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.
Zbigniew Seifert: Recently I worked less than 3-4 years ago. Simply, I focused
on working on two records. One of them I recorded in the U.S. for CAPITOL and
right after the second one for MPS in Germany. I needed a lot of concentration
while preparing this material, discussing it with producers, etc. Right now, I
played pretty similar repertoire to one I recorded but there was some problem.
Namely, it is hard to reproduce this repertoire with different musicians you
made records with. I want to say that these people are not worse but less
experienced. Also it was hard to play it live because I felt it was not so
entertaining comparing to recordings in studio. These were minor problems but
made me stop playing so often.
Interviewer (Antoni Krupa): From what you said, I understand you got your own
band because all these recordings were made with musicians you had chosen
exclusively for it?
ZS: Unfortunately it happened that way. I tried to go on tour in fall with guys
I made record for MPS: Billy Hart (percussion), Cecil McBee (bass), and Joachim
Kuehn (piano). We had to call it off for many reasons. We did not manage to play
on Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw and on Zaduszki in Cracow. We did not make it but I
believe that it is possible to organize at least one tour per year in Europe
with such musicians I talked about. Iím aware that it canít be a regular
band because for instance these musicians played with stars like Stan Getz, etc.
They are pretty busy considering that music is the only thing they do for
living. Apart from that, I have one 'changeable' group that works for almost
three years and it is called Various Spheres.
INT: What does it mean?
ZS: It means crazy spheres or something. We invented the name ourselves.
INT: You working with these people? Who is playing in that band?
ZS: There was Janusz Stefański,
Hans Hartmann -Swiss bassist and Belgian pianist Michel Heer. In the second
'lineup' there was Adelhard Reudinger (bass), Lala Kovacev- percussionist from
Max Greger`s Orchestra and also a great friend of mine. Right now, we are not
playing at all therefore I cant say who is going to play next time.
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
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
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.
INT: What do you think about records you made so far and which one satisfies you
ZS: It is the record made in Europe in Germany for MPS. It is simply the record
on which I placed all my musical dreams and desires from recent time. Iím
absolutely proud of this record.
INT: It is titled...
ZS: Man of the light
INT: Who is playing on it with you?
ZS: Billy Hart (percussion), Cecil McBee (bass), Joachim Kuehn (acoustic piano)
Jasper van Hoef (Yamaha keyboard)
INT: Jasper Van Hoef is well-known for Polish audience because couple of times
he played here. And even recently he was in Cracow with his band Toto Blanke
Electrics. Unforgettable impressions from this concert that was played in 'Pod
Jaszczurami' club. So , thank you for coming , thank you for this interview and
I want to wish you not to have more problems with completing musicians to play
along with. And I wish you to release as many records as possible. Also we would
like to see you and your band playing concerts in Poland. I think it is possible...
ZS: As soon as there some good tournee with good musicians is coming, Iíll
definitely come to Poland.
INT: Thank you