Interview with Blues harmonica player Ricardo Peralta. 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?
Ricardo Peralta: – I grew up in Mexico City, my grandfather always listened good music, the beatles, the doors etc. one day he put on a Lightnin Hopkins record and that sound caught me forever, from that occasion I began to get into the world of real blues.
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The Blues – It is just the best feeling music there is. It is just such incredible music. You fall in love with this music because of the emotion and the undeniable passion. You fall in love with the musicology of it. I mean if someone gets exposed to Muddy Waters music for instance, and does not fall in love with it, if they are not moved by what they hear, I think there is something wrong with them.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
RP: – It’s a good question, when I started playing the harmonica it didn’t sound very good, it had a very treble tone and I didn’t have much technique. In one of the Tours to Mexico of the Argentine and Endorser Jorge Costales, I decided to take some classes with him and he helped me a lot to work with the tongue blocking technique, there I began to discover other techniques and to improve my tone, my sound has nothing especially, I like to use vintage equipment both in microphones and amplifiers, Masco, Lectrolab, Valco etc.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
RP: – I think that work on correct breathing through the harmonica is key, for this I like to play blues trains and I always try to practice acoustically, listen and improve the volume and tone there and then listen to it amplified, but always acoustically first.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?
RP: – Yes, of course, in terms of music I continue to improve and practice every day, so listening to a lot of blues and other genres is important to continue enriching our musical language.
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
RP: – I think it is something similar to yin and yang, there must be a fair balance between the two, otherwise you would sound without feeling or you would sound without any musical sense with only feeling.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
RP: – The public is a key axis, there are times when the applause and shouting from the public is so great that as a musician it makes you want to give a little extra to achieve that climax.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
RP: – Well I think it’s important to play the genre you want to play well, in particular playing Blues I’ve realized that when you do it well, studying the genre well, you can make the music reach the listener without the need to force the music on them. The same with jazz or any other genre, I think it is important not to let any of these beautiful musical genres die, I think that today we are suffering a crisis with commercial music, there is no effort, or pretty lyrics, a lot of violence or everything It’s sexualized. Today Play Blues or Jazz, it´s an act of rebellion
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
RP: – They say that through a person’s music you can feel what kind of person they are, and it makes some sense because there are guys who are violent, stiff and mean, and they sound violent, stiff and mean.
I would not like to sound like that, I would like to sound relaxed, fun and beautiful. I like to think that my soul is beautiful.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
RP: – That the public demands musical quality, that would make current artists make better music, without so much packaging and with more content, today music is just that, dances, choreographies, pure packaging and empty in content.
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JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
RP: – Honestly, I haven’t been listening to much blues lately these days, I’ve been listening to Alton Ellis, Marvin Gaye and Ralfi Pagan, but I know sooner or later I’ll be back to putting out my Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Johnny Young LPs.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
RP: – I have asked myself that question many times, I would love to go to Chicago in the 40’s and early 50’s, see how Muddy Waters played with Little Walter, Otis Span, Jimmy Rogers, and Dixon in Chicago bars. It would be a dream come true for many people. see all those legends that changed the course of music, see them play live in the most intimate way possible. wow just thinking about it is amazing.
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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton