May 28, 2024

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Interview with Walter Fischbacher: Plays The Beatles – illuminated from a different angle: Video, new CD cover, Photos

Interview with jazz pianist Walter Fischbacher. 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? 

Walter Fischbacher: – I grew up in Voecklabruck, Austria, started taking piano lessons at age 7. We had a piano in the house, my father played as a hobby. I started to get serious about it around 14.

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

WF: – I don’t think about my own sound. Over the years I have just been trying to expand my vocabulary. My sound is mostly influenced by my arrangements and compositions. Role models for those are Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, Esbjoern Svensson.

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

WF: – One partt of my practice is continuing to work on fundamentals such as scales, patterns and voicings. The second part is geared toward the repertoire I play. For instance if I am preparing for a solo piano concert, I work more on left hand independence and comping. For the Beatles album tour, there are a lot of odd meters in there, so I focus on practicing that as well as left hand independence.

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

WF: – I keep a routine of physical activity, even when on the road. I work out in my hotel room for about half an hour and take daily cold showers. The drive to improve on my instrument kicked in when I was fourteen and hasn’t stopped yet. This urge to always improve my playing keeps me from getting complacent.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2023: Phishbacher Trio – Plays The Beatles, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

WF: – Listening to these songs I know so well interpreted in my own voice gives me joy. They are illuminated from a different angle, from my point of view, so to speak.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

Cover art for Phishbacher Trio Plays The Beatles

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

WF: – Ulf is a longtime companion who I have recorded eight albums with. This is the first time I have brought Petr into the studio for one of my own projects, but I have played with him for more than 10 years in various formations, often backing up singers.

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

WF: – Intellect comes into play for writing and composing. Hopefully having internalized the intellectual aspects of music during practice I perform from the soul. It’s important not to confuse those two.

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

WF: – I love taking my audience on a trip. Big musical arcs that deliver a sort of catharsis for the listener, that allow the audience to be transported out of everyday life for a couple of hours, are an important part of my performances.

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

WF: – When I was 18 I dreamed of being a full-time working musician, although I did not have a clear understanding what that would really look like. Now after about 40 years this is what I do. I am on the road 6 months of the year, mostly performing my own music. There have been highlights throughout the years, but for me, the wide bandwidth of locations I play in is kind of fun, from playing at Schloss Elmau with a grand piano in my private room to traveling to Cernosice/Czech Republic the next day, sleeping in a room on an ice rink.

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

WF: – A big issue here is that radio stations, especially online ones, are now catering to the listener, which means kids don’t get exposed to jazz. Also in music education there would need to be an effort to bring in different styles of music, to open atudents’s ears to how big the world of music truly is, that there is so much more out there than what comprises their Spotify playlist. Learning an instrument and learning to improvise would also help.

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

WF: – I would like to create more awareness and appreciation for live versus programmed music. We are at a place in time where audiences can’t tell or don’t know the difference anymore between the two.

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

WF: – When I listen to recordings I go back to my classics such as Keith Jarrett Trio or Brad Mehldau solo.

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

WF: – I don’t have a message. I just like to take people on a journey.

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

WF: – How did you come up with the idea to build your website?

JBN: – It was a Facebook group in the late 2000s, which was not enough in 2012 and I created the website, of course maintaining the FB group with more than 62,000 followers. I am a jazz critic, I graduated from Berklee College of Music, Jazz is my life.

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

WF: – Yes, definitely. As far as expectations, I would like to get the word out about my new album, maybe expand my audience.

Our US/EU Jazz-Blues Association Festivals 2023 with performances by international stars: Photos

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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