May 24, 2024

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Interview with Eviatar Slivnik: The intellect needs to be there to analyze what is going on in terms of form, cues, modulations etc: Video

Interview with drummer, ungrateful and impolite person Eviatar Slivnik. 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. 

Eviatar Slivnik: – I grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel. There, I was going to an elementary school of arts and had music lessons since 1st grade. First, we all had to learn how to play the recorder and afterwards I was taking a group class studying percussion instruments. After tasting a little bit of music at school I started to get into music (I was around 8 years old at that time) and asked my parents for drum lessons at the conservatory after school. At this point I wasn’t deeply invested in music but listened to a lot of music with my dad,especially bass players such as Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten etc, which got me pretty inspired. Only after a couple of years of studying drums I started playing in the school’s jazz band and that’s when I really fell in love with the music.

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

ES: – I think that as I evolved as a listener, my sound evolved too. The way I see it is that my sound is the total of my musical influences and it is unique to me because nobody else could have listened to the exact same music as me. I believe that the music I heard growing up and the music I listen to now comes out subconsciously when I play, I can’t detach myself from it. Even the music I hear on the radio when traveling. On top of that comes my relationship with the instrument that also helps a great deal while working on sound. The more I practice playing the instrument (especially something like the ride cymbal) I get a greater command of the instrument and am able to produce the sound I hear in my head effortlessly.

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

ES: – In terms of rhythm and the drums, in the past few years I have been focusing mainly on playing the ride cymbal and practiced orchestrating rudiments. Especially working on playing the ride pattern and focusing on having all the limbs work in coordination. I realized that practicing playing exactly together with the limbs is what actually helps me later break out of the normal patterns. In other words, the stronger my coordination gets, the easier it becomes to execute more complex ideas. As for the rudiments, I usually choose one or two a day and try to play it in as many variations as possible. That’s how I get my control improved as long as my creativity.

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

ES: – I don’t. I think it’s actually the beauty of it. As I said before, my sound is the sum of all my musical influences so trying to block musical ideas or push them away would actually prevent me from sounding as authentic as I can sound. Obviously, being present and allowing everything to go through is an ideal state, not something that can be always achieved, but this is at least what I strive to do.

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

ES: – This is a great question. I honestly think that they go hand in hand and are always sort of turned on. I believe that when playing, both should be actively doing their job. The intellect needs to be there to analyze what is going on in terms of form, cues, modulations etc and help you act accordingly. What I think of as “soul” which could be described more as spirit or nature, is responsible for adding the human aspect to the playing which includes emotional content, reaction to other people on the bandstand and more. It’s pretty hard to detect where one of them ends and the other begins but definitely I would say that intellect should play a major role prior to the performance, when studying or practicing and while on stage the soul should come out more. At least in the metaphoric way.

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

ES: – I believe that when we play we need to be emotionally involved and if we are able to do so then the audience will experience that as well. In every concert there will be a range of emotions expected from the audience because each person might feel different on a given day and would want or need something else. Some maybe had a great day and they want to be excited and euphoric, some maybe went through hard times and want to be touched or even brought to tears. As musicians we can’t predict any of that so all we have left to do is to bring out the emotions we experience on a certain day, authentically as we can, and hope that the audience will feel that and engage with us.

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

ES: – I think that although the tunes were written a long time ago, a performance and arrangement of them could be up to date. That’s why you could listen to the same song being played by Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Rollins, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and not get bored for one second. It’s all about how you play it that makes it relevant or not. I also think that it is important to write your own music and listen to music that has been written by present musicians. The combination of listening to the old masters and the masters of today is what made me fall in love with jazz. I used to listen to Art Blakey and then would put one song by Brad Mehldau, then transcribe some Clifford Brown, and afterwards listen to some Wayne Shorter from the 80’s.

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

ES: – Well, it’s a lifelong search. I do try to think about my spirit as something that doesn’t end with my body. That way, I am more connected to others and can affect and be affected by others. I wish I would know the meaning of life. Or actually maybe not, maybe searching for the meaning of life is the meaning itself. I don’t know. It sounds pretty cheesy. Will let you know how that journey goes.

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

ES: – The only thing I could think of is to allow everybody to get some sort of musical education to a certain degree. I believe it could help solve some worldly issues such as hatred on one hand, (when you are exposed to music from different cultures and places in the world you could find yourself accepting and connecting more with the people who make it) and on the other hand, maybe have more people interested in consuming music so we can have a more sustainable profession.

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

ES: – These days, I have been listening a lot to Betty Carter. She is amazing. Such a strong character with a very instrumentalist approach which is really refreshing. “The Thing To Do” by Blue Mitchell with the great Al Foster on drums. Also, always my favorite to go to: Miles Davis Live at The Black Hawk and the second great quintet. Besides that, I listen to a lot of podcasts especially when commuting in the New York City subway. At home, I also listen passively to a lot of Paul Simon, The Beatles, Bon Iver and other things that my partner likes to listen to.

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

ES: – I always wanted to go back to New York of the 1960’s and watch Miles Davis’ groups, John Coltrane in a loud small club, Art Blakey and the jazz messengers and all the other great legendary groups. But mostly I want to be there for the late night hang, after everybody finished their gigs, and see how the scene was like back then. I am curious how many incredible late night jam sessions happened that never got documented.

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

ES: – A question for you? I am interested to hear your take on the relevancy of jazz music today. Do you think there is an audience for jazz music in its current state? or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

JBN: – You can’t even imagine how many tasteless, untalented, stupid and idiot musicians have infiltrated the Jazz and Blues sphere, they cast a shadow on the noblest music and history. Under these conditions, some people get upset when we speak negatively about certain musicians …

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/

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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