May 27, 2024

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Interview with Sverre Gjørvad: And standards teaches you good melody, rhythm and harmonics: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Sverre Gjørvad. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Sverre Gjørvad: – I grew up in Stathelle in the south of Norway, about 150 km south of Oslo. A small town with nice summers. My interest for drums and music started the day I was born, I think. I made my first drum from a paint bucket, and marched with it in my street. My first heroes were the guys playing in the local marching band. I had to big sisters that pushed music to me, like Supertramp, Jethro Tull and stuff like that.

I also had a friend that played guitar, whose siblings had got him into Spyro Gyra and stuff like that. We liked that kind of stuff; instrumental music. I sort of found at that there was improvising involved. Later on my sister came home with “Travels” by Pat Metheny. I can still remember the feeling when I first listened to “Are you going with me”, I had never ever heard anything that beautiful, and til this day it is some of the best music I know. From that on I got to more and more improvised music.

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

SG: – Well, I listened to a lot of music, concerts and records, and I played in many bands. I listened to a lot of music from the jazz canon, and got into Roy Haynes, Billy Higgins, Tony Williams, and of course Paul Motian, and tried to imitate them. I also got very much into Jon Christensen, and later on Joey Baron. These last years, I have mostly lost interest in the drumming “an sich”, and got more into the philosophy around music, and the interaction part of it.

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

SG: – I do not practice that much, since I nowadays mainly work as a producer. So when I have concerts, I spend some days rehearsing singles and doubles and paradiddles and stuff like that. Some practicing that involves my legs is also done. Hopefully I am improving my musical abilities, playing together with my band.

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

SG: – I really do not know, but since I have turned 55 years of age, I only listen to music that I like. But friends publish new music all the time, and most of it is really good. I read mainly good books, and if I see TV, I try to find the good stuff. It is a good rule, to stick with the good people, the good art, you know, the things that make life good.

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

SG: – I try to be well prepaired, in the sence that I know the music (no sheets), and have the technical ability to play it. I also try to make a good vibe in the band; that could be a good meal, a nice walk or other things. I also try to make the sound check as short a possible.

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

SG: – That is very dualistic question? To me, soul is intellect, and intellect is soul.

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

SG: – I they want what I give them, yes, haha! You know, people come to our concerts, either because the know our music, or they know music that I have played with other bands, or they know music that the other bandmembers have played. Maybe some people come only out of curiosity, but I think that people coming to our concerts have a basic idea of what to expect.

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

SG: – The best moments in music is when things happen the way you want them to, or when things maybe take other and better directions… Because you know, you play in a band and sometimes bandmembers come with ideas that makes thing better, and maybe better in a surprisingly different way? I have done some drumming (like, drumming-wise) in the studio that I am satisfied with, as well. But, that is not so important.

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

SG: – Maybe play other stuff? No, I do not mean that. Standards/blues is a jazz quality, a base for jazz as we know it. And standards teaches you good melody, rhythm and harmonics.

But then again, those qualitys are maybe not appreciated that much anymore? I don’t know, but I do know that western governments do no value teaching music in schools, so then commercial radio and stupid tv-shows are directing what people are listening to?

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

SG: – Have you seen the movie “Monty Pytons Meaning of Life”? I like the end of that movie, when it states that the meaning of life is to be nice, read a good book now and then… And I think that “Professor Dumbledore” is right, when he says we should not be afraid of death. We should be afraid of life, or at least care for life.

My spirit is my body, and it dies with me some day. Before that, I intend to make good music, have good meals with lots of good wine, and have good life with my family. I also hope that my son will have good memories of his father, and has adapted some of his rules of life. It is important not to overcomplicate things!

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

SG: – I would see to that children of the world will be taught music in school. There will also be singing in schools. Many times a day.

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

SG: – I plan to give that some attention. Stian Carstensens last album is also on rotation In our house. I listen to Sami music as well, and music influenced by Sami music.

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

SG: – Quite simple, really. Peace, love and harmony is never out of fashion. Not good tension either. And, most often, one exclamation mark is enough.

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

SG: – I would have liked to see Duke Ellington and his Orchestra at the Cotton Club, mid Thirties. The Swing Era is underestimated, if you ask me.

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

SG: – What would that be? How are things in your country when it comes to understanding the importance of the arts, and the importance of music teaching?

JBN: – Whatever it was, a little more intelligence wouldn’t hurt you. And in our country, in the United States, especially in Boston, everything is wonderful. Also, everything is fine in Eastern European countries, where I organize jazz festivals.

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

SG: – A good one, but I do not know.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Jazzmusiker Sverre Gjørvad | Facebook

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