May 22, 2024

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Interview with Jan Geijtenbeek: No clue, let’s see what happens …

Interview with pianist Jan Geijtenbeek. An interview by email in writing.

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 program for 2024, enjoy in the July – August – Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, new addreses this year, also in Amsterdam, Budapest and Liverpool. – 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?

Jan Geijtenbeek: – I grew up in Ermelo, a village in the center of the Neterlands. I started playing the piano when I was 14 years old, after one year of studying Marketing in Utrecht I dropped out, started taking jazz piano lessons and auditioned at the Conservatory at the end of that schoolyear.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

Our US/EU Jazz-Blues Association Festivals 2024 with performances by international musicians

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?

JG: – In my first band as a leader/composer I played with a quartet featuring a tenor saxophone player, later that became alto. Now I play in a trio with Thomas Pol on double bass and Niek de Bruijn on drums, so naturally the music is more piano oriented. But maybe in the future this will be different again. It depends on what the music I have written, and what that music calls for. I’ve always loved lyrics and vocals.

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

JG: – When I was studying music fulltime, I definitely had a practice routine, which involved a lot of ear training, learning standards, rhythmic exercises etc. Nowadays I really try to enjoy playing the piano, playing it with the right tone and try to not repeat myself. I still love learning new songs and standards and try to learn everything I need to learn for performances by ear.

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

JG: – Of course. Everybody changes. I’ve lived abroad for a while, that changes you. I’m married, and we have a daughter who is now three years old, that a life changer. It would be strange if those influences wouldn’t be integrated in my playing and writing.

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

JG: – It really depends on the music. In general, I like music that sounds good and speaks to the soul.

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

JG: – If it happens naturally, I guess so, I’ve never thought of it that way.

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

JG: – People will like the music that they like, you cannot force something upon someone. However, I would suggest that the whole world gets a copy of Kind of Blue or We Get Requests – it’s hard not to fall in love with Jazz music after hearing those albums.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

JG: – Sometimes during live performances, everything comes together, the band, the music, the audience, and I find myself playing in a totally loose, unforced way, like my hands are doing it, and I just sit there. Those moments catch me by surprise, so in sync with the moment and the band. At those moments I feel like I’ve found my purpose in life and that I’m doing the totally right thing. But those are brief moments, for the rest of the year I sort of go with the flow and I’m in constant existential crises.

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

JG: – Sometimes I feel like musicians see each other as competitors instead of colleagues. If we would see our fellow musicians more as colleagues and would help each other out more I feel like there would be enough work for everybody.

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

JG: – Ahmed Jamal, Gabriel Kahane and always Frank Sinatra.

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

JG: – No clue, let’s see what happens.


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Interview by Simon Sarg

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