June 24, 2024

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Interview with Izumi Kimura: Every piece of music is a journey of soul for freedom

Interview with Jazz pianist Izumi Kimura. 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 of? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Izumi Kimura: – There was an upright piano in the house I grew up in Yokohama. My mother was a serious music lover, who was always singing. She sed to tell me that she managedher labor pain of my birth with singing. I believe it, though she was great at making up songs and stories. When I was 4, I asked her for piano lessons, I remember how it felt pressing down the keys one by one, and two, three, or more together, trying different combinations.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I was thinking then I really wanted to become very good at music and I could even give other things in my life away for that. And one day, I played a piece by a Japanese composer and fell in love with it. I didn’t know then, but it was the first time I played modal music. That sus chord made me decide the path to follow. From then on, I just followed my way to be freer, as much as music. Come to think of it, I made all my life-changing decisions purely by my gut feelings, like coming to Ireland from Japan on my own almost spontaneously and ended up spending 28 years here. It’s a bit crazy, but I basically lived my life in the way I play music, or vice versa.

I never had chance to question if I could make a living out of this passion, I threw myself at the deep end of life and music was the only thing I could do, so I had to hang onto it for life. Music kept me alive at the darkest time, so I can say, I and my kids made our living out of music.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound? What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

IK: – Being a classical player originally, the clarity of the sound was one of the most important elements for the first 15 years of my musical practice. It’s taking me another 30 years to feel comfortable with my own sound – but still not all the time. When young, I went through periods of trying to sound like someone else, the music education I had in Japan forced me to strive for that. I diminished my own voice and tried to be stronger and to hide any sign of vulnerability. But this of course didn’t work. I’m still evolving and developing my sound, but it’s not something I can obtain from routine practice or exercise anymore, it develops slowly by listening more, all kind of music and sounds that I feel drawn to, including listening to silence. So that’s what I am doing now.

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

IK: – I think every piece of music is a journey of soul for freedom, and intellect can help reading the map when/if we find it.

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

IK: – I agree with the two-way relationship between audience and artist, but not sure if I understand the question. I never expect myself to deliver people the emotion they long for, whatever it could be. Everyone takes differently, I can’t afford to think audience as a collective mind that I must deliver an expected emotion, that would scare me to freeze. Maybe that’s about entertainment as business, and that’s beyond my scope.

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

IK: – I do see a plenty of young people getting into the world and getting hooked by it, even if they eventually find other paths in music. When you say, ‘get young people interested in jazz’, there are two sides, people who become musicians, and people who support/consume music, and they are quite different stories. All I can say is that when people around me, my students, or my kids, get interested in jazz, they are attracted to and affected by the energy and the spirit of it, it is totally emotional experience. Then they might discover standards and hear the beauty in them, being half a century old is not the issue then. We just need more exposure to this experience … and opportunities for live performance. Not enough in this country (Ireland where I live)……

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

IK: – To make people’s obsession with categorization and the notion of genre in music disappear. And replace it with 10 times more opportunities for live performance.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

IK: – I listen to various music whatever comes into my life, the choice is mostly affected by the research for what I am working on, and I drift from one thing to another. Most recently, I came across a blues singer Mable Hillery, and really love her singing, at the same time I rediscovered Japanese composer Maki Ishii’s music, as well as various recordings by saxophonist John Butcher. But I also find myself the happiest when listening to the sound of the nature and hearing music in it.

Interview by Simon Sarg

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, 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/

Izumi Kimura: Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council Council and Arts Council Musician-in-Residence 2019 - YouTube

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