Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Walt Weiskopf. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – Please explain your creative process ․․․
Walt Weiskopf: – The main thing is consistent practice and preparation.
JBN: – What are your main impulses to write music?
WW: – I try to think first of a title, and this helps to inspire my composition.
JBN: – What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your work and/or career?
WW: – I am most gratified to be able to perform my own compositions and arrangements with my own band.
JBN: – Before we jump into anything historical, can you tell us about what we can expect musically this evening?
WW: – My concerts are generally drawn from my original compositions and arrangements of standard tunes.
JBN: – Are there sub-genres within the jazz field that you tend to stay away from or focus on?
WW: – I am drawn to many different genres, classical music, R&B, rock, pop etc.
JBN: – When your first desire to become involved in the music was & what do you learn about yourself from music?
WW: – My father played classical piano while I was growing up. This had a lasting influence on me. When I discovered jazz as a young teenager it motivated me to try to increase my skill level so I could function as a jazz musician.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
WW: – I practice daily, that’s the main thing. It’s not that I practice for long hours, but I try and practice each day for about an hour.
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: European Quartet: Diamonds and Other Jewels, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
WW: – The WWEQ was formed in 2017. We have a collective ideal – to play the kind of music we all love and play it for people who love to hear it. Over the past 5 years we have recorded roughly one album each year and hope to continue.
JBN: – Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?
WW: – I do think my playing and writing continue to evolve. The musicians with whom I partner continually inspire me to write with them particularly in mind.
JBN: – How would you describe and rate the music scene you are currently living?
WW: – There are many opportunities in the arts now; particularly with the globalization of the economy (this website is a good example) but the current climate necessitates fluency with a good business sense, good common sense and above all good organization on a personal and professional level.
JBN: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?
WW: – Improvisation is a difficult concept but a good performance in the jazz genre depends mostly on practice and preparation. A good analogy is learning lines for a play or a song; the trick is to make your performance sound spontaneous even though you have practiced the material over and over again.
JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?
WW: – Certainly, there are more skilled musicians now than in previous generations because there are many good schools around the world for music. Ultimately, the communication of a musicians’ artform depends on the same qualities as it always has, which comes from the heart.
JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?
WW: – The business aspect of the arts can often be frustrating, but the main thing is to have faith in yourself and patience in the process. Although it sounds ‘cliché’, the “cream” will always rise to the top.
JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?
WW: – I have always been an active composer. Writing good music requires the same effort and consistency as perfection of any artistic discipline; which is to say it is 10% “inspiration” and 90% “perspiration” (effort).
JBN: – With such an illustrious career, what has given you the most satisfaction musically?
WW: – It is kind of you to put it this way; but there are many ways I derive satisfaction from my career. The older I am, the more I value my experience and the ability to play music with my peers.
JBN: – From the musical and feeling point of view is there any difference between a old and great jazzmans and young?
WW: – Younger musicians have the advantage of jazz education and the study of those great older generations of musicians that preceded them. The challenge for younger musicians is to play with the authenticity necessary to be compelling.
JBN: – What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career?
WW: – I would say to any young person who is considering music professionally; is there any other career in which you can be happy and fulfilled? If the answer is yes, that’s what you should do. If you can only be happy making music your career, then be as prepared as you possibly can be because it is certainly not easy; but ultimately it can be very rewarding.
Intervciew by Simon Sargsyan