June 17, 2024

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Interview with Karen Grigoryan: Music is a natural, god-given gift: Video

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

Karen Grigoryan: – I was born and grew up in Yerevan,in a musicians family, I have always listened to different music from an early age, mainly Armenian folk music was in my ear because my father is a duduka player, since I was a child, my father noticed that I accompanied him everywhere by playing rhythmic figures and bought me a dhol, and I started playing the dhol when I was 2.5 years old. , then at the age of 6 I took up piano and fell in love with jazz and finally decided on the direction when I saw the movie about Ray Charles and completely absorbed me in American music.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

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

KG: – I think the first thing for every jazz musician is to know classical music very well, always be inspired by it, as well as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and others. The traditions of public jazz should be created with your mind, so that this music always blossoms in a new way.

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

KG: – First of all, the role of listening is very important, you should always listen to music, so that you always have inspiration and motivation to practice.The most important thing is to practice with a clear mind, without negative thoughts, and not to be discouraged by what comes out, I am talking about making transcriptions,you need to do a lot of transcriptions to develop a rich language and thought, because it is like reading a lot of books, the more you read, the richer your speech and thought becomes!

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

KG: – Naturally, a musician should have progress in his life if he practices effectively, unfortunately, today’s musicians, “Jazz musicians”, start to call themselves improvisers without studying the roots, and because they don’t have information about jazz, they start to express themselves negatively towards that music, and I often hear opinions that that music they call it old, Mozart, Beethoven are never called old if there is Schoenberg or Shotakovic. I like classical jazz, swing, bebop, but sometimes I also create in other genres.

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

KG: – If there is any special program or recording ahead, I always try to listen to such music to motivate me and take me to those times. I will recommend it to musicians, for example, if they are preparing for a concert, it is necessary to listen to the same music so that their opinions and approach are appropriate

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

KG: – This album is the most important for me because it’s my first album, first of all I like the mood that is in the album, that’s exactly what I imagined when writing the compositions, and for that I’m especially grateful to my friends who provided such a mood, and now I’m going to work I am on my new projects, about which I will talk more.

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

KG: – Actually, the choice is not big when you live in Armenia, because there are few jazz musicians, but they are very good, each one has its own color and place for our country.

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

KG: – You know it’s very nice when you play not only with musicians who play well, but who are your everyday friends, besides, if your friends are the musicians who play with you, it’s impossible not to go through the playing or recording with a little humor and good mood, concert, experience and its own interest, humor has memory, so it will be difficult to single out any particular day.

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

KG: – In my opinion, honesty, sincerity. Music is very fragile, it requires you to dedicate yourself to it, so that it dedicates itself to you.

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

KG: – Every concert comes with a different audience, of course it is important to have contact with the audience, because the audience pays money to come and listen to you, and you should do everything to convey to them good energy, love, sincerity, the story of each piece.

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

KG: – It was a very good question, but I touched on that question to some extent, good music has no time limit, it would be desirable if all musicians would talk a lot about standards, play different compositions in jam sessions not the 10 tunes they know, many platforms would be allocated for jazz musicians. There would be many festivals where traditional jazz music would be played

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

KG: – I would mention that it is not only the spirit, but also a way of life, a necessity for me like bread and water.

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

KG: – So that there would be no jealousy and arguments between musicians, and an unreasonable increase in self-esteem. Because music is a natural, god-given gift, and we should be happy to be its bearer.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

KG: – No matter what I listen to today, I end every day with either classical music or classical jazz music. There is always something to learn from all musicians, but Bud Powell will last you a lifetime, there is so much to learn.

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

KG: – I would really like to be in the 1940-50s, to actually hear Lester Young, Charlie Parker, the sounds they made.

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

KG: – But if I was born in my time, then it was necessary, and everyone has their mission in this life.

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

KG: – It was a very interesting conversation, and the questions were really intended for musicians… My question would be to you, is there any music that you would like to have, but there isn’t?

JBN: – Perhaps not, if we do not take into account the fact that new music is created every day, vegetables and machines have already started making sounds and creating new music. But I am only a supporter of Classical, Blues, Jazz, Soul and Rock music.

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

KG: – I have played charity concerts many times, and I continue if it serves a good purpose. The interview was very interesting, I would like to have such conversations more often, where we would talk about music only with positive thoughts, and I think the purpose of the interview will be that new beginning musicians will read and perhaps listen to my advice to be honest with themselves, devote themselves to music and create sincerely.

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Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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