May 23, 2024

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Interview with Carol Band and Conrad Warre: You gave to have the intellectual tools in your tool box before you can let your “soul” run free

Interview with keyboardist Carol Band and guitarist Conrad Warre. An interview by email in writing. Empty head, ungrateful as if musicians who won’t write a thx you in return…

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, 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?

Conrad Warre: I went to a Quaker Boarding School in Letchworth, England, and one end-of-the-year High School Dance, the band that had been hired to play had lost their bass-player on the way to the show, and asked the audience: “Can anyone here play bass?” I put my hand up and pretended I knew how to play and got the gig, and was immediately hooked.

Carol Band: I grew up in Connecticut and played the piano at the local Baptist Church.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

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?

CONRAD: I’ve always preferred transparent instrumentation (as opposed to opaque) where all the instruments and voices can be hear as distinct from each other, and that preference has instructed the instruments, their effects chains, and recording techniques I like to explore. Sometimes I’ve overstepped with (for example) digital harmonizations, distortion, glissando effects – and typically have abandoned them to return to a more analog environment. These days I’m very comfortable with compression, delay, reverb, and very slight overdrive without adding volume ( I like to use an overdrive that isn’t actually louder than the original signal – but acoustically sounds and prentends it is louder! ). I use a hybrid-picking technique on the guitar which helps create a bell-like sound from the strings, it enables the easy use of dyads & triads, and doesn’t create the harsh “clicking” sound that plectrums produce.

CAROL: I’ve gone from acoustic to electric – which is like adding an orchestra to my fingertips. I am constantly donwloading different sounds to the keyboard and tweaking them.

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

CONRAD: I often work with a looper to manage tempos, and usually work on compositions while practicing.

CAROL: Scales and permutations.

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

CONRAD: I’ve gradually increased my knowledge and use of “outside” harmonies & chords, but I still struggle to play “less” whenever possible.

CAROL: Yes! I’ve evolved to care less about the correctness of the notes and more about the feel.

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

CONRAD: In my mind – they overlap, if I could show you a Venn Diagram, it would be two circles overlapping displaying three equal areas, the central area is where the two elements are combined and are indistinguishable from one another.

CAROL: You gave to have the intellectual tools in your tool box before you can let your “soul” run free.

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

CONRAD: If the band and audience are in sympathy with one another (the band is playing well and the audience is receptive) there’s an infinite (for the duration) reciprocal feedback loop of joy and attentiveness. That’s what we’re always aiming for.

CAROL: No – if it means playing tired standards – we are not about uncovering their emotions, but sharing our artistry which evokes emotions they didn’t know that they had, and that’s a shared experience.

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

CONRAD: Contrast and groove. Space and Time. Groove and contrast.

CAROL: Jazz is and was always cool – and it’s all in the presentation, it’s in the arrangements and delivery.

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

CONRAD: When it’s working, music is like time-travel, only you don’t recognize where you are or where you’re going or how you got there. And when you come to the end of a musical piece you don’t know what happened.

CAROL: The saying “Music is the universal language,” is a cliché for a reason. Not only are we, as musicians able to express our emotions to the audience, but we become one with them and that is transcendent.

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

CONRAD: I wouldn’t.

CAROL: I would change everything – I was just thinking about this today – I would create more small and medium sized music venues, and more opportunities for local musicians and make piano lessons mandatory for everyone.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

CONRAD: The Blind Boys of Alabama, Michael Brecker, Snarky Puppy, Dirty Loops, Etta James, Lou Reed, Paul Desmond, Trilok Gurtu.

CAROL: Lizzo, Bill Evans, Mary Lou Williams, Bad Bunny.

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

CONRAD: Four Saints in Three Acts opening on Broadway, New York at the 44th Street Theatre on February 20th, 1934. An opera composed by Virgil Thomson, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein.

CAROL: I’d like to go 500 years in the future and see if physical music is still being played. I think it will – but if not I will teach them how to find middle C.

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Interview by Simon Sarg

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