June 13, 2024


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Interview with Varre Vartiainen: The connection between knowledge and emotion is the most important factor and enabler for expression for a jazz musician

Interview with guitarist Varre Vartiainen. 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.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. 

Varre Vartiainen: – I was born in Finland and grew up in a small prison town called Kerava, which is located twenty miles from Helsinki, the country’s capital. My family is musical. I got excited about playing the piano and listening Elvis Presley at the age of a three!

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?

VV: – My sound has evolved from my desire to be able to communicate with my fellow musicians and express my own feelings and, of course, by listening to a variety of music and great players.

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?

VV: – My daily practice focuses on exploring and practicing the wonderful tradition of jazz music soloists. It is a magnificent and endless treasure trove, from which I find inspiration and learning again and again in a rhythmic, harmonic and melodic way.

JBN: – How do you keep stray, or random, musical influences from diverting you from what you’re doing?

VV: – I believe that following the voice of the heart can never go wrong! Music that feels good is good. It’s the same daily ongoing process actually. Of course, you have to prepare and rehearse for a record session, but it is essential for me to play a lot and spend time on instrument. It maintains an emotional emotional bond for improvisation and especially for rhythm, time feel and groove.

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

VV: – I believe that the connection between knowledge and emotion is the most important factor and enabler for expression for a jazz musician.

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

VV: – Absolutely! A friend of mine had a great way of saying, “music brings Heaven to earth”. I think there is a lot of truth in that. The musician and the audience both have an important role to play in enabling music to emerge in an instant.

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

VV: – Good music well presented is timeless. In fact, jazz standards are also very young music, like the entire art form of jazz, if we compare it to Bach or Beethoven. I want to believe that jazz will survive over time, like the best classical music.

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

VV: – Wonderfully said -Whoa! I believe in myself as well; music can express the essence of our soul. Spirituality can be a big part of the essence of jazz music, if you want to experience it that way. I like the idea itself.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

VV: – I would like to increase the opportunities to perform jazz music around the world and direct money to jazz musicians.

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

VV: – My old favorites: Charlie Parker, Miles, Trane, Elvis…

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

VV: – To the United States in the late 1950s. As my time goes by, I would go to see e.g. Gigs by Miles, Monk and Elvis, hah!

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Interview by Simon Sarg

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