Fifty Songs Robert Schumann For Low Voice 1903 Book For Sale - The Musicians Library Edited by W.J. - Henderson Oliver Ditson Company. $24.99 + shipping. For information contact musicguy247(at)aol(dot)com Has stamp from John Adams High School Ozone Park. New York.
Annie Haslam is a vocalist, songwriter and painter who was originally from Lancashire, England and now resides in Bucks County Pennsylvania. As a young girl, she used to listen to her father and brother sing around the house, and before long, she realized she had this wonderful talent within herself as well. Her original artistic aspirations were to become a fashion designer. She worked on Savile Row as an apprentice, creating clothing designs. During this time she would also sing with local groups on the side. Always wanting to enhance her vocal talents, Annie studied with opera singer Sybil Knight and this helped develop her five octave range.
Looking to advance her career as a singer, she answered an ad in the local music paper "Melody Maker" for a singer. An audition was arranged and on New Year's Day 1971, Annie Haslam was now the lead singer of Renaissance. Within three weeks, she was on tour with them commencing in Germany. The chemistry and talent of Renaissance produced many visionary albums and top notch performances in some of the world's finest venues. They appeared at Carnegie Hall with The New York Philharmonic as well as the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society. Annie still leads the band today.
In 2002, Annie began a new journey of her artistic life. A new chapter in visual arts opened as she took to oil painting. Since then she has created countless imaginative works on various mediums: canvas, wood, guitars, electric violins and more. I recently asked Annie questions about her storied career in the arts.
R.V.B. - When you were a young girl, what music did you like and what drew you into being a singer yourself?
A.H. - I remember hearing the beautiful voice of Doris Day on the radio, a unique voice full of laughter and joy. I also remember my Father learning songs like Nature Boy, and Frankie Lane, songs that he sang himself as an amateur comedian singer. As a child I had no idea how good my Father's voice was, it wasn't until I was much older that I heard in him a strong 'tenor' voice. But he looked at as a hobby and nothing more, I am convinced he could have been a big star himself, instead he was 'our Dad' and a great one too...Being a singer was never in my mind at all until many years later. It was my brother Michael Haslam who was to be discovered and managed by the Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
It would seem that with my Dad, Michael and myself were born with a musical gift and for that I am truly grateful!
R.V.B. - Did you experiment with singing in public prior to Renaissance? If so what kind of engagements were they and how did they go?
A.H. - Before joining Renaissance I was in a cabaret group called The Gentle People, and we performed a regular show 6 days a week (I think) at a dinner theatre in the west end of London called 'The Showboat in the Strand'. I loved the experience and singing some great songs like "By the time I get to Phoenix', 'Dancing in the Street', 'Yesterday', 'Desifinado' amongst many other wonderful songs. We were the band that played while people ate their dinner before the main show of the night and then we played for the people to dance to... it was fun and a great beginning for me.. the other three members of our little quartet were really nice guys. In fact the guitarist David Gardner was the one who came to me one day to show me an 'ad' in the Melody Maker Music Magazine saying, " Annie your talent is wasted here why don't you try for this position".... so I called up and had an audition on New Years Eve 1970 in Weybridge, Surrey.. the next day New Years Day 1971, I got the call to say welcome to the band !!!! and so my life changed forever !
R.V.B - You studied opera singing with Sybil Knight. What did she teach you that may have benefited your singing career?
A.H. - Sybil was the catalyst for the rest of my singing career, she taught me the most important practice all singers need to learn which is to sing from the diaphragm. By doing this I found out that I had 5 octaves!!! and of course Renaissance was a perfect vehicle in which to use all those octaves.
R.V.B. - Tell me a little bit about your experiences working in the fashion industry. Was it an eclectic happening area?
A.H. - In 1966 I moved up to London to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer… I worked for a Savile Row tailor, which was a great experience, and worked for several fashion houses in the pattern cutting room as an apprentice. Then I had some fashion designs stolen by a well-known clothing company in London and it broke my heart! I went to Canada for a month with Mum and Dad and when I got back that is when I started to pursue music, fashion was over for me…
R.V.B. - How did the audition for Renaissance go? Were you nervous? Did they give you a heads up on what you might sing or was it - just show up and see what happens?
A.H. - I prepared myself for the audition by buying their 'first' album 'Kings and Queens', and proceeded to learn every song that was on it. When I arrived at the audition I was greeted by Jim McCarty and Keith Relf (x- Yardbirds who founded Renaissance. They were still involved in the band and wanted to make sure the right singer was chosen !!! Also there was Michael Dunford and John Tout from the present band at that time. It was a little daunting and they asked me if I knew 'Island' and that I did and loved singing it for them ! They seemed to be excited listening to me sing it and I was equally excited as I got a feeling that I would fit well into this band. I was right and next day I got the call!
R.V.B. - How long did it take after joining the band to be ready to go out and hit the road?
A.H. - Three weeks! and the first stop was a tour of Germany!!!
R.V.B. - What kind of bands were you teamed up with you on tour? How was your experience on the first tour of America?
A.H. - First tour was unreal !!!!! but wonderful... I remember the guys in the band had a day at the famous music store in NYC called Manny's to buy strings and magical musical sound toys/like pedals etc.. I of course loved the shopping :) but I digress...the audiences were fantastic so receptive... we could feel that our band was going to do great things in the US, something very special in the 'air'.
We played some unusual band pair-ups! The first American show we did was at Brooklyn NY in a theatre opening up for a band called 'Stories' and then in 1974 at the Academy of Music, NYC w/orchestra, Fairport Convention with the late great Sand Denny opened the show, they were fabulous... amazing to think we had only been playing in the US for a year before we started playing with an orchestra... then of course we played Carnegie Hall in NYC with New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1975... still amazes me we rose so quickly..
Some unusual pair ups were with... ZZ TOP and Peter Frampton (not really compatible) but really perfect ones were with YES, Chick Corea, Al Dimeola, Weather Report and some wonderful giant festivals with the likes of Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, CSN&Y, The Beach Boys... list goes on.
R.V.B. - You recorded many albums with Renaissance... did you find that your participation in the writing process matured as albums progress?
A.H. - I was not involved in the early writing process for the band but was very much involved in vocal arrangements and song arrangements. I did co-write songs with record producer Tony Visconti, Michael Dunford and Rave Tesar for my solo albums and for the most recent Renaissance album, 'Symphony of Light' I co wrote all the songs with the late Michael Dunford.
R.V.B. - Was there any difference in preparation from doing a live show as opposed to singing when the red recording light comes on?
A.H. - Yes of course, singing 'live' is very different from recording in a studio. When we went into the studio, we were always very prepared after several weeks of rehearsals, and of course if there was something wrong you could just go over it and do it again. 'Live' is different in that if you make a mistake it's there for all to hear and see... but there is nothing like the magic of performing to an audience and vice versa, the thrill for the audience too.
10 - What are some of your favorite songs that you recorded or performed?
Carpet of the Sun
Song for all Seasons
Can you hear me
Trip to the Fair
The Song of Scheherazade
Symphony of Light
Grandine il Vento
The Mystic and the Muse
Blood Silver Like Moonlight duet with John Wetton
BUT there are many more... and then there is:
YES song - Turn of the Century
Genesis song - Ripples
R.V.B. - What are you proud about with your tenure with Renaissance?
A.H. - Gosh I think that the music of this band even now is timeless and just so beautiful. In 1975 we performed at Carnegie Hall in NYC with the New York Philharmonic, and then in 1977 at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society in 1977 and played in countries worldwide and to many loyal fans who still keep us going with their support and love of the music. My most proudest moment was to see my Mum and Dad in their own 'box' at the Royal Albert Hall!!
R.V.B. - You practice arts other than just music. You began to do painting later on. Was that pent up in you since childhood and just happen to come out when it did?
A.H. - Yes, I believe it was there when I was born, and lay dormant until the right time in my life came around. It was in 2002 and I was winding down my solo band as I couldn't get enough shows to keep it altogether, and I couldn't get an agent interested. I had a manager for five minutes who let me down and I decided I had to do something else. This was a difficult and scary time for me; I wasn’t prepared for such a big change in my life after singing for so many years. Then completely out of the blue a voice in my head said it was time to start oil painting. Where did that come from? But it was strong enough for me to take notice. I went and bought an easel, ‘oil’ paint and canvases. I bought a book on oil painting, read only one page and thought I can't be bothered with this. I have never been one for reading and so didn’t have the patience. It was a couple of months later, before I started to paint, the time had to be right. So I picked a Tiger Lily from the garden and brought it in and then realized I didn’t know where to begin! Well, I guess the advantage of ‘not’ reading the book, especially when you are creative already, is that whatever you do will be your own unique style and original. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing and that painting became 'Lily in The Field' - I felt like someone was holding my hand during that first painting because something was going on in the textures of the grass I was creating without me thinking about it. My next painting, felt like someone was holding my hand, guiding me. Then I felt like I was plugged into ‘somewhere or something’ and the paintings just kept coming and coming, every one different from the one before.
It was so new and exciting and I am still in love with it. I feel like I am channeling my art. In the majority of work, I have no preconceived ideas unless it’s a commission that can be a pet portrait, a painted song, and the ‘spirit’ of a family member who has passed over. I paint guitars and also electric violins.
I feel blessed that I was given another creative outlet; many people that are now collectors of my Art say it has healing qualities like the music of Renaissance. On my recent tours with Renaissance, I wore an outfit I designed and the dress part was one of my paintings printed on silk. Also this past Fall, I painted 11 paintings to represent each song we performed and we enlarged them on to a 12’x24’ backdrop behind the orchestra, another dream come true!
R.V.B. - Do you feel different emotions when you begin to paint, whether on canvas or on an object... and deciding what to paint?
A.H. - I do indeed, but a feeling of 'plugging' in to something larger than myself... if that makes sense :)
R.V.B. - Did overcoming some serious health issues change your attitude in the arts in any way?
A.H. - Going through several health problems made me a lot stronger in my spiritual beliefs, they were all 'Blessings in Disguise'.
R.V.B. - In your solo music years, did you approach your music differently than you did with Renaissance?
A.H. - I think I was more open to experimenting with styles of singing, this was due to working with Roy Wood and then later Tony Visconti, both masters in the world of music. Then my songwriting blossomed as well, and then I learned a lot from Rave Tesar who I co write with now. Rave is also the pianist and musical director in Renaissance now.
R.V.B. - How do you enjoy living in Pennsylvania?
A.H. - I LOVE it in PA, it reminds me a bit of England, a very beautiful state.
R.V.B. - What are your current projects?
A.H. - Right now I am editing our upcoming DVD that we recorded last October 27th 2017 with The Renaissance Chamber Orchestra at the Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA.
We performed 4 shows with the orchestra. The last time we performed with an orchestra was at the Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Coral Society. It was quite emotional to do this again! We will be doing a Spring tour this year and have added one more orchestra show on May 11th at NJPAC in Newark NJ, so I am very happy to be performing once again with the orchestra. There are other projects under wraps right now.
As long as I am able to sing with passion and strength I will keep the band alive with touring and recording.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
For more information on Annie Haslam and Renaissance visit her website. anniehaslam.com
Special thanks to Billy James at Glass Onyon PR
For more information on this site contact musicguy247 (at) aol (dot) com
Dr. John Purser is a Scottish composer, musicologist, poet, playwright and music historian who currently resides on the island of Skye off Scotland. As a young child, his parents used to take him to see classical music concerts at the St. Andrews Hall in Glasgow. He was exposed to the piano at a very young age but it was the cello that would be his main instrument through grade school years, culminating with degrees in Composition, Singing and Violoncello at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Later he also earned a PhD in English Literature.
With this solid background, John began his career writing and composing music, poetry, plays, and books that produced numerous works with a well balanced output and variety. One aspect of his work was to showcase composers who may have been forgotten or neglected through the years. In 1992, John worked on a detailed project on the history of Scotland's music for the BBC Radio that produced 30, 90 minute programs and an accompanying book titled "Scotland's Music" A History of the Traditional and Classical Music of Scotland from Early Times to the Present Day. John has also been involved in the restoration and re-construction of ancient musical instruments. One such project was a re-construction of a carnyx. The carnyx, though made of beaten bronze, comes from the iron age. It is now part of the National Museums of Scotland. I recently spoke to John and he reflected on the outstanding award winning work that he has accomplished.
R.V.B. - Hello John. This is Robert von Bernewitz from New York. Thank you very much for taking this time for me. I really appreciate it. Your career is so diverse it's difficult to know where to start. Congratulations on it.
J.P. - It's a mixed bag. They way I tend to put it is, when I get discovered that I'm not very good in one medium, I tend to head for another. (Haha)
R.V.B. - (Haha) Your mediums look pretty good to me.
J.P. - I've got away with it.
R.V.B. - (Hahaha) Can you describe the surroundings of the island that you live on?
J.P. - It is one of the most stunningly beautiful and varied landscapes in the world... and I've seen a fair bit of the world. I've seen a lot of people who've come from other parts of the world, and none of them disagree. Simple reasons for that, the island of Skye - where I live on the northwest of Scotland - is geologically one of the most complex small areas you can get. As a consequence, many geologists come here. On the one hand, the rock that's immediately under my feet, is Jurassic sandy limestone. In the upper northwest of the island, they've discovered a lot of dinosaurs. Some of them are species that are unique to the island. Then we have Moine Thrust, which is highly metamorphic rocks, that were pushed over to part of the island. They are very hard and twisted. Then we have the tertiary igneous, which comes in three different forms... both black granite gabbro, red granite and in basalt - sheets of it. Never mind a small window of precambrian - at one point, and a certain amount of tertiary and limestone. From this, the shapes of the mountains are very different. The shape of the coastline is very dramatic. There are many cliffs. The one thing that we don't have a lot of is sandy bays. We have a few but not many. The weather is exceedingly volatile and as a consequence, the light conditions and the clouds are magnificent. The place is always being renewed. But it's demanding... it's cold... it's wet... it's windy... a lot of the time. It's a tough environment to live in throughout the year.
R.V.B. - You seem to make the best of the conditions because I see that you and your wife are crofters.
J.P. - That's correct.
R.V.B. - You share the responsibilities of common land with the community to cultivate food?
The crofter and his cow.
J.P. - To a degree. A crofter owns a small piece of "in by land" as we call it, where the animals will be kept in the winter. The crofter is in charge of that, but in the summer, the animals go out into the common grazing area. There we share a bull that we hire from the Department of Agriculture. People share a great deal. There's a certain amount of barter that goes on here. Tools are shared... expertise is shared. It's a community that looks after each other.
R.V.B. - Do you get to the island via ferry and bridge?
J.P. - There is a bridge, and that's the normal way now. It initially had the highest tolls of any bridge in Europe, but the Scottish government got rid of all the bridge tolls in Scotland. The bridge is now free. It's a very elegant bridge. Fortunately it was designed by the engineers and not by the architects. Nearly always, the engineers do a better job. It's elegant, simple and has a quite steep arch. It mirrors the shapes of some of the mountains but doesn't intrude on the skyline. We're very pleased with the bridge.
R.V.B. - My brother-in-law is a bridge engineer.
J.P. - Well he needs to see the new Queensferry crossing of the river Forth. I think it's one of the most beautiful objects that I have ever seen.
R.V.B. - So your musical world... what drew you into that world.
J.P. - My mother played the piano. When I was a little boy, I sang a lot of Scottish and Irish traditional songs... with my mother accompanying me. My sister took up the flute and became a professional flautist. My brother played the trombone. My father, who was a philosopher and taught English Literature, loved to listen. He loved classical music. We were very much a classical music family. I went to orchestral concerts with my parents from a very early age. I was used to listening to things that required a long attention span. I was listening to symphonies and concertos right from the age of six... onwards.
R.V.B. - Where did you see these concerts?
St. Andrews Hall
J.P. - This was in Glasgow. In the old days there was St. Andrews hall. It was perhaps the most beautiful 19th century acoustic in the world. It was even better than the Concertgebouw. It burnt down - sadly - when I was a music student. They never rebuilt it.
R.V.B. - Well at least you got to see some performances there.
J.P - I heard many performances there. It was a case of hearing it. It was such a good hall. Not only did it blend the symphony orchestra in the way that 19th Century orchestration requires, but you would also get top line soloists in there. They would get to sing for an audience of two and a half thousand. They could be heard - more or less everywhere - equally well.
R.V.B. - What instrument did you take up as a child?
J.P. - I was taken to piano lessons at the age of four. I love the piano and I'd love to play it much better than I do, but cello is what I took up. I eventually became a professional cellist and taught cello for a while. This was a long time ago when the standards of cello playing were much lower than they are now. I couldn't cut the mustard now.
R.V.B. - You took these lessons through grade school and continued through college?
J.P. - I started playing the cello at the age of 12 at Fettes College, which was a private boarding school n Edinburgh. When I was there, it was a very good one.
R.V.B. - How did you enjoy your time at Fettes?
J.P. - A lot. There were a lot of school plays. There was a lot of emphasis on literature, drama, art and music. I found outlets for it all at the school. I had encouragement and a very good starting. This was from 1955 to 1960. It wasn't all that long from rationing, from the second World War. We were fed extremely well. There was all sorts of exercise, whether it was rugby, running or in the gym. We were very well prepared. The one thing I was not prepared for was women. It was an all male school. The only women I knew were family and that doesn't count.
R.V.B. - Well you know... you get started a little late. Better late than never. (Haha)
J.P. - Very late! I never enjoyed the 60's as one should have done... the way my generation in the States did.
R.V.B. - Well you can't say that you went down the wrong path because you received a great education, and it paid off in the long run.
J.P. - Yes it did! I got a very good education. Then I went on to The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. It's now called The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
R.V.B. - I see that you studied under Sir Michael Tippett... Dr. Frank Spedding... as well as Dr. Hans Gal. How did they impact you as far as your music?
J.P. - When I was at college, Frank Spedding basically gave me my head. I was full of ideas... I was full of energy, and I was putting them down. Needless to say, I was trying to run before I could walk. He allowed me to do that - instead of stifling me. Now and again, he would try and draw in the reins and tell me "You do need to develop your contrapuntal technique a bit, here and there. "I did listen, and then he fixed me up to go to Tippett. I went privately to Tippett. I had approximately six lessons with him. They were half day lessons. I would arrive there in time for lunch and he would teach me in the afternoon. I have to say, he was not really a teacher.
Sir Michael Tippett
He was an inspiring presence and a very interesting man - with an extremely interesting mind - but occasionally his thinking was somewhat convoluted. Following his train of thought was not always easy but that wasn't my fault. He was a complicated thinker... what went on in his head, was his own world. But it was a very interesting world. At that time he had been composing the Concerto for Orchestra, which is one of the most revolutionary pieces of the 20th Century. It was very little understood or appreciated for what it achieved. The first movement is a mosaic like structure - with each group of instruments given its own gestures - but in a much more complex and complete symphonic way... for instance, than the Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, which is also very clever, and also gives each instrument its say. With Tippett, groups of instruments have their say. It has different parts and different pieces of music for each instrument - that which he has composed. They eventually all blend together in a wonderful mosaic like structure. It's a structure like nothing I've ever seen... except looking at a mosaic on walls in the Middle East. This was back in 1960. It's much more revolutionary than anything else Stockhausen was doing.
R.V.B. - That was certainly an experimental time period.
J.P. - Yes it was, but actually I can remember Aloys Kontarsky doing forearm smashes in Klavierstuck 11. The Steinway was ravaged. Had I known, the American, Cowell, had already done it. He had been doing it since 1910.
R.V.B. - They called it tone clusters.
J.P. - That was the fancy name given to it but he did do forearm smashes as well. He wrote himself, that he couldn't always get all the notes on the one hand. He had to use his forearm. It's an interesting technique and it created an interesting sound. Bartok imitated it, and actually wrote to him to ask permission.
R.V.B. - You followed in your father's footsteps and also got an English Literature degree.
Leaving the English Department old lecture hall
J.P. - Yes. That was a little later in life. For a while, partly because of the very experimental time in music, and composition - which was not my thing - commissions began to dry up for my kind of music... I was doing freelance. It turned out cheaper for me to become a student, than struggle on. I was able to get a grant to be a full time student at the university... from the Carnegie Trust. I didn't really fit in with the music department but I fit in very well with the English department. I ended up full time with them and eventually getting a PhD.
R.V.B. - Now that you have all of this information and schooling in your head and under your belt, it's time to go out and practice it. What was your plan?
J.P. - My plan after schooling was that I was going to be the greatest composer since Beethoven... of course.
R.V.B. - (Haha)
J.P. - (Haha) I did initially have a lot of work in my 20's. There are works from that period that I would own up to, and those which I wouldn't. One or two of them are on the CDs of my music. When the commissions began to dry up, I became interested academically on my PhD work. I was also writing poetry and radio plays. I had been writing poetry since childhood.
R.V.B. - You have a new poetry book out, correct?
J.P. - Yes I do. It's my 4th book and it's got many poems collected from the first three in it.
R.V.B. - Now your travels at this time... you're in your 20's... beginning your composing career... did you travel abroad at this time to see any concert halls on the Mainland of Europe?
J.P. - No I didn't. The first time I went abroad from seriously being a graduated music student and full time composer, was when I, my first wife, and two children went to Italy for five months. She, to study with Luigi Dallapiccola, and me to compose an opera... which I never did compose. I ended up writing my first book of poetry and radio play. I also started stone carving, because we were near Carrara. We stayed in Pietrasanta. I met a great American friend there, Charles Wells. He was a very fine sculptor who sadly died recently. He led me into a little bit of stone carving. It's a hobby of mine. Italy was transformational for us - not particularly for musical experiences, but because of the culture of the people. Their readiness to love art... their wonderful cookery... just the culture of where we were. I do remember very particularly, with Dallapiccola and his wife, taking myself and my first wife to the opera in Florence. It was Busoni's Arlecchino and Malipiero Torneo Notturno. I absolutely loved the Malipiero. I wasn't fond of the Busoni. I've never forgotten being introduced to Malipiero's daughter in the interval. It was a formal introduction and she was quite a formal stately woman. When you realize that you have these connections, that you've met the offspring of a composer who is much neglected, and greatly to be admired. These things stay with you. They make out to be figures that would be otherwise remote to you - imaginary - that you've got no right to be with them. As it were, they make them real.
R.V.B. - You seem to take that idea of composers who are neglected and bring them to the forefront. Some of your plays and books have done that. Such as John Clerk and John Thomson.
J.P. - Yes. Those are the ones that are mentioned on the net. I've done a huge amount for lots of other composers. Six of them feature poems to them. Although I've never met them, I have them in my poetry collection.
R.V.B. - Can you give me an example of some of them?
J.P. - Mackenzie, MacCunn, Wallace, Hopekirk... who died in America and was a very famous American pianist. There's two Americans who have been the real scholars of her work. I have a great admiration for McEwen in particular. He was a very thoughtful man. I wrote a biography about Erik Chisholm but I never actually met him. I know his daughters very well. William Kinloch, who was a spy. Myself, and another Scot, subsidized a CD of Kinloch's virginal music... dating from the 1580's. It's absolutely wonderful stuff. Some of it every bit as good as Byrd. There's many of them.
R,V,B, - Scotland's music history... you're obviously an expert on it. What drove you to collect this information for your radio series and the book that you came out with?
J.P. - I had been doing a certain amount of radio broadcasting. Glasgow was going to be the European city of culture in 1990. The BBC radio station was very alive in Scotland, in those days. They wanted to do something special. They came to me to ask if I had any ideas and I said "How about the history of Scotland in sound?" They turned around and said "No, we want the history of Scottish music." So myself and a producer named Martin Dalby - a fellow composer who is the same age as me - got together and said "OK, we'll do 26, 30 minute programs." 26 being half a year... so it fits in with the schedules. The head of BBC Radio Scotland, Neil Fraser, at the time, said "No, no... I want 90 minute programs." I said "OK, we'll have a 30 minute program and a 60 minute concert." He said "No, no, no... I want a 90 minute program crafted from start to finish, and no news and no interruptions." It was an amazing opportunity but it was a frightening challenge. I had never heard of a 90 minute radio program. Have you ever heard of one?
R.V.B. - Not really.
J.P. - Not one that's crafted as opposed to talk-a-longs. These were crafted programs.
R.V.B. - That's a lot of information for one program.
J.P. - We started working on it and reached the mid to late 19th Century at about program 23. We realized that the 20th Century wasn't going to get a look in. So Martin went to the head of radio BBC at the time and said "Look... we need more programs." Instead of telling him to go and bugger off, which would have been the natural thing to do, he said "How many more do you need?" Martin said "We need another six." He said "Alright, that's fine." That is utterly amazing Because you've got to understand, that radio operated to schedules. These schedules are defined by the quarters of the year. So adding on six programs was eating into the next quarter of the year. He said "That's what I want... that's what you need... it's going to happen." So we got 30, 90 minute programs. Then they said "Why don't we make a book out of it." I said "That would be fantastic. The one rule about the book is that it has to look good." This subject has no street cred' whatsoever. It's got to look fantastic. If people pick up this book they have to say "Wow!" They did a wonderful job with it... Mainstream Publishing. The design, layout, illustrations... two color sections. It was beautifully produced and made a huge impact at the time.
R.V.B. - I'm sure it still sets the standard.
J.P. - Yes it does. They made a subsequent edition. Then I did a series of 50 1/2 hour programs in 2007. These were completely differently structured. The first year was 1992 so during those years we had the growth of the CD. With the growth of the CD, a huge amount of new repertoire became available... including Scottish music. That was partly an outcome of the first radio series. People realized there was good stuff there but not good enough recordings of it.
R.V.B. - Can you give me a little example of some of the research that you did? Did you have to go out in the field at all to get some of this information for the programs?
J.P. - (Hahaha) I also became a music archeologist. I actually did go out in the field - literally - to strike rock gongs. These are naturally resonant rocks... and record them. I included them on a very early program, on prehistoric music... music from the stone age and bronze age. I also made recordings in the field of traditional singers, including Duncan Williamson... singing ballads. Some of which can be dated to the medieval period. Certainly in their style and manner... medieval. Of course, a major part of the research was going into libraries and digging out manuscripts and listening to the old existing recordings. It's not as though I were in a complete vacuum... I was persuading people to do something about it. Martin Dalby was wonderful. For instance, I was looking into the works of James Oswald, who was a wonderful 18th century miniaturist. His first publication in 1740 in Edinburgh, has Scottish airs arranged in two parts. There was also a Masonic anthem in the collection. I thought "This is really interesting. What is a 1740 Masonic anthem like?" It's for three male voices and continuo. I discovered this a couple of days before we went to record the program... in which this would have a natural place. I came in to record the program on a Sunday morning, where we did two, three hour sessions. Martin - who was very patient - said "What have you got for me John?" I said "I have 3/4 of the program but there is a couple of gaps here, and one of them is this Masonic anthem... which I would really like to have done." Most sensible producers would have said "John... you were supposed to have a script this morning and we're recording the whole thing today. How could I operate like this?" Instead, he said "What are the forces involved?" I said "Three male voices and one harpsichord." He said "I think we can tuck that into a session at the end of next week. We'll leave a space for it." A total 'can do' world. It was still a really great world broadcasting radio station. All the facilities were there... the willingness was there... the studio staff was there - the sound engineers... the editors... the orchestra - you name it. They could call upon anyone and anything, and they did.
R.V.B. - That is fantastic cooperation.
J.P. - It was, and I was very lucky. I did manage to get on with people too. The stuff that I was digging up was fascinating. Some of it was tiny. It might be some silly little thing. For instance, we shot a piper on radio. How do you shoot and drown a piper. It's a lot cheaper to do on radio than television. We had to get the right sound of a gunshot. The piper had to be playing away. The scene was a battle across the banks of the river Clyde. The piper was playing an insolent tune to the opposition, so they shot him as he was in full view. And he rolled down the banks - still attempting to play - until he fell into the river and drowned. We had the piper... suddenly he got shot and he'd stop playing. He'd hit the bag so a squeal would come out of the pipes. He'd hit as though he was rolling down the bank. After four attempts, and a half an hour of fits and giggles of making the sound of pipes filling with water, we got our 30 seconds of radio.
R.V.B. - That sounded like fun.
J.P. - It was. That was probably the most expensive bit in terms of man hours, short of a symphony orchestra... which I got them to make one or two special recordings.
Receiving the Heritage Scotland award
R.V.B. - That's a very special program series to be proud of. It set a standard which will probably live on forever and it's a great thing to be associated with.
J.P. - I got an awful lot of appreciation for it, and I got a lot of work out of it. It has taken me round the world... lecturing. I received a lot of praise for the work. It's not as though I am going to my grave with nobody appreciating what I did because they did appreciate it.
R.V.B. - You've done a wide variety of compositions: orchestral, chamber music, vocal music, choral music and theater as well. Did you get inspired in different way to go in these different directions?
J.P. - I've never planned a career. I'm not a career composer. I'm a lover of music. I've accepted work, whenever it's been offered. On occasions, I've done work that I wasn't successful in completing. I remember I was asked to write a double concerto for bassoon and horn. I did start it off and I had high hopes for it, but it just didn't work out for me. I don't know why I found the balance of the two instruments too hard to satisfy. But for the most part, I've met every single challenge of composition. Whether it's been opera or prehistoric instruments, or whatever.
R.V.B. - For the most part, you stayed with tonal music?
Enjoying some composition time.
J.P. - I stayed with it wholly. First of all, I was brought up with classical music up to the early 20th century. My parents didn't go much beyond Debussy. It wasn't until I was in my teens, that I got into the world of Bartok and Berg... in particular. Bartok was very much tonal and these days Berg sounds tonal also. Traditional music meant so much to me... and traditional melody. I simply can't divorce myself from that. I have occasionally done exercises in 12 note technique but to me, this was an artificial academic approach to music. It really wasn't any different from being told to write a fugue in the style of Bach. Then being told you hadn't done it well... which was inevitable. (Haha) I can't think of a worse way of teaching because you're guaranteed to discourage the student. It's the same thing with doing Bach choral harmonizations. As soon as you did anything different, you were told it was wrong. Then when you look at Bach... you look at Riemenschneider collection of Bach choral harmonizations, you'll realize that he broke the so called rules frequently. It's just that they didn't tell you that. The other thing they didn't tell you is the reason why the harmonies are the way they are. It's because they go with specific verses of the text. Riemenschneider was the source book that they used. Riemenschneider has selected particular harmonizations for particular verses of particular hymns. If you don't follow the German text and relate it to the harmonizations, you're missing half the point. Nobody ever told us there were words to these things... oh heavens no.
R.V.B. - I read somewhere that in a Bach chorus, each part harmony part is only sung by one person and not by many in a chorus?
J.P. - I see. That is possible. It would depend on the circumstances... how many singers he had.
R.V.B. - It's just a theory that I read. Some people believe it and some don't.
J.P. - It makes no difference to the nature of the harmonization. The harmonization is dictated by the words.
John with Fraser Hunter and the carnyx
R.V.B. - You were involved with the reconstruction of an iron age instrument.
J.P. - That's correct. I've been involved in the reconstruction of several instruments of which the carnyx was one. That's the most famous one. A fragment of one was in the museums of Edinburgh. I saw it there and I was absolutely intrigued. There was no attempted reconstruction or not even a drawing of what it might have been. There was only the bell end (the head end) of the instrument. But through the one remaining family whisky company in the world - the Grant family - I managed to get 2,000£ out of them, towards the reconstruction. The National Museums of Scotland came up with the remaining 4,000. The instrument was reconstructed. I said it belongs to The National Museums of Scotland, on the terms that you let it out for performance. That way, you get my 2,000 as it were, of my input. They said "Fine." It was out so frequently for performance, they had to commission another one. The result was two carnyxes. There's a third one being made now.
R.V.B. - You say there were no drawings of it, and I saw on the internet a picture of a battle with three soldiers playing them. I guess it was to deter the other combatants?
J.P. - Let me correct you on that. It's not a battle that you are looking at. You are looking at the Gundestrup bowl. There are three players of the carnyx, who are at the back of the procession.
R.V.B. - Yes. It looked like it was two levels.
J.P. - Yes... that's correct. It is not a battle but we don't know exactly what it is. Whether it a healing ceremony, a sacrifice, a religious or social ceremony. If you take the bottom level, at the back are three carnyx players holding their instruments up. In front of them are a group of soldiers. There's no question that they are soldiers, they have spears and shields. On their spear tips they are holding up a long tree trunk, which has some branches coming out of it. That occupies the whole bottom level... at the end of which is a figure that is at least twice as tall as all the other figures, holding a smaller figure upside down over a cauldron. Whether he's about to boil him alive or whether he's about to save him, we do not know. Or whether he is transporting from this life to the next, we do not know. In the upper level, and going in the opposite direction... are horsemen with animal crested helmets. What that signifies, we don't know. The horses might represent transporting one to another life or they may represent military strength. There's no doubt a military element in this, but it is not a battle.
R.V.B. - You had mentioned that there were no drawings of the carnyxes. How did you reproduce them?
J.P. - Not in the museum. At that time, there was no complete carnyx anywhere in Europe. There were bits of carnyxes and there were one or two complete carnyxes on Roman coins. There was a drawing of an English carnyx that had been lost.
R.V.B. - So you made the blueprints from the various items that were available to you?
J.P. - That is correct. Fraser Hunter was the archeologist involved in this. He did his PhD on the carnyx. He is now one of the senior curators at the National Museum of Scotland. John Kenny put in his wonderful expertise as a player of the instrument. John Creed was the craftsman who had the outstanding skills... a mixture of being a smith and a jeweler. Both of those skills were required. Some of the repoussé work is down to less than half a millimeter in thickness. It's crucial to keep the thing light so it can be held up... and also vibrant. His workmanship was absolutely stunning.
R.V.B. - I saw the video of the construction on Youtube. It was fascinating to watch. Can you give me an example of some other historic instruments that you worked on?
J.P. - I initiated the reconstruction of the 9thc AD triple pipes (long before Barnaby Brown who has none-the-less done excellent work), also reconstruction of early (8th and 9th centuries AD) Celtic hand bells (both iron and bronze), also the 9th-century AD River Erne 'horn' which I did myself and wrote up for the Ulster Journal of Archaeology. I was also involved in the reconstruction of the Loughnashade trumpet and the Ardbrinn trumpet, though these were primarily the work of Simon O'Dwyer and the craftsman John Creed. They date from c.200 BC. The High Pasture Cave bridge find (c.500 BC) is not - and cannot seriously be a reconstruction (other than of the bridge itself, but we have nothing that is demonstrably part of the instrument). That hasn't stopped people from claiming to have made reconstructions. Jumpers onto band-wagons who care nothing for scholarship. Dr. Graeme Lawson is the lead music archaeologist on this one, with myself as his second. Our report is currently being prepared for publication by Oxbow as part of the total site report. It is proper scholarship.
R.V.B. - At present... you're still working with a variety of subjects. Do you find time to enjoy yourself? Do you have any other hobbies? Do you take walks?
J.P. - I take walks. I used to rock climb. I've certainly done a great deal of climbing in my life. I did a lot of hill walking, camping and fishing as well. I keep a small fishing boat. A 13ft open boat. In the summer, we set out crab pots to catch our own crab and fish. Of course we don't go out this time of year because it's extremely cold. It's wet and windy.
R.V.B. - In retrospect, what are you proud about with your place in music?
J.P. - There are one or two compositions that I not only stand by, but I think I could not have made better. I don't think anybody else could have made those particular pieces any better. I am proud of those. They are ones that I would go back to my teachers and say "Look... I managed this. Did I pay attention to you... did I learn anything from you?" I would be confident that they would say "Yes.... that was well done. That shows a lot of craftsmanship... it's got feeling and it's got personality." I've never been a terrific one for the pursuit of originality. There is nothing new under the sun... as the philosopher Ecclesiastes said some 3000 years ago. Striving after novelty has never been my thing. I've occasionally arrived at it through unusual instruments and the demands that they make. But for the most part you could say that I haven't expanded the technical horizons of music at all. That doesn't bother me in the slightest. It's very easy to say "'So and so' sounds like 'So and so'." Actually 'So and so' has just simply written a lovely piece of music. To hell with who it sounds like. The whole business of this competition, in terms of identifying influences, annoys the hell out of me. No matter how clever you are, it's possible to mistake late Haydn for early Beethoven... or Mozart for middle period Haydn... these mistakes can be made. The fact of the matter is that these people composed in similar idioms. In Handel's time, they borrowed heavily from each other. It was absolutely normal. The school of Mantegna, doesn't mean to say that the painting is worthless. The school of Brahms... well you could say that Frederic Lamond - a wonderful pianist and also in his early days, a fine composer - he was a devotee of Brahms, and you can hear it in his music. it doesn't mean to say that the music itself isn't beautiful... just because Brahms had an influence on it. What's wrong with that?
R.V.B. - Everybody influences everybody else.
Demonstrating the dord ard at High Pasture cave.
J.P. - Exactly. The need to make your mark by novelty... by some new gimmick... I can't be bothered with.
R.V.B. - It still goes on today, in all genres... just to get noticed. Even act in an unusual way to get noticed. It's not necessarily the right way to go.
J.P. - No it isn't. What one needs is a basic technique. Now of course, it is all so easy. You have electronic instruments and means by composing at a computer where you can hear what you're doing, as you go along. But also, the standard of classical musicianship is so incredibly high, you can write really badly for instruments, and the musicians will still make it sound bearable.
R.V.B. - Earlier in our conversation you mentioned stone carving. Do you still have some of your pieces and do you still do it today?
J.P. - Yes. I still have some and I still do a little here and there.
R.V.B. - What's with the Loch Ness monster?
J.P. - (Hahaha) It's an excellent tourist trade. I absolutely believe in it. I believe in fairies and the Loch Ness monster. People believe in angels. I don't believe they have any in a museum? (Haha)
R.V.B. - If they did, they'd put it right next to Big Foot.
J.P. - I'm sure Nessie is there.
R.V.B. - Thank you very much for taking this time with me
J.P. - I've had a lot of fun. Cheers!
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
Andy LaVerne is a jazz pianist/composer and educator who is originally from Brooklyn, New York and now resides in Westchester. Having parents who both played the piano, Andy began his piano journey at the young age of five. After being accepted to the prestigious New York City High School for Music and Art as well as the Juilliard Prep school, Andy had the solid foundation to further his studies. Living in New York City gives you the opportunity to watch top notch musicians in their field. Andy did exactly that and took a liking to jazz music. He decided to continue his education in upstate New York at Ithaca College. After that, he transferred to Berklee and eventually to The New England Conservatory of Music. During this time, Andy became exposed to jazz great Bill Evans and would eventually take lessons from him.
After his schooling, he began to network himself by playing around local clubs with his school friends... developing his chops and paying his musical dues. His break came when a friend of his arranged an audition with Woody Herman. After passing the audition, Andy took to the road to tour the world for the next four years as a member of Woody Herman and the "Young Thundering Herds". A highlight of his tenure with Woody was backing up Frank Sinatra on a tour that culminated at Madison Square Garden on "The Main Event" concert. Andy went on to play with Stan Getz for many years after that. Under Getz, they recorded classic jazz albums that stand the test of time and also toured the world. During Andy's fruitful jazz career, he worked with other jazz greats such as: Lionel Hampton, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Michael Brecker and more. Andy has produced many solo albums and also has a series of instructional books and videos. I recently talked with him about his experiences as a top notch Jazz pianist.
R.V.B. - Hello Andy. Robert von Bernewitz from New York... how are you?
A.L. –Hi Robert, I’m fine, how are you doing?
R.V.B. - I'm doing pretty good. Are you staying warm?
A.L - Trying to... it's a challenge.
Andy LaVerne & Mike Richmond
R.V.B. - It's been pretty cold lately. Do you live by the Hartt School in Hartford?
A.L. – I was on the faculty of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford for seventeen years, but I reside in Westchester County, NY. I’m now on the faculty of SUNY Purchase, which I really enjoy. Plus, it’s a much shorter commute.
R.V.B. - It's been pretty cold lately. Thank you very much for taking the time for me. You have a very impressive resume. You've done a lot of adventurous things in music. You must be happy with your accomplishments.
A.L. - I guess I could look back and be proud of them I suppose, but I would rather look forward.
R.V.B. - That's good because music is always changing and it's good to try something different.
A.L. - I like variety, but I have a pretty sharp focus on the type of music that I like and the type of music that I want to play. I'm not looking to go into any other genres or anything like that.
R.V.B. - Jazz is improvisational, and everything is different in nature, and changes often.
A.L. - Yes... to a degree. I think the improvisational aspect gets somewhat overblown because there is a language that everybody has. There is some commonality between people, and individual language that you develop over the years, just by playing and listening. So a lot of what you play, might not be exactly the same as what you played previously but there is similarity, as opposed to a radical difference.
R.V.B. - That's true. So you were born in Brooklyn, and you went to the music high school in New York...
A.L. - At the time, it was known as the High School of Music and Art. Now it's the LaGuardia High School.
R.V.B. - I presume that you had to take a test to get in there?
A.L. - I did have to take a test. It was very competitive and I was lucky to get in.
R.V.B. - Were your parents musical?
A.L. - They both played piano. They weren't professional musicians but they both played classical music.
R.V.B. - How old were you when you got started in music?
A.L. - I was five years old. I was playing through public school and concurrently going to the Juilliard School... the preparatory division. I was there quite a while... through high school.
R.V.B. - Who did you study with at that time?
A.L. - Here name was Mrs. Kurka, wife of the composer Robert Kurka. She was an excellent teacher and was very well versed in classical piano. I also took theory there too.
R.V.B. - After high school prep, you attended Ithaca College. Was there any reason why you chose that school?
A.L. - I actually wanted to attend Juilliard in New York, but my parents kind of wanted to steer me away from music a little bit. They also wanted me to go out on my own... which I'm grateful for. If I hadn't, I'd probably still be living with them. They're no longer with us, but I might never have left. So it was a good move, but I didn't get the musical training that I was hoping for. I transferred from there to The Berklee School of Music, which is now The Berklee College of Music. I transferred to New England Conservatory after that. I was kind of searching for something - musically - in jazz, that I was not finding anywhere. Now, I don't think that I'd have any trouble because there are somany institutions that have great jazz programs... with great instructors.But at that time, that wasn't the case. Even at a place like Berklee, I couldn't get what I was looking for.
R.V.B. - Is that the same time period that you took lessons from Bill Evans?
A.L. - Yes, it was during my early college years. It was before I moved to Boston.
R.V.B. - How big of an event was that for you? Did what he show you stay with your music throughout your career?
A.L. - Yes... absolutely. It was a huge life altering event. At the time, I was a little overwhelmed by it, and I didn't realize how much of an impact it would have on me musically. You were mentioning before about looking back... when I do look back on certain projects that I've done, I see the stamp of Bill all over that. I guess I didn't even realize it until I started thinking about it.
R.V.B. - Can you give me an example of something he said to you, that stuck with you?
A.L. - He was talking about going down different harmonic avenues to reach a particular harmonic goal. In other words, say you're at one place - if you're writing a tune, or if you're re-harmonizing a tune and you have to get to another place - there's usually more than one way to get there, aside from what's written on the page. Years later, I wrote a book called "Handbook of Chord Substitutions" which was on techniques that Bill was talking about. How to re-harmonize tunes. Certainly, on a lot of my recordings, I use that same technique. When I record standards, I usually re-harmonize them to some degree. I don't just play them straight out of the fake book.
R.V.B. - After you received this training, how did you transition into the professional world?
A.L. - I guess I just kind of fell into it. I had no big plan. I was kind of naive in my earlier years. Certainly not as worldly as a lot of younger people are today. I think a lot of musicians at that time, did not have these big plans. We didn't want to get managers, or agents, or record companies, or attorneys... involved in our careers. We didn't even think of it as a career. All we wanted to do was play music, so that's kind of what I did. I was living in Boston, going to school, and from there, I met a lot of musicians that I know to this present day... and play with quite a bit. We got together and had jam sessions - just played music - and started getting some gigs. We had to obviously support ourselves and make money, and pay the rent. We mostly worked, not as jazz musicians, but as pop musicians, playing popular music of that time period... in bars and restaurants, in and around Boston. Then I moved to Westbury, Long Island. From there I met some other people, and then got the gig with Woody Herman. That was my first “name” jazz gig. I had played jazz gigs before but not with anybody particularly well known.
R.V.B. - During that time period, did you see any of the famous jazz players play live?
A.L. - Yes... many. First of all, playing with Woody - we played a lot of festivals, and toured all over the world - so obviously you would meet a lot of other musicians that way, and get to hear a lot of people. Coming from New York and living in New York, I went to The Village Vanguard, The Village Gate, The Top of The Gate... so yeah, I saw a lot of people.
R.V.B. - Give me an example of who you saw at The Village Vanguard.
A.L. - Well first and foremost, Bill Evans! That's where I met him. But I saw Miles and Herbie... Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter, that group... Stan Getz... just a lot of people.
R.V.B. - Did you have to audition for Woody?
A.L. - No I didn't. I got recommended by a piano player named Mike Abene, who had been working with Maynard Ferguson as a piano player and arranger. The way Woody's band worked was, if somebody left the band, and had to be replaced, they would put the word out. They were on the road all the time, so you couldn't really come and audition. You just had to join the band. They would rely on the people, who had either been in the band previously, or other musicians in other bands, that could recommend someone. That's how it worked. Mike Abene recommended me... they called me, and next thing I knew, I was out on the road with them, playing the gig.
R.V.B. - Did you have a learning period or did you start right into the fire?
A.L. - I actually went the day before so I could hear the piano player... that was playing with them at the time. His name was Harold Danko. I sat there and listened to the band... looked at the charts. I was kind of a Woody Herman fan at the time, so I was familiar with a lot of the tunes. I used to play along with the records. I didn't have the charts but I could hear my way through the changes, so I wasn't going in totally cold. I was pretty familiar with the music and I was anxious to start playing it. At that time, Woody was starting to use the Fender Rhodes piano. He wasn't using acoustic piano anymore. I was really excited because they hadn't really done many recordings with the Fender Rhodes. I was going to be one of the first with Woody's band.
R.V.B. - Was it the Rhodes model that had the speakers that faced both ways?
A.L. - Yes... that's called the suitcase. It was Woody's piano but when I got home, I bought one. I had my own amp so it wasn't as powerful. I look back on those years and I don't know how I did it. I used to schlep that thing in taxi cabs... in New York. I don't know what I was thinking!!! It weighed a ton.
R.V.B. - Where did that first tour with Woody take you, and how exciting was that for you?
A.L. - It was very exciting and I was kinda nervous, and anxious, because I hadn't really traveled very much at that point. I think I had taken one or two airline flights with my parents when I was a young kid. The first gig that I did... I had to take a plane to get there. The guys in the band were really nice and I became really good friends with a number of them. It was a really good experience. It was difficult in certain ways. I didn't really have a place to live because I was on the road the entire time. It's not like today where you might go on tour for two weeks, and then not play with them again for another six months. This was like 365 days a year, that you're out on the road. My home was that seat on the bus. Anything I lived in after that seemed like a mansion.
R.V.B. - Were there any memorable gigs during that time period?
A.L. - Yeah... One in particular was when we did a six week tour with Frank Sinatra. We went all over the country and played all the major cities. It culminated in a gig at Madison Square Garden. It was called The Main Event, and it was televised on ABC-TV. They also made a DVD and a recording out of it.
R.V.B. - I have the vinyl record of that show.
A.L. - That's me playing piano on it. Frank took Woody's band out on the road. He augmented it with a string section and some orchestral instruments.
R.V.B. - I'll have to play the record when we're done chatting.
A.L. - The piano is pretty far down in the mix but there are certain parts where you can hear it. Frank Sinatra is five times louder than the entire Woody Herman band, and the orchestra that was behind them.
R.V.B. - Frank does what Frank does.
A.L. - I loved playing with him. It was a fantastic experience.
R.V.B. - How long was your tenure with the Woody Herman band?
A.L. - It was about four years.
R.V.B. - That's a pretty long time. I gather during that time, you made a lot of friends. Is that how you networked yourself to continue your career afterwards? I see on the resume, people like Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie. How did that come about?
A.L. - Those were two separate things, I played with Lionel Hampton when I was doing the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. I had done that a number of years. I became friends with Lionel, and we played together out there. I played with Dizzy Gillespie when I was playing with Stan Getz. I can remember one gig... it was the Nice Festival in France. We played with Dizzy there.
R.V.B. - Very nice. You played with Chick Corea - who is another keyboard player - and an adventurous keyboard player at that. How did the two keyboard thing pan out? Was there an adjustment for you with that?
A.L. - There wasn't a big adjustment, because Chick is one of my major influences. I speak his language... (haha) not as well as he does but I certainly understand it. I don't understand everything he's playing, but what I mean is that, I'm very familiar with his style of playing. I think a fair amount of my playing comes out of that. There wasn't any big adjustment musically. I met Chick when I was playing with Stan Getz. We were playing a concert in Telluride, and Chick was backstage watching and listening to us play. I saw him and I got really nervous. I idolized Chick in a certain way. Chick played with Stan Getz prior to me playing with Stan Getz, by a few years. I guess Chick was interested in what Stan was doing with his new band. I met him after the concert and he was really friendly. We had that commonality of being Stan Getz's piano player. We had a lot in common, right off the bat... without even saying anything. We became very friendly and Chick is just a great person... very open and supportive. The first time I played with him was at his Mad Hatter Studio in Los Angeles. We played duo piano for about two hours. It was just fantastic. It was recorded, and some of it came out on a record I did a few years later called "Andy Laverne Plays the Music of Chick Corea." There's an excerpt of our duo playing that I put on that record, it’s called “Heart to Heart”.
R.V.B. - You mentioned a lot of live dates that you did. Is it different playing in the studio where you have to be a little more refined, and the mistakes have to be cut down to a minimum... I'm not saying that you make mistakes live, but if you do make a flub, it just goes off into the air... and you move on. What is the difference for you of playing live as opposed to the studio?
A.L. - You're right about that, in a studio situation, it's like you're under a microscope. Everything is magnified. Whereas when you're playing live, you have to play a little more than you would necessarily have to... to project out into a large audience. You can kind of duplicate what you do live in the studio to a degree. It's kind of an artificial environment, because usually you're wearing headphones to hear the other musicians... you're isolated from other people. There might not be good eye contact between certain people. It's similar in some ways and different in other ways. I really like recording. It's one of my favorite things to do. In a way, I almost like it more than playing live gigs. It just seems less stressful to me. There's always the added level of anxiety with live gigs... getting to the gigs... dealing with the circumstances at the gigs... dealing with the owner of the venue... and worrying about the audience... is anybody going to come and see you? it just goes on and on. When you go into a recording session, you pretty much know the parameters that you are working with. It's a lot less stressful in that regard. But I like playing live too. It's just two different things.
R.V.B. - It's always fun dealing with club owners... "Where's your following?"
A.L. - Exactly. These days you have to bring an entire audience with you.
R.V.B. - Did anything ever go wrong at one of your gigs.
A.L. - (Hahaha) Well, I think a better question would be, did anything ever go right?
R.V.B. - (Hahaha)
A.L. (Haha) Yes... many, many times.
R.V.B. - Anything like a cord shorting out... did the lights ever go out?
A.L. - Yes, lights have gone out. I remember playing a concert at a high school in Westchester County, with Ed Neumeister, a great trombone player. The kid that was running the lights, fell asleep on top of the dimmer switch, and he turned off all of the lights in the entire auditorium.
R.V.B. - (Hahaha)
A.L. - We just kept playing. (Haha) There was nothing else we could do... complete darkness.
R.V.B. - You mentioned that you like to record and I see that you've done a whole lot of albums.
A.L. - Just under my own name now, it's getting close to 70 projects. I have many more as a sideman.
R.V.B. - How do you keep it fresh when you do so many?
A.L. - It' sort of an evolutionary process. I'm not looking for something radically different. I'm always learning new stuff... thinking about and developing things. It's really a progression. Depending on the amount of time between projects, it may be more obvious if it's a longer time period. If it's like six months, you're not going to sound that much different. I do a lot of composing, so I'm always writing new tunes. It's a challenge to play new material all the time.
R.V.B. - I can understand that. What size band did Stan Getz carry?
A.L. - It was basically a quartet... when I started. When I left, it was usually a quintet. It was saxophone, piano, bass and drums... when I started. Sometimes he added another horn player like Bob Brookmeyer. He played with us for a while. He would also add guitar... Chuck Loeb.
R.V.B. - Did you go out on the road a lot with that outfit, as much as you did with Woody?
A.L. - It was similar to life with Woody, except it was better in a way, because it was a much smaller group. The travel was somewhat easier. There weren’t as many "one nighters." We could play at Ronnie Scott’s in London for two weeks... do a tour of Europe, and be at one place for several days. It was the same in the States. We could play Keystone Korner, in San Francisco, for two weeks. With Woody, we were playing mostly "one nighters." That was really hard. You were traveling every single day, and most of it was by bus. Stan's thing was mostly by plane. The distances were a lot farther but you stayed in one place longer.
R.V.B. - What kind of man was Woody to work for? Was there a lot of interaction with him?
A.L. - Woody’s band was made up of mostly young musicians just out of college. So there was a big age difference between most of the band and Woody. Therefore, not much contact with him other than on the bandstand. It wasn’t until a few years later that I got to hang out with Woody. It was at one of the Nice, France festivals. Woody, Stan Getz (who also worked with Woody’s big band when he was younger) and me. We had a great time! I learned a lot while I was in Woody’s band, musically and otherwise. Really not much from Woody directly, more indirectly. It was a growing experience for me.
R.V.B. - Did you have any favorite venues in the States, as well as Europe?
A.L - Keystone Korner was always a highlight. We played at a number of clubs in New York. We played at The Bitter End. We played at Fat Tuesdays... which was a really nice club. There were places all over that were really nice.
R.V.B. - You mentioned the France festival... were there any otherjazz festivals that you played at?
A.L. - We played many, many festivals... in France... in Spain... in Italy... Scandinavia (The North Sea) (The Pori Festival)...
R.V.B. - It must have been a fantastic time to go to Europe and mix it up with other musicians, networking and meeting people.
A.L. - Absolutely. One of the first tours that I had with Stan, was a trip to Israel. That was also a highlight for me.There was a documentary made of that trip which is called “Stan Getz, A Musical Odyssey”.
R.V.B. - Were there any challenges playing in large amphitheater type venues?
A.L. - No, not really. When you're playing with groups like that, people are coming specifically to hear that music.
R.V.B. - You do a lot of teaching and you've written a lot of books. That helps put the milk and bread on the table. What kind of work goes into creating those books? Was it time consuming?
A.L - Yes. I'm actually working on a book right now - on Bill Evans. It's going to be part narrative and part musical analysis. I'm going to be talking about my lessons with Bill, and my interactions with Bill through the years. I ended up doing Bill's last gig for him. It was at Fat Tuesdays in New York.
R.V.B. - That had to be an honorable gig for you.
A.L. - It was fantastic. I remember when I got the call for that gig. It was a six night gig and Bill did the first two nights. Then he got ill. I got called to come down and sub for him with his trio, which at the time was Marc Johnson bass, and Joe LaBarbera drums. The place was jam packed and everybody was waiting for Bill. When I walked in, I figured everyone was going to leave. They all stayed and seemed to really enjoy the music. The trio had a great musical chemistry.It was really a highlight but unfortunately, it didn't end so well. I played the last four nights of his gig for him and he died the very next day. That was September 15th, 1980. To answer your question about the books, I enjoy teaching and I enjoy musicalanalysis... thinking about theory and figuring out what's going on. I enjoy writing these books. I write them to make money of course, but that's not my main focus. I'm writing books to express myself, and because I think I have something to share. It can be a long and painstaking process to write a book. My current book that's out is called "Chords in Motion." It took me six years to put it together. That's not working on it every day, of course. I got into writing books when I was writing for Keyboard magazine in 1986. That came as a result of an interview they did with me. They said "You’re pretty articulate. Did you ever think about writing an article for a magazine?" I said "No." They said "How about writing for us?" The first article I ever wrote for them was on Bill Evans... ironically.
R.V.B. - When a college student reaches a certain level, they know what they want to learn and you know what you want to show them. Do you find most of the kids eager and attentive to what you are teaching them?
A.L. - Absolutely. They're trying to soak up as much information as possible.
R.V.B. - What are the size of your classes?
A.L. - Mostly, I teach private lessons at college. I have also taught composition classes. They are not lecture hall type classes. There are maybe a dozen people. I've done some ensemble work as well - not necessarily at college - I also teach at the Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop in Louisville, and the Langau Jazz Nights in Switzerland. The ensembles are usually eight or nine people there.
R.V.B. - I know you are working on your book now, but do you have any players that you work with to go out and do gigs?
A.L. - I have a new record that just came out. It's called "Faith." It's a quartet, with a fantastic trumpet player by the name of Alex Sipiagin. He's originally from Russia and just one of the most incredible musicians that I've ever heard in my life. It's really inspiring to play with him. Mike Richmond is playing bass and cello. He's a long time friend and he's the one who recommended me for the gig with Stan Getz- back in the late ‘70's. Mike’s a virtuoso bassist and cellist. Jason Tiemann is the drummer, he’s fantastic. I met Jason at the Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops about 20 years ago. It's a really nice group and we really enjoy playing together. We have some gigs coming up in New York... a little bit later this year.In the works is our next recording, which will be the quartet augmented by another long time friend, Jerry Bergonzi, the influential tenor & soprano saxophonist.Alex and Jerry together is going to be amazing! I’m planning on dedicating the recording to John Abercrombie, a dear friend and music colleague for many decades, who was a “Guiding Light” for the “boomer” generation of jazz musicians.
R.V.B. - What are you proud about with your place in music?
A.L. - Just that I have a place in music. (Haha) I don't know what my place is. I think I have a place somewhere. The fact that I was able to pursue what I wanted to do. I never really had another job outside of music. I teach at colleges - I teach privately and I write articles. I write books... do instructional videos. It's not just all playing gigs. It's still all music, and all music that I want to play... music that I'm interested in. That's pretty much what I wanted to accomplish.
R.V.B. - Do you have any other hobbies that you like to do, like take walks... go to the movies?
A.L. - I'm into exercise, so I do quite a bit of that. Running... bike riding... walking… weight training. I'm more or less a vegan, so I'm into nutrition. I like architecture but I didn't become an architect. I can appreciate architecture. Elvin Jones, who I was lucky to play with, called me the “architect of music”.I think architecturally when I play.Probably in my genes, my father was an interior designer.
R.V.B. - You have a real nice career going for yourself. You've accomplished a lot of things and played with a lot of great people. Thank you for taking this time for me.
A.L. - Thank you very much for your interest Robert.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
Wishbone Ash formed in 1969 and shortly thereafter, exploded on to the underground FM radio airwaves. Armed with a two axe attack, Ash produced many top notch albums and toured Europe and the US extensively in the 70's. They appeared on bills with Deep Purple, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, T Rex, Steppenwolf and many others. Their signature two guitar sound propelled the band through all the different fads in music and are still going strong today. As original founding guitarist Andy Powell states, "We were and we are still, leaders in our signature twin lead guitar sound."
Wishbone Ash will be out on the "Open Road Tour" of the Southern and Western States in the US, starting in April of 2018. At the same time, they will be releasing a massive 30-disc deluxe box set titled "Wishbone Ash: The Vintage Years." The current members include: Andy Powell (guitar/vocals), Bob Skeat (bass), Joe Crabtree (drums) and Mark Abrahams (guitar). I recently interviewed original guitarist Andy Powell about the bands storied past and their latest plans.
R.V.B. - England was a hotbed breeding ground for folk, skiffle, blues and rock bands. Did you emulate these styles when you began to play the guitar, before you chose to be a more progressive rock style guitarist?
A.P. - Naturally, I tried everything that I could before becoming the guitarist I am today. I did a kind of apprenticeship in bands playing rhythm guitar al lot in what we called soul bands. Lonnie Donegan, Hank B. Marvin, Chuck Berry and then Steve Cropper, Pete Townsend (there's a switch) - they all came into my sights. I ended up with a fully formed style by the time I was 20 and this can be said to be a kind of folk-blues style with progressive leanings. The big development in my style came in 1967/68 when I was exposed to the styles of Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention and Peter Green from the early incarnation of Fleetwood Mac.
R.V.B. - Did you take any lessons or were you self taught?
A.P. - No lessons. I gleaned what I could from friends or by listening to snatches of music here and there. I didn't even start collecting albums until I was about 17. I'd see a lot of bands playing live and I developed a great ear for music helped partially by working out horn arrangements in the soul bands I worked in. This stood me in good stead for working out twin lead guitar lines in Wishbone Ash much later on. I developed a great musical ear this way.
R.V.B. - What was your guitar gear at first before eventually switching to the Flying V.
A.P. - I'd made a couple of home-made guitars in my teens and even during the first year of Wishbone Ash and I used one of those (I still have it), plus anything I could beg borrow and steal. I had a Burns Jazz guitar and use to borrow a Höfner Coronado electric. I did have my own combo amps - originally a Watkins Dominator and then a Selmer Zodiac amp. Then I went on to Laney before working exclusively with Orange Ampification in Wishbone Ash.
R.V.B. - Do you remember your first paying gig? How did it go?
A.P. - My first paying gig was probably at a works social club event at the Ovaltine Factory in Kings Langley England. We played Shadows instrumental songs and oh yes, a song called Rockin' Robin, later recorded by the Jackson Five.
R,V.B. - When Wishbone Ash formed, how did the songwriting process go? Did you, Ted and the others come up with a basic idea for the song at first and then work the double guitar attack in afterwards?
A.P. - It would come about in all kinds of different ways. Individually, we were all very supportive and would encourage each and every and any idea that someone came up, with whether it was a lyrical idea - usually form Martin - or a guitar riff from Ted or myself, like on one of the first songs we wrote collectively, Blind Eye. We also put in a LOT of hours jamming - simply throwing ideas at the wall and seeing if we could make songs out of them. Necessity is the Mother of Invention as they say. I can attest to that. We were literally starving and desperately needed food, a musical direction, a booking agent and a record label in that order. We luckily already had a great manager - although he didn't know that at the time - Miles Axe Copeland III was his name and his input was crucial. He had a plan beyond the idea of basic survival that we were focused on. All of this formative stuff led to my crazy work ethic. I never forget those days and how hard we worked for our dreams.
R.V.B. - Were some of the first album songs road tested before you recorded them?
A.P. - Sure - my song Errors of My Way and Blind Eye and the song Queen of Torture from Martin plus the mini epic jam Handy, were all played in the clubs. In fact, the first two albums were really us going into the studio and playing our songs live with minimal overdubs. The third album Argus, was different inasmuch as we were writing for those songs together, to be performed in big auditoriums, festivals and stadiums, so we were imaging those situations when we were constructing the music and actually recording in the new 16 track medium, instead of the old 8 track method.
R.V.B. - Who were some of the groups that you were teamed up with on tours? Were they usually a good match musically because I know in the early 70's, promoters tended to experiment with lineups?
A.P. - We were booked alongside everyone and anyone. The line-ups in those days were eclectic to say the least. Early on in London, we'd be on with hippie bands like Quintessence or Tyranosaurus Rex (T Rex) then Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Colliseum and then when we got to America some agents thought we were a Southern rock band and we'd be on bills with Wet Willie, The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Then in stadiums with Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Alice Cooper, The Who. In the end we had everyone open for us like ZZ, Bob Seeger, Aerosmith, Kiss and even Bruce Springsteen.
R.V.B - Tell me some experiences of touring America for the first time. How did you enjoy it?
A.P. - Totally loved it! America was great then - a land of possibilities especially if you were young. There were $2.4 US dollars to every £1 sterling so it was like having Monopoly money. There was the youth movement and it was post - Vietnam. FM radio ruled the airwaves and they'd put up billboards on Sunset Blvd featuring our band (viewable from our hotel window (the Hyatt House or 'Riot House') . You felt as if you owned America and everyone was so welcoming and hospitable. Being British was a total passport to all things. This was real rock & roll - an alternative culture - groupies, drugs, drink, limos, partying, sunshine, the beach - mayhem. Much later, when I wrote my book recounting it all (Eyes Wide Open - True Tales of a Wishbone Ash Warrior), I had to reconstruct that whole decade of the 70s because it was all such a blur. Every month was a new experience.
R.V.B. - Do you think that your song writing matured through the years or is the newer material just an extension of the original concept?
A.P. - Both. It's definitely matured and also I'm a much better singer. Initially, my voice was my guitar. However, I've come back to the original blue print that we laid down back then, as a writer. I've found that our original instincts were particularly good and that whenever we strayed away from the course as writers, things would get wobbly. I find great inspiration now, in some of our early work - not to say that I'm not finding new influences all over the place these days, but I tend to view them through the prism of the band's true style and how these influences can be melded. This is what we always did anyway, in the first place. The playing, recording and writing standard is very high but there is a real quirky and authentic vibe to those early creative explorations.
R.V.B. - What are you proud about with Wishbone Ash's legacy?
A.P. - Our guitar playing and our longevity. Oh and for sure, the amazing supportive fan community we've nurtured.
See, I was born in 1950 and so each decade of my life has coincided with the development and popularity of rock music. I was very fortunate at age 20, in 1970 to ride in on that wave of British progressive rock/stadium rock/classic rock - call it what you will. We experienced the BEST years for sure. Many young artists tell me so these days and I've become more and more aware of that as time moves forward. There was also the counter-culture thing. Rock was a secret world back then whereas that attitude of bravery and rebellion has moved elsewhere - social media or fashion or hip-hop. I mean the Kardashians were rock & roll for a while, Paris Hilton, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, The Voice - is this the legacy of all of what we went through? Don't make me laugh.
We were and we are still, leaders in our signature twin lead guitar sound and I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that there's not another band who has done more with this concept than Wishbone Ash. Some of the best guitar players have been through the ranks of this band back in the day in recent years so it's hard to top us there. I'm very proud and comfortable with what we achieved and don't forget; I'm the sole original member who stuck with the plan and never gave up on it. I'm coming up for 50 years in the band. That to me, is unfathomable but great at the same time. Very proud of that.
R.V.B. - What are the latest plans for Wishbone Ash?
A.P. - Well, the big project which is about to come to fruition in April, after three and half years of work, is the Vintage Years Deluxe Box Set. It's a thirty CD release plus coffee table book and memorabilia etc. Helluva project - sorta like a black hole that has consumed everyone's energy of late, but the end is now in sight and no doubt during the summer months, I'll be thinking creatively once again. New songs, new projects in the studio and future tours to be booked. We're already fully booked through the fall and into the winter so busy, busy busy - just the way I like it.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
For more information on Andy Powell and Wishbone Ash visit their website. wishboneash.com
Special thanks to Billy James at Glass Onyon PR
For more information on this site contact musicguy247 (at) aol (dot) com
The Finnish ensemble SOLJU consists of the mother and daughter duo Ulla Pirttijärvi and Hildá Länsman. They are direct descendants of Saami people, that come from the northern area of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. February 6th is National Sámi day and SOLJU has released two new singles, on that day, in honor of their heritage. As Hildá explains, " One of my life long lasting goals as a person and Sámi artist, is to secure the continuity of the Sámi language and Sámi joik traditions by offering Sámi music and music education to Sámi people." I corresponded with Ulla and Hildá about their rich heritage and new musical project.
R.V.B. - How long can you trace the tradition of music from your family and is it custom to learn at a young age?
U.P. - I know that my grandfather’s grandfather had his own joik and the people from my region have been joiking it. Usually children learn to joik in early age, if the tradition has been practiced in the family. Joik tradition has been considered to be sinful act in the teachings and views of Laestadian Lutheran Church. So the tradition in our vocal music culture has been threatened to get lost. But the joik tradition remained in the everyday life, in families who worked with the reindeer husbandry, and the revitalizing work done in past three decades has helped the tradition to stay alive.
R.V.B. - Were you taught to sing by family members?
U.P. - Yes, I’ve learned joiks from my uncle. The joiks he taught to me tell stories of my relatives from Angeli village. I’ve also made joiks to my family members, to my daughter Hildá and to my son Nillá-Ánde.
R.V.B. - Can you give me a brief description of how it is to grow up in northern Finland?
U.P. - The village Angeli where I’ve grown up is a small village next to the border of Finland and Norway. It’s 65km to the nearest grocery store and school, so it was a lot of travelling for every working day. In Angeli, people got their living by herding the reindeer and that’s how most of my relatives and family members lived.
My dearest childhood memories get located to my Grandmothers place, which had a peaceful atmosphere in a forest next to lake. My grandparents lived in the rhythm of the seasons of nature. They did the work that was needed for each time of the year. During summer, we made the hay for reindeer and gathered the reindeer for making marks for reindeer calves. In the end of summer and beginning of autumn, we picked berries and mushrooms. We worked more with reindeer herding during the autumn until the end of spring. Making handicraft was part of our daily life. These yearly tasks are still part of our daily life
R.V.B. - Are there other art customs that are passed down besides music?
U.P. - I like to do Sámi handwork and I’ve learned the custom from my mother. Sometimes we gather to make them together, with her, my daughter and other family members, and close relatives.
R.V.B. - Can you briefly describe the environment and surroundings of your home territory?
U.P. - We live in Northern most part of Finland in a municipality called Utsjoki. Our home is surrounded with a view of fells and lake. We have quite cold weather here with lots of snow.
R.V.B. - How important is it for you and your daughter to preserve the music and tradition of Sámi traditions?
U.P. - We’ve been grown up and raised to Sámi culture, so it’s part of our identity. Life would feel strange and empty if we should only be under the impact of Finnish or other western cultures.
R.V.B. - As a young woman that has a very important role to keep up a world tradition, is it also important to keep a modern approach to this task?
H.L. - I think that the culture with its traditions stays vibrant and alive when you have the freedom to practice and express yourself creatively with a modern approach. It’s nice to have the modern and fresh twist in our traditional crafts and music. My mother, Ulla and I often make our traditional wear, stage costumes and accessories; we like to go crazy with the colours! But the sewing patterns we use are mostly traditional; our choices of colours, silk ribbons and jewellery et cetera also correspond to codes in Sámi culture, reflecting where we're- from. We want to practice our tradition in a good taste and respectful manners.
R.V.B. - How did you and your mother work together to make this exciting music work. Was it natural to figure out who would do which parts in the writing process?
H.L. - Working together with these songs felt quite easy and natural. We both trust to each other’s skills; we believed that we can make it happen if we only find good musicians to work with. We had most of the songs ready for the great musicians; Samuli Laiho and Samuli Majamäki, to arrange and produce.
For most of the songs we both had either only lyrics or melodies, this meant we could then decide to fill in parts of each other’s songs. It was also easy to make the choices of who sings or joiks where and in each song. In many songs Ulla represents the traditional side, whereas I speak for modernity and bringing in traditions from outside of our culture for example in one song I try out vocal techniques like throat singing with growling sounds. However, I still joik in some songs traditionally.
R.V.B. - When was your first live performance in front of people and how did it go?
H.L. - My first live performances on front of people was probably in preschools Christmas and summer festivities. But I especially remember the ones that we did in elementary school, when we used to make performances with our teachers guide to a Sámi Youth Theatre & Dance Arts Event, where all the sámi children could join in northern most part of Finland. Organisation of these yearly events began when my mom Ulla was a child and that’s probably also one of the sparkles for getting her musical carrier started.
R.V.B. - Can you give me a brief description of people that helped out on this project?
H.L. - Samuli Teho Majamäki, a co-producer and a musician on our cd, was the first person we asked to join in to our project. He is a Finnish percussionist specialising in playing vibraphone. In our upcoming CD he also plays udu, mbira, hang, PVC pipe and many more exciting percussion instruments. Samuli has travelled and performed around the globe; in addition to Finland, he has lived in Australia, Tanzania, India and Japan. He’s a calm peace loving guy and it has been nice and easy to work with him.
Samuli Laiho, whom we got to know through Majamäki is the producer of our cd. He played synths, piano, guitar and glockenspiel and did the programming in our songs. Samuli Laiho has a long carrier in playing, making and producing songs. He’s a quick thinker, effective and creative musician and producer. Right from the first meeting we instantly fell in love to his vibes and way of working with our songs.
Riku Mattila is a commendable and rewarded music producer. He mixed our songs and gave his valuable opinions and counsel during this process. It was fun to notice how his mixing work gave new dimensions to these songs.
Guest artists: Czech National Symphony Orchestra - strings Paavo Lötjönen - cello Mikko Neuvonen - throat singing Janne Puurtinen - synth bass, synth
Mastered by Minerva Pappi
R.V.B. - What kind of impact do you hope to have with the CD release, on the region where you live, as well as the world?
H.L. - Many Sámi musicians have made a musical career at an international level. It’s more or less easy to get gigs in the Northern most areas of Finland, Norway and Sweden where Sámi people live, but I haven’t heard the music of Sámi played widely at a national level in Finland. So it’ll be interesting to see how people in Helsinki, where I moved only 1.5 years ago, will like or find out about our songs.
My Sámi heritage is a driving force for me, where I draw my motivation and persistence to artistic work. One of my life long lasting goals as a person and Sámi artist, is to secure the continuity of the Sámi language and Sámi joik traditions by offering Sámi music and music education to Sámi people. It is especially important that the Sámi youth can learn and listen to music in their own native language. So I’m more than happy if my indigenous sisters and brothers get the love and good vibes that I’m trying to send to them through these songs.
R.V.B. - In what order do you place the importance of your role to carry on traditions?
1 - Language
2 - General customs
3 - Music
4 - Arts
5 - Modernization of beliefs.
6 - Everything is important... why?
H.L. - It’s somehow challenging for me to see the parts in these traditions as separate things. When I joik and make my music, I also think the language, visual arts, traditional handicraft “duodji “, the social aspects in these things and the means and practices to find our place and ways in these modern times.
R.V.B. - What is behind the title of the duo SOLJU?
In Northern Sámi, solju is the name of the brooch that Sámi people usually wear with their traditional dress Gákti. We formed out group, Solju in the summer of 2014. At the same time we worked with Swedish musicians Ylva Persson and Linda Persson, to make a song for 2015 UMK, which is a music competition that selects Finland's entries for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
Special thanks to Aija Lehtonen of Bafe's Factory.