Appearances at SoundCellar -
The Vitor Pereira Quintet - Thurs 6th March 2014
Question 1 - What made you want to become a musician?
I guess I started quite late for the usual Jazz musician. I must have had 15 or 16 when I picked up a guitar for the first time.
It didn't take long before I hooked up with some friends to form a rock band though. By the age of 18 I was already going to gigs and hanging with other musicians and I was enjoying it so much it was pretty much decided.
Question 2 - What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing jazz?
Having decided to become a musician, the only thing I could study with official recognition was classical guitar and classical music. There wasn't any Jazz degree or anything similar in Portugal at the time. I kept my private electric guitar lessons going though, specially as my teacher was starting to introducing me to Jazz and I was getting completely hooked.
I guess my practice routine after some time was divided by two main fields. Classical guitar, which was quite demanding and made me spend around three or four hours per day and Jazz for which I would leave more one or two hours. By then I was mainly going through the foundations learning harmony/scales and some easy standards.
Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?
One of the trickiest things about Jazz is the diversity and abundance of practice material. It's very easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of things you can do, often leading to the waste of a lot of time rambling through without properly mastering any of them. I would recommend two things. The first is to focus your practice. Stick to a few specific things each time and go back to them day after day until they become a natural part of your playing. Don't drop it if it's just more or less. The second is to try to make as easy as possible. Often people come up with incredibly complex material that might take ages to come out. My advice is to simplify it. It has to be easy.
Question 4 - Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?
I was never much into books but from the ones I spent some time over, one comes to mind as particularly helpful. Hal Crook's "How to improvise".
Question 5 - Which recording, either as a leader or a sideman, do you think is the best example of your playing?
My only recorded work is my album "Doors".
Question 6 - Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?
I find quite hard to have some sort of methodology for composing as I often do when I practice guitar.
Composition for me is dependent on a lot more factors like inspiration or aesthetics which makes it particularly tough to come up with any standard procedure.
That said, there is some things that tend to happen more often when I have to compose.
If I don't have any specific idea of what to write about (or even if I do), I try to force myself to write something every day. Most of the times I delete everything but once in a while there is something good enough to use as a starting point. Then I build around it until it grows.
I also find easier to start with a chord sequence and add a melody after.
Question 7 - What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?
The music I usually do mergers a lot musical styles.
I like to find musicians who are not suck to any particular aesthetic and are free to go where the music takes them.
My music can be quite demanding though and the musicians who are fit to do it usually are extremely busy musicians so I rarely can get them to do more than one rehearsal, sometimes none. To make it happen with so little rehearsals it's also a must have quality.
Question 8 - Name some of your favourite standards and tell me why you like them.
'Everything I love' Has a great melody and a very nice chord sequence to improvise.
'Stablemates', 'Along came Betty' well, most of Benny Golson tunes actually. They are just great in every way.
'Airegin' I love these tunes full of rhythmic hits.
'Speak no evil' and most of Shorter's tunes. He's a genious!
'Segment' Great catchy melody
Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?
'Deluxe' - Chris Lightcap, one of the best Jazz albums ever!
'10 songs for anyone' - Chris Potter
'The Story' - The Story (Lars Dietrich, John Escreet...)
'Sabotage and Celebration' - John Escreet
'I remember Chet' - Eric Le Lann
'Ok Computer' - Radiohead
'The opposite side of the sea' - Oren Lavie
'Trä' - Hedningarna
To mention a few!!!
Question 10 - What music are you listening to at the moment?
'Imaginary room' by Adam Baldych it's one of the best albums I heard in recent times. Marius Neset is on the album too and he is definitely one of my favourite tenor players of the moment.
I'm a big fan of John Escreet and his latest album 'Sabotage and Celebration' is great.
There's also this guitarist called Nelson Veras. It's Brazilian but settled in Paris for many years. One of the most interesting guitarists I heard in a long time.
Question 11 - What motivates you to focus on creative music?
I think creative music has two main dimensions. One more individual and another one more spiritual and universal.
The first is what will make you stand out from the crowd (well...most of the time). By making something new and different you are presenting your own voice and identity. This is extremely important, specially nowadays where there is such an abundance of new musicians and bands. If you don't stand out it might be very difficult to get noticed and open your place in the "industry".
The second one is a bit more exoteric and has to do with the art form itself.
By being creative and pushing the boundaries you are contributing to the evolution of that art form.
Personally I think I'm not as creative as I would like.
Even though creativity it's something very important and always on my mind, it can be very tricky and can leave me stuck in a situation where nothing I do is original and innovative enough.
Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?
I guess one comes to mind. In a legendary Jazz Club in Lisbon call "Hot Clube" back in 2009. We were playing some of my music and the band was a mix of musicians from England, Portugal and Luxembourg.
The club was in a dark and charming basement full of pictures of musicians who performed there in past years. It was the first jazz club in Portugal and if I'm not wrong, one of the first in Europe. All the world's biggest jazz stars had visited the place
Well, it was packed and the audience completely immersed in the music. Pure silence in the quieter moments and it almost felt like a rock concert whenever the music got heavy. Beautiful.
Question 13 - Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?
I remember one Pat Metheny gig in particular where he played for almost five hours non stop. Was in Portugal many years ago, quite impressive.
Also the first time I heard Kurt Rosenwinkel. Was in some Jazz festival in Myron Walden's band. I never heard of him before and completely blew me away.
Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?
I use a Telecaster or my Ibanez Archtop for more traditional Jazz stuff.
Usually plugged into a Fender Blues Jr amp. I have another amp made by a friend of mine which I want to start using more. It's called vexel and it's a great amp, just have to find a good speaker for it.
With pedals it's quite simple for now. Line6 delay, Rat distortion and a Ernie Ball VP Jr volume pedal.
I will get more into the pedals thing at some point but usually just don't have much patience for it
Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?
There's so many musicians!! Well let's start with some London based people.
Dan Nicholls is pianist who is doing extremely interesting music.
James Allsopp likewise. In fact most things from the loop collective people is worth checking out.
Zhenya Strigalev, he seems to be on a permanent tour now with some heavy American guys. Besides being a virtuoso sax player, he writes surprisingly good music.
Question 16 - What's your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?
I usually try to keep an interest in all sorts art forms and anything that might inspire me somehow. Merely as a spectator though.
When it comes to being actively involved I mainly do "Capoeira" which is a Brazilian dance/martial art. It involves music too and there is quite a strong analogy with Jazz. It's also mainly improvisation within a language.
Question 17 - What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?
I don't know much about the Jazz scenes throughout the rest of the UK unfortunately.
I mainly know about London and it's a very big and diverse scene. There is lots of amazing musicians coming and going and making very interesting and varied music. It's very inspiring!
The only negative side of it is just the lack of audience. Maybe due to the fact that London is thriving with cultural activity making it quite hard to draw a significant amount of the public's attention when there is so many other things happening at the same time.
Question 18 - Have you got any tips for jazz promoters?
Maybe to start replying to emails, even if just to say that they received it.
Question 19 - What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?
Dan Nicholls and Dave Smith duo "The Srobes"
Question 20 – Have you got anything you'd like to promote?
My upcoming tour in March with my Quintet and subsequently the Sound Cellar gig on the 6th of March