May 19, 2024

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Interview with Chad Taylor: The purpose of music is to express: Video, new CD cover

Interview with Jazz drummer Chad Taylor. 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?

Chad Taylor: – I was born in Tempe, Arizona. My father was a musical prodigy and pursued a career as a concert pianist but eventually gave up his dream because of financial constraints. As a child he introduced me to Bach, Mozart, Ellington, Monk and others. I started guitar lessons when I was 7. When I was 10, I relocated to Chicago with my mom and sister. It wasn’t an option to play guitar in the school band so I started learning percussion. I started playing drum set when I was 14. In 1992 I moved to NYC to study jazz drumming at The New School. I think my career really took off when I moved back to Chicago in 1997. Very early on I was aware that I could make a living playing music because I started playing professionally when I was 15.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound? What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

CHT: – It takes time to develop your own sound and there are no short cuts. I’ve developed my own vocabulary and my own rudiments that I practice throughout the years. A lot of my rudiments are based off of traditional African hand drumming. When composing I tend to use diatonic vs chromatic harmony and also focus on voice leading instead of traditional jazz harmony. The great drummer Ralph Peterson once said “the more music you know, the more musicianship you will have.” I listen to as much music that I can from all genera’s of music.

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

CHT: – I don’t prepare or practice for stamina. Stamina comes from experience.

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

CHT: – What I like most about The Reel is the diversity of the compositions. We spent 3 months writing and rehearsing new material and then went into the studio. Most recently I’ve recorded a Duo with Angelica Sanchez, A percussion Trio with Joe Chambers and Kevin Obatala and a new Hearts and Minds recording With Jason Stein and Paul Giallorenzo.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

CHT: – I met Brian Settles and Neil Pordurski at the New School when I was a student. We have a lot of history together and I like the challenge of performing without a bass player.

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

CHT: – For me great music is about feeling things that cannot be expressed with words. My goal when composing or performing is to get across feelings. I’ve never been a fan of music that just comes off as intellectual. However sometimes the intellect can help express the soul.

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

CHT: – Yes! For me that’s the whole purpose of performing music.

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

CHT: – Once in my early 20’s I played a gig in NYC at Fat Cat. We were suppose to play 3 sets. After the second set the club cleared out and there was hardly anyone left. I was tired and hungry so I said to the bandleader “Man ain’t no one here. Why don’t we just get our money and split” He said “lets just play one more tune.” “Ok fine” I responded “what do you want to play?” “Lets do So What” he said. Ughh. Of all the tunes out there that was the absolute last song I wanted to play. I got back on the drums and had a terrible attitude. The song went on and on chorus after chorus. All I could think about was where I was gonna grab some food after the gig. Finally the song ended and I quickly got up and packed up my cymbals. I then realized there was someone sitting in the corner right next to the drums the entire time. He got up and tapped me on the shoulder. It was Jimmy Cobb! That was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. From that moment on I decided no matter what the gig is, no matter how many people are in the audience, I will play like its my last performance.

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

CHT: – Through education. We should teach kids that jazz isn’t just a genera of music but also a process. And that process is used in a lot of the music that they currently listen to.

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

CHT: – That musicians got paid fairly for the music that they create.

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

CHT: – I try and listen to as much music as I can in multiple genera’s. Lately I have been listening to The Bad Plus, Mboom and Ingrid Laubrock.

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

CHT: – For me the purpose of music is to express the feelings and ideas that cannot be expressed with words, So the message is not really something that can be articulated.

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

CHT: – Yes.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

CHT: – I have given benefit concerts in the past. In fact I’m getting ready to play one tonight for the Jaimie Branch Foundation. I hope to introduce new people to my music. Thanks. CT.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Chad Taylor - "Mbira Song" - YouTube

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