PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: NORMA WINSTONE

Norma Winstone is one of the most influential singers of our time. She certainly influenced me and my music in a big way. Her record “Somewhere Called Home” is one of my most favorite albums of all time. Furthermore Azimuth, all of her work with my late teacher John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and so much more has been a deep source of inspiration for me throughout the years and I go back to those records regularly. Even before I started this interview series I had a strong desire to talk to her about her music. My friend Kit Downes kindly put us together and we went from there. Just days after this conversation Norma came to my trio gig at King’s Place in London and checked out our music. I was really touched by that gesture and I think it speaks volumes about what kind of person Norma is. I’m thrilled I got to talk to her. Hope you enjoy!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: BILL CARROTHERS

Bill Carrothers has been a big influence on me since my teenage years. I first heard him on Bill Stewart‘s classic record “Telepathy” which completely turned me around. From then on I tried to find as much recordings of Bill that I could. I remember finding lots of help and inspiration in a transcript a lesson that he gave. (you can find this on his website).

As I tell Bill right in the beginning of this interview, anyone who’s serious about harmony and this music in general should listen to him! I know hearing his music changed me forever!

We talked for a long time and Bill was very generous, giving lots of insights into his process + he even plays a couple of things at the piano during our conversation! I hope you enjoy!!

 

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: LIONEL LOUEKE

I first became aware of Lionel Loueke’s playing on records by Gretchen Parlato, Terence Blanchard and of course through closely following everything that Herbie Hancock was up to. I was completely blown away and wanted to know more about him. That led me to check out his own record “Virgin Forest” and then when it came out I obsessed over “Karibu”– I still go back to that album regularly! All of the stuff he’s done since is amazing. In fact, his new album is released today!

I really admire his unique approach to the guitar and his musicality in general. Lionel is doing things I never heard anybody else do – he’s a true innovator! I was very excited to talk to him. Hope you enjoy this conversation!

 

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: JOEY BARON

Joey Baron has been one of my biggest heroes since my teenage years. I saw him live for the first time in 2004 with John Abercrombie’s quartet at the Domicil in Dortmund and I’ll never forget this concert! During that time I was listening a lot to Abercrombie’s quartet album “Class Trip” and John Taylor’s record “Rosslyn” (my favorite JT album). There are so many records I love that feature his infectious drumming… too many to name them all. Also, I went to see Joey’s fantastic band “Killer Joey” lots of times when they came to play in Cologne, which was always an memorable experience, to say the least. He’s one of my all time favorite musicians for sure!!

I was amazed of how open Joey was to share all of his memories and to give insights into his process. And he was so generous with this time: After two hours of talking to him I said: “I hope you know that you don’t HAVE to keep talking to me! We can stop if you like, OK?” He just smiled and see “No it’s fine, I made time for this” – we kept on talking for another two hours!!

After I had started to edit the interview, I realized there was so much stuff in there that it would be hard to cut it into the usual one-hour-format, so I’ll be sharing the interview divided into four parts. Subscribe to my YouTube channel in order to be notified when there’s a new part available. Hope you enjoy!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: KEVIN HAYS

Kevin Hays is one of my absolute favorite piano players, period! The first time I saw him live was in 1996 on a concert of John Scofield‘s Quiet Band and this made a deep impression on me. I’ve been following Kevin’s playing very closely since then. Out of his own records “Andalucia”, “Seventh Sense”,“El Matador” and “For Heaven’s Sake” are my personal favorites, but I do love all the other ones, too! If those records would have been LPs I think I would have worn them all out a couple of times by now. I’ve studied Kevin’s work with Chris Potter, Al Foster, Bill Stewart, Bob Belden, Seamus Blake and many more. He’s outstanding as a soloist as well as an accompanist, a complete musician!

In our conversation we talk about his work with John Scofield, Sonny Rollins and Roy Haynes, his touch, rhythmic variety in his playing, going for a personal approach on standards and a lot more. However, the main theme throughout seemed to be finding one’s own voice. Hope you enjoy!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: KATHRIN PECHLOF

I got to know harpist Kathrin Pechlof sometime in 2008 when she moved to Cologne, we quickly became friends and started playing together in various groups. I was very fortunate to have her on my album GLOW which we recorded in 2010 for Pirouet Records. Furthermore we played together in Niels Klein’s project LOOM and with the EOS Kammerorchester.

In recent years Kathrin has done wonderful things with the Kathrin Pechlof Trio (with Robert Landfermann and Christian Weidner). They just released their second trio album  “Toward The Unknown” on Pirouet Records. (Highly recommended!)

Kathrin constantly pushes the envelop of what a harpist can do in Jazz & Improvised music. In a way there’s no precedent for what she’s doing, Kathrin is a true musical pioneer!

I deeply admire her music and I’m very thankful to include her in this interview series.

Again, my sincere gratitude to Samuel Gawlowski who contributed the english subtitles for this video!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: CHRIS POTTER

I first heard Chris Potter’s music sometime in my teenage years. I immediately became a fan, trying to get all his records as a leader and as a sideman. There’s always something to learn from Chris’ playing… in a way I always feel encouraged to work on something after I’ve listened to him. Especially his records “Gratitude”, “Lift: Live at the Village Vanguard”, “Traveling Mercies”“Unspoken” and “Presenting Chris Potter” were deep sources of inspiration for me. Moreover I loved his playing on records of Dave Holland, Paul Motian, Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler, Alex Sipiagin, Adam Rogers, Antonio Farao, Scott Colley, Billy Drummond, John Patitucci (oh yes – “Now” was a big one for me!) and on lots of bootlegs as well. I heard Chris live very often, but a particularly amazing concert I saw was John Scofield‘s quartet with Chris, Dennis Irwin and Bill Stewart at the Stadtgarten in Cologne. I’ll always remember this!

In 2013 I’ve had the great fortune of playing with Chris Potter on a short tour as a featured guest of my trio and later on in 2016 I went on tour through Europe with his own quartet. I had been following his music closely, so getting to play with him was not only a dream come true but also a deep learning experience for me, to say the least!

Now, I’m really happy I got to include Chris in this series of interviews. We talk about his impeccable ear-brain-instrument connection, composing, leading a band, working with Paul Motian, Dave Holland and Herbie Hancock, how to overcome periods of self-doubt and much more.

 

Towards the end of our conversation I asked Chris to share a story about Ornette Coleman that he had told me a couple of years before. Unfortunately the video was failing us at that point, but I din’t want to miss the opportunity to share this story with all of you at least in the audio format. Here it is.

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: BILL STEWART

You’ll see me geeking out here a little in my conversation with master drummer & composer Bill Stewart. I’ve always loved his playing as well as his writing, so it was like a dream come true to get to ask him a few questions and talk about music with him. We cover a lot of ground here, talking about his records, composing, practicing routines,  memorable concerts, his influences and a lot more. I hope you enjoy!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: HUBERT NUSS

When I decided to start this series of interviews I knew that I had to talk to my mentor and friend Hubert Nuss.

The first time I heard Hubert’s music was when a friend of mine gave me his record “The Shimmering Colours Of The Stained Glass”, I guess this might have been sometime in 2003. At first I didn’t know what to make of it and actually cast it aside for a while. I couldn’t grasp what he was doing, I didn’t know what these mysterious chords were that he played, I couldn’t “hear” them – I was puzzled! Quickly, I felt the urge to go back to it and check it out more, seeking a deeper understanding of what I heard on the record. People told me that Hubert Nuss was deeply influenced by Olivier Messiaen, a name I hadn’t heard until that point. So I did my homework and checked some pieces by Messiaen and also some other records that Hubert played on. This led to me completely falling in love with Hubert’s playing (and of course Messiaen’s music, too)! I couldn’t stop listening to him!! Important records for me during this time were of course Hubert’s own records (“The Shimmering Colours Of The Stained Glass” & “The Underwater Poet”) , but also records by Peter Weniger (“Weirdos” & “Tip Tap”) and “Ouvido” by Alexandra Nauditt (with Hubert, Paul Heller & Dietmar Fuhr).

I’ve had the great pleasure of studying with Hubert for a couple of years and he became my mentor and my friend during this time. We’ve spent countless hours listening to music, hanging and playing together and I’ll cherish these memories forever. Without a doubt he had an immense impact on my musical development and his wisdom remains a deep source of inspiration for me to this day.

Also, I’ve been lucky to get Hubert to play on a couple of my records: GLOW, GLOW II & INVESTIGATIONS which of course means a lot to me.

Sharing this particular conversation gives me a great joy, since it displays a Hubert&Pablo-hang in it’s purest form: talking about music, showing each other stuff at the piano and listening to music together. After every time I get to see Hubert I feel inspired – I hope you feel the same way after watching this.

Big thanks to my friend Samuel Gawlowski who put english subtitles to the video so that everyone who’s not fluent in german can still enjoy the interview!

PABLO HELD INVESTIGATES: LARRY GOLDINGS

What is left to say about the incomparable Larry Goldings that hasn’t been said yet?

Frankly, after having shared a couple of these interviews + having written personal introductions to each one of these, I hope it doesn’t sound too repetitive… Why? Because all the stories of what happens when I’m inspired by someone share the same plot: I listen to someone for the first time, get inspired, I try to check out as much concerts/records/interviews/videos/etc as I can… I’ll transcribe songs, look for bootlegs, read the biography, I’ll try to check out the stuff that this person was influenced by… I’ll do everything that helps me understand this person’s process and I’ll do this with everyone that interests me.

This is why all the stories may sound a bit alike. I hope that’s OK.

So back to Larry.

When I was a kid I was listening to Larry’s playing on John Scofield’s masterpiece record “Hand Jive”. Later when I was getting into playing the piano myself I used to play a long with it a lot. The line up, the repertoire and the amazing playing by Larry on organ and piano just put a spell on me. While my parents became fans of Larry’s music I followed them along, listening a lot to Larry’s own “Intimacy Of the Blues”, Scofield’s “Groove Elation”, Michael Brecker’s “Time Is Of The Essence” and other records. After a while I had most of Larry’s records, either through my parents or through my own purchases. My favorite Larry Goldings Trio record was always “Sweet Sience” and though I love everything that Larry has done, I have a special soft spot for this particular record. There was a time where I would only listen to my three favorite songs from that record : “Asimov”, “This Guy’s In Love With You” and “Spring Is Here” on repeat … to this day I still go back to that record a lot and I keep noticing news things in the music – it keeps on giving!

When I was 17 years old I had a lesson with great pianist and composer Florian Ross and he played me “Sticky Mack” from Larry’s piano trio record “Awareness”, a record that I didn’t know until that point. I was blown away! I’d say that “Awareness” is one of my top five favorite piano trio records of all time!

I got to talk to Larry a couple of times after concerts of him that I attended and he was always very kind and generous in sharing his memories when I asked him about stuff. This is our first lengthy conversation and I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for talking to me, Larry!