Interview with Chris Pasin: Purely intellectual music can be interesting, but dry without emotion and soul: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter and composer Chris Pasin. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Chris Pasin: – I grew up in the suburbs of New York. When we moved there, I had the chance to get into the elementary school band program, and chose to play the trumpet.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the trumpet? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the trumpet?

CHP: – At nine, I emulated an older cousin, who was playing it. I was fortunate to have lessons with a teacher named Walter Nardozzi, who gave me a good foundation for playing the instrument, using, in part, the methodology of Carmine Caruso, with whom I later studied.

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

CHP: – I listened to great players, first classical and big band trumpet players like Maurice Andre and Harry James, and later Clifford Brown, dizzy Gillespie, Lee morgan, and Freddie Hubbard.

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

CHP: – Mostly, my musical practice involves playing on different tunes’ chord changes, or freely improvising. I experiment with melisma and polyrhythms during this, but also will purposefully play with a metronome to master placement of odd meter figures.

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

CHP: – My improvisation is very much reactive to my musical environment, but tends to come first from melodic invention then harmonic consideration. The dissonance you hear may be part of a tension/release protocol which creates drama.

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

CHP: – I really can’t. For example, in this context, if a melodic fragment from, say Duke Ellington, or Lester Young, or Louis Armstrong creeps in, I don’t try to suppress it. That is what makes jazz such a beautiful music, that the world of musical influences can be integrated!

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

CHP: – Purely intellectual music can be interesting, but dry without emotion and soul. The most compelling music seamlessly integrates both at a very high level.

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

CHP: – If I like what they want! I have the luxury of not playing music I don’t like very often, so the answer to the question is definitely yes!

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

CHP: – I haven’t seen that as a problem at all. The young musicians I play with and hear, love playing the standard repertoire. And many are actively creating their own music as well.

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

CHP: – The spirit is what unites us with every living being. The music is imbued with it in the act of creation. Jazz improvisation requires that the performer be present with the music, the other musicians, and the audience. Like Ram Das said, “Be Here Now,” or Eckard Tolle, “The Power of Now.”

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

CHP: – Lifting the aesthetic consciousness of the average listener to truly hear what is being played so the music can reach and heal more people. Another thing would be for real music to be compensated commensurate with the stature of its practitioners.

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

CHP: – That depends upon the day. Today I listened to Carla Bley. Yesterday, a friend’s new album, Scott Andrew Martin, “Alone at Sunset.” My interest and taste runs wide.

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

CHP: – From a musical standpoint, I’d go to the year I was born, 1958. So many great bands were either in full swing or just beginning, and you could hear any number of masters any night on 52nd Street.

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

CHP: – Why do I keep creating music. Because that is who I am. I have to. And I love to. I love the people I play with and for.

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

CHP: – I’m blessed with good health to be able to play the trumpet, and a mind sharp enough to handle the musical challenges that come my way, and that enough people think highly enough of me to call me! Thanks for asking!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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