June 15, 2024

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Interview with Arne Jansen: The instrument just being a means of expression

Interview with guitarist Arne Jansen. 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?

Arne Jansen: – I grew up in the north of Germany in Flensburg right at the border to Denmark. My parents always listened to music, mostly Beatles, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits. I started playing the saxophone in my school’s bigband. I picked up the guitar when I was sixteen. I noticed straight away that this would be a lifelong passion. I felt the necessity to be playing and composing music. When I started studying jazz guitar in Berlin in 1996, I got even more serious about music as a profession.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

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

AJ: – I started to play guitar because of Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix. When I studied in Berlin I played with a classic clean Jazz Sound and wrote very challenging music. In 2002 I started to integrate my musical roots into my writing and playing. What you would describe as “my sound” is the product of my love for the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, David Gilmour, Albert King, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and also classical composers like Gustav Mahler, Arvo Pärt, etc. I practice meditation and yoga. It’s helpful for my physical and mental wellbeing especially when I’m on the road.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

JBN: – Probably he has never played with anyone, but I don’t know if he ever did.

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

AJ: – He didn’t even understand that the interview was about this issue, but it is interesting whether he has neither intellect nor soul.

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

AJ: – I believe the audience-artist relationship is ideally a symbiosis. I open up and share something personal, in return I get the energy (listening, attention) from the audience that makes the music even better. I think it is a very special and incredibly valuable relationship.

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

AJ: – Pat Metheny said, that every generation brings their musical influences into jazz or improvised music. Since I was 8 years old I grew up with the music of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, and this music was formative for me. And it felt very natural and just right to come back to these great songs and look at them as an improviser. I think everyone can hear the love for the material if Keith Jarret plays the music he grew up with. And I hope you can hear it when I play the songs of Mark Knopfler. This quality will generate an audience. Maybe it’s time for someone, who grew up listening to Taylor Swift, to do make an album with her songs.

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

AJ: – I feel very strongly connected to Coltrane’s statement. By being open and vulnerable whilst playing I’m hoping to tell a personal story. The instrument just being a means of expression. It’s not about scales or technical skills, it’s about touching upon a deeper truth that resonates with the audience.

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

JBN: – If a person hasn’t played with anyone, if he has no soul, no intelligence, then how can he know what can be changed, right?

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

AJ: – My all time favourites: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan.

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

AJ: – I would’ve loved to see the Miles Davis Quintet with John Coltrane and then his band with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. And I would’ve loved to experience Gustav Mahler as a conductor of his own compositions.

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

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