The only thing that matters to me is whether I can hear that message. One musician who could deliver the message in a very pure form was Eva Cassidy.

I try to get this core message across as well.

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

DW: – I would travel to North America. About the 13th century. I would be interested in the vast Indian cultures that existed there before the discovery of America.

JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

DW: – How do you observe the development of jazz since this website exists?

JBN: – It is difficult to say, I should be divided by countries, by age. When you follow our site, you will understand who is good and who is very bad.

JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

DW: – I don’t have any specific expectations. I am grateful when my music resonates with other people. If this interview contributes to that, then I’m happy.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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