I had the good fortune to review Tim Collins Castles and Hilltops at All About Jazz and was so captivated by the release that I had a few additional questions for Collins and he was kind enough to field them for us!
Covering the Tom Petty and Bjork tunes, are these some personal favorites or did you search out some tunes you thought might lend themselves to where you are in terms of arranging.
"The Anchor Song' (Bjork) is one of my all time favorite pieces- it's so simple that it really touches me in a way that I just can't explain. I can't tell if the lyrics are incredibly happy or incredibly sad. As far as the arrangement of it, I just played it over and over on the piano until some accidental ideas developed from it- I didn't want to think about it to much. I wanted it to be emotional and beautiful and hard to explain, like the original version is to me. With 'Into the Great Wide Open' (Petty), it's another great, simple song that I just loved and wanted to play. We actually played it exactly as Tom Petty does, only a bit slower and I added sort of a final 'rock-out' section to it. But a great melody like that certainly doesn't need my help."
Since moving to Germany, compare and contrast the jazz artistic scene. What are the major differences?
"Well there are great musicians here, but the way that the scene operates is completely different. In New York, there are lots of clubs and musicians all in one place. There's a lot of mix and match- musicians play together in lots of different settings, and there is a lot of spontaneity. Because the scene in Europe is much more spread out, it means less spontaneity. On the other hand, my personal experience in two years here has been that I play less frequently, but almost every gig I've played has been a real concert - I haven't done many bar gigs. And the jazz audiences here are quite large and they like to buy CDs- they don't even know what iTunes is."
The group on Castles and Hilltops has chemistry that just leaps out at you, but what do you enjoy doing the most and why? Performing, composing, etc?
"Thanks- it is a great band, no question about it. I love playing with them! It all depends on the music for me- if I'm working in some capacity with music that I really like, whether it's teaching, composing, performing, etc, then I'm happy. In terms of performing, my favorite thing is to surprise people. If we play a set of standards to a 'jazz' audience, and then play something like 'The Tunnel' or 'Into the Great Wide Open' without announcing it, people come up to me on the break asking about it. It just proves to me that people will expand their tastes when they are surprised."
Whom do you most closely associate yourself with from a compositional standpoint?
"I'm not sure- when I'm composing most of the time I'm singing and playing piano, so in that respect I feel more like a songwriter. I've tried to internalize a lot of music- with the idea being that if I compose there will be many diverse influences surfacing in an unforced way (of course this is rare!:). But when I make an album I want the whole album to have a strong mood to it, which is something that I think Bjork does really well. All of her albums have a particular sound and mood, but at the same time they are all unmistakably Bjork albums."
Jazz in America is having a tough go of it...Last in pre-recorded sales. America's one true indigenous art form and we can not give it away. What happened?
"I think it has to do with the fact that jazz used to be 'people music' and it has become 'musician's music'. But I disagree with the idea that 'normal people' wouldn't like to hear something new and creative. If that were true, there wouldn't be highly creative people creating music in other genres either. To me, the only important thing about music is whether or not I'd like to hear it again. I've heard lots of music in lots of genres that I don't need to hear again. And my goal as a composer is to compose music that I myself would like to hear again - whether it's called 'jazz' or not is not my concern."
Whats up next?
"I'm not quite sure- I have had several ideas on the back-burner for some time. I'm currently writing some music for solo marimba, and I have some music that I've written for vibes and string quartet that I would like to record. After two years living in the heart of the classical music world, I'm feeling an urge to somehow incorporate that influence a bit."
A huge thank you to Tim Collins! Castles and Hilltops is one of my year end favorites and I hope you take a peak at the review and enjoy the You Tube video from the release. For more information go to www.timcollinsmusic.com