June 24, 2024

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Interview with Tomonao Hara: The sounds musicians will be creating in the distant future

Interview with trumpeter Tomonao Hara. An interview by email in writing. This is one of our rejected interviews, which we publish with a lot of cuts, just for fun, so that, as you know, every next day there will be something in the series of publications for 11 years. So, whether in the East or in the West, even in the field of wonderful music like Jazz and Blues, there are full of fools and bums, unfortunately.

Dear readers, get to know more about our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festivals and the activities of our US/EU Jazz – Blues Association in the capitals of Europe, we will soon publish this program for 2024, enjoy the summer.

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?

Tomonao Hara: – I was born in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. I grew up in Chiba Prefecture, which is adjacent to Tokyo, and I lived there until I graduated from high school. I’ve been drawn to music since I was young, intrigued not only by popular music but also by the various sounds, melodies, and rhythms that fill our lives. When I was 7 years old, I heard an upperclassman play the trumpet at my elementary school and was captivated.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

During middle and high school, I was part of the brass band club and played the trumpet. However, I wasn’t an exceptional student. In high school, I got my first taste of jazz during a cultural event, which piqued my interest. Following that, I attended a university in Aichi Prefecture, away from Tokyo, to study social welfare. Due to my low confidence in my musical abilities, pursuing a career in music didn’t cross my mind.

I aimed to keep playing the trumpet as a hobby and joined a jazz club. This led to a series of fateful encounters and coincidences, ultimately allowing me to perform on stage as a jazz musician while still a university student in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. As I listened to the music of the professional musicians I met, I gradually realized that being a musician was my calling.

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

TH: – My initial interest was in Japanese popular music. The school’s brass band encompassed classical, popular music, and a bit of jazz, which widened my musical palette and got me interested in various styles. During high school cultural events, I performed songs by Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Lee Morgan. I transcribed their improvisations and played them as written. The captivating melodies of that era significantly influenced my later jazz style.

While in university, I frequently listened to Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard, sparking my interest in jazz musicians and vocalists who played instruments other than the trumpet. After graduating from university, I participated in many jam sessions in Tokyo and was a sideman for many bands.

Throughout this time, I continued to compose music. These varied musical experiences shaped the compositions I created during that period.

I also delved into literature, essays, and historical books, with Japanese authors like Shusaku Endo, Soseki Natsume, Osamu Dazai, and Ryunosuke Akutagawa having a profound impact. The ideas and spirituality derived from these experiences undoubtedly influenced my work.

After turning 40, I began watching numerous movies and visiting museums due to my wife’s influence. This exposure gave me new ideas and imagery. In hindsight, my artistic development involved immersing myself in art, composing extensively, experimenting with bands, and ultimately recording an album. It all contributed to shaping my musical identity.

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

TH: – My daily practice routine centers around playing jazz standards solo, without a metronome or computer accompaniment app. During this practice, I focus on maintaining a groove while feeling the harmony’s flow as I perform the theme.

I approach it with the perspective of creating a new song by creating various ideas derived from the chord changes, all while adhering to the fundamental concept.

A vital aspect of my practice involves identifying musical and performance challenges arising from this process and then devising solutions for them. I want to hear grooves and harmonies created from my own sound played a cappella.

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

TH: – Currently, I serve as a professor at a music university, and the income from this role primarily funds my private music label. My music production is significantly enriched by studying and teaching jazz and art at the university.

I view my role as showcasing my approach to music, which stimulates students to contemplate various aspects. Their creative and adaptable thinking provides me with invaluable inspiration.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

TH: – I believe my music is an expression of my soul. Intellectual depth refines the melody into something beautiful, intricate, complex, yet coherent. Intelligence elevates the soul’s song.

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

TH: – Indeed, artists absorb audience vibrations, enhancing their music. Imbalance arises when the interaction becomes one-sided. Perfect synchronization of emotions and senses, like a crossword puzzle, is unlikely. However, valuing each other’s feelings and forming a connection generates tremendous power.

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

TH: – Presenting contemporary jazz musicians who revere standard tunes, interpreting them in their unique style, can spark youth interest. I personally practice this approach.

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

TH: – While this sentiment pertains to art in general, I believe creating and performing art unveils the creator’s spirit. Life entails a series of discoveries and growth stemming from diverse experiences. Artists express their spirit and evolving life through art.

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

TH: – Fostering an economically prosperous environment enabling jazz musicians to freely and creatively continue their work.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

TH: – Subscription platforms offer a global array of music, and I continuously explore countless musicians’ works, not restricted to jazz. My repertoire spans classical music, hip-hop, rap /fu/, and lately, K-pop fu – bad/. Lately, I’ve been repeatedly enjoying Rebecca Martin’s music.

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

TH: – A century ahead, to experience the music of that era. It’s intriguing to imagine the sounds musicians will be creating in the distant future.

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

TOMONAO HARA - GALLERY

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