An interview with Joscho Stephan: Play pure Jazz is getting harder all the time … Video

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Jazz interview with Gypsy guitarist Joscho Stephan. interview by email in writing.

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

Joscho Stephan: I grew up in Germany, Mönchengladbach (small town near Düsseldorf or Cologne). My father played music in a Top 40 Band. They played stuff like Santana, Beatles etc. So that was my first contact with Music.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar?

JS: – Of course, I was often listening to the rehearsals of my father and his band, so that was my first big influence. I wanted to play drums, but my parents thought a guitar would be better for me.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?

JS: – First of all my father showed me the first chords, after that we went to the local music school. At the school I learned some classical stuff. After that I tried to find out everything by myself. So at the Age of 10 – 11 I started listening to records etc. and learn music by ear.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

JS: – I cannot really answer the question, because a lot of things just happened. I remember that I started at age 12 to practice more, because then I noticed that its not enough just to pick up the guitar an play, at that time I really worked on stuff and builded my technique and sound.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

JS: – I don´t have really a practice routine. One day I just practice some new licks, on other days I concentrate more on chords or try to compose something. To get better at the rhythm I prefer to record myself. On a recording you notice directly the mistakes (if you a rushing for example), then you can work on things.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

JS: – Because of the reason that I am still playing mostly Gypsy Jazz I am more focused on the chords, that means my playing is more chord based then the playing of a modern jazz or fusion guitar Player.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

JS: – To be honest: I did an education when I was 16, working in an office. That sound maybe boring, but I learned there all the things that I need to manage myself and taking care of the business site. I think today it´s more important than ever to be a musician and manager at the same time.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

JS: – It depends on the style or the performance I would say. I always try to entertain the audience (with announcements or popular songs like Hey Joe or Rondo ala Turka), that allows me on the other site to play also original compositions etc. I think to play pure Jazz is getting harder all the time, but I admire all the young players who live for their vision of doing what they want to do on stage.

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

JS: – I think also with the more entertaining part. I often quote a lot of other songs (Pink Panther Theme, Smoke on the Water etc.) or do a more Rock influenced intro, often the younger people tell me that they love this part of my playing, because most of them are not jazz listeners.

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

JS: – I think that every musician needs to find his own spirit or lets say personality, otherwise you will just copy others. Until my mid 20s I wanted to be the like Django and all the other players, but then I found out that the audience love my kind of playing, because I did a lot of other things then the most other Gypsy Guitar players. I think at that point I became a more relaxed player who is trying to play Gypsy Jazz with an own note.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

JS: – I think I am very glad at the moment with all the work I did. I always tried to combine Gypsy Swing with other Styles (for example Gypsy Swing + Klezmer), I did a wonderful record (Guitar Heroes) with 3 of the best acoustic guitar players and musicians that influenced me (Stochelo Rosenberg, Tommy Emmanuel and Bireli Lagrene), I invest a lot of time in Teaching Gypsy Swing at my own online School (Gypsy Guitar Academy), playing a lot of concerts and of course recording new material all the time. So I am always busy so that I don’t have too much time to think about negative stuff that brings fear or anxiety. I think times are always changing, but we need to live with these changes.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

JS: – I just recorded a record with Gypsy Swing Christmas Songs, that will be out in November, after that I will work on a new Trio album with some great guests.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

JS: – I am not sure how to answer this question, because what is the right definition of jazz music. I think all the music styles that have an improvisation part belong to jazz. That means playing a blues pentatonic could be great as an Coltrane Solo if its spontaneous and full of heart.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

JS: – Just while answering these questions I listen to Lee Ritenour´s Direct to Disc Vinyl “Sugar Loaf Express”, before that I listenend to a LP with the famous James Bond Movie Songs, yesterday I listened to Paul McCartney´s LP Press, before that I just listened to the great Django Reinhardt again. So as you see I listen to everything that is possible.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

JS: – So if we talk about equipment, I don’t need that much. I play a Jürgen Volkert Gypsy Guitar. There is a pickup system and AT Micro that I use with an AER Compact 60 Amp. For the Microphone I use a Headway PreAmp, for the pick up I use the AER CoulorizerPreAmp. On big festivals the sound engineer is just getting the signal of my amp for the P.A. System. I use also a Wegen Big City Pick (1,8mm) and D´Addario Gypsy Swing Strings.

Conversation led: Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Joscho Stephan

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