Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter, guitarist and pianist Gerhard Daum. 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?
Gerhard Daum: – I grew up in Freiburg, a town in the warmest part of Germany close to the border of France and Switzerland. It is a university town with a lot of activity regarding music, sessions and concerts.
I started with playing the trumpet in marching bands and later switched to guitar – it felt hipper at that time to play the guitar – and I was listening a lot to Jimmy Hendrix. During high school I was playing the guitar in different bands, it was a lot of fun and people encouraged me to think about making a career in music.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
GD: – Constantly playing is necessary to develop and cultivate your sound.
For me the sound of an instrument is precious and a very important part besides composing the music.
When I am composing music I develop all the structure necessary in my head in advance. After the composing part is done I exactly know what kind of sound I need for each instrument.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
GD: – The music is basically defined by melody, harmony and rhythm – I’m constantly working on that, but my focus is always a bit shifting because I like writing and exploring various genres from classical, jazz to soundtracks. Every one of them requires different skills.
In general I practice all licks and scales throughout the quint circle and work with the metronome in different tempi.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?
GD: – Of course one changes. A big accomplishment for me was playing the trumpet again after a hiatus of decades.
Working as a film music composer requires a lot of arranging and being capable to adept to different genres. Doing this on the piano is very helpful in this case.
Playing three different instruments require a lot of commitment.
The sound of the music I’m working on now is the result of my experience and development throughout life.
JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
GD: – Loving the work I do maintains my stamina. Being able to work in different fields keeps it very interesting.
Preparation depends on what project I’m working on – as a film composer I have to work with directors and producers and try to come up with musical ideas based on the story of the movie.
If I’m working on albums I like to evoke a specific sound for my acoustic or electronic instruments to create the right emotional context for my compositions.
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Jazz Ballads, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
GD: – My intention was to create fresh tunes in a classical jazz standard way.
Melody is an important part of my music and I like space between lines. Finding the right balance between sound and silence, leaving notes out is always challenging.
I’ve just completed an Americana Suite – three pieces with guitars and string ensemble originating from different motion picture soundtracks I scored previously.
My next project will be writing contemporary preludes for piano solo.
JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?
GD: – For the album “Jazz Ballads” I was looking for a versatile drummer with a lot of experience. I was lucky Adam Nussbaum loved the music and my trumpet sound and was available at the time.
JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
GD: – The balance between intellect and soul depends on your knowledge, experience and the “Mensch” you are.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
GD: – As a musician it’s important for me to create and compose music I want to listen to. In my experience I think to be honest on the stage, do what you love connects with the audience. I certainly hope so.
JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?
GD: – Working as a composer means working a lot alone and it takes a lot of time preparing new projects.
While I was working in L.A. I met Joe Zawinul. He was playing with his band and I was quite thrilled how he incorporated his electronic stuff into his music and as always the rhythm band was darn good.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
GD: – I think we need to compose and play music of what happens…
That means composing and playing new material and maybe some of it will become jazz standards in the future.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
GD: – I fell in love with music early so life and music is an integral part of my spirit and existence. I appreciate what John was saying – it resonates with my own experience, I understand it well.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
GD: – I would love to see more awareness for today’s music in public and media, but unfortunately mostly everything is about money. It would be great to see musical education more implemented to allow young generations to gain the wonderful benefits music can offer.
JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
GD: – In general I’m interested in music that inspires me to wonder. I don’t listen to any specific artist or band, I’m always looking for some new sound and style or combination of both in any music genre.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
GD: – My message for my music is creating beauty and elegance with surprising elements and authenticity.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
GD: – We are fortunate to live in a time that allows us to choose what we love to do with our lives, it’s still not easy but at least we have the freedom to try it.
On a trip with a time machine to the past it would be interesting for me to see how artists were interacting with their audience. On a trip to the future I would be curious to get to know how music will develop.
JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…
GD: – Your questions are digging deep into the music. Thanks for that!
JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?
GD: – Yes, in the beginning I sometimes played with my Gerhard Daum Quartet in places where we got no money but anyway it was great to feel the audience and the pulse of the moment.
I hope this interview connects with music lovers who care about the music of today.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan