Freddie Bryant - a musical kaleidoscope
Freddie Bryant´s band is named "Kaleidoscope" and its main-focus is in Jazz and Brasilian music. But there is much more to be found in the music of this multi-talented guitarist: he studied jazz, plays classical guitar, has been on stage and recorded with Salif Keita, Giora Feidman and Tom Harrel. The numerous musical fields in which he is involved comprise Afro-Rock, Funk, Klezmer, Jazz and Brasilian music - and they continue to influence the way he approaches the guitar.
Carina Prange and Freddie Bryant did this e-mail-interview - in advance to Freddies concert in the A-Trane, Berlin on the 22th of March 2001.
Carina: When and why did you decide to combine Jazz and Brasilian music?
Freddie: I had always studied the acoustic guitar, i.e. the classical or Spanish guitar. This is an instrument that is very common and natural in Brazilian music. One day, about ten years ago, a Danish bass player friend of mine asked me to do a gig with this great Brazilian drummer named Portinho. He has played with many Brazilian stars and he is very active in the New York City scene.
My friend asked me to bring my classical guitar, but I told him that I didn't play jazz on that instrument ... - I preferred to bring my electric guitar! He convinced me, and I had such a wonderful time floating over the grooving, syncopated rhythms of Portinho's drumming. It changed my life and the direction of my music. I started to play Brazilian music, but I continued to write my own original compositions. So I feel that I did not try to copy Brazilian music, but that I let it influence my own music!
Carina: How did you come into contact with the Berlin Jazz-Scene?
Freddie: I did the "natural search" for jazz clubs around Germany and hooked up with the A-Trane. It happened that a percussionist friend of mine had just moved to Berlin. His name is Kevin Burrell and he will play with me. He connected me with Martin Lillich, a German bass player - and that will be the trio on March 22nd!
Carina: You have had a lot of classical training - how does that influence your style of "jazz-worldmusic-guitar-playing"?
Freddie: This classical technique is different to the Jazz technique that I use on the acoustic guitar, but it is at the "root" of my playing. I mean that the techniques are a little different, but the classical technique helps me create the new jazz/world music technique!
I am still working on it - refining it. The aspect that I feel the classical technique helps me most, is in the sound - sound production and tone. Besides playing fast and accurate, getting a good tone is probably the most important thing musicians have to deal with.
Carina: Wherefrom do you get so many musical ideas?
Freddie: I just "let it flow" ... - sometimes I won't write music for months and months, but then the muse returns! My improvising is often influenced by the musicians around me ... - we give each other ideas and inspiration.
Carina: How would you define your special sound?
Freddie: I think it is really Jazz: spontaneous improvisational music. But the rhythms are an important aspect of it! Underneath you can hear Brazilian, Spanish, African, and Middle-Eastern rhythms and influences. The jazz rhythms are still there also. I love rhythms and melody and harmony ... - I guess that's music!
Carina: When and how did you meet Tom Harrel?
Freddie: Actually, I went to a gig of his and gave him my first CD for the Fresh Sound label (from Spain). He liked it and called me to work with him. I was very honored and surprised ... - that kind of thing doesn't happen too often!
Freddie Bryant & Kaleidoscope - "Live at Smoke"
Carina: Where would you say are your roots - in jazz or in classical music?
Freddie: Both! - I started playing classical music at an early age on the piano. My parents were classical musicians and I "turned pages" for my father since I was six years old. When I started learning guitar, it was only a few years until I started learning the blues and jazz chords and scales. By the time I was twelve I was deeply into both styles!
Carina: After "Kaleidoscope" - what is going to come next?
Freddie: I want to do a CD with vocal music. Some of the words I'll write - and some I'll find - in Brazilian, Spanish or English poetry. I also want to do this project with three singers - in three languages. But this is a long term goal! It will take me time to finish it ...
Carina: Would you call your band a "working band"? What is this in essence - what meaning do "these kind" of bands have today?
Freddie: A "working band" is one that "knows each other". Where the players can feel and understand each others ideas and emotions on the stage. It is rare today - no one can afford, or has enough work for a working band - so everyone is a "free-lance musician". But over the years you get to know many people well. Slowly it becomes clear who knows your music well - and who has great empathy with the music! I am lucky that if have had the opportunity to work with the musicians in "Kaleidoscope", they are very special.
CD: Freddie Bryant & Kaleidoscope - "Live at
Freddie Bryant in the Internet: www.jazzcorner.com/bryant/index.html
Foto, Cover: n.n.