May 18, 2024

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Interview with Niels Wilhelm Knudsen: I feel no need to change the musical world: Video

Interview with contrabassist Niels Wilhelm Knudsen. 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.  

Niels Wilhelm Knudsen: – I grew up in a small village in the middle of Denmark. My brother began playing guitar at age 10, I think, and soon after I joined him and a friend in our first trio. We played Beatles and Hendrix songs when we got a little better. We played all the time. When I turned 18 I moved to Copenhagen and started gigging with different bands. Slowly I got into Jazz and the revelation came one day in a recording studio. I was recording with a rock band. In a break I discovered and old doublebass in the studio and tried it. I was hooked. I bought a bass and went to work trying to figure it out. Later I started studying musicology and took lessons from great Danish bassplayers like Bo Stief.

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

NWK: – Well, I would like to think that my sound has grown fuller and richer over the years. Developing left hand strength is important. A lot of experimentation with strings. But most important, I think, is listening. Listen to records and go to concerts and find out what sound you like. You need to a clear view of your goal.

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

NWK: – When I do have time I practice the same as most others I guess; transcribing, working with a metronome, working on my bowing, working with the Edouard Nanny Bass Method, playing piano, learning new standards, working on the thumb position… It’s a long list

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

NWK: – I find that very difficult. There is so much great music out there. In busy periods I just dive right in and play many different types of music.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

NWK: – I think it changes all the time. It depends on the people in the band, what their attitude is, and it depends on the music. I would like to take the audience through different emotions during the show, both solemn and introspective and wild and crazy.

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

NWK: – Absolutely, and maybe a few surprises as well.

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

NWK: – I don’t think the tunes are the problem. I’m not even sure there is a problem. I see young people at concerts and jams. They are out there. I have played in clubs where young people are involved in everything from booking, doing promotion, doing sound, cooking, selling tickets and so on. If they feel welcome and appreciated and it’s fun be a part of, they will be there.

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

NWK: – I’m not really a spiritual or religious person, I just like to play music.

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

NWK: – You know, I accept things as they are, I feel no need to change the musical world.

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

NWK: – Last week I saw Christian McBrides Inside Straight in Copenhagen, so now I’m revisiting a lot of his records. He is the great master of our generation. The week before that I saw Bobo Stenson Trio with the great Anders Jormin on bass, so I’m digging that as well. American jazz and Nordic jazz.

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

NWK: – I would go back to the late 50’s and check out Charles Mingus in New York.

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

NWK: – I found myself thinking long and hard about some of your questions. Some of them made me look deeper at how approach music. So my questions is; are you some sort of philosopher or guru, that will lead me to enlightenment?

JBN: – Is it possible to be so stupid, I was wondering about your lack of interest without having read the interview. Hey, donkey, my questions are not philosophical, as your empty head perceived. 9 of them were for your benefit, 9 for me to use as I wish. And Google will forever remind you about this, that you are a complete idiot.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Note: You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals in Europe and Boston, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/us-eu-jba/

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