Interview for Rüdiger Krause
The first question is always the classic one: how does it start your love and interest for guitar and what instruments do you play or have you played?
My father used to play different instruments. One of them was an bordeaux sunburst archtop guitar with drop shaped soundholes. Because this kind of guitar seemed to be the usual one, I was always fascinated by classical guitars. They looked much more exotic to me.
My favourite guitar is a 1983 Fender Stratocaster. It was given to me when I was 15. It is the guitar named Carla. My acoustic guitars are made by Hanika (classical), Larrivee (western) and Lakewood (baritone western).
What was your musical training, with which teachers have you studied and what impression they left in your music?
My father teached me how to play simple chords and improvise in the pentatonic scale. He also told me, that it’s better to take time and relax during an improvised solo. My dad worked as a psychologist, not as a musician. I went to music school in Magdeburg in the 80s and I studied Jazz guitar in Dresden from 1991 to 1998. My teacher in Dresden was Ralph Beutler. He had a lot of patience with me and gave me all the time and space I needed to work on projects of my own. I took some single lessons in New York with Ben Sher who teached me some important basics for voice leading and Mike Stern, who checked me by improvising and wrote down a couple of exercises that helped me a lot to enrich my improvisations.
How long did you take to record your last cd "A Guitar NamedCarla"? It seems to me like a life project, knowing how much you like Carla Bley's music and how much she influenced you...
The process always starts by listening. So I might say that I started to prepare „A Guitar Named Carla“ almost 30 years ago. In fact, I started to arrange Carla’s music for guitars in Spring of 2013, two years before the CD was finished. I started recording May 2013 at A Trane Studio Berlin. On 3 days in May and June I recorded seven pieces. In August I spent a week in New York and made a 2 hours recording session in the afternoon of Aug 13th with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow at Peter Karl Studios. We recorded five takes of „Lawns“. September 2013, back in Berlin, sound engineer Jörg Surrey and I took care for the mix, made some more recordings and added some overdubs. There are some looped phrases in my live performance and I felt it was better to bring more life into these phrases by playing them instantly on a separate track instead of using the Looper in the Studio. 31/Oct/2013 I recorded Ida Lupino, 4/Dec/2013 I recorded Funnybird Song. January 2014 I recorded Reactionary Tango and made some mixes. December 2014 we met for some final mix changes The mastering was made March 9th 2015.
In the booklet that accompain your cd you talk about the DDR times, how it was? I mean how much was it difficoult to listen and to play jazz?
It was not difficult at all. The GDR system was always afraid of critical voices. On the other side the socialist leaders tried to show themselves as part of a progressive movement. Jazz has always been connected with the exploited black people in the U.S.A. It was much easier fort he communists to accept instrumental jazz music than rock songs about desires, that were not possible to fulfil behind walls and fences.
The Jazz Scene in the GDR had a lot of great musicians and many internationally known jazz musicians performed in the GDR. There was a lot of Jazz broadcasted in the radio. In almost every area oft he GDR it was even possible (and usual) to listen to west german radio, too.
I admit, the GDR I know ist the 80s version. There were much harder times for musicians and music lovers in the sixties.
What does improvisation mean for your music research? Do you think it’s possible to talk about improvisation for classical music or we have to turn to other repertories like jazz, contemporary music, etc.?
Improvisation has always been a part of creating music. To my opinion it’s hard to draw the line between improvisation and composition. J.S.Bach was said to be an amazing improviser and he improvised a lot of his compositions. All the cadencas in classical concertos gave space for the soloist to improvise until somebody wrote the stuff down. More and more this part got lost in classical music. I
All the famous guitar, saxophone or piano solos in the history of rock music started with an improvisation. David Gilmour, for instance, had to practice all the famous Pink Floyd guitar solos for his live performances. The improvisations he played in Comfortably Numb or Shine On Your Crazy Diamond became part of the composition just like the written classical cadencas.
Jazz musicians that improvise on their favorite pieces again and again for years develop a kind of a concentrate of their ideas. That might be much more of a composition than we think.
What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises.
I have, sometimes, the feeling that in our times music’s history flows without a particular interest in its chronological course, in our discotheque before and after, past and future become interchangeable elements, shall this be a risk of a uniform vision for an interpreter and a composer? The risk of a musical "globalization"?
Many people don’t think it’s good to talk with an accent. Germans try to speak English like British or American people. But we love to listen to French or Italian (!) people talking English or German with their charming accent. I think, everybody should be okay with his/her own special style. We didn’t become artists to copy somebody. Miles would not have become this unique musician if was able to copy Dizzy. Django Reinhard gave guitarists a new direction with a handicapped left hand. There’s a lot of failed edits that I would miss in my favourite records.
Let’s talk about marketing. How much do you think it’s important for a modern musician? I mean: how much is crucial to be good promoters of themselves and their works in music today?
I think it’s important. I wish I knew much better how to promote my music.
Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island ...
J.S.Bach – Mass in B minor
John Lennon – Walls And Bridges
Carla Bley – live!
L.v.Beethoven – Piano Concerto No.5
Charlie Haden Quartet West – Always Say Goodbye
I believe, Kind Of Blue and some Beatles Albums are to find on every Island on this planet anyway ;)
What are your five favorite scores?
Michael Kamen – Brazil
Bernard Hermann – The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Thomas Newman - The Shawshank Redemption
Ennio Morricone - Once Upon A Time In America
Not to mention great music films like
The Last Waltz – The Band
Amadeus – Mozart
The Wall – Pink Floyd
With who would you like to play? What kind of music do you listen to usually?
Drummer Jim Keltner
Tubist Howard Johnson
the unknown musician that surprises me with his new ideas
and, of course, Carla and Steve again.
I always get back to my favourites: Bach, Beethoven, Beatles, Bley, Miles, Gil Evans, Billy Joel, Pat Metheny, Pink Floyd.
There’s a lot of interesting musicians around and I try to listen to live music as much as possible.
Your next projects? When we will see you playing in Italy?
I think about recording a second Solo Album with my own compositions. And play with my Trio “Electric Krause” again.
As for Italy, I made contact to the director of Alto Adige Jazz Festival. I hope I will bring my guitar named Carla to a lot of great places in Italy. I’m always open for suggestions!