we have the great pleasure to invite you next season in Charleville-Mézières,
with the Gabor Gado Quartet, with the “Opera Budapest” program, which
is the title of your last cd. Could you give more information about
CD of mine, Opera Budapest, relased September 2006 was a real challenge
for me being anything but a mainstream jazz album, going even more
in the direction of contemporary music as all of my previous releases.
This is not
only a jazz project. While listening to it, I felt some connections
with some English (and European) “progressive “pop music. Have you
ever ( and Gabor Gado too) had any interest for that kind of music
I think it’s
only pure coincidence as neither Gadó nor me have sources from this
kind of music.
music is very personal and original, with a great importance given
to the lyrics. It sometimes reminds me of the work of Carla Bley (
Escalator over the Hill ), Michaël Mantler, and English composer Mike
Westbrook ( this one created at the beginning of the 1980th “The Orchestra”,
including his own Brassband, avantgardist pop band Henri Cow -Fred
Frith on the guitar -, and folk singer Frankie Armstrong). Have you
ever heard these musicians?
I know and
appreciate the abovementioned artists. Today’s artists have many influences
as it is almost everything played already – but still an artist always
creates something new and individual, even having all these influences.
This is also the case at Opera Budapest.
For many years,
Gabor Gado has been writing all the musics you have recorded excepted
" Different Garden" which is a personal lecture of jazz
tunes. What are the links between your two universes?
The link is
of course Gadó, as the pieces on"Different garden" are arranged
played and sung just as being Gadó – and Winand – originals.
about "Different Garden".tExcepting "Body & Soul"
and "In a sentimental mood", there are no standards on that
record, but a choice of compositions by Freddy Hubbard, Bill Evans,
Abbey Lincoln, Kenny Barron, and we could add Charlie Mingus whose
"Weird Nightmare" is in "Corners of my mind ".
Why that choice?
I tried to
pick out pieces which are not so often played and which stay close
to me. Of course "Body and soul" is played in a hundred
of sensational versions, but I tried to do it also in an own way in
which I think it was never performed. Regarding standards: jazz musicians
learn jazz by standards so it is quite like a language for us in which
we can easy communicate. In that way doing "Different garden"
was really a pleasure for me.
All the lyrics
of your own recordings are signed by poet Eszler Molnar, and sung
in English. Who’s choosing these lyrics? Are they translated, or written
directly in this language?
are written in English. We talk about the theme of the songs together
and from this moment on it is the writers freedom to create the final
form of the lyrics.
Most of the
lyrics ask some existential questions, and reveal a personal spiritual
process. Do you share this process with Gabor Gado?
we all three together share our emotions regarding the themes and
lyrics for the music.
Now let's speak
about your very unique way to improvise. I read that you wanted to
be an opera singer when you were young. Could this explain the deepness
of your voice?
No, I think
it has nothing to do with this.
jazz singing at the conservatory, you first learn playing clarinet
and saxophone. Does the practicing of these instruments influence
your way of improvising?
question. It is true that I have started to learn music by playing
the clarinet, but it was not jazz but classical music. Many people
think that I use my voice “as an instrument” because I also play the
saxophone, but it was the opposite way. My first motivation in jazz
was singing – and weaht I can sing a try to adapt also to the saxophone.
I think this is quite natural as the most natural way to express things
coming from the heart and from the head is to sing them. Of course
this isn’t easy but if you hear it inside you are able to sing it
your recordings, your voice have two functions linked together: The
fist is to pass the texts , with a lot of deepness and emotion, and
the second is to improvise like any music-instrument. How can you
marry these two functions?
I’m a very
sensitive person – sometimes maybe too sensitive. When I sing, the
theme, mood and the atmosphere of the song is totally penetrating
me. And I need to express my reactions not only by using the text
but also by improvisation. This two things belong together for me.
You have an unique
way of singing, which doesn’t remind any famous singer. But have you
been influenced by some of them?
thinking like this. Of course many singers had their influence on
me – not only jazz but also folk and classical singers, and also instrumental
musics are very rich and complexes, with various melodies, and strange
harmonies . It’s a particular universe in which you seem to “move”
very easily . Is this the result of a long work , or do you feel ‘at
home’ in this universe?
We know each
other with Gadó since a very long time. This musical and personal
friendship didn’t start at the recordings of Corners of my mind but
much earlier. We have played together already at the beginning of
the nineties and we have realized already then that we can work very
positively together. Not all musicians can fit each other but among
us it worked from the beginning as it would be the most natural way.
even if it's very personal, creates some links with other existing
music. There is a unity in the 4 recordings published under your name,
and also an evolution. Personally, I can feel a little bluesy atmosphere
in "Corners of my mind", "Different Garden" is
more jazzy, "Agent Spirituel" sometimes evokes baroque music
( "Greetings from the angel" reminds me Purcell ). "Opera
Budapest, as I told before", sometimes reminds me of a certain
kind of "progressive" pop music. In all these recordings,
we can feel a typical atmosphere from Central Europe, even if there
is no borrowing from folk songs. It is a personal feeling. What do
you think of these recordings?
You see this
quite well. A sort of Central-European influence is there at all of
our recordings. This couldn’t be else as we are people from Central-Europe.
It wouldn’t make much sense to make recordings, trying to play American
music. They wouldn’t have been as much individual as they became I
hope. As told before, even Different garden is no typical standard
music, though we play some standards there. It’s no copy of Ella Fitzgerald
or Joe Pass. These giants left a heritage but we shouldn’t imitate
them. And of course we just couldn’t - as we are different persons
(we tried to hint at this with the title of the CD). Folk music was
also a very important influence on me – and not only Central European
but almost from every part of the world. I live to hear all sorts
of folk music. Though I don’t play authentic folk music it is surely
somehow present in the way I sing.
You also work
with other bands, and with your wife, Cuban singer Elsa Valle, and
I think I understand that you are sometimes working as a saxophonist
in these different projects. Can you speak about your other activities?
The most beautiful
thing in my life besides all the success was getting acquainted with
my wife, Cuban singer Elsa Valle. I’m happy to belong to her and it
is a special joy for me that through her I became familiar with the
music of such people whom I have known only from far before. Since
years I have the opportunity to contribute on the recordings of Elsa,
by playing flute and saxophone on them and thus interpret her art
in my own way. I think Elsa’s music is worth to know for everybody,
and now it is not the husband speaking, as it is really new and special.
As I have told earlier, a real artist always strives to create new
things – and she belongs to these artists. It is a special pleasure
for me that she even charged me with the arrangements of her new album
coming out in September.