J a z z F i d d l e W
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Rare Interview with Zbigniew Seifert
Zbigniew Seifert is in my opinion unsurpassed in playing post Coltrane jazz on the violin. He started playing the saxophone while studying Classical violin at the Academy of Music in Cracow. He got noticed playing around Europe in the early 70ies. For more biographical information see Scott Yanow's article on www.allmusic.com . Seifert refers to the recording Man of the Light on MPS and the self titled Zbigniew Seifert on Capitol in the interview. His last recording, Passion, was for Capitol and featured John Scofield, Richard Beirach, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette and Nana Vasconcelos. Seifert died of cancer February 15th, 1979, at the age of 32.
This interview was translated by Michał Markiewicz and corrected by Grzegorz Tusiewicz. Many thanks! Thanks also to Mr. Tusiewicz for obtaining permission from the interviewer Mr.Antoni Krupa of the Polish Radio Krakow for publication on my website. The interview is taken from side four of a live recording on PolJazz (PSJ-101 & PSJ-102) by Seifert called Kilimanjaro. All of the recordings mentioned are featured on my online radio station.
INT: Is it changing?
ZS: Yes, each time it is different playing with different people and maybe it sounds ridiculous but each time I select musicians to the music I want to play.
INT: As far as I remember you were (even when in Cracow) fascinated by the music of John Coltrane. While reading reviews of your records and concerts I noticed that there is one major idea that you transposed Coltrane`s manner of playing and phrasing from his sax onto your violin. Can you say something about it?
ZS: It is true, I did it consciously. While playing violin I tried to have an impression of playing different instrument, I tried to get different sound from typical violin sound.
INT: With obtaining the major ideas of Coltrane`s playing?
ZS: Yes, phrasing and articulation. And first of all- the way of thinking. As a matter of fact it is the most important.
INT: While graduating the Academy of Music in Cracow, many professors considered you as a promising violinist. I remember also your hesitations of changing the instrument. That time you quit violin sacrificing your work for playing alt sax. This was your start in jazz and also fascination of sax. Right now back to violin?
ZS: At this moment you exposed me, because my beloved professor Tawroszewicz will hardly believe it while listening to it.
INT: You let him down?
ZS: Sort of
INT: But now youíre playing violin again and that is going to make him happy.
ZS: I believe he is not very anxious about it. I saw him just yesterday. It was casual meeting. As for violin, it was sudden decision. Many years ago when we were playing for he first time abroad with Stańko`s quintet, I started to dream about my sax. But when I bought it (it was Selmer, golden one) for lower price, from this moment I started to play sax less and less. It was some kind of a rule, you know, a crucial point.
INT: do you play sax yet?
ZS: I played less and less because no matter what kind of band I played in more interesting for me was to play violin. Simply, it was something different more original and rare. Also I had to overcome many unknown problems while playing jazz on violin. Therefore I did not have time to practice sax and in course of time I played it less ad less, and right about now Iím playing violin only. But sax is my honorary instrument.
INT: It is very fashionable to play music popularly called jazz-rock or something between light music and jazz. What do you think about it?
ZS: It is subjective but my opinion about that music is rather negative. As a mater of fact, I became a bit disaffected after and during recording for CAPITOL.
INT: Is this record in such a mood, such a style?
ZS: Sort of, but not so much because my playing has nothing to do with standard phrasing and style of this music. One way or another, in my opinion it is some kind of trend that was started by couple of superb musicians like Herbie Hancock, Chic Corea, etc. And these musicians as usually are doing it great.
INT: Do you think theyíre doing it whole-heartedly or it is a whim?
ZS: Absolutely whole-heartedly. That is why they are great. They are doing it whole-heartedly and with absolute, unequalled perfection. Therefore they can let themselves play this way. There is also the other point- commercial aspect. It is pretty visible when you go to the U.S. and have something to say or record something or meet people to talk it over, from the very beginning there is a question: "What do you play?. Because we need something new but when you propose to play something new, something original it turns out that itís ok but you have to add another two guitars, synthesizer and strings for coloring the sound. Even Don Cherry had these kind of problems when I met him in studio in N.Y. I was completely upset during the recording because producers were fixing incidental music to my improvisation (of course all on the separate tracks). They were doing things about which I had no idea. I sat there sadder and sadder. I was only looking and listening to it. And later on, I met Don who said that he had the same problem and that the most important thing is to reach as many people as possible regardless some stylistic concessions. He tried to comfort me and I think himself as well.
INT: Yes, it looked that way. So right now the most creative people , the most creative environment comes from Europe. I mean, as far as some new searches and projects are concerned. Do you agree?
ZS: Yes, however a lot of music played in Europe is non-jazz. There is a lot
of jazz-related music, that is improvised but without fundamental jazz feeling.
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