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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Ignaz Schick - Sunday Interview

Ignaz Schick - Photo by Nuno Martins

  1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

    There are different joy moments, one definitely is when your primal intuition proves to be right. This can be the idea for a line-up, or a musical/material decision you make while playing. In both line-up and material and in improvisation generally speaking we take risks. Like does it really work if I put player A and Player B together in a trio with myself. Then you go on stage, and it comes out exactly as you imagined, or different but even more beautiful than you expected. Similar for musical material, sometimes it is clear what the situation needs, but very often it is a very intuitive decision making process, and when this decisions work, it usually is a big moment of happiness and joy. Another level of course is when you find the new or unexpected. When you don’t expect anything and it just happens. When I found out for myself that objects vibrate and sound just beautifully when being played on and animated directly by holding them onto the rotating platter of a turntable, I found this magic toy by a pure random mistake, and a whole new cosmos of sounds opened up to me. This are the moments you look for! I still remember and I will never forget this exact instant, it was a revelation, this are moments of pure joy and they usually have a long lasting big impact on your work. This moments are rare and thus so valuable. And of course sharing music, with the colleagues while we make it, and with the audience and friends, for whom we make it ...

  2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with?

    The ability of (deep) listening, the ability to only play if the music asks for it, and the ability to play the right thing in whatever situation. Plus the curiosity for the unknown or unexpected and a general openness to whatever music or situation. For me it is always an amazing and magical moment if I play music with musicians from completely different styles or geographical/cultural background and when we come together and we find a way to communicate and play music together. This happened to me when playing with Mwata Bowden, with African musicians like Amine Mesnaoui, or recently on many occasions with musicians from Vietnam, Indonesia or India where many were from classical Indian background. Still we were able to play together and create something beautiful as we were all open and ready for it. Another feature I really admire is the type of musicians or improvisors, who really invest themselves, like in musical situations which are complicated or may it be just during a bad and difficult day. There is this type of players, who will lean back and say, oh, this won’t work, and they pull out and let the music fall down. But then there are this other players, who really invest and give everything, who will always try and never give up no matter how difficult the situation or constellation is. They really want to play the music, they want it to come out and unfold, they want to have a good time, so they will do everything to make it happen. I love this type of players. Paul Lovens was such a player, Burkhard Beins, Oliver Steidle and Ernst Bier as well. All of them are drummers, interesting, no? And I admire players who will surprise me, either with unexpected sounds, or crazy decisions, where you have to be on your toe all the time, you have to stay wake and alert and be ready for anything any time. Don Cherry was a master of this, also Charlemagne Palestine and Limpe Fuchs. And, there are this musicians, where you never need to worry, you just start to play, and they have this amazing skill of making you forget all technical issues, cause they are so accomplished, and at the same time generous, the music just comes out and you don’t have to think at all, almost like autopilot, you just let it flow...

  3. Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most?
    (see below, these two questions were inadvertently mixed together when the questions were sent out - FJB)

  4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?

    From Jazz and my personal history and even though I played with him, Don Cherry of course. I was too young and not ready in those days when he asked to sit in with them. Now it would be super interesting and with what I do now to play with Don would be a dream. I think I could really challenge him now. I know his mindset would be wide open, he would be absolutely up for it, even the most crazy noise stuff, he would love it. With his immense openness he would completely understand and embrace what I am doing. He just lived too fast for me, in double triple tempo… From that period, maybe also Lester Bowie with his more abstract phases. I always loved his vocality and super beautiful extended sounds on trumpet. And another trumpeter, Bill Dixon !! But as I live in our time, it is more about catching up with all those amazing players who are all around now, especially the young ones, so many interesting musicians are around, it’s just wonderful! And from the living legends, one player who we wouldn’t need to resurrect: Wadada Leo Smith, that would be another dream!!

  5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life?

    Oh, wow, big question. I have never been the person who wanted to play with famous people, or win one of those stupid prizes, like a Grammy, or those ridiculous jazz prizes. It seems some people need those to reassure that they have some importance, because it seems that their music is not enough (for them). I could have aimed for such career paths, but it would have also meant to compromise my music and ideas, to adapt to the business, and to those mafia type opinion makers, and this was never my scope. I am always trying to bring into life the music I hear in my inner ear. And it is quite crazy stuff, anti-career sound so to say ! I think I still want to write more music, and this music is dense, energetic, almost orchestral, weird and mystic stuff. A music full of unheard sounds. So right now I am working on building a community of musicians who a interested and ready to go this path with me, and the nice thing is, there are more and more colleagues who support me and my vision in a very loyal way, that is really a big gift for me. Plus I am building my own sound makers/objects/instruments to bring this sound out. I am not sure if I can achieve it with existing instruments. Partially maybe, but I need to go deeper to dig it out, … I am getting closer, but it is still along path.

  6. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?

    Not really, I went into avantgarde music when I was 11/12 years old, and I always felt quite fulfilled in that zone. I don’t know much about Pop music, I do not really follow what is happening there, and if I get to hear stuff, it is quite random how it comes to my ears. I do like some of it sometimes, I think Prince was a genius, or I highly respect Michael Jackson for his music and performance. I am not interested in his Yellow Press trivia and scandals, but I think he was an amazing artist. I love James Brown, Funk, Soul and good HipHop. I really like it most when it is raw, pure, honest. And I like a lot of the old stuff from the 1960ies, the Beatles, some of the early Stones, Hendrix of course, The Who, … At the same time there is a lot of crap, especially since MTV came on, or this brainwashing Autotune stuff. I just can’t take it, it is like a big stinky rubbish dump, and as we are polluting and destroying our planet by exploiting it and not caring, we also get polluted in our brains by the consumerist mass media and what bullshit music they throw at us nowadays. So it has been really quite rare that I hear some really cool stuff that manages to pull me in. It is always very random, like Björk and Tricky back in the day worked for me, funny enough also Amy Winehouse. There might be a lot of great stuff I miss out on, but I do not follow Pop, I know nothing about it, seriously, it’s not my field, in another life hopefully, but not now, we only live once and I am still busy catching up with all those other histories of music ...

  7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    A lot of things, first thing talk less when I am amongst people, … Focus more on one thing maybe instead of doing so many things in parallel, … Hard to say, we are who we are, and I have learned not to worry so much anymore and to simply accept who I am. Feels not that bad eventually.

  8. Which of your albums are you most proud of?

    Perlonoid from Perlonex, It Aint Necessarily So from Perlonex & Charlemagne Palestine, my solo Rotary Perceptions, ILOG2, Now Is Forever, … It is hard to say, I am generally not so proud of my albums, they are (transition) documents of a long and painful process, but generally speaking recently I am quite ok and in peace with what I am doing. In composition I am slowly getting there. I enjoy to improvise with different folks and types of players. I love playing very physical solo vinyl sets, and I am usually having quite a blast playing saxophone with some well selected rhythms sections. So let’s see, hopefully soon there will be more albums that I can be proud of ...

  9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?

    Not so often, but more for time reasons, so many new things are happening, maybe one day when I get older I hope I can re-listen everything.

    Some years ago a good friend and respected colleague of mine who I didn't know that well at the time played me different albums over a dinner and we talked about it. He wanted to hear my opinion, like in a blindfold test. I think I was highly critical about everything and so at some point he played me my own record, a duo with Andrea Neumann. I did not recognize it in the beginning, and I started analyzing and commenting. "Oh it’s this and that, like a drone, oh, interesting sound, ah, it is prepared piano, oh, it could be inside piano, oh, this sounds like Andrea Neumann. Damn, this is Andrea Neumann. No idea who the electronics person is, Oh, why did he do this, and that, oh, interesting how he decided to place this harsh noise." And then suddenly "Oh shit, that’s me, it is my own record with Andrea, I haven’t heard that in ages. Man, you really got me here." He smiled at me and we burst out in laughter.

  10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

    In no specific order:
    • Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
    • Alber Ayler Quartet – Live in Hilversum
    • Don Cherry/Colin Walcott/Nana Vasconcelos – Codona 2
    • Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell - El Corazon
    • Old And New Dreams, all three albums on Black Saint and ECM
    • Abdullah Ibrahim – The Journey
    • Abdullah Ibrahim/Johnny Dyani – Echoes from Africa
    • Don Cherry – Complete Communion + Brown Rice
    • Art Ensemble of Chicago – Urban Bushmen
    • Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five - this albums and a few others were spinning in nonstop autoreverse mode when I started getting into music in a serious way.

  11. What are you listening to at the moment?

    The music of the composers Pierluigi Billone, Jani Christou, Georg Friedirch Haas, Klaus Lang

    Plus various stacks of vinyls I bought recently including traditional music from Sudan, Africa, Tibet, Turkey, ...

    Stack 1 includes amongst others
    • Graham Moncur III – Evolution
    • Dewey Redman – Look For the Black Star
    • Dieb13 – synkleptie no 1044
    • Dollar Brand – Cape Town Fringe
    • Lester Bowie – Gittin' To Know Y’All
    • Field – Someone Talked
    • Wayne Horvitz-Butch Morris-Robert Previte – nine below zero
    • Zazou/Bikaye – Guilty!
    • Die Vögel Europas – Best Before
    • Senyawa – Alkisah
    • Don Cherry/Jean Schwarz with Michel Portal, J.F. Jenny-Clark & Nana Vasconcelos – Roundtrip (1977) Live at Théatre Récamier Paris
    • Alterations – My Favorite Animals
    • Dewey Redman/Ed Blackwell – Red and Black in Willisau
    • Austin Buckett – Grain Loops 1-30, 30 Works For Sandpaper and 4 Snare Drums
    • Mei Zhiyong – Live in Switzerland
    • The Scorpions & Said Abu Bakr – Jazz Jazz Jazz
    • Night and Day – Live 15.Juni 1984 „FIRST“ Nightclub ehemals FOFIS, Berlin
    • Otomo Yoshihide/Steve Beresford – Museum of Towing and Recovery

      … I hope you don’t wanna know what is in the other stacks ! :-o

  12. What artist outside music inspires you?

    So many, it is an endless list of visual artists, writers, film makers, better don’t get me started. Interests and attention constantly shift here luckily, … In the moment I am reading different books and texts by Roland Barthes about phenomenology, for study and analysis reasons. And I am re-checking the photography of Alfred Stieglitz and some others. Also I saw a beautiful documentary on Arte about Mark Rothko, just to name some ...


Ignaz Schick's music reviewed on the Free Jazz Blog: