Interview with saxophonist, ungrateful and impolite person Asaf Harris. 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?
Asaf Harris: – I grew up in a small town in Israel called – Zichron Yaakov, an hour north of Tel Aviv. I had a deep connection with music since I was a child, but one experience that made me realize I would like to be a musician was the Paul Mccartney show in Tel Aviv in 2008. This show touched me in a way I’m having trouble describing. I just got back home and started learning Beatles songs on my guitar. Also, that year was the year I started playing the saxophone more seriously. Since then I had numerous meaningful and powerful musical experiences, but this was, without doubt, a turning point in my life.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
AH: – When I started playing jazz I was obviously clueless. Luckily I had great teachers who explained to me the importance of studying the history of the music. I’ve been doing my musical research by transcribing the greats like Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, and many others. By studying them, I was starting to develop my own sound, which is also evolving all the time as my musical taste keeps changing and forming.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
AH: – I try to practice the saxophone every day, I have an exercise routine in terms of technique and sound, but I always search for a musical opportunity that is new to me, find something I like, and come up with an exercise that would help me get better at it.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?
AH: – As I mentioned, I am changing all the time, we all do in my opinion. My music is very connected with where I am in life, what I do, where I live, and even the time of the year.
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
AH: – I think most musicians would answer a similar answer to this question. You must study, do your musical research, and become an educated musician in order to forget everything when you play, and just play what you feel. In my opinion, playing music is one of the greatest privileges on earth. Being in “the zone” and being able to connect emotionally with other people through your music is an actual gift.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
AH: – For me, music is all about truth and communication. I am very interested in being connected to the audience and their whole musical experience, so it would become one with the band’s experience. That way, we walk through this journey together.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
AH: – In my opinion, new jazz recordings should aspire to be relevant to our times. The production, sound, content, and any other aspect should reflect a personal point of view and most importantly – tell a story.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
AH: – I can really relate to this saying. For me, music is the meaning of life. I feel that it is the best way for me to contribute to the world and to enjoy the world as well.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
AH: – I think I would suggest that more people will pay to listen to music, like it was before the age of music streaming.
JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
AH: – I just got obsessed (once again) with Ibrahim Maalouf. Because I listen to a lot of Arabic music these days, I find Ibrahim’s music and his improvisation very inspiring. I think he is one of the few who managed to “build a bridge” between Jazz and the Maqam world.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
AH: – I would probably go back to New York in the 60’s to listen to an Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers concert.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan
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