May 23, 2024

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Interview with Samuel Lerner: The life has absolutely no meaning …

Interview with pianist Samuel Lerner. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. 

Samuel Lerner: – I was born in Paris on March 23rd, 1983. In 1986, my father accepted tenure as a math researcher at Purdue University and my family moved to the United States, settling in West Lafayette, Indiana. I was enrolled in a local kindergarten program and quickly developed a profound interest in playing the piano around the age of five. My father had been an amateur piano player for several years and he taught me an early appreciation of jazz and European classical music. I started playing the piano alongside of him, performing classic songs from The Great American Songbook as well as other jazz and blues tunes My parents returned to France in 1990, but this time they chose to settle outside of the city in a midsize town located in the West, known as Rennes. Despite the relocation, I maintained my interest in piano and soon began private lessons with the headmaster of the Conservatory. It wasn’t until my adolescent years, when I first discovered the music of American jazz pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk, that I knew piano was my ultimate passion.

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

SL: – It’s not easy for a musician to speak about his own sound. One hears his own voice in a different way than the others because he hears it from inside. I guess it is somehow the same for the sound of a musician. To answer sincerely to this question I have the impression that I never really practiced my sound which doesn’t t mean that I don’t think about it. I guess it’s quite hard to practice the sound, sound in my opinion is contained in the soul of a musician, I mean that the sound is under the influence of everything a musician is practicing but that you cannot work on it specifically, it’s more like something which follows the path of a musician. I’m not sure the Jazz musicians which did really change their sound along their life as Trane or Miles did really decide it. It’s more like their sound is following all the other mutations in their playing.

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

SL: – My routine practice merely changes with what I’m playing live. I actually try to practice what I must play on gigs, I practice a very few exercises and things which haven’t a direct link to the music (perhaps I should).

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

SL: – I just don t listen to them and don’t pay attention to them which is quite easy no?

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

SL: – Please tell me!

JBN: – SS: – Do you not know what Intellect and soul are, that you have no intelligence, it is evident from your empty answers to our questions.

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

SL: – But who knows what emotion people long for? Do they know??

JBN: – SS: – And the musician, that is jazz, is not an empty talker like you, who does not concentrate the audience and does not create communication. You come to the Berlin, Prague, Warsaw jazz festivals organized by me and you as an audience will learn how they do it.

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

SL: – This a true problem linked in my opinion to something much more wide than Jazz that is to say the loss of “popular” music and its replacement by what we can call “mass” music. As well as composers from the modern era did used a lot of traditional music to nourish their compositions, Jazz players used the Broadway music hall songs as a material to express something else. And it was very convenient because everybody knew those songs and therefore could feel a link from what they were listening each day and what the more “advanced” musicians were playing. The problem today is that what we used to call “popular” music and which is somehow specific to each country and its tradition is being destroyed by global economy to be replaced by a sort of “world” music which is so poor and soulless that it’s impossible to do any kind of stuff with it. That phenomena contributes to separate Jazz Musicians from the audience as it is told in your question and I can’t see any immediate solution to it. It’s certainly more a society and somehow political problem than a musical problem.

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

SL: – I think life has absolutely no meaning if you accept to face things really. I guess that’s why each one of us has to tell himself a story to stay alive.

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

JBN: – SS: – It is clear that you did not write an answer to this question of mine, for that you need to be a musician and have intelligence. Hey, you misunderstanding, at least you had a video!

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

SL: – I ve been listening a lot lately to Mary Lou Williams, Randy Weston, Cecil Taylor also to traditional music as Maloya and music from the Pygmees.

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

SL: – Birdland 1952 May 17 1950 : Charlie Parker,Fats Navarro, Bud Powell, Tommy Potter, Roy Haynes Five Spot August 7 1958; T Monk, J Griffin, Ahmed Abdul Malik; Roy Haynes.

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.

Samuel Lerner Trio | Saturday September, 28th 2019 - 9:00 PM @ L'Apostrophe | Concert | Paris Jazz Club

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