Interviewer (JazzPage): Your new album, gLove Letterh has a shining, fantasy-like quality to it.? Are there any particular concepts or, some sort of gaimh?
Yoshio Suzuki (YS): There is no particular gaimh per say. In my case, it takes about 2 years to compose enough material to produce. In my previous works, there was always a tune featured in the minor tonality but with this project, I decided to have it all in the major key. Conceptually, my music can be categorized in to two areas. One implies space, vision, or scenery, the other, expressing human emotions and lyricism. Tunes like, gMorning Sunh, gFairy Danceh, gFly in Septemberh, gA Day In The Foresth can be categorized in the former, and gLove Letterh, gTo Chikah, gLove 40h, gYou Never Mindh, in the latter. Something like, gFlying in Septemberh might bring visions of flying in the sky with a hang-glider. gTo Chikah is expressing my own personal emotions when my daughter left home for University in Kyoto. gLove Letterh is a tune that is dedicated to my wife expressing my gratitude for her.
(JP): Any particular song that you recommend for listening?
(YS): Yes, the 2nd track, gFairy Danceh. The theme is classically influenced but the improvisations are jazz quality. I think itfs a unique sound. I hope people can witness a fresh side of me.
(JP): How long did the project take to record?
(YS): Basically 3 days to record most of the tracks, except we overdubbed the percussion part on the 4th day and synths on the 5th and 6th day. Few months later we spent 3 days to mix it down. I focused on picking up the bass sound mainly with a mic, adding a hint of DI later. I think it captured the raw acoustic qualities of the bass.
(JP): Is there a particular reason that you chose percussion instead of the drum-set in the band?
(YS): I think percussion can bring out more colors. My compositions are melodic so the groove can be light. Also the percussions can make the bass sound more clear. In the past I have played with pianist Souichi Noriki and two other percussionists. That worked. But then I met Shinpei Inoue and tried out a quartet with one percussionist. It blended well so I decided on this format for BASS TALK.
(JP): Your previous project EAST BOUNCE features originals. The same could be said with this project BASS TALK. However, the style might not be able to be categorized just as, gjazzh.
(YS): At the end, when you want to express your music, it comes down to originals. The same could be said with BASS TALK. I think this music canft be categorized into a certain genre, I think I have my own stamp on it. The rhythmic approach has some sort of fusion influence with 16th notes, improvisations are jazz and simultaneously, it has a healing nature to the music. I think the band sound is unique and I get to express myself both as a performer and composer.
(JP): You have Souichi Noriki as your arranger, what is your role as a leader.
(YS): I do have a strong idea when I compose. With this recording on the tune, gEPISODEh, I got him to do all the arranging. With the other tunes, I got him to write some introductions, and additional synths sounds to expand on the timbre. Of course the other members contribute largely with ideas.
(JP): What is your opinion on jazz transforming into pop, and also the phenomenon of fusion or other musicians from different styles approaching jazz?
(YS): Well, the original shape of jazz that I grew up listening to has changed its shape now. What was influenced by jazz, such as Hip-Hop, is now influencing jazz. It is getting diverse. So think it is important to break free from forming boundaries with genres and look at it from a bigger scope, i.e. contemporary music. There are many hybrid musicians out there, which are making the approach versatile.
I am not interested in musicians that try to duplicate what happened in the past. In that case, I would rather listen to Charlie Parker or Miles Davis, the originals. I believe in music that is fresh. Today, jazz has become academic and the raw elements such as, natural, instinctive, wildness, and originality has decayed a little bit. I believe creativity is the most important thing in any day and age.
(JP): You have performed all around overseas and worked alto in New York.? Are the differences between them and Japanese musicians?
(YS): Yes. First of all, American musicians have a solid foundation and there are dozens of great players. Jazz is born in an English speaking environment so Ifm sure Japanese musicians have a disadvantage. I think singers face that problem but also instrumentalists. Language and Culture have a deep connection with the music so even though there are no Borders in music, it is not completely the same. What is important is that jazz/music has to have a relationship with onefs own roots, in my case, being Japanese. With that in scope, I wish to produce music that possesses a rich quality that will be accepted all around the world.
(JP): Any particular musicians you are interested in?
(YS): In Japan, Tadataka Unno (p) is fantastic. Recently I saw Dave Koz at the Blue Note and it was great to witness everyone in the audience enjoying the moment. It made me realize how important it is to have fun with music.
The mass audience can appreciate pop music. However, for me, pop music lacks the musical sophistication in the harmonic sense that it is too simple most of the time. I like the balance of emotion and intelligence.
(JP): Do you have anything in mind when you perform?
(YS): Musicians need to play everyday. When there is a blank, your senses go numb. So hopefully, I would like to keep on playing as long as I am living. Keeping the standard up there. Also, I would like to give a positive feeling and a sense of joy to the audience.
(JP): Please tell me your goals in the near future.
(YS): Ifm trying to get my music around the world as much as I can. I hope there will be more people listening to it. With the advancement of technology such as the Internet, Ifm hoping the music to reach out more.