Q&A with unique jazz guitarist John Stowell, a master creator, his uniqueness and originality are a breath of fresh air

"Of course, I want music and jazz especially to have a positive and uplifting effect on people. As jazz was initially created in the Afro-American community, as such, it was has had a positive social impact on acknowledging this importance of this culture."

John Stowell: A True Jazz Musician

John Stowell is a unique jazz guitarist influenced as much by pianists and horn players as he is by guitarists. His original take on harmony, chords and improvisation sets him apart. His clinics are informal, hands-on and informative. In addition to music theory and guidelines for improvisation, John shares his professional experience with the business of music. John Stowell began his successful career in the early 1970's with private study with guitarist Linc Chamberland and pianist John Mehegan. Both men were valuable mentors to John, allowing him to play with them as he progressed in his development. Several years later he met bassist David Friesen in New York City, and they formed a duo that recorded and toured prolifically for seven years, with performances in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. In 1983, John and David joined flutist Paul Horn and Paul's son Robin Horn (on drums) for a historic tour of the Soviet Union. This was the first time in forty years that an American jazz group had been invited to play public performances in Russia. John returned to Russia several times, playing in numerous cities. His two sold-out performances in Kursk may have been the first appearances there by an American jazz musician.                                           (Photo: John Stowell)

John continues to tour, record and teach internationally. He has been Artist-In-Residence at schools in Germany, Indonesia, Argentina, and in the United States and Canada. He served as assistant director and performer in Oregon Public Broadcasting's PDX Jazz Summit in 1991, and since 1995 has been a contributing columnist for a number of magazines. Recording/Performance Credits: Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Art Farmer, Conte Condoli, Herb Ellis, Bill Watrous, Mundell Lowe, George Cables, Billy Higgins, Billy Hart, Richie Cole, Paul Horn, Tom Harrrell, Don Thompson, Dave Liebman, and many others.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Jazz music (and culture of) influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

As a jazz musician, you learn the art of collaboration, listening/ responding/ reacting and being in the moment. Being in the moment and open to your bandmates’ suggestions as you play together are also important skills. I’ve found that my perspective as a jazz musician has also helped me to appreciate and be open to other cultures’ values as I’ve travelled. When people are aware of your respect and curiosity about their society, they always respond with kindness and generosity.

How do you describe your sound and music philosophy? Where does your creative drive come from?

I have a traditional jazz guitar sound, and my philosophy includes an emphasis on melody and compositional intention when I improvise and the use of space to allow conversations to unfold with my bandmates. My creative drive comes from a deep-seated love for the music and perfecting my craft.

"I think that the great jazz players of the 1930’s and 1940’s placed an emphasis on melody and serving the tune in their solos that I don’t always hear in the jazz being played today. However, there are some very skilled young players on the scene at the moment, and there could be some interesting cross-cultural collaborations that I might enjoy. Jazz has always had a small audience, but I’m cautiously optimistic that there will always be some people who will love to play and listen to jazz." (Photo: John Stowell)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I’ve had too many great experiences in 40 years of touring in over 20 countries to single out a few. I’ve learned to create an environment on the bandstand, studio or in a classroom setting in which everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. My goal is for the musicians to play their best when I’m in the band, and the other players and the audience can sense the joy that we have playing together. So in a sense, I really try to make every musical meeting memorable and positive. My guitar teacher Linc Chamberland encouraged me to find my own voice on the instrument and gave me a good start, so I found his advice very helpful.

What do you miss most nowadays from the Jazz of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I think that the great jazz players of the 1930’s and 1940’s placed an emphasis on melody and serving the tune in their solos that I don’t always hear in the jazz being played today. However, there are some very skilled young players on the scene at the moment, and there could be some interesting cross-cultural collaborations that I might enjoy. Jazz has always had a small audience, but I’m cautiously optimistic that there will always be some people who will love to play and listen to jazz.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

I’ve answered this question before, namely, being in the moment, reacting and collaborating well, refining my skills as an improviser and developing my sense of melody.

What is the impact of Jazz music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Of course, I want music and jazz especially to have a positive and uplifting effect on people. As jazz was initially created in the Afro-American community, as such, it was has had a positive social impact on acknowledging this importance of this culture.

"I have a traditional jazz guitar sound, and my philosophy includes an emphasis on melody and compositional intention when I improvise and the use of space to allow conversations to unfold with my bandmates. My creative drive comes from a deep-seated love for the music and perfecting my craft."

(Photo: John Stowell)

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would have been very happy to be in Paris in 1913 for the premier of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring’.

John Stowell - Home

Views: 38

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2021   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service