May 24, 2024

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Interview with Clement Abraham: Some great things happening in music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Clement Abraham. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Clement Abraham: – I grew up in Brittany, in the West of France, in the countryside and not far from the sea. My father listened to a lot of music, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis in particular. So I listened to these musicians all my childhood and, when I got interested in the drums, encouraged by my mother, my father made me interested in Art Blakey …

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

CA: – As a teenager I started playing pop music, but as soon as the idea of ​​becoming a professional musician came to me, I only played jazz and listened to jazz drummers. So I tried to reproduce the sound of the drummers that I loved: all the great drummers from the be-bop and hard-bop eras. But I had a preference for Roy Haynes ; it is he whom I have listened to the most and tried to imitate. I tried to copy Al Foster too! If I developed a sound, it is thanks to these musicians, and also thanks to the studies that I did with a teacher well known in France : Georges Paczynski.

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

CA: – Apart from the technical exercises that every drummer must work on (the rudiments!), I always work around a theme (mostly jazz). To develop independence and coordination on the drums, I’m still working on Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk themes. But, and that’s part of the reason I write music, I also work on my own themes. Sometimes I write music just to work on a beat that I want to study.

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

CA: – Today, all my influences come from jazz and those who invented it. If that can show in my drumming, I’m just happy about it. I also listen to people younger than me … and they enrich my drumming too!

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

CA: – I can’t always do it !!! As a conductor, I have to take care of a lot of things that have nothing to do with music, before, during and after the concert. I just try to be there “on the one” and while the music lasts. I think all the time about the best way to prepare myself and I have some work to do on that side.

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

CA: – When I write music, I start with something simple, a little melody that comes from me (or I don’t know where) and is not intellectual. It is the result of many things : my experiences, my state of mind, the context, the weather … Then I work on this little idea to make it a theme, and there, there is an intellectual work (but sensitivity is also involved). And when I finally play, I try to put the intellect aside as much as possible. While living in Africa, I lived a kind of mystical experience, which made me see life and music differently: I am more aware of our interdependence.

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

CA: – I want to give people what I want to play, without compromise, hoping that’s what they want! But sometimes I adapt the repertoire a bit to the context.

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

CA: – I think jazz musicians should write music, try to come up with something personal; it’s bound to be different from the classic tunes you’re talking about. I think it is this approach that can lead “young people” to take an interest in jazz and, why not, to discover older things afterwards. Many of us have followed this progression : from more modern music, we have gone back in time to understand the origin.

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

CA: – It’s very personal, but I think music is the best way to bring us closer to each other, to be good together. This is particularly true within a jazz group, even if everything does not go exactly as you would like! In any case, we are living an enriching collective experience.

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

CA: – The business, the music market, which does not serve music precisely. This market often favors uninteresting things just because they are new and to make money. If the mainstream media broadcast more jazz, people would love jazz and we would be happier!

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

CA: – Recently, I’ve listened to Max Roach more: he really invented modern drums and paved the way for people like Tony Williams or Elvin Jones. I also listen to Dave Holland’s bands a lot and, therefore, more modern drummers: Eric Harland, Nate Smith … French musicians too ! And not just jazz : I really like D’Angelo.

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

CA: – I try to convey the joy of living, playing and listening to music. I would also like people to be more aware of the contribution of black American musicians to change music.

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

CA: – Obviously, I would have liked to know the time when jazz exploded, after the second world war. But I like the period we are living in, despite all the difficulties that we encounter. I think there are some great things happening in music.

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

CA: – How did you find out about my work?

JBN: – One of the quality musicians who said that there is a mediocre drummer.

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

CA: – Your questions made me think about things that I don’t take the time to think about (thank you!). But I know that I should take this time to choose what I’m going to do and do it better. One thing is certain, I will continue to practice the drums, write music and play with the best musicians possible, all while trying to improve myself as a musician and as a human being.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Douarnenez - Jazz. L'album dont rêvait Clément Abraham - Le Télégramme

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