May 24, 2024

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Interview with Olivia Trummer։ Jazz is a timeless invitation of being spontaneous and adding a personal note

Interview with an ungrateful, impolite, dull, unhuman, drawn creature, as if pianist and vocalist Olivia Trummer. An interview by email in writing. – 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?

Olivia Trummer: – I was raised in a family of musicians, so I naturally grew into the idea of music being part of my life. The piano became my favorite toy when I was 3. While being taught classical piano by my mother (all by ear at first) I also started exploring the piano by myself, diving into sounds and harmonies with the curiosity of a child and developing a strong connection to the instrument, perceiving it as a channel to express myself. The auto-didactical improvising soon turned into first compositions.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I eventually found a „home“ in jazz because of its presence and diversity and the joy of communicating through music, with other musicians and with the audience.

The idea of turning music into my profession was always welcome and supported by my parents. I was so exposed to and immersed in music-making from early on that I never really considered doing something else.

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

OT: – I studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Music in Stuttgart and spent a lot of time at the piano practicing: Classical music like Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Chopin, Ravel, which helped me to develop my piano technique, but also the repertoire of The Great American Songbook.

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

OT: – For the harmony: Again, lots of time spent at the piano, exploring sounds and taking notes to help them materialize in my musical imagination. The experience of playing classical music is very inspiring as well, definitely expanding the harmonic horizon.

For the rhythm: I think I have a natural love and predisposition for rhythmically complex situations (also in my compositions) but I also have a history of working closely with drummers: I collaborated with Bodek Janke for several years. He challenged my rhythmic precision and flexibility with all kinds of superimpositions and rhythmic modulations.

Now my „drummer of choice“ is Nicola Angelucci, who I admire for his very musical and tasteful way of playing – he always focuses more on the music than on the drums so I’m learning to „zoom out“ and take a maybe less precise but maybe more mature perspective on the music.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

OT: – My vocals sneaked into my piano playing more and more over time and I started to appear singing my songs as well as playing them in 2010. It has become an important part of my performance by now.

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

OT: – Ideally, there is both – with „intellect” being the element that helps to keep the music interesting and surprising and to bring consciousness and meaning to the lyrics, and „soul“ being the element that reaches and fascinates the listener on a deeper, human, empathic level. Probably it also depends on the listener what he perceives and takes from the music but I personally aim to write music that is fun to play for my musicians and me while also being fun to listen to, ideally more than once.

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

OT: – I think people long to be moved in some way when they go out to see concerts but I don’t feel the pressure of having to meet exactly their expectations. When I perform, all I am trying to do is to get people to really listen, be present, forget themselves for a moment and be open to whatever feelings arise, ideally leaving the concert not „satisfied“ (in a way of having received what they wanted) but surprised and inspired.

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

JBN: – The young woman independently removed this question from the questionnaire, because she does not have a musical biography, she is nothing. At the same time, she doesn’t seem to listen to anyone except himself, because the bigot edited our question about it as well.

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

OT: – Humanity is thousands of years old and we’re still living through the same feelings and situations. The stories of the songs are still resonating with the people today, and the basic concept of jazz is to be filled with „present thoughts and expression“. Jazz is a timeless invitation of being spontaneous and adding a personal note.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

I would really have liked to experience the early jazz years in New York City, like the 50ies, when jazz was the new hot thing to listen to and people were dancing to it. I definitely would have gone to see Bill Evans, and Miles Davis with Shirley Horn opening for him. 🙂

Interview by Simon Sarg

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