Interview with David Laborier: Jazz always has been a music of external influences: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist, composer and arranger David Laborier. 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 Laborier: – I was born and grew up in Luxembourg and started playing guitar at age 13, which is relatively late. This was 1988 and the beginnings of MTV. I really got into bands like Dire Straits and Pink Floyd. That’s what really got me interested in playing the electric guitar. As I grew up in a family of professional classical musicians (both my parents were orchestra players), the first instrument I got was a classical guitar. At age 15, I ended getting my first electric guitar and that’s when I really got hooked and practiced every spare minute I had.

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

DL: – As I said, seeing bands on MTV was a huge influence. At first, I was really into rock, heavy metal, etc… I used to learn guitar parts note for note from records. Then, at age 18, I entered the jazz department of the Conservatoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, with blegian guitarist Jacques Pirotton. This is where I started to grow a serious interest in Jazz. A couple years later, I enrolled at Berklee College of Music, where I studied with the late Garrison Fewell, guitarist John Thomas, as well as guitar great Richie Hart. All three were a huge influence on me and made me discover the rich repertoire of jazz guitar.

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

DL: – My musical taste is very varied and I think this reflects in my playing. I have always checked out a large variety of jazz players and tried to emulate them on my instrument. I think trying to develop a sound on the instrument is crucial to playing jazz. A lot of it comes from listening to as much music as you can, but perfecting technique on the instrument is as important. That is what pushes me on a daily basis. Meeting and playing with as many great musicians as you can also greatly influences your sound. And then there is this fascination for all players that sound like everything they do is completely effortless. This seemingly unachievable goal probably is the biggest drive behind everything I try to do on the instrument.

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

DL: – I like to see practice routine as a way to cover everything you need to express yourself on your instrument in the given amount of daily practice time that is at your disposal. Especially the things you don’t know how to do and that are not at your fingertips in an automatic way. This is what I also tell my students. Choose 4-5 things you would like to improve and split up your daily practice time over those 4-5 things evenly, so you make sure you get to them every single day. Rhythm and groove have to be at the center of any exercise, as they are a central part of jazz music. Nowadays, modern technology allows us to use anything from very sophisticated metronomes, to drum machines and very organic loops, which can make the practice routine as fun as you wish.

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?

DL: – This entirely depends on the nature of the project I’m working on. The musical choices one makes have to be guided by the context. As far as the use of dissonance goes, I’m yet to be part of a project that goes to extremes as far as dissonant sounds, effects, etc… Maybe in the future…

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

DL: – I don’t think one should prevent these influences. Jazz always has been a music of external influences. Preventing any external influence from coloring it makes it sterile and lacking connection to its essence in my opinion.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2019: <NE:X:T>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

DL: – What I love most about making any album is the process from imagining it to the final product. NE:X:T was recorded in late 2017 and is just released now. This means that the whole thing has already evolved and I am currently planning the next recording project. Besides, I am also heavily involved in the Orchestre National de Jazz Luxembourg Big Band and have various writing projects lined up.

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

DL: – You need intellectual (academic) knowledge to compose music, but you have to make it sound as soulful and non-intellectual as you can to reach people with it. That is essential for me. Otherwise you’re basically writing music for musicians. Writing music that sounds simple, natural, emotional and accessible in spite of its potential complexity is the main goal here. I guess most of us still admire Bach for that exact reason.

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

DL: – Every musician should hope to be able to give his/her audience something they can walk away with and feel that they have been touched. Without that, there really is no point in making music in my eyes. Sometimes it may take a while for audiences to be touched, but in the end, I think that music that comes from the right place

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

DL: – What happens on the road…

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

DL: – Herbie Hancock showed us the way with his record ‘The New Standard’: by using contemporary pop and rock repertoire and playing it in a modern, innovative and jazz infused manner. Come to think of it, wasn’t this what jazz players always did? I guess the apparition of fake books and real books kind of made some musicians feel the standard jazz repertoire stopped evolving in the 1970’s…

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

DL: – That is a really tough question. I prefer to leave this to philosophers, which I don’t consider myself to be.

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

DL: – Get authors and composers to be compensated fairly for the online use of their work…

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

DL: – The Roots, Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, Vulfpeck, besides all my favorite classic Blue Note Records… The list is long…

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DL: – Keep your mind open to all influences.

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

DL: – I’m fine where I am, although it would be interesting to get a whiff of New Orleans at the time of Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong.

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

DL: – Is jazz dead? Or is it evolving?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers and cooperation with us. In no case!!! Jazz is not dead and nothing develops near that.

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

DL: – Not quite sure what you mean by that one… It was a very well conceived interview. Thanks!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

На данном изображении может находиться: 2 человека

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