Jazz At Sunset
Interview with Nobuko Kiryu, vocalistOrlando McAllister(OM): Nobuko, you are an emerging jazz artist, but still, I notice you know many people.
Nobuko Kiryu(NK): I have a lot of girlfriends who support me. And I know a lot of musicians and learn a lot from older musicians.
OM: What do you learn from older musicians?
OM: Who are you studying with, and please name the musicians who played with you on "Jazz at Sunset".
OM: What do you know about the tradition of jazz? How is it received in Japan?
OM: Do you come from a family of musicians?
OM: Can you name them for me?
OM: Who were your parent's jazz inspirations?
OM: Nobuko, I wanted to know about the Japanese song that you did, in terms of the origin of it, and how you segue right into the jazz idiom from that.
OM: Tell me more about the Japanese song.
OM: Does it ever happen that Japanese traditional scales are actually incorporated into jazz?
OM: For the future, do you imagine writing or arranging jazz songs that include Japanese language, Japanese melodies or other aspects of Japanese music?
NK: Billie Holiday, she's great. And I also love Abbey Lincoln. She's great too.
OM: So you want to keep the tradition of jazz alive. Are you composing to keep that tradition alive?
OM: Is there a CD in the making?
OM: So fans out there can look forward to your CD.
OM: How many traditional jazz standards do you have under your belt? Is it over 50?
OM: Tell me an area where you find some of your hardest challenges.
OM: Apart from English pronunciation, what have been the major challenges in your jazz training and in your efforts to be a good jazz performer?
OM: What are things you most enjoy about working in music and in jazz?
OM: You're doing a wonderful job. You really are.
OM: What message would like to give to the Japanese people from my website?
Jazz at Sunset
Santi Debriano interviewed by Tamm E. Hunt on
OMC's "Jazz At Sunset" cable show in NYC
Interview with Santi Debriano
Santi DeBriano (SD): Thank you.
TH: ... You're an educator, a musician, a musician's son, the father of a musician, and the husband of an artist. What is it exactly that you're striving for musically?
SD: Well, I suppose the easiest way to put it, I just want to be excellent at what I do.
TH: Musical excellence.
SD: That's all.
TH: What does an ethnomusicologist do?
SD: Ethnomusicology is the study that combines anthropology and music, usually it is through the traditional music of indigenous people throughout the world. It's a discipline that prepares people to study obtrusively the customs and music of the people. Generally, ethnomusicology observes very carefully different techniques of world culture recordings through field observation. It's also a cultural aspect of observing how music interacts with the general culture of the people they choose to study.
TH: ...I understand that you played with Chu Chu Valdez... You are from the Republic of Panama and your father is Alonzo Wilson, 'Mambo King.' You received a Master's degree from Wesleyan College in Connecticut, Union College and New England Conservatory...
SD: I went to Union College for four years, from there I went to New England Conservatory. I interrupted my studies at New England to go on tour with Archie Shepp. I spent four years with Archie Shepp.
TH: Let us talk about your dad, Alonzo Wilson. What is his instrument?
SD:He is a pianist and a composer. He didn't make his career in music, he's teaching in public schools in New York. When we were in Panama he had a thriving career as a composer of popular songs.
TH: It's clear that education is important in your household.
SD: Yes, my mother is an educator also.
TH: I understand that your son plays the guitar.
SD: My son Dorian is five years old. He has a drum set, congas, shakers, a piano, and a guitar. He's too young to mess around with my bass, but as soon as he gets a chance to he'll be on his way.
TH: ...Your wife is a painter. How does that fit into your world of music?
SD: She's done three of my album covers. Many times people say to me, "I bought your record because of the album cover." It's a good thing the music was good.
TH: Did you have an album released...?
SD: ...[In 1999] I had two records released. The first to appear was the Euphoria Trio. Euphoria is a cooperative with Paul Meyers, Von Dule, and myself. My second one was released in May and that one was called "Circle Chant", which is my band that I play with around New York City quite often.
TH: Someone described you as a well-known sideman. I looked at your discography and you are not the usual sideman. You have record deals and you have been out there. What is in the future for "Circle Chant?"
SD: The idea behind "Circle Chant" is the circle shout or ring shout that goes back to the most indigenous cultures, especially the African cultures who have always done things out of a circle.... They would sit around a circle if they were performing a healing, theatrical presentations, telling a story, or preparing sacrifice for the hunt. They would form circles and even formed circles to eat dinner.
TH: Is there a focus in the center of the circle?
SD: Most often, something is in the center.
TH: As with food?
SD: Right, fire or a healer. The general notion is that you form a circle and then something magical takes place inside of the circle.
TH: Are you inside the circle with the band?
SD: The music with the band is coming in contact and forming a circle. We are like a family. We are very tight-knit, and I always try to call the same people. We know how each other moves and breaths. We have been working on it for some time. I am happy with the group and everyone that involves themselves with it.
TH: You have Latin roots, you are Panamanian, and your dad is a mambo king. You clearly have a sense of the center of your music being the rhythm of Africa. How does that affect you as being a straight-ahead artist? Where does Bebop come in?
SD: I learned my craft through Bebop. Bebop is what put me on the map. Not only bebop, but also the whole legacy of jazz has informed me. When you listen to my music, I hope you do not think of it as Latin Jazz, it's just music. I am proud to be a jazz musician associated with the history and legacy of jazz music, and hope other people will take it that way because it is improvisation.
TH: I think we have to be careful about the labels we place on music, musicians, and composers with different styles of music. We're in a century with Duke Ellington, who indeed was a diverse composer. How do you find the influence of Duke Ellington in your life and your music?
SD: He is one of the essential influences. I remember being a child listening to him and watching him on the Ed Sullivan Show. I felt a sense of pride. I felt like I was being uplifted by seeing this Black figure with his band not only playing so well but speaking very eloquently. It was a remarkable sight and something to make you feel proud.
TH: You are a young man in this music business but then indeed, you are a future elder of the business. The whole future of jazz depends on you and those of us that have been working on it for the last twenty-five years or longer. Where do you think the future of jazz is headed in terms of the twenty-first century?
SD: I can only tell you where I hope that it is going. It will expand and incorporate more influences. If Jazz becomes more specific to a certain stylistic groove or stylistic interpretation then it's really shortchanging its possibilities. I feel a tremendous sense of encouragement and excitement when I see that the Indians have been able to see something in jazz and understand the philosophy behind it.
TH: Are you referring to the East Indians?
SD: Sure, or the American Indians, or the French, and the Japanese are working on it for themselves. Jazz is worldwide now, and that is a wonderful thing because you're getting all types of Jazz music coming. I have to mention the African musicians performing Jazz as well.
SD: This is a music that is related to African music. African music came to this country then it went back to Africa and influenced musicians over there and now they are creating jazz.
TH: Ladies and gentlemen, we're listening to Santi Debriano -- bassist extraordinaire.
producer & technical director
Orlando A. McAllister
Jazz at Sunset
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