May 20, 2024

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Interview with Wajdi Riahi: Jazz is like vegetables, it could be not very delicious at the beginning: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if pianist, an ungrateful and problematic person Wajdi Riahi. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – Before we jump into anything historical, can you tell us about what we can expect musically this evening?

Wajdi Riahi: – I grew up in Tunisia in a small city not far from Tunis. My father is a music teacher, my brother started to play violin when I was 5 years old, so I wanted to do the same thing as him, that’s why my father asked me if I want to try the piano to be able to live musically with my brother.

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

WR: – I think that listening to other musicians has been always a big source of inspiration to me starting from Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner, bud powell … to keith Jarret, Brad Mehldau … I was trying always to sound like those guys. At the same time, I have another musical background coming from Arabic, north African music the music that I used to listen/practice with my father and in conservatory in Tunis.

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

WR: – My practice routine is not very regular, let’s say that it’s not always the same thing. Transposing songs has always help me to understand more the harmony in general how it works. I want maybe talk more about rhythm because in my opinion is more interesting than harmony. When we improvise, a wrong note (harmonically wrong) works only if the time of playing that note is good or the intention at least. However, the opposite does not work unfortunately. So that’s why when I’m in affront of a new rhythmical challenge I really take care of it and I try to see all the possibilities and different ways of feeling it.

JBN: – How do you keep stray, or random, musical influences from diverting you from what you’re doing?

???

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

WR: – For me is to accept the way that I’m playing, it means that I am not going to play better for the studio session it has to be as natural as possible.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

WR: – For a musician, intellect and soul are both important to be more prcise. The intellect part for me is more a translator between the artist and the listener. Probably we don’t speak the same language but all of as share the same feelings (sadness, happiness, nostalgia, anger …) the role of the intellect part is to translate it to the listener in a subtle way.

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

WR: – Definitely, our job in a first place is to deliver emotions to people and make them feel something strong. But I like also the contrast in general so I’ll not hesitate to surprise them sometimes just to feel something different.

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

No memorries, baby???

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

WR: – In my opinion jazz is like vegetables, it could be not very delicious at the beginning but once you understand his taste you will like for all of your life. Because it changes it changes his own taste every time.

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

WR: – Believing in music is like believing in god or karma or anything else, what I mean is if you take care of music, music will take care of you.

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

WR: – I would not change anything actually, it is like nature, it’s already perfect even it is not fair sometimes but problems start when we start changing (hahahah).

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

WR: – I listen to a Egyptian singer this period Mohamed Omrane, to Gerald Clayton, Brad Mehldau and Bud Powell.

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

WR: – New York.

JBN: – What have you lost here, you ant?

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

WR: – Why did you choose me to do the interview? how do you get my contact?

JBN: – Stupid and untalented musicians like you are easy to find and destroy. (hahahaha)

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

WR: – I really hope that readers will like it, take what is good for them and throw what is not (hahahaha)

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Wajdi Riahi / Piano – FEDERICOGIGS

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