June 22, 2024

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Interview with Johannes Berauer: Jazz is alive and striving more than ever: Video

Jazz interview with Austrian composer Johannes Berauer. 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?

Johannes Berauer: – I grew up close to Linz / Austria. My first contact with music was through my parents. My Mum played piano and my Dad Vinyls. It was a mix of classical music and Jazz. Chopin and Keith Jarrett are amongst my earliest conscious memories.

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

JB: – Most definitely. The most important lesson to develop my sound was to discover what not to do. There so many influences and so many voices (internal and external) that seem to know better than you what is right. Once you leave that behind the space opens up for your own voice to develop. And I guess I am still on that journey.

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

JB: – Despite being a composers and haven’t been performing in a couple of years, I am still practicing piano. It is the foundation for my musical well being and nourishes my creative endeavors. As for writing I love to study scores and other peoples music. And then rather then copying the actual music trying to distill concepts or constructing ideas and applying it to something completely different. It gets you immediately into the realm of discovery.

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

JB: – This is hard, honestly. Especially in the digital age, as literally anything is just a few clicks away. It asks for some discipline to challenge yourself again and again, and question what belongs to your music and what not. What could be an influence or what might be a distraction. Not an easy one this.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

JB: – It touches both. And only then it is complete. That is what music is capable of, more than anything else in life. And that is also why it has the potential to transcend.

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

JB: – Do I know what they long for in the first place? I think people go to concerts for many different reasons. And also to different kinds of music, which induce also different kinds of emotions. In that sense I can only deliver what my music has naturally built in and it is for the audience to decide whether they choose this journey for their evening or not. Of course in Jazz or any other improvising music there is a strong 2 way relationship and the music can take different turns in the moment, depending on the audiences energy.

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

Don’t have memories, young man?

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

JB: – Very good question. Jazz has always been absorbing current musical trends, en vouge styles and popular songs. And it still does. Jazz is alive and striving more than ever. But there is a discrepancy to what is being taught at universities. Here we find an over focus on a certain era in Jazz and I don’t think that this is too healthy. At the end of the day Jazz is not merely a musical style but more a way of thinking and performing music. You can actually perform any music with a Jazz approach. With improvisation of course, but also with a certain way of interacting with your fellow musicians. I think this is very attractive for both listeners and musicians.

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

JB: – Maybe a too deep question to be answered in a few sentences. The meaning of life … I don’t know. Victor Frankl says that having a purpose in life is the key to happiness. That humans are purpose seeking beings. Music is definitely my purpose in life. Music is soul nourishment. And it is a direct communication from soul to soul. So whatever joy, or also deep experiences a musicians creates for him/herself can be transported to a listener. And this is it’s true magic.

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

JB: – I wish it would become more personal again. Frankly I am not a fan of the digital age. I think we are loosing something. Everything has become so superficial. About the façade, the looks and not the content.

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

JB: – I listen to less music then you might expect. Composing is an internal process, so you need empty space inside to listen to. But when I do put music on I often listen to my mates my composition heroes (Vince Mendoza + Joni Mitchell is on the player right now) or something completely different. Lots of classical music also.

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

JB: – One is to be authentic. As mentioned above music goes from soul to soul and if you allow it, it can reach deep and transport the true you. Isn’t everybody’s deep down desire to let go of all the protective layers and be accepted the way he/she is. Music lets you touch that space and I believe it has healing power in doing so.

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

JB: – There is many things I want to do. Mostly to pursue that path of bringing Jazz into the orchestral world. This is definitely one of my strengths and there is much to be explored. Luckily I had some really interesting projects in that area recently and I hope it will grow. Besides there is more chamber music in the back of my mind. Also some intimate piano music that I want to realize. And I am also eager for collaborations.

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

JB: – These have been very deep questions. Talking about the heart of music more than the technicalities. I think all is said.

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

JB: – To be honest, no real expectations. Your request in my inbox came by surprise. So thanks for the honor. Whatever the outcome is will make me happy.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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