Interview with Giorgi Kiknadze: The soul shapes the intellect, humbles it and translates the content: Video

- in INTERVIEWS, VIDEOS

Jazz interview with jazz contrabassist and composer Giorgi Kiknadze. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Giorgi Kiknadze: – I was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and spent the first 9 years there, before I moved to Germany. My father Reso  is a composer and saxophone player, who fed me with music from the very beginning. Johann Sebastian Bach and Charlie Parker, amongst others, were my lullaby “singers”. I remember very clearly the “Well-Tempered Clavier”- LP with a yellow cover, played by Sviatoslav Richter, and a blue tape with the classic Parker recordings on one side and  “Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock on the other. My uncle Giorgi Mirzashvili, who is a painter and whose painting you can see on the cover of my album, took care of the “other side”: Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan. So, the damage has been done very early.

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

GK: – It was a long journey. And again, my father was my major influence. I started with the piano at the age of six, then played the Cello at the age of 11  for 8 or 9 years, tried to play guitar and trumpet in between, always with the total support of my father. At the age of 18, I finally  found the right instrument and started to play double bass autodidactic. My first band was, what a surprise, the quartet of my father, who was playing a lot in Lübeck, a beautiful small town in germany, where I grew up. This was the start of my career as a jazz musician. After finishing high school in 2002, I started to study at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. From here on, I was lucky to have many teachers in many ways, but one of the most important ones was Lucas Lindholm, a great bass player and mentor, with whom I studied for four years. But the privilegue as a jazz musician is, that there are teachers and lessons all over. You can grab a beer at a local jam session and play a tune or two with the right people and learn a lot at the same time. And  I took advantage of this fact many times. But still, overall, my father contributed the biggest part in my development as a musician.

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

GK: – For me, sound is a mixture of your personality, your taste, your playing technique and the equipment you are using. I have to admit, that, for different, but mostly financial reasons, I neglected the last criterium for many years and you could hear that. But by this time, I changed a few things and I am very happy with the sound of my instrument, both amplified and unamplified.

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

GK: – Again, I have an admission to make. I used to be a lazy bone (it’s getting better) and I had enormous difficulties to structure my practising, to install it in every day life as a normal thing to do. But, on the other hand, when there was an opportunity to play with other people, I would leave everything else and play. So, that saved me in a way. And surely affected (negatively and positively)  both the technical and the musical  sides of my playing.

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?

GK: – Proceeding from the answer before, I would say that my playing is much more intuitive than rational. Although  I find it very important, to “know what you’re doing”, considering the music-theoretical or, in this case, harmonic possibilities. But the fact, that the album is, as you say, more towards harmony than dissonance, is a present “snapshot” of my musical taste and possibilities to compose . It can (and hopefully will) change betimes.

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

GK: – There is no need to prevent. The influences, that you need to create your own music, will take part of you very naturally. And the others, the “bad ones”, will never have a chance to get to you.

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

GK: – First of all, I love the musicians that are playing on the record. I’ve known Frank, Lukas and Konrad for ages, played in many formations with each of them and we became very good friends over the years. For me personally,  it’s just a wonderful thing to know, that I can write a piece of music without being sure, if it is “worth” performing. Because only when you try it with the band you will know for sure. Reciprocal, knowing, how the band sounds, how every individual in the band sounds,  helps you composing, when you are alone at the piano or wherever you are composing. This is a big privilegue for me.

I also love the sound of the record, how it is recorded, mixed and mastered. I am very happy and even a bit proud with the result. And it motivates me to do new music, both with this band and with other people, other projects.

My current projects beside the quartet is a piano Trio, where we are playing the Georgian Songbook and a quintet, where we are playing the music of David Bowie.

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

GK: – Intellect has to have it’s place in music, there is no doubt about that, but soul shapes the intellect, humbles it and translates the content into a language that everybody understands. And it can also exist without intellect. The other way round? I don’t think so.

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

GK: – The above mentioned pianist Sviatoslav Richter said that he plays for himself in the first place. Because if he is happy, the audience will be, too. I agree. I need to love the music I am offering to the audience. Only then there is an honest chance for them, to get what they want from me, no matter if they expect it to be, what it is or not. I need the audience as much as they need me (musically speaking, not financially!) So being honest to them is the only logical way. So performing for myself in the first place is the only logical way.

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

GK: – There are way too many. I was lucky to play with many great musicians. But from the current cause, I’ll pick the three recording days of the album. It was a great space, where we recorded it. With a good sound, with a certain spirit, that, in my opinion, affected the music you hear on the record.

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

GK: – That’s a difficult question and I am afraid, I have no proper answer. The standard tunes have definitely nothing to do with it. As a jazz musician, you can play them in a million ways. The problem might be the image of the music. I think, a lot of people think wrong of jazz. Or, at least, have no objective view to it. If somebody, who has no idea, what jazz is, asks you, what your profession is, and you tell him, that you are a jazz musician, the second question might be like this: “Oh, nice…What kind of jazz? Like free Jazz or Dixie?” Needless to comment. As I said, I have no solution, but I’m sure, that “making jazz compatible for bigger audiences” is not the right way. You don’t change the music. You better change the view  of the masses, turn the subjective view into an objective first, and THEN people still can decide, if they want to be part of this or not. I am sure, jazz is not the only art form, that faces this problem. It’s complicated.

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

GK: – And you can hear the truth of his words in every single note he plays, no matter, if you like his music or not.

I think your spirit reveals, who you really are. It sets its signature under each of your step. You can’t disguise it. But you can develop it, work on it and accord it to the changes of life.

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

GK: – Let’s take question 11 and try to reach out to younger audiences and change the image of jazz.

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

GK: – Strangely, for the last couple of years mostly pop and classical music and not so much jazz. But I would say, I have a pretty “standard” taste and I could explore more music in every direction than I did until the present day. I always come back to certain music: Bach, Coltrane, Beatles, just to name three kinds of music, which I never get used to and always listen to it like I did the first time. But there is much, much more music, that I love, obviously.

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

GK: – To be honest, I have no particular message. I try to collect many different inspirations, musical, human, historical, people and things that matter to me,  and then I try to view and show  it from my perspective.

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

GK: – Let me be a mouse and take me back to the Abbey Road Studios and let me see the Beatles work on their albums. This music haunts me, since I was a child. So much, that in the meantine almost everyone is annoyed when I talk about it.

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

GK: – Have you ever been … To Electric Ladyland?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. No 🙂 !!!

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

GK: – Time will tell. I am happy being a musician and, as I said before, proud of my first album. I surely wouldn’t mind being a dot on the “jazz map”, I hope this album will help promote my being as a musician.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Image result for giorgi kiknadze jazz

Facebook Comments