May 22, 2024

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Interview with Jae Sinnett: Jazz is worth the time and effort to learn

Interview with drummer Jae Sinnett. 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.

JazzBluesNews.com: – 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?

Jae Sinnett: – I started playing drums when I was a young boy. Around six or seven. I played throughout by school years then once I graduated high school I enlisted in the US Navy. I didn’t play seriously while in the military and after two years I was in a bad motorcycle accident which eventually led to me being medically discharged.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

Consequently, I didn’t have my work skills completely defined enough at that time to get employed right away. The only thing I could do was play drums so I started playing seriously. Practicing intensely and then joined a dance funk band. That was the beginning of my professional music career.

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

JS: – YOUR sound develops over years. It’s a process but it starts after you’ve emulated your heroes for while to help produce ideas. Once you stop emulating that will be the beginning of you finding your voice. I just started merging the ideas I learned from the greats and gradually shaped them into my ideas. I made them mine. I’m also a composer. That’s a bigger voice than being solely and instrumentalist. In terms of my drumming, I haven’t listened to other drummers for ideas in almost 20 years. I stopped listening for learning but rather listening to enjoy. To find your voice you have to let go of the emulating. I’ve always enjoyed and have played many different styles and musical concepts. My sound emerged out of all of those influences and out of MY musical vision with my compositions.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

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

JS: – Lately I’ve returned to swinging the rudiments at the kit in a four way independence context. Feet inclusive. That’s important at the drum kit and something I use to do much early on. Swinging is the key because it’s not an easy thing to do. Many think they swing but rarely achieve the rhythmic fundamentals of swing. It’s a game easier to talk for sure than play. Time is important too so I practice things that constantly refine my time and feel. Various tempos, meters, concepts, etc. As a composer, I’m always intrigued with deep harmonic textures and melodic variation. As a drummer I don’t deal with these two elements on a nightly basis so it’s important for me to spend considerable time at my piano playing things and searching. I keep my ears developed this way and writing always keeps me in touch with the bigger musical objective. As a writer, I’m telling the entire story. Not just the story from the drums as a part.

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

JS: – For years I jumped around in different styles. Jazz, fusion, funk, rock, etc. I wanted to play them authentically. Mastering the touch of each style and methodology. I realized though, over time, this wasn’t getting me comfortable in ONE place. So I have solely focused on jazz playing over the past five years. Delving deeply back into the swinging concept and branching out from there. It takes years to acquire a strong swingin pulse and it’s important to note too, you can lose your swing beat or it can thin out over time if you’re not careful. I was my swing beat to structure the entire foundation.

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

JS: – In my view, jazz is played too much from the head today. I’ve been guilty of doing it too. I started paying attention to what I keep going back listening to and it’s the records that make me FEEL the best. The ones that emotionally move me. I wanted that in my music so I made the adjustment and focus on swing and feel. When that is in place it creates and incredibly comfortable cushion for the band to play over.

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

JS: – I don’t know what the audience wants. I know what WE want to achieve. I play from the perspective of if we can reach our musical objectives with the right feel, while swingin, on point organization and soulful content, then the audience is getting the best of us.

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

JS: – I tell students all the time that they have to believe jazz is worth the time and effort to learn. To practice. To play. To embrace. They just need a reason to. They generally don’t hang in a realm where they can hear jazz so they have to investigate. This can make them believe it’s not worth it but oh it is. That’s the advantage of a teacher. We can make them see the beauty and sophistication in this music. Same with everyday listeners. We have to give them a reason to listen. We do this by communicating with them and sharing what we know.

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

JS: – On a performance with the quartet, if you hear four sounds, in my view, you’re not connecting. If you hear ONE sound, you’ve connected. That’s the spiritual component of playing music. When you’re all one but it’s not achieved everything night or every gig. We strive for those special moments.

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

JS: – Getting folks to be more patient. Patience with listening. Patience with acceptance. Patience with tolerance.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

JS: – I’m a veteran jazz radio broadcaster too. Now for almost 35 years! I hear an incredible amount of music every day. Some good. Some not so good. Ha! I love artists that bring a good feel to what they play. I love Vince Mendoza’s new Olympians record. Extraordinary writing, arranging and orchestrating. I love the San Francisco Jazz Collective. Pianist Isaiah Thompson. Swingin dude right there. So much great jazz today to enjoy.

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

JS: – I love France and Italy. I would love to explore both more deeply. I’m also a chef and how much better does it get than France and Italy in terms of food? The history and artistic culture of both influenced the world in so many ways.

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

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