Interview with David Hazeltine: I hope people can pick up on the love that I’ve put into it for the last 50 years: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist David Hazeltine. An interview by email in writing.

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

David Hazeltine: – I was born and raised in Milwaukee WI.  My mother was a singer and guitarist, and was performing on a local noontime tv show, so I would go with her everyday to the studio, where I fell in love with music.

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

DH: – I started on organ at 8 years old, became interested in Jimmy Smith, and switched to piano when I was 15, because it seemed like a more flexible instrument in terms of individual touch.

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

DH: – I really had only one Jazz piano teacher, a very gifted blind brother by the name of Will Green.  I met him when I was 12, but unfortunately he passed away when I was 16.

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

DH: – I studied very carefully all of my favorite players.  By studied I mean, I learned to play just like them by ear; their solos, their arrangements of standards, and their original music as well.

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

DH: – I have taught myself and others from the time I was 14 years old.  I worked on creating my own exercises (both melodic and harmonic) based on my listening to my idols, like Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Cedar Walton, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and many others.

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

DH: – I prefer harmonies that are rooted in tradition, but have the quality of being unique and surprising in both voicing and context.

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?

DH: – My advice is to follow your heart.  If you love it enough to make it your business, then work hard at it to be the best, even if that means not always having the shiniest shoes, or the most modern instrument.

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

DH: – It’s my business, but I’m not sure I would do it again if I were a young person today, simply because the music business is so geared toward the lowest common denominator in fans.

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

DH: – I like to try to use more current tunes, even pop tunes from the 70’s and 80’s by Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, etc.

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

DH: – I feel fortunate to be in a position to express myself and my spirit through music, and I hope people can pick up on the love that I’ve put into it for the last 50 years.

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

DH: – I live in New York City, there’s plenty of fear and anxiety just walking out of my apartment.

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

DH: – I’m writing music now for a trio record with two of the greatest living legends of Jazz, Ron Carter and Al Foster.

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

DH: – Only in terms of the three basic elements of music – Melody, Harmony, Rhythm.  But how those three elements are put together, and to what extent the performers/composers understand and are in control of the details of those elements, determines the commonality in styles.

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

DH: – The usual:  Bach Beethoven, Mozart, Ravel, Art, Bud, Bill Evans, Cedar, McCoy, Chick, etc., etc..

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

DH: – A Steinway O.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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