Jazz interview with jazz drummer Dave Potter. 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? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?
Dave Potter: – I was born in Danville, VA but grew up in Durham, North Carolina. MTV was playing in my house all the time and then my mom really dug the music she grew up with from the 60’s and 70’s. The movie La Bamba also came out when I was a kid and it was really cool to me to see a fellow Mexican-American making music.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
DP: – I hope it has and continues to mature. I’m constantly listening to the master players and trying to understand what they’re doing conceptually. Each of us is already born with a unique sound. Listening to the best players in the history of the music allows you to improve and refine your sound.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
DP: – I’m always working on my technique. Over the pandemic I started studying with a great teacher, Gary Lefrancois who has really helped me to understand the way the body works in relation to the drums. Rhythm is always on mind. It guides everything I do. Exploiting both the simple and complex side of the beat is my job.
JBN: – How do you keep stray, or random, musical influences from diverting you from what you’re doing?
DP: – For me it’s all about playing what the music calls for. In other words, learning how and when to play things in context. Not every musical idea or concept works in all situations. By listening to the greats, you learn what you can and cannot get away with.
JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
DP: – Trying to live a balanced and examined life. Basically, not being a jerk and taking care of my health.
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DP: – It can shift a little on either side but it needs to be pretty even to achieve the best outcome.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
DP: – Yes, but here’s the catch. The “audience” is not a singular entity. You will never please everyone and the music needs to be presented in a way that showcases its artistry in an honest way.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
DP: – The same way you get young people into Bach. You have to demonstrate the genius and artistry of the music.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
DP: – Music is one of the greatest expressions of human emotion. As they say, it us the soundtrack to our lives.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
DP: – That the media would study the history of the music and judge artists as part of a continuum versus what happens a lot of now, where it’s more like a fashion/popularity contest.
JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
DP: – Gregory Hutchinson, Ralph Peterson, Gus Johnson, etc…
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
DP: – Love!
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
DP: – I would love to be a young adult in the 1980’s and witness and be a part of the resurgence of swing
JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…
DP: – How can we use the digital framework of today to help teach the legacy of this music?
JBN: – SS: – Digital technologies can only transmit music that is ready, performed, recorded or videotaped. In the case of jazz, no more.
JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?
DP: – Hopefully people can get to know a little more about me and my music. Thank You.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan