Interview with Csaba Palotaï: We need an intellectual approach, but to be involved we need the soul: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Csaba Palotaï. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Csaba Palotaï: – I grow up in Hungary, and started to play accordion selftaught at 7. I played traditional folk songs and easy hungarian popular hits with my family and neighbors.

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?

CP: – I started play the guitar at 12. My grandmother owned an accoustic one. I took the guitar and the next day I founded my first band with my neighbors. We did very crappy experimental music with the poems of Attila Jozsef. I just find this instrument magic. I couldent stop it anymore.

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

CP: – When I was 14, I started learn music more seriously. Firstly I got a Thelonious Monk LP. I was fallen in love with bebop and jazz music. Paralelly I continued to play with instrumental rock bands, I composed music with those guys and recorded it when I was 15. I was allways looking for a natural sound with an electric guitar. My grandfather was transformed an all tube radio to an Class A amplifier. This sound was so inspiring. This sound is still in my mind.

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

CP: – I work a lot with metronome. But I try to put it very slowly. And I place the beat in my mind for the after-beat or for every 3rd or 5th beat.

But I work also within , its important also to feel the sound and the natural breath of the rythm.

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?

CP: – I studied harmonies at the conservatory in Budapest and in Paris, but I try to be honest with myself, so I compose with the elements what I hear clearly. I like dissnances I, but I dont want to use it j ust “to be interresting”.

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

CP: – I need influences, i need inspirations, but for exemple i try to looking for this inspirations trough the very old folk musics (pre-war recordings) and in the classical baroque or contemporary music.

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

CP: – I think that music its very close to the nature. To learn it, and to understand it we need an intellectual approach, but to be involved we need the soul.

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

CP: – I think, nobody able to know exacltly what audience want. So, to try to giving it its a false calculation.

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

CP: – To play standards, it’s an interesting way to communicate, its an international musical laguage. Musiciens from all over the world play and learn standards. Thats is a true value to know this laguage!

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

CP: – I mean, John Coltrane was in a very high spiritual level. In my particular case I don’t try to define connections between life and music. May be the only thing , its to do music each days, and to be present in all moments when I do it.

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

CP: – May be singing more? Music its for everyone. Less socal media, more living music.

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

CP: – A lot of different things ! Hard to say…I listened a lot Nick Cave’s music, Bartok’s works for piano, African music from Zambia…

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

CP: – I guess, music don’t need message, no need flags and slogans. I just want to do it.

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

CP: – Ah, sorry I dont know. It would be nice to be in the 17th century to hear Bach playing the organ, or to be in New York in the 50’s to hear Monk playing the piano … but anyway to be present right now, I am okay with that.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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