June 14, 2024


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Interview with Marc Copland։ Over the years I have tried to stick to developing my own style: Video, new CD cover

Jazz Interview with pianist and composer Marc Copland. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – Please explain your creative process … What are your main impulses to write music?

Marc Copland: – It’s a mysterious thing even to me. My work goes into study, research, training, preparation, listening, trying various musical elements to see what works.

Out of these elements, something puts notes together, either in composing a tune or in improvising a solo, in a spontaneous moment. It’s kind of like speaking or writing.   The brain is putting everything together based on
previously acquired and constantly developing skills, but you can’t be sure what’s going to come out until you are writing or speaking.  Or playing or composing.

JBN: – What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your work and/or career?

MC: – These kinds of questions are very thoughtful, and could take hours and hours to answer. Certainly the decision to switch to piano as my main instrument at the age of 25 was a big turning point.

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

MC: – Expect the unexpected.

JBN: – Are there sub-genres within the jazz field that you tend to stay away from or focus on? 

MC: – Not consciously. I have tried to keep true to developing my own style over the years, simply by following and exploring what I hear in my head. I don’t like to make music in situations where I can’t play what I hear. Sub-genres are not relevant; if the music gives me space to play the way I feel it, then it’s all good.

JBN: – When your first desire to become involved in the music was & what do you learn about yourself from music? 

MC: – Studying, learning, and playing music has been a process for me since I was 6 or 7 years old. I don’t see an end.   I keep trying to change and develop according to the sounds I am hearing inside. Music has taught me … almost everything. How to think, how to feel, how to live.

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

MC: – Find a quiet place and try to feel what’s inside. 

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Someday, how it was formed and what you are working on today.   

MC: – I’m extremely proud of the “Someday” quartet. We just finished a European tour, and I can’t say enough about how loose and creative these cats are, and how invested they are in making the best music they can. I believe a lot of this comes across in the recording.

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here


JBN: – Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

MC: – I’ve known and played with these three musicians for a fair number of years — but never all three at once, and I thought it would be a good combination. If the tour is good … and this one was … the music develops and grows during the tour. That makes it fun to come to work every night.

JBN: – How would you describe and rate the music scene you are currently living?

MC: – There are good musicians and good music everywhere, but my favorite place is still New York. There’s always something happening.

JBN: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?

MC: – This is true, and also not true.  The path and direction are pretty clear, but you have to be ready to shift gears in an instant.

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?

MC: – That’s an interesting observation. I think some music majors are capable of  expression and some are not. You could take the same sentence and replace the words “music majors” with “professional jazz musicians,” and I think it would still be true.

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? 

MC: – This happens, but it’s not a recent thing, it’s been going on for as long as I’ve been playing. It’s really sad to see someone with a lot of talent that is just not able to find a path to getting heard. There’s been a lot of good music that’s been lost in this way.

JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?

MC: – I teach master classes when asked, but I’ve never had a formal teaching position. I like it better that way, I’m able to think and speak totally freely. I think that makes my experience with teaching pretty close to my experience with playing and composing.

JBN: – With such an illustrious career, what has given you the most satisfaction musically?

MC: – My late friend and collaborator John Abercrombie said it best … while improvising, “you’re just sort of searching for this thing, and sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t.”

JBN: – What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career?

MC: – It’s not easy, but stay with it!

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

MC: – Your questions are great, I’ve nothing to add.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career?

MC: – Plenty of benefit concerts.   Sadly, a lot of them are memorial concerts.

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

MC: – In an interview, I expect that I will do my best to answer questions thoughtfully and openly.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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