Interview with Dave Frank: The soul tells you where you want to go and the intellect helps you get there: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Dave Frank. An interview by email in writing.

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

Dave Frank: – I grew up in Queens, NYC, and Jericho, Long Island. My mother was a piano teacher that taught lots of students in the neighborhood. She was my entrance into the world of the piano, and for that I am most grateful).

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

DF: – We had one in the living room. I had a nice classical teacher named Mrs. Schneck who inspired me at around 10 years old, then when I was 12 I met my first great jazz teacher, John LaRosa. He got me crazy about jazz and taught me all the basics in a systematic way. When I was 15 I began studying weekly with Lennie Tristano – dig that! That was unbelievable! The when I started teaching at Berklee in Boston in ’87 I started studying with the Great Great teacher Charlie Banacos. I sstudied with Charlie for 20 years. Charlie was the all-round most fantastic person I ever met in the world of jazz.  For the last year I have been studying classical music with the Wonderful performer and teacher Irina Lankova via skype from Belgium. She has taken me places I only dreamed of going in terms of improving my sound, touch, nuance, and the like. I ain’t got NO excuse.

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

DF: – It continues to evolve. You want to educate your ear by listening to a wide range of pianists, and then pick up the aspects of their sound that most appeal to you.

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

DF: – My great teacher Charlie Banacos gave me an exercise to develop steady time that involved mental imagery. It is magic. I’ll be happy to share thjs with anyone who is interested, write to me at my website.

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?

DF: – It’s completely conscious. Chick says that whenever you make a musical decision you should think primarily about the effect that decision will have on the listener. We have hundreds of years of piano music to choose from in terms of dissonance or consonance. I decide what I want the listener to feel, then choose the amount of dissonance that corresponds. My tune Salvador Dali in a State of Grace is heavily dissonant.

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

DF: – Choose the influences that you want in each thing you play.

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

DF: – They both have a role. Everything of course is done to express one of more soul or God-centered qualities, the soul tells you where you want to go and the intellect helps you get there.

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

DF: – Great question. There must be a balance between the two. If you only want to play what you want to play regardless if people can understand it, it’s best to stay home or play for friends who are doing the same)

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

DF: – Recording a solo CD (I’ve done 6) is like being in the trenches in a small war (maybe). Intense focus, faith in yourself and in the creative process, a good producer/engineer, a lot of planning, and a large gluten-free pizza are all involved. Give it your absolute best and a good take will emerge)

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

DF: – Have them listen to Keith Jarrett play them.

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

DF: – Developing your musical ability and getting insight into the Spiritual dimension of life are similar in that they both are based in a daily practice. Through a lifetime of steady practice and study, insights and experiences will come to you to illumine your path as the fruit of your practice.

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

DF: – More gluten-free pizza at jazz venues.

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

DF: – Always Keith, Bill, and Chick. Orchestral works to break the pianocentric world. Great classical pianists. Chopin and mantra music for relaxation.

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

DF: – You are trying to express aspects of God to the listener.

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

DF: – I’d love to hang out with Bach or Beethoven just to see have crazy it all was for them.

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

DF: – How did you get so good at interviewing? Your questions are fantastic.

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. 🙂

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

DF: – There is a step-by-step way to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. You put the right concepts in action, work ceaselessly at all aspects of yourself and your art,  and go forward with great courage. Things will often work out for you!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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