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Take Five Minutes with...Hans Koller

Introducing our new blog feature, Take Five Minutes with… This new segment will feature short interviews with artists appearing in our Jazzlines programme. First up we have the great pianist and composer Hans Koller, who will be performing at CBSO Centre on Saturday 12 March.

1. When and how did you come to start playing music and then how did you get into jazz?

Initially, with my family at home and then I got the jazz bug at a jazz summer school, when I was 16.

2. What are your fondest musical memories?

When I was a kid, my father once played Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis, and then veered off into improvised counterpoint. I can’t remember if it sounded any good but I loved the audacity as I didn’t know you were allowed to fiddle with music. It changed everything for me, it even made football a bit ordinary in comparison.

3. Tell us a bit about the path of your musical development. How did you get to where you are today?

I always love listening to jazz but also there is a lot of practising, a lot of hanging out and going to gigs as well as being in bands and around the music.

4. When you are composing, what are the key elements do you aim to incorporate in your music?

Normally, I study the context and get all the technical details somehow into my system. Then after waiting around for ages, when the time is right, I just start without being aware of particular elements, more like observing the flow of the music and molding the feeling of the music. Trying not to force it, just letting it happen.

5. Which musicians/bands/composers have had a key influence on you and your music?

Of course all the great records, old and new, but Steve Lacy and Bob Brookmeyer are two musicians that have directly taught me, interfered with me, so to speak. It was only a few days with each of them, and I was already in my 30s but things changed for me since. They re-set my learning, or better, they made me more aware of the learning process that is possible in a life in music. The experience gave me the confidence to embrace the whole thing whole-heartedly.

6. If you were introducing a friend to jazz music for the first time, what 3 artists or albums would you recommend to them?

Thelonious Monk – Live at the Five Spot, Miles Davis – Filles de Kilimanjaro and Keith Jarrett – Belonging

7. Please tell us about any musical ambitions you have for the future?

Ultimately, I would love to be able to play more freely and at the same time I really want to understand much more. I feel I’m always at the beginning but then each day is a new day.