An interview with William Parker: Music is the breath of god and god’s song is music … Video

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Jazz interview with jazz greatest contrabassist William Parker. An interview by email in writing.

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

William Parker: – I was born  1952 in the south Bronx the Bronx hospital. My interest in music came through my Father Thomas parker who played the music of Duke Ellington every evening after he returned from work. He mostly played the recording Ellington live at Newport 1957 Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, Skin Deep, things like that very beautiful and powerful music

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

WP: – All the music I listened to had bass sounds, patterns , lines, walking bass, singing bass I didn’t know any names but there was something that was vibrating in and through me when I listened to music, Later on after to repeated listening to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme I begin to understand what music was for. It existed to heal people through sound but music itself was a whole other thing it was a life force in creation. So I heard Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workmen, Art Davis, Sirone, David Izenzon, both live and on recordings.

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

WP: – Well the first bassist I met was Charlie Haden he was living in Manhattan and doing gigs in Harlem with Karl Berger, Carlos Ward, and Horace Arnold, free concerts at the public libraries . This was 1969, 70 Charlie told me that he learned a lot from playing along with recordings we met on 3 or 4 occasions at that time we talked about politics I was hanging out at the Black panther office  which was at Boston Road in the Bronx but they were not very interested in music I was trying to  make pitch on behave Of Archie Shepp.

I eventually studied with Richard Davis, Art Davis, Milt Hinton, in group lessons at the Jazz mobile school which was at IS 201 133 street and park avenue in Harlem. I studied privately with Jimmy Garrison and Wilber Ware. The most important thing I learned about learning music is that learning how to do it is one thing and developing a relation with music is an entirely different thing. There many ways to approach every aspect of music. (how you hold the instrument and get sound out of it , how you participate inside a breathing living musical experience.

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

WP: – One of the keys to finding out where you are in music is to continually play music.

As many hours every day as can. This allows you to touch upon as many systems of music as you can I discovered that there are thousands of systems of music that have nothing to do with what we think music is.

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

WP: – Rhythm comes from the beating of your heart which is universal it the common denominator between music and the world everything we need to know is inside of us it is the job of the music teacher to bring that out to us.

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

WP: – I look at the bass as a drum set the g string is my ride cycmbal / the D string is my upper tom tom the A string is my bass drum and the E string is my gong I don’t really think about tradition music concepts I very seldom never use preset harmonies. Only on chants and prayers` would there be fixed harmonies and those would have to a magical formula surrounding.                                                                                                                                                  JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2017 in Quartet: Meditation – Resurrection?

WP: – I love that we were lucky enough to record that music and it came so beautiful I hope that everyone in the world could listen to it.

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?

WP: – Advice for all young musicians. Concentrate on the music there is magic in the music and the people who listen they all become music. There is no magic in the business but there could be if the business was treated like music and not about making money.

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

WP: – I don’t know what jazz is I do know that there are people in the world suffering it is my job to play music that will inspire and break chains

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

WP: – It is more important for young musicians to learn they are the new tradition they have to find which own language and realized what ever was done in the past is great but they can create something just as great if they allow themselves to tap into the creative spirit.

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

WP: – I think music is the breathe of god and god’s song is music and through that lives change and are inspired.

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

WP: – Donald Trump brings fear and anxiety the entire planet. my expectation is to continue to play music and be creative as long as I can.

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

WP: – Continue to put music the next things are more vocal music and orchestra music in box set form.

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

WP: – There many similarities. Jazz, world music are all forms of folk music. But we have remove labels and barriers music is music to me I love it all.All sound and music is related as are all people.

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

WP: – Right now I am listening to Sarah Vaughan, Astrid Gilberto, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith …

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

WP: – Right now I am playing a 1/2 size bass French bass with tomastik spiro core red end strings.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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