Interview with Cassius Lambert: The music without intellect can be flat and lost: Live full concert video


Jazz interview with jazz bassist Cassius Lambert. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Cassius Lambert: – I was born in Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden, but moved to a fishing village called Abbekås when I was four years old. I was during my early childhood mostly occupied with outdoor activities, like football, bicycling and digging holes (an activity we took very seriously).

My family has always been very interested in music, and I was early introduced to diverse and inspiring music from all over the world and all genres. My father used to be a bassist, so the bass was a present item in our home.

However, when I was twelve years old, I broke my leg quite severely and was forced to a wheelchair for a long time. Since all my friends were occupied with outdoor activities, I had not much to do but to pick up the bass. And I also started to compose at that age.

So that’s the story of how I started to play the bass.

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

CL: – My sound has become more expressive, perhaps more complex too. When I compare the sound in my first album, Quote, with Symmetri, my second album, the sound has evolved to be more compound. And they communicate different emotions. I think my sound has grown due to a lot of experimenting, improvisations and many hours of studying music.

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

CL: – My practice routines can roughly be divided in two parts. Practice rhythm with the bass, and practice in relation to composition.

Practice rhythm with my instrument, the bass; Currently, I focus on rhythm in relation to parameters such as dynamics, tone, harmony and time, and trying to achieve greater knowledge about their interplay and relation. An exercise could look like this: “Start from to play a triplet phrase in a particular mode, with time that is leaning backwards, and then, play 16 parts in another mode, with different tone and time that is leaning forward.

With these type of exercises I can retrieve multiple angles of using rhythm, but also a greater palette of how I can use rhythm.

Composition practices/methods; My overall goal is to broaden my composition sphere, to find additional tools and methods when composing. Often, it starts with a goal, an abstract vision for a compositional method. It could for instance be “My vision is to find a way to obtain a firm tempo which is experienced as elastic and flexible”.

Thereafter, I start to look for inspiration, search for music that hold this expression, and to analyse it in detail on a theoretical level.

Outcome of the an analysis could be, if taking above example, “to mix subdivisions on a horizontal level (when subdivisions enter after each other in time, not on top of each other) contributes creating elasticity in a rigid rhythm.”

When I have discovered the method, have the answer how to, I start to experiment. And in this phase, I attack the answer in as many ways as possible by writing multiple small etudes.

As an end result, I have many different tools of how to gain a specific outcome (e.g. multiple methods to reach elasticity), and broaden my compositional tool palette.

(In the tune Hav Pt. 1 on album Symmetri, you can listen one way of applying an elastic bass line).

This is one example of composing practices that I employ.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

CL: – It is about balance. To obtain balance between musical parameters such as rhythm, harmony, dynamics, tone, resonance etc. A rhythmical complex part often requires a harmonic simple part. But, there are also occasions when I deliberately, for sure, want to create disorder.

There are many reasons why I often choose to endorse towards harmony. Since I tend to play quite rhythmically complex my tonal selection often becomes harmonic. And personally and emotionally, I experience that I have a greater palette regarding harmony than dissonant.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

CL: – To answer your question, I must explain my method of how to listen to music since it’s part of how I control being affected by influences. My ambition is to always try to follow three guidelines when listening.

The first guideline is to actively search for, and listen to music to be inspired by. However, I need to dig profoundly, listen to the smallest elements. By this way, I can find inspiration in any kind of music, as well in music that I normally find bland or even dislike, since the music can hold one element tremendously interesting and inspiring among thousand arid.

Second guidelines is about how to handle the discovered golden elements. And think of where in the composition they can be placed in order to provide good effect and experience, how can they be altered, combined or reinforced. I do not allow myself to reject the outcome directly, instead reflect before taking it to account or not.

Next step, the third guideline, is to analyse the intuitive emotion achieved when listen to the music. Focus here is not on the feelings experienced while listing, rather on why the feeling is emerged. I have noticed that gaining knowledge about what components constitutes different types of feelings inside of me, makes my composing more natural and conscious.

However, there is always a risk of analysing too much and too harsh stick to “the rules”. Rules, methods and thoughts should always be questioned, iterated and re-worked.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

CL: – Fur sure it is a tight relationship. And an entangled one, too. Music without soul could become cold and insensitive, and music without intellect can be flat and lost. The existence of both is crucial, and the balance can vary within a tune and genres.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

CL: – I never or seldom think of “what the audience want”. To be able to express myself as genuine as possible, I need to focus on what triggers me, what I am passionate about, because then, the music also will become genuine. And hopefully will someone else like it too. I think it could be very destructive not to follow your inner voice and musical preferences, you‘ll eventually be alienated and dispatched from yourself.

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

CL: – One way would be to broaden the definition of what jazz is.

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

CL: – To be honest, I dont know.

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

CL: – Equality – same rights and respect for all, independent of gender, age or origin.

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

CL: – I listen to: RPboo, Jlin, Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Carolin Shaw, serpentwithfeet, Black Milk, Ensemble trakia, Chico Buerque, Nico Muhly, Dawn of Midi, Lubomyr Melnyk, Pauline Oliveros, Nik Bärtsch, Lorenzo Senni, Connie Converse, Amanda Bergman, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Reinier Baas, Gilberto Gil, Ahmad Jamal, Nancy Sinatra, Shuggie Otis and Stephen Scott, to mention a few.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

CL: – The best time is now. So many interesting things are going on, and I don’t want to miss it. But I am also curious about the future, how will music sound like in twenty years from now?

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

CL: – Thank you for your well thought out questions. I think you touched a lot of interesting points. Here is a question for you: What is your best music experience?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I am Jazz critic, do not jazz musician.

So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

CL: – To figure out answers to your questions was a great reflection experience. Thank you.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Cassius Lambert

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