Interview with Pablo Embon: They get to transport themselves into different landscapes and emotions as they hear my music: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Pablo Embon. An interview by email in writing.

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

Pablo Embon: – I was born and grew up in Argentina. Both my grandmothers were piano teachers and they have pianos at home. At very young age I found the instrument fascinating, and by listening to my grandmothers play so beautifully gave me huge inspiration. At age 6, I used to play old songs on the piano by ear. When I was a little bit older I started listening to The Beatles records at home, and by then I already knew the songs by heart and attempted to play them on the piano. At age 13 I got a cassette record player as a birthday present from my father and from that time I started recording myself play guitar and piano. Decided that this is the coolest thing ever. Since then, I never stopped making and recording music.  That was 42 years ago.

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

PE: – My music evolved dramatically about 15 years ago. Earlier on I use to compose modern contemporary songs which I’d sung myself. I also used to sing as a vocalist in bands in Argentina. Later on after immigrating to Israel I found that I had reached a point from where I needed more freedom of expression and more powerful tools to bring emotions through music to life. So I started slowly moving away from contemporary music and focused on learning Jazz and Orchestration. That is probably the reason why I’m not a purist when it comes to the Jazz form I play today, since it contains all that background music I had experience with from my past. I could have never detached myself from it but Jazz also brought my music into another dimension of expression and joy.

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

PE: – My primary instruments are piano and guitar. I dedicate significant amount of time learning these instruments, especially improving my techniques and methods, but also spend significant time dedicated to learn Jazz advanced music theory, which I use in my compositions. The beauty of playing both instruments is that sometimes you have a much broader vision of musical concepts at your reach as it is possible to correlate knowledge which makes it much easier to internalize and apply to each instrument.

I consider rhythm as being the main pillar in music and specifically for Jazz. Learning and listening to Jazz classics allows your “rhythm ear” to improve faster and you tend to apply them naturally in your playing. I use significant rhythmic arrangements in my compositions because this is what brings music alive.

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?

PE: – I apply a certain harmony arrangement in a song to fit the intent of the song I envision. Music is all about tension and release. If there was only tension, we would perceive the piece as unpleasant, and if it was only release, it would be boring. Music is a way of communication, like telling a story in which a speaker brings his highs and lows all throughout to create emotion and movement. In addition, my compositions rarely stay harmonically static, they would go to different places, modulate to bring different landscapes to the ears. This is how I see music as a way of communicating with people.

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

PE: – We all (musicians) have inherent influences built in our music habits. This is inevitable because you grow as a musician playing records and hearing music all the time. You are never in vacuum, however this has never been a concern when I compose music. I am not stressed by the potential chance to be influenced. I just let the music flow without analyzing too much whether I am being influenced or not.  I still believe that at the end of the day my music is my own message.

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

PE: – Reminiscent Moods is a very intimate album from my perspective. It has that inner voice speaking, the one that links us to the one we’ve been in the past. Story telling and variable “Moods” are characteristic of this album. During the concept development, I attempted to get all the songs flow naturally together. It is probably the first album which allowed me to connect to myself as opposed to show musical skills and proficiency. Hopefully this is the image being transmitted to the listeners.

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

PE: – I think they should both go hand by hand. The ideas of a piece of music emerge from our inner voices, however the implementation of these ideas must be accompanied by deep thinking and  understanding how these ideas should be implemented and how the power of music knowledge can achieve the original intent of that inner voice. Thus I see music arrangement and post production as key skills to enhance a piece of music and bring it to success. After creating a draft, I would spent quite some time thinking and sketching how I would imagine the final product to be.

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

PE: – Absolutely. This is the only way to communicate with listeners, they need to be able to connect with what you are trying to say on their own terms. However this should be done in the framework of the music style we play. Having said that, my generic musical preference will still prevail in my music only that I will still “borrow” listeners’ ears to judge how approachable the music is expected to be to them.

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

PE: – It’s been quite a long time since I’d played in concerts or gigs in my youth and in my birth country. Performing was such a great emotional act for me. I do not do much of that nowadays. I consider and focus myself as a composer and put all my effort to reach listeners without the need of my physical presence. But who knows, things may change in the future, a part of me is still missing that uplifting experience.

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

PE: – Jazz is a very wide music genre and it is pretty much more of an attitude and a sense of freedom in music. Sometimes people get misled by the message that Jazz is all about the standard tunes, (which I fully admire by the way). There are immense opportunities to dive into Jazz music throughout different styles that may be more appealing to young people, such as Modern Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Latin Jazz, Smooth Jazz, etc. They bring different flavors of jazz to the table. The way to introduce them to Jazz music is to show them the full palette of options available (including classic tunes) and once they are exposed, chances are they will be able to connect to some of them.

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

PE: – Music is part of my life which makes me be who I am. I couldn’t imagine myself going on in this world with no music in my veins.

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

PE: – I would like to feel again the emotion of going to a record store and buy a new vinyl record. Internet and technology have obviously improve conditions for musicians’ exposure however, in a way, we have lost the original excitement of the old days. By the way, never mind how great the production of any CD could be, it will never sound like or be compared to the listening experience of a vinyl.

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

PE: – I’ve started digging more and more classic Jazz players, I find amazing things about what they have done, guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, George Benson (old days), Pat Martino and others. The listening experience is such as opening a box of surprises, there is always something new to notice and admire.

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

PE: – Feedback I usually get from listeners or reviewers is that they get to transport themselves into different landscapes and emotions as they hear my music. I believe this is the whole purpose of any form of Art. So I believe that if this is the message I bring up, then I consider myself blessed.

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

PE: – I take my life step by step. Lots of time I’ve wonder if I can be in a better place, and be more successful, etc. Then I realize that I’m really satisfied with my life as it is and try to enjoy it in the present time as much as I can. Otherwise I could become “Reminiscent” of moments I couldn’t enjoy being busy wondering where I’d want to be.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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