Interview with Philippe Picot: I favor the soul: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz accordionist Philippe Picot. An interview by email in writing.

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

Philippe Picot: – I grew up in the Paris area and I still reside there. When I was a kid there was a radio always on at home and that attracted me.

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

PP: – As soon as I had an accordion on my knees, I tried to play all kinds of music heard on the radio: songs, classical, rock, jazz…It allowed me to imitate the phrasing of various instruments. After that, playing my compositions, I let myself go!

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

PP: – To stay in shape technically I still work scales, arpeggios, intervals in different tones and rhythms, always using a metronome!

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?

PP: – My harmonic research goes towards the use of modulations which makes it possible to change the color during one or two bars and by doing so consciously or unconsciously surprise the listener.

I am not against the use of dissonances on conditions that make sense, that they bring a harmonic color and not a rupture

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

PP: – When I compose, I do not listen to anything and I let myself go. Anyway our spirit is nourished by these influences. we can’t create from nothing.

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

PP: – For my part I favor the soul without being too attached to the intellect. know this is not the case for everyone and I respect that choice.

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

PP: – To be listened to and followed by the public you have to give him a bit of what he expects. But you can take advantage of the fact that people adhere to your music to surprise them and bring them where they would never think to go.

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

PP: – Of course there are many anecdotes to tell in a long career but a memory come to my mind. I accompanied a singer in a repertoire of Edith Piaf, the public was asking for an encore. She proposed a title that we had not repeated. When I asked her in what tone she was going to sing she answered: as in the disc…

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

PP: – To interest young people in jazz we must make them listen to jazz as soon as possible. As a pedagogue, I propose to play pieces with written chorus before going to go to improvisation.

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

PP: – Indeed it is easier for us to express ourselves with our instrument than with words, you have to read between the lines of the staff. I am positive in nature and I have a great desire to share. I always tell my students that music is made to give a little of oneself to others.

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

PP: – If I had the opportunity to change something in the musical world, I would like to allow young people to listen all kinds of music from an early age. And also, make music education more universal, do not compartmentalize classical music, jazz and modern music.

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

PP: – I have always listened to many different things, a lot of tango, jazz but also symphonic music and text songs.

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

PP: – In my music I want to say that you can listen to it without being a learned. My music is talking to everyone without falling into naiveté.

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

PP: – Finally I think we are well in our time. we have a lot of influences, a lot of archives at our disposal. The powerful means of diffusion allow us to discover a lot of things and to make ourselves known all over the world.

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

PP: – After the great era of american jazz accordionists: Art Van Damme, Frank Marocco, Ernie Felice … Is the jazz accordion still interested in American amateurs?

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. Yes of course and in the Europe!!

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

PP: – I hope this interview meets your expectations and that some musicians will share my convictions.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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