Interview with Karina Corradini: Jazz music is intellectually sophisticated: Video

Jazz interview with jazz singer Karina Corradini. An interview by email in writing.

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

Karina Corradini: – I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Music was one of my main interests since I have memory. I remember wanting a drum set toy when I was a toddler.  I first listened to my sisters’ music, Beatles, Genesis, etc. And then in my early teens, I started to put my attention on Van Halen, Sade, Duran Duran.  When I was 15 year old, I met a group of seven talented working jazz musicians while vacationing by the beach in the coast of Buenos Aires, and hung out with them everyday for two months. When I was back in the city, I realized that music was something stronger for me than just fun.  I wanted to be a musician, and started to study ear training and voice privately.  Those musician friends first introduced me to jazz and brazilian music, and I fell in love with it forever.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal?

KC: – When I heard Ella Fitzgerald for the fist time, that was it for me. The call was enormous.  I realized that I wanted to sing whatever she was singing, and if I could just achieve a small percentage of what she was doing, my life would be fulfilled!

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?

KC: – Mainly I listened to the great brazilian and American vocal jazz artists of all time. Since Elis regina, Djavan, Caetano, Rossa Passos to Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Strainsand, Sinatra, etc. I studied with several teachers in the course of my life, but the most significant were, Kathleen Kernohan and Seth Riggs who taught me the “speech level singing” (SLS) technique.  And most importantly, Howlett “Smitty“ Smith who taught me jazz interpretation.

JBN.S: – What made you choose the jazz vocal?

KC: – I think I answered that above, because of Ella.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time?

KC: – I think that one of my strongest virtues as a vocalist is that I was blessed with a nice timbre, inherited through my mom’s DNA; I have her same speaking voice.  However, sound development was always my main focus. Sarah Vaughn was my biggest inspiration regarding sound. She is the topmost ever jazz vocalist in my opinion. Her natural sound is incredibly deep and colorful plus all the rest….

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

KC: – I started thinking that I was a horn player instead of a singer, and tried imitating the sound of horns when I was singing my melodies. I thought of air control a lot regarding sound. I did breathing exercises for years and years. I still do. And now… I just pay attention to my sound when I practice at home.

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

KC: – I listen to the master singers constantly, and sing with them. I dance since I am little in my room as crazy, and that helps with rhythm, I guess. I warm up my voice everyday with the SLS technique. Right now, I am back to study ear training again, and singing the tunes with a metronome.  However, I think rhythm is something you have to be born with naturally.  If you want to be a professional musician, rhythm has to be within your natural aptitudes, otherwise your chances are really low.

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?

KC: – I listen to songs, and I don’t evaluate a song according to its harmony. I have to like the whole song. If a song has a great harmony and the melody is not good, then I am not interested.  I am a vocalist. I sing melodies. If the melody is great, that is even more important to me. However, rhythm is the call of nature and what puts us in contact with our inner rhythm. So rhythm is equally important to me.  If a song has a simple harmony that is maybe not so sophisticated but the melody touches me, then that’s it. Of course when you have both amazing harmony and equally amazing melody, like in Jobim’s tunes, that is pure heaven.  In general, my preferences are toward jazz patterns and brazilian jazz, I love latin music like, boleros or South American folklore as well.

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

KC: – It is impossible not to have influences. Influences are welcome. I stand in the shoulders of the masters that influenced me, that touched me deeply, like, Elis Regina, Celia Cruz, Gal Costa, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Carmen Mc Rae, Stevie Wonder, Sinatra, etc. All those great singers that precided me, and influenced me, are the ones I learned my craft from. The problem is imitation, when you stop being yourself.  I have heard singers, some of them famous, that are constantly and dangeroulsy close to others masters from the past to the point that bothers me sometimes.  I think they are not digging into their hearts deep enough to hear their own voices. I tried to be honest, authentic, and if influences come along, I don’t surpressed them.  But I don’t think of imitating a sound, unless I want to make a joke, and imitate Sarah with a smile.  I want my own sound, my own voice wherever it can take me. That is my musical saying, finding my sound. I think I am close. I think musicians borrow from each others ideas to developed their own thing many times, and that is fine. Imitation is the problem, not influence.

JBN.S: – How it was formed and what you are working on today?

KC: – It is a long story and it is beautifully describe by Scott Yanow on my web site. When I told, my friend Christian McBride I was planning to record my first CD independently, he thought it was a great idea, and told me that he wanted to be part of it. I thought he was kidding. No he wasn’t! I started recording 6 songs with the great bassist René Camacho while waiting for Christian to be available to do the recordings a year later. He brought along Munyungo Jackson and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, and I brought Mahesh Balasooriya and  Zane Musa that were part of my band. The chemistry was fantastic.

Today I am enjoying the moment of the CD, and I want to present this work live for as long people have interest.  I have many projects waiting to be developed.

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

KC: – It is important that music have a good amount of intelligence put on it in order to be good, to have quality, to develop a skill, or have a nice command of an instrument or a great composition. However, I am more of a perceptive being, needing my heart to be constantly fulfilled with emotions to evolve. We need to use our intellect to perfect music and make it beautiful.

I think that music is an instrument of healing first.  Music is what connects that with the intangible, with the mystery. It is what connects us with the universal energy, and with our own emotions before it can reach the intellect.

Jazz music is intellectually sophisticated, yes. But if it doesn’t have feeling, it does not go anywhere for me. If music is purely intellectual… I pass. It bores me. However, I think everyone has its own balance in that, his or her own preference.

For me it has to be much more soul than intellect. For example, when I hear Keith Jarret, I think that is my own measure of the perfect balance!!! Hahahaaa …. I think the ultimate goal of a musician/artist is to touch people emotionally, to help them understand something inside of them, whether is a happy or sad feeling. Music can help to let it out, to heal, and for that the musician needs to get in touch with his or her own truth. To channelize that energy and translate it to the audience. My vision and goal in the arts is to touch souls first.

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

KC: – I think I give people what they want. That is why they come to see me or why they buy my music.  I am myself and that is what they want to see and hear, authenticity. I don’t with compromise that.

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

KC: – I like to share a memorable moment when Munyungo Jackson introduced me to my idol, Stevie Wonder. I have met Munyungo recently in the studio when recording my Cd. We hit it off immediately. He has toured the world with Miles Davis and now he plays with Stevie Wonder for many years. I was going to Buenos Aires to visit my family and Munyungo told me he was going there too with Stevie, and invited me as a VIP to the concert. Imagine my excitement!  I got to meet Stevie backstage, and I gave him a special amulet. This protection amulet is a necklace pouch made of leather adorned with beads and stuffed with sage, tabacco, metals, crystals , etc. Nobody can touch it expect the owner and it was made specially for him by my teacher and spiritual guide, a 104 year old Yaqui shaman from northern Mexico, Tata Kachora. Stevie loved it. He found it very interesting, promising to keep it for protection during his travels.

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

KC: – Good music is timeless, and ageless.  Van Gogh doesn’t get old as well as Gershwin, Jobim , Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Parter, etc.  Good rhythms don’t get old. If youngster are not listening to jazz enough, it is not because jazz is not young enough. It is because the media is manipulating the masses constantly to another arenas.

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

KC: – I should write a book to answer to that question! In fact, hundreds of books were written to try to answer that!  I always have been interested in spiritual life since I was very young. Since I was around 16 years old, coincidentally, was when I realized that I wanted to be a professional singer.  I think the meaning of life is to evolve constantly, and for that you need to be in touch with your vulnerability. To evolve you need to go through hardships that make you grow. You do not grow your spirit by laying on the grass on a sunny day after a wonderful lunch meal. You grow after you find yourself in vulnerable situations and faced them.  Overcoming pain is growth. Valuing daily life is growth. Sensitivity is evolution.  If a musician is not in touch with his spirit and vulnerability, has nothing to give.

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

KC: – An industry less macho oriented with equal respect and space for women.

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

KC: – I am constantly listening to the masters. My constant enjoyments are Sarah Vaughn, Elis Regina, Carmen McRae, Dinah Washington, Esther Phillips, Bill Evans, Keith Jarret, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jobim, Rosa Passos and many, many more… I need another life to keep up with all the work they have done.  However, I enjoy contemporary artists too.  Lately, I really enjoy listening to Brazilian cavaquinho player Hamilton de Holanda, and to vocalist Roberta Sá, I think she is fantastic, and love the mexican jazz vocalist, Magos Herrera’s latest album.  I also enjoy Marisa Monte, Adriana Calcanhotto… Those Brazilians, man!!!

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

KC: – Speak from the heart, be yourself, be in the moment, don´t be afraid of love, vulnerability and emotions, and enjoy life while we are present and breathing on this earth; that is the message I want to translate while I sing.

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

KC: – I cannot decide if I want to be with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack in Vegas during the 60´s or In Arles France, painting with Van Gogh.  The Rat Pack because they represent: friendship, fun, and entertainment.  I think that is the most powerful combination that a person can have around.  Plus the style non-pretentious elegance!! Oh my god, the clothing! Hollywood glamour.

And I would chose Van Gogh too because I studied arts for a few years in college. I am a painter as well, I haven´t developed that side so much yet.  However, I would like to paint next to him and be inspired by my favorite painter. I love Impressionism, and  mostly Van Gogh’s post -impressionism with those vibrant colors, that nostalgia. I would like to tell him who he was, so he would live longer, and leave more beautiful work for the world to enjoy.

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

KC: – Why don’t we enjoy the present moment more? What stops us from being fully present constantly? Why we lost connection with our intuitions, and with mother earth? When are we going to wake up about all of the above? When women will be treated equally on this world? When animals, plants, and ocean will be treated with equal respect on this world?

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers … 🙂

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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