Interview with flutist and tenor saxophonist Juan Saiz. 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?
Juan Saiz։ – I was born and grew up in a small city in the north of Spain called Santander, my mother was a music teacher, she attended concerts and I felt the appreciation and respect that my family had for music. I also had within my reach a recorder, which is the instrument with which I started to play trying to play the songs I heard and inventing melodies.
Later on I started taking lessons at the conservatory, my main instrument being the transverse flute, and my studies were focused on classical music. Luckily, in the conservatory there were small chambers with wall pianos for students to practice and that was my salvation. I used to take refuge in those small chambers and I started to play the piano, I sat down to improvise, I started to compose but above all I improvised, and in my compositions I left free parts in which the performers could play whatever they wanted. At this point I knew absolutely nothing about jazz, I had never attended a concert of this kind and no teacher had ever talked to me about it.
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At that time I started to feel something special, it was natural for me to compose, it was natural to improvise with sound but I didn’t really see anyone around me doing it. But it was at the age of 18 that I made the firm decision to become a musician, I had to decide between that or follow my path as a cyclist, which was and still is a very strong passion.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
JS: – In my first stage I was trying to imitate the sound of my teachers who were classical flutists. But there was a moment when I started to develop a critical perspective on sound and I became aware that I had to develop my own sound. My main source of inspiration was the sea, I used to go to the seaside to play with it, to play with the waves. My sound changed, it became more relaxed, the omnipresent vibrato turned into a resource to be used only at certain moments.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
JS: – Scales, arpeggios, harmonics, long notes… I try to do these exercises in such a way that they always involve something new and stimulating. For example, scales I try to work with different melodic patterns and different numbers of notes each time. The possibilities are immense so there is no way to ever get bored.
As for rhythm, I use the metronome, but I try to use it in long beats, in round figures for example. Another aspect through which I work on rhythm is the study of Indian solfège, it is something that is very helpful for me.
To work on harmony, I try to play the piano and analyze some works of composers that I like, such as Bartok or Messiaen for example.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?
JS: – We always change, although I would say that there is something that remains in the essence of what you do. From my first compositions until now there has been a long way but there is something that I would say does not change, that something is the deepest, the most sincere, everything else has changed: conceptually, the music I listen to, the books I read, the way I compose, practice, breathe….
On the other hand, society has changed a lot in recent years, moving away from the nature of the human being at high speed. I find myself in the defense of all that is essentially human, that’s why I make this music. My evolution can be called involution if you want or re-evolution because I oppose the mainstream that is dragging us towards the total control of humanity.
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JS: – Both are 100% required, we need them at different times. The intellect can be useful for moments of planning, organization, etc. but when we play we have to be 100% soul.
When studying and writing music we can involve the intellect but when we play we have to be 100% soul.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
JS: – I need to share with the public, for me it is a great stimulus, it is something I always want to do, to be able to connect with the audience and offer my energy. To generate an energetic transmission among all those present.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
JS: – As important as these standard tunes are, jazz is something much bigger than them. This is where the schools are especially at fault, with their desire to create teaching methods for a very uniform way of playing, and that is, in essence, the opposite of jazz.
Any song can be played with an attitude that involves risk, improvisation and interaction with others, as well as with the moment and the space in the same way that any standard tune can be played without it. And it’s not about playing those standard tunes but the way to approach music, any music.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
JS: – Music can only be made from the spirit, from the deepest. We feel the responsibility of devoting ourselves to music and the importance it has because for us it goes beyond the material, it goes beyond the mere combination of sounds, beyond what a computer can do.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
JS: – Music is perfect in itself and all we try to do is to get into that genuine process of approaching it. The imperfection comes from everything that surrounds music, from the music business, from relationships, from the way of doing concerts….
One thing that I think is changing in recent years is the music promotion, which every day is more demanding, more intense and often the music is sold more through the eyes than through the ear. I would like this to change.
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JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
JS: – I’m listening to some concerts of Anthony Braxton’s quartet in 85 during a tour in England. They are memorable recordings with Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemingway and Mark Dresser. It is incredible music with a group in great shape and playing every night with originality and at the same time with a very strong determination.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
JS: – 100 thousand years ago! Ancestral cultures are for me the pinnacle of humanity. To perceive a way of life in which everything is united and art is an indissoluble part of society and that at the same time lives in harmony with nature. Besides, I could live music in a much earlier way than what we see today, it could be more complex or simpler, I don’t know.
JBN: – Thus, outside of music, not feeling music and especially Jazz and Blues ․․․
Interview by Simon Sargsyan
Note: https://jazzbluesnews.com/2023/03/19/useu-jazz-blues-association-festivals/ 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/useujba/