Gypsy Jazz new wave of talent: Interview with Adrien Marco

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Adrien Marco is one of the new wave Gypsy Jazz talented musicians around and he is currently crowd funding his second studio album. He’s a very humorous, cheerful and delightful human being who is playing Django’s music and adding original tunes to he’s repertoire. Here’s a pleasant and fulfilling meeting with Adrien Marco.

 http://adrienmarcotrio.com

1 – What have inspired you into playing music?

I started by playing guitar. I saw a guitar on a friend’s bedroom and I asked him if I could try it for a few days: “can I borrow your guitar for a couple of days?” – I said. “I would love to try it but I’ve never played before!” Nine years later, I still have this guitar at home with he’s agreement, of course. When he saw that I liked it he offered me his guitar.

I remember the first evening after bringing the guitar home. It was like Christmas Eve. I don’t know why, but I felt like I wanted the next day to arrive faster, just like in Christmas Eve. I wanted to start playing to discover this instrument. The first time I played some chords was magic. The feeling I had, the sound, the vibration … I loved all about it.

5 or 6 months later I heard Stochelo Rosenberg playing “Ou est tu mon Amour?” In this moment my eyes were filled with tears (a looooot!) and I said to myself “I want to do this music”.

Later I heard Django playing and I thought the same thing. I used to listen to a lot of music when I was young: Funk, Toto, Police, Scorpion, Hip Hop, Italian music (my origins), but I never heard this kind of music before… Jazz Manouche. I felt I could relate to all of the emotions Django explored in his music because that is who I am. I told myself that I needed to play this music. The feeling was natural to me.

2 – What have influenced you over the years?

Nowadays Italian music (or so-called Italian-American music), Django Reinhardt, and Jazz influence me. But I also listen to Hip-hop (for instance, Gangstarr, or even non acknowledged DJ’s) I listen to a lot of different styles of music, but for me they are all one thing only: “Music”!

I can’t actually read music scores. I just play by ear, listening and seeing other musicians playing. Later on, some gypsies came to me and we befriend quickly. I also learnt by playing with them. For me playing with ears and heart is the best school.

3 – You’re currently fundraising the release of your newest album. What can you tell about the project and the music?

With the recording of this new project, I focus on my musical influences, just like I did on the first album, but I aim to go beyond. In this new CD I want to reveal who I am, so we play Italian music covers in a Gypsy style. We have some surprises for the public! We also play Italian-American music, original compositions, and of course, Sinti music because this is the music that has been in my heart since the beginning.

It was time for the Trio to record a new project, and to have a new album, containing all the new things we worked after the first record in 2013. We will work hard to create something special and typical coming from Adrien Marco Trio.

http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/adrien-marco-trio-nouvel-album

4 – What motivated you to keep practicing?

To be able to play whatever I want. That’s what continues to motivate me. Today I see music not just as a hobby, but a part of me. I see the guitar as a continuation of me, I see the guitar as a part of my body. I also feel the urge to play, to feel vibrations in my body, to feel the left hand on the guitar.

5 – What were the biggest challenges you have faced in order to progress in your practice, performance and musical career?

The right hand is one of the biggest challenges for playing this music 🙂 I did a lot of targeted practice for my right hand. And the other challenge I find VERY important is to get good sound and playing with heart and passion. This music can’t be played without these elements.

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6 – Do you remember your practice process when you started playing?

I used a weight for the right wrist at the beginning. As you might imagine, it was impossible to play comfortably, but I wanted to practice with it in order to play more loosely afterwards. I started understanding a lot of things with this method, but it’s hard to explain. Precision, regular motion… It was my method during some months, the firsts months.

I also worked a lot on my sound. I used to play slowly, taking my time, working the sound of each note I played.

It took a lot of time to understand how this music had to be played. Right hand, left hand, sound… I used to listen music from a lot of Videos or CD’s, and I worked by listening.

 

7 – About the weight in the right wrist, is that a common way to practice amongst the gypsies or did you came up with the idea yourself? Is it something you advise your students to do? 

It’s a little strange, this method, I know 🙂 But it was my own method to understand how the wrist moves.

I did this to practice my wrist, to learn how to be “déstabilisé” (destabilized), and study the sound with the weight. Now it is something I suggest to my students in order for them to understand the wrist movement by feeling it.

This practice is very difficult, because you have to be extremely precise. There is no choice or way out. So after using this method, when you start playing without the weight, you see you can add more feeling to your playing and the execution of the movements are simpler.

I used it for a few months, and explored my own way to practice. This allowed me to understand the feeling you need to play this music and how it comes from the right hand. I totally advise it for my students. Just try it a few times in order to understand how the right wrist moves are so important.

8 – Tell us about your routines. How does a regular day in your life looks like?

Guitar, friends, guitar, food, guitar, documentary, guitar, movies, management of my trio, concerts, travel, guitar, road, guitar…! 🙂

I practice a lot. I start playing my guitar and I look for new phrases, chords, ideas. I also play concerts regularly.

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9 – How do you balance work and rest? How long are your working sessions and pauses?

Usually I practice guitar from 1 hour up to 4 hours per day. It depends on my agenda. If I have to travel for concerts, I have no time; I just play 15 minutes. If I’m at home I play many more hours.

Some days I practice sound, other days I practice rhythm, scales or arpeggios and the like.

10 – What do you value the most in the music/musicians you love to listen? What key ingredients you love to hear when listening to music?

I value emotion, precision and ideas. I love musicians who give it all while playing the music. Ideas are important, however, when it’s just to show off the theory, without emotions, it’s boring. When they play with ideas AND heart, that’s what I love.

11 – You put an emphasis in getting a good sound from the instrument and it shows in your music. How do you develop THE sound, your personal sound? Is it more focused on technique, ear training or something else?

It revolves around 3 things. Firstly you have to work the right hand technique. This is not for you to become a faster player but to feel all the elements of the pick hitting the string. You have to study the sound you make. Later it becomes natural.

Secondly you have to focus on the left hand. A lot of people don’t pay much attention to it; they just play notes and scales, forgetting other elements like the vibrato or the dynamics of playing strong or soft. This is where you’ll find a big part of playing with emotion and sound!

Lastly, we must also consider the energy we use to play “La Pompe” rhythm with the left hand. A lot of people think that it’s the right hand that does all the work but not exactly. The left hand also contributes to “La Pompe”, as a heart pumping blood to the whole body. The left hand muscle does the same thing as a heart and has to be regular and strong. The same goes for soloing.

I understood this by analyzing videos of great players, or my gipsy friends when I played with them. It’s extremely important to understand the way they play this music to be able to play it too. Afterwards, I worked my own sound and I continue to work it to this day.

12 – Do you meditate? Do you perform any kind of practice or activity that pulls you towards a more focused, clear or mindful state?

No but I should! 🙂 I’ve done Sophrology for some time, though.

 13 – Tell me more about Sophrology, that’s a new concept for me.

I think about Sophrology as a way of meditation. You sit concentrated, and you feel very good feelings. It clears your mind and you forget everything around you in that specific moment. It will allow you to focus on parts of your body and to have more energy. It’s a different kind of meditation process.

14 – What would you consider to be the most important advice or quote you’ve received as a musician?

Django once said that “A guitar laughs and cry like a human”. He said everything with it.

15 – What would you say to someone who is starting to play an instrument?

Practice more and more, and listen to many different styles of music. If you play gipsy style you have to understand that this is a culture before it is music. It’s not just notes, it’s a way of life and a language.

16 – What would you say to Django if you had the chance to meet him?

I would definitely say to him “I admire you as I admire Ayrton Senna, Albert Enstein, Nikola Tesla, Da Vinci, Galileo, and all the guys who influenced their world.”

Also I had to say “thank you for what you gave to us!” 🙂

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Seixal Jazz International Festival 2015: A weekend in Portugal with the Gypsy Jazz Sinti Community

22305456105_4d5ec5bbc9_oThe 16th edition of Seixal Jazz International Festival opened doors to the public on October 16th 2015 presenting, for the first time in Portugal, the Paulus Schafer Trio.

Descendant of the Sinti community, the Gypsy Jazz guitarist performed his first presentation concert of the latest album “Letter To Van Gogh”.

THE CONCERT

The public flooded Seixal’s Municipal Auditorium, which registered a near full house attendance. Such packed crowd hasn’t been registered for a long time in Seixal, especially on opening nights of the Festival. The closest record that comes to mind is Ambrose Akinmusire’s closing concert in 2014.

"I saw the concert advertise on today’s newspaper and I said to myself I couldn’t miss it. It’s so rare to see Gypsy Jazz live music in Portugal. We have to take every opportunity available and keep ourselves close together" (Anonymous – at the end of the concert).

Paulus walked on stage alone with his JWC guitar, timidly applauded by the audience that didn’t seemed to know what to expect from this concert.

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With his guitar tuned in “Drop D” he played the song “Costas”, filling the room with its warm, strong and passionate tone. This inspiring and penetrating moment was likely to create chills down the audience that kept applauding while Romino Grunholtz (rhythm guitar) and Noah Schafer (bass) entered the stage.

The band began playing the Jazz Standard “How High The Moon” which echoed in the memory of many of those present at the Auditorium. The opening relaxed tempo of the song resembled a gentle summer breeze that prepares you for a sweet nap… followed by an exciting and brilliant execution on double time, revealing the soloist virtuosity.

“Paquito”, was the following tune where an intense Groovy Rhythmic Section blended with the long, endless melodic lines from Paulus. The dynamics of his phrasing ranged from a frantic intensity and a progressive relaxation, which gave a renewed spirit to the solo.

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"Paulus had the art to include dynamics and different textures throughout the concert, managing to capture the attention of the listeners. Although he struggled with his English, he communicated well with the audience showing sense of humour and, most of all, humility "(Alcides Miranda – musician).

In “Festival 48” the band played a whole note Pedal, in octaves, that created an expectant tension in the room. Following was an absolutely stunning and very fast explosion of the soloists phrasing, playing triplets over the solid rhythmic base provided by Romino and Noah.

The next song begins with a new pedal, but this time completely different from the previous one. The sound of Paulus guitar resembles a zither. The tempo is fast and it provides Noah Schafer’s his first solo. We should emphasize this moments Groove that lead to a strong and deserved applause from the audience. His solo was worthy of a Jaco Pastorius solo.

“La Roulotte” arises in this context as a gentle, melodious and sweet ballad. It preceded the interpretation of the Gypsy Jazz Anthem, the theme “Minor Swing”, composed by Django Reinhardt. Paulus honours the genius, father of this genre, and the greatest legend among the giants of the giants of Jazz by playing the original solo recorded in 1937. If there were doubts about the ease of Schafer’s skills on improvisation, these were shattered when he started using his left thumb to play the bass notes throughout the solo. That’s when the rhythm shifted to a Gypsy Bossa feel paving the way to Noah Schafer’s solo. Again the reaction came as a vigorous applause from the audience.

Closing the first part, the band played “Paulus Waltz” an original song from the new album” Letter To Van Gogh “. It was noticeable the humour and good spirit from the musicians on stage, always smiling, looking at each other with complicity, revealing a rare to see ease and joy up on a Jazz stage. There was no tension, just naturalness and well-being, as if they were playing in their own home. This was beautiful to witness and the audience responded warmly to this musical conversation.

Still there was time to listen to a traditional theme popularized by Django in 1947 – “Dark Eyes” (also known as “Black Eyes” or “Les Yeux Noir”). The initial “tremolando” raised chills of surprise and expectation on the listeners. Paulus erupts implementing the melody and interpreting the original Reinhardt’s solo followed by Noah’s solo, performed in octaves on bass. Paulus would still return to his improvisation over a “stop chorus” leaving the audience completely surrendered and eager for more to come on the second set.

A SPECIAL GUEST – PORTUGUESE GYPSY JAZZ

"Congratulations! Excellent concert and excellent surprise guest." (Comments amongst friends at the door of the Festival)

Since my first approach made to Paulus Schafer about the possibility of coming to play in Portugal the musician said to me:

“Hi Nuno, great news!!! October 16th The Paulus Schäfer Trio will be there! Do you want to play with us a few songs at the start of the second set? “

I was sitting on the other side of the computer, not knowing how to react or what to say. The feeling of responsibility mingled with the joy for the possibility of joining with these musicians on stage.

I shared my honour for the invitation, and Paulus re-emphasized:

“It should be nice to play some songs together!”

Here’s one of the best musicians in the history of Gypsy Jazz inviting me, a stranger and unknown, to play with him. He didn’t care about my musical level, or my experience, nor my musical qualities… by this time Paulus didn’t even knew I haven’t been practicing with a Gypsy Guitar.

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At around 9 am on the day of the concert, right after picking up Paulus and Romino at the airport (Noah would come later), we were alone over the terrace of a coffee shop near Tejo river, having breakfast, when Romino took his guitar. He held out his arms and said:

“Here, Nuno, play something for us.”

I looked slowly to the offering gesture from Romino, holding out his arms as if he was inviting and accepting me into their musical community. There I was, with a guitar in my hands made in the 50’s, playing for them. Only then I knew, for sure, that later that night these guys were going to call me out to play with them!

The ease and readiness how all of this happened was inspiring. During the day, and in conversation with Romino, he confided to me that everyone was invited to play, no matter their level, technical skills or proficiency. There is no competition amongst musicians in the Sinti community because they all learn from each other.

"If anyone is invited to play and Paulus sees that the guest is not so comfortable on the instrument he won’t start playing all those great things he is able to do. He will not start playing super fast. No, he will play in order to help who is next to him. We all do that."(Romino Grunholtz)

I smiled, happy to feel so much kindness and consideration amongst the Sinti musicians… reminding me, in contrast, so many comments and derogatory attitudes occurred in Jazz Jam Sessions against less experienced musicians.

"I loved the concert and of course the musical performance of our Portuguese Nuno Marinho." (Guta de Carvalho - Photographer) 

For the opening of the 2nd set, the four musicians played “J’attendrai” and “Djangology”. The audience reacted very well, infected by the high sense of responsibility and excitement that the Trio overflowed.

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Django Reinhardt’s “Coquette” and “Claire De Lune” with a solo introduction from Paulus followed that moment. Also, an original ballad from the new album “Theme For New York” and “Mimosa” introduced by Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” initial riff. The public was enchanted and melted by the guy’s genuineness.

The band returned later to the interpretation of the Jazz standard “Summertime”. Paulus performed a new solo introduction and Romino joined the leader with a light and witty comp in the Gypsy Bossa style. The melodic dynamic was varied and repeated with different interpretations, changes of octaves, and also with different attack and feeling over the execution of each note.

We were approaching the end of the concert and Paulus took the time to say thank you to the light and sound technicians as well as his guest Nuno.

We all stood there surprised when Paulus thanked the work of sound technicians and light. This rarely ever happens with other bands. (Carlos Garcia – Organization)

The concert ended with “Starry Night”, the last song of the new album from the Trio, which caused an immediate and deafening standing ovation from all present.

The public demanded more and the musicians obliged with the extremely heart-felt interpretation of one of the most amazing Django Reinhardt’s song in his repertoire – “Nuages”. The expression on the musician’s faces shone heart and emotion, culminating in a final beautiful solo ending from the master Paulus Schafer.

"Warm and disciplined energy and great technical skill at the highest level. I was rendered with the great simplicity and the peacefulness of these great professionals. I am a fan and so I await their return" (Susana, after the concert)

THE WORKSHOP

On the following day, JB Jazz School presented Paulus Schafer’s workshop. Around 20 varied practitioners and some teachers attended it.

Paulus began by talking about the importance of playing with feeling and emotion. That’s what’s important and that’s where our attention should focus, not on technicalities, not in the notes, but playing with heart.

To this end, the proper development of the right hand technique is indispensable and Paulus shared an exercise, note by note, with each and every one of the players.

Then Paulus played a long phrase at a dizzying speed, asking after completion:

“Do you want to play that?”

Among incredulous gasps and cheerful smiles there was someone back there saying: “but that’s super fast!” Paulus realized the concern of his disciples. His eyes seemed to mean that the suggestion was too elaborate and a far stretch for their current level of playing. This happened on all of the seven practical exercises that Paulus shared with the participants. And in all 7 Paulus, thrifty, kindly and patiently took each and every participant “by the hand”, guiding them note for note, and only moved on after ensuring that everyone was able to start building phrasing speed.

Apart from the technical exercise, Paulus shared – for the student’s rejoicing – two typical Gypsy Jazz phrases, rhythmic accents to the accompanying guitar, the dynamics of tremolando, improvisation based on chords and a typical intro from Django Reinhardt.

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At the workshop, Paulus managed to put everyone at ease, making no distinction between the most experienced and less experienced participants in this musical style. Here, once again, his sympathy and humility were captivating, as also his encouragement to less confident players. (Alcides Miranda – Musician)

The session took place with extreme ease and fluidity, becoming even more apparent the gentle, friendly, integrating, motivating and fraternal nature of Paulus Schafer.

The session would end greatly with Romino joining the leader to play “Starry Night” and, as requested by one of the students, “Paquito”. This song had caused tremendous impact at the concert’s evening and it would return to lift the spirit of the audience.

This would be the golden end of the public presentation from Paulus Schafer, Romino Grunholz and Noah Schafer. The three musicians gave everything they had, with an open heart, and an exemplary demonstration of humanity, humility and kindness very typical from the Sinti community.

The Paulus Schafer Trio concert was phenomenal and having the opportunity to attend the Workshop was even more fantastic. It was a day of great learning, for being able to see up close all that technical ability and the clarity with which Paulus plays is amazing! We also had the chance to meet him as a person and he proved to be very humble. He gave us tips and important words of encouragement. This is an experience certainly to replicate again and again. (João Menezes - student)

Joao Menezes com Paulus Schafer

MEMORIES OF AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE 

Looking back, remembering all the little steps that were taken to bring Gypsy Jazz to Portugal and to mobilize people to build our own community, it is an exciting exercise. I can’t think of many musicians who combine event promotion, stage performance and journalism at the same time. But long ago I learned that no one will do the work only you want and can do.

What hold on in my memory to this experience are the feeling of togetherness with the Sinti community, deep respect for the music, a sense of fraternal responsibility, and a spirit of mutual aid.

Paulus Schafer is not only a great musician. He is a great person. It has a diverse and extensive musical knowledge. He lives and breathes music all around. During the time I was able to take care of him in Lisbon and Seixal Paulus sang, with delight, songs from Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and more.

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Noah Schafer, a 24-year-old young man, breathes energy and good humour. His posture on stage completely captivated the entire audience. He came to me, showed me photographs of his 3 months old son and sighed: “I miss my son.”

While routed him alone to the airport, he told me about the importance of playing with other community musicians. “Nuno, you have the Gypsy sound. Now you need to come to our camp in The Netherlands and play with us. “

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Before the concert, while the musicians enjoyed smoking – “Because it’s good for the heart,” Paulus said, in a good mood – I took the opportunity to grab my APC guitar and play a little bit. After a while Noah entered the room and started talking about a better way to perform “La Pompe”, monitoring the rhythm guitar. Shortly after Romino entered the room and exemplified in my guitar what Noah was talking about.

This willingness to give at any time has a strong power to make us humble. There I was alone, practicing the new advises these Gypsy Jazz giants had just given me. These extremely attentive gestures did not prepare me for what was about to happen…

Paulus enters the room where I was playing and asked me for the pick I was holding. He leaned over me and performed “La Pompe” with his right hand while I performed the chords with my left hand. We stopped, after some time, and without saying a word, Paulus embraced me while standing (I was sitting on a chair with the guitar on my lap) and he started playing “La Pompe” with his own hands. I felt I was being protected like in a father’s arms that tenderly, teaches a child the best way to play. There was the secret, a foot away from my eyes… the angle of the pick, the position of the right wrist, the grip of the left hand. There I was, in the arms of one my most admired musician, with the guitar on my lap.

These are the memories that I have of three friends who came to show me the deepest sense of community and responsibility for others I ever had a chance to experience.

And I would like to highlight, with special care and attention, the figure of Romino Grunholz, a fantastic human being. Behind that manly and imposing figure lies a man who is always willing to help, very protective of Paulus, quick to translate or explain the language barriers that separate us. Romino was always the first to show gratitude and appreciation for the smallest gesture and with him I have identified that the importance of this music is not in the virtuosity, or the ego or vanity top. The importance of this music is not the individual but the community – “Latcho Drom”, a great trip. The heart of this music is the rhythm guitar, the party, the celebration, and the friendship.

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That’s what I felt when I stood alone, for a few minutes, on the other side of the hotel room door hearing them play. This is what I felt in Seixal’s dressing rooms, standing on the other side of the wall hearing them playing a song that brought tears to my eyes. This is what I felt at the concert and at the airport’s farewell.

On our last day, heading to lunch over “Duetos da Se Restaurant”, we were climbing Arco de Jesus stairways and Romino started running up and humming humorously the victorious Bill Conti music “Gonna Fly Now” (Theme From Rocky).

Later at the restaurant Romino said something that filled me with pride and joy. “The whole trip was perfect”.

When writing the final lines of this article, lying in my bed, exhausted, I remember the last scene of the fight between Rocky and Apollo. Rocky did not win, but emerged victorious. He did not fall but remained intact until the end. Did he not give up, but persisted? He took a beating but he stood there until the end. Because the most important thing is not the individual achievements, it is the Music (in capital letter). What people keep in their hearts is not the overwhelming solos, or the height of perfection. People keep to themselves what the music gave them. And that’s why Gypsy Jazz is the most followed and dearest improvised musical form ever.

Receiving the Sinti community in our country does not solely marks the opening of Seixal Jazz International Festival. The truth is beyond: it was the Sinti who received us, with open arms, offering a great lesson to our Jazz community. We are all brothers: Swing, Bebop, Free, Contemporary, Modal, Gypsy Jazz … sons of the same mother. And we all learn from one another.

Maybe one day our Portuguese Jazz culture will grow healthy, compassionate, respectful and collaborative among its stakeholders. It is hard to understand the absence from so many Jazz Portuguese agents at Seixal Jazz’s opening night. It is distressing to see that the 7 Portuguese Gypsy Jazz bands, performing regularly in Portugal, did not join in mass to this party. And it is sad to observe some small, but still, less educated reactions of those who have difficulty receiving disinterested offers made with an open heart.

There’s no lack of calls or appeals. Musicians and Jazz agents are missing, deliberately, the events that should be of global membership. But fortunately, even without their presence, the concert halls are full because they aren’t the one’s buying records or attending live concerts. It is the public. The public is consuming, cheering, living the music, celebrating and rejoicing.

The great victory in this commendable initiative carried out by Seixal Jazz’s organizers is not a personal victory. Rocky emerged victorious without winning the battle. Seixal Jazz, Paulus Schafer Trio or Nuno Marinho only worked for the public to be the real winner.

And we should stress the fact that the group’s albums sales reached a number that has long not been seen in Seixal Jazz’s Auditorium or in any record store of any kind, for that matter.

"We LOVED it!!! We haven’t heard Paulus Schäfer Trio music before, but we rendered to the magnitude of his music. It was a great and pleasant surprise and a night well spent"(Carlos and Manuela)

This event had the happy ability to mobilize people from all around. We Received Spanish people who purposely flew from Madrid and Galicia to attend the concert; we received Gypsy Jazz lovers, eager for every opportunity to see live concerts; we received Jazz curious looking to broaden their horizons to other sounds; and even received people who had never heard of Gypsy Jazz before but were advised by friends or the journalistic reviews that announced the concert.

The concert was very good! I was unaware of the Gypsy Jazz genre so I was a little bit frightened that it would be a kind of jazz that I wasn’t going to like, but, in the end, it was very good and very nice to hear! This is the kind of music that, before you realize, you’re already tapping your foot and keeping up! Thank you for contributing to the coming of Paulus Schafer Trio! (Peter)

The international impact that this concert had has also been felt. Again, the Gypsy Jazz community throughout the world is eager to participate, consume and be aware of everything that happens within it.

In particular, the presence and participation of Patrus Cassey, a Canadian who travelled purposely to us, responsible for editing and publishing thousands of videos of countless musicians of Gypsy Jazz, did not go unnoticed. Within hours, the first video Patrus released generated 22,000 views.

Mind blowing…

The next day, back into reality, I reconnected my phone and computer. Of all generated activity, a number of notifications and positive impressions I only had one message on my inbox. It came from one of the most international, respected, recognized and esteemed musician in the Gypsy Jazz history, responsible for teaching this language to thousands of people all over the world (myself included):

"Congrats on the festival Nuno. I'm seeing and hearing great things about it. Great work! "(Robin Nolan)

The bottom line of this adventure is extraordinarily positive. Portugal is on the map of the Gypsy Jazz world and needs all the strength, energy and collaboration it can get to grow vigorously.

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Humbly I thank Paulus Schafer, Romino Grunholz and Noah Schafer their willingness to come to Portugal playing and teaching Gypsy Jazz.

I also appreciate Henk Van Beurden and Sinti Foundation for their help in the concert logistics and agency.

I Deeply thank, the Lala brothers from Duetos da Sé Restaurant, Carlos and Eduardo, which left us completely passionate about their food.

A strong word of appreciation to APC-Musical Instruments, for the excellent guitar built especially for me.

Warm thank you to Patrus Cassey for the videos and for living with us, so intensely, these days in family.

Last but not least, a special thank you to all the team in Seixal Jazz Festival 2015 for their example of professionalism and competence.

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The work I have done to bring this concert to Portugal is dedicated to the public, lovers, practitioners and interested in Gypsy Jazz and, in particular, Mafalda Corregedor who – day by day – have to listen to me, at home, practicing the style of music I love.

Over these days (October 16th and 17th 2015) I met a true (Gypsy) Jazz family. It is a pleasure and an honour to serve this music and its participants. Thank you.

On behalf of the team that made this show we thank you for the way everything happened tonight and the friendliness of the musicians. Thank you, Nuno, for convincing me to do this show. (Carlos Garcia – organization) 

We thank the managing board for the invitation, the hospitality and the perfect organization. We thank the great audience at Seixal Jazz and at last we thank Nuno Marinho for his great organizational skills! (Paulus Schafer)

Lisbon, 21 October 2015

(The day Marty McFly came “Back To The Future)

Festival Internacional Seixal Jazz 2015: Um fim de semana em Portugal com a comunidade Sinti do Gypsy Jazz

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A 16ª Edição do Festival Internacional Seixal Jazz abriu as portas ao público no dia 16 de Outubro de 2015 com a apresentação inédita em Portugal do Paulus Schafer Trio.

Descendente da comunidade Sinti, o guitarrista de Gypsy Jazz realizou, no nosso país, o primeiro concerto de apresentação do seu mais recente álbum “Letter To Van Gogh”.

O CONCERTO

O público aderiu em massa a este concerto, levando a organização do Festival a registar lotação (por muito pouco, quase) esgotada da sala do Auditório Municipal do Seixal.

Há muito tempo que não se via uma enchente assim no Seixal, sobretudo em noite de abertura do Festival. Próximo deste registo de afluência apenas vem à memória o concerto de encerramento de Ambrose Akinmusire em 2014.

“Vi hoje no jornal a notícia sobre o concerto e quis logo vir assistir. São tão raras as oportunidades de ver Gypsy Jazz em Portugal que temos de aproveitar tudo e mantermo-nos unidos.” (Anónima – á saída do espetáculo)

Paulus entrou sozinho em palco com a sua guitarra JWC, aplaudido timidamente pelos presentes que não sabiam bem o que esperar deste concerto.

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Com a guitarra afinada em “Drop D” tocou o tema “Costas”, a solo, enchendo a sala com a sua guitarra de tom quente, forte e apaixonado. Este momento inspirador e penetrante, susceptível de criar arrepios na plateia, foi merecedor de uma reacção consistente do público, prolongada com a entrada de Romino Grunholtz (guitarra ritmo) e Noah Schafer (baixo).

A banda começou por tocar o standard de Jazz “How High The Moon”, que ecoou na memória auditiva de muitos dos presentes. O tempo relaxado com que iniciaram a música fazia lembrar uma brisa suave de Verão que nos embala para uma doce sesta… seguida de uma entusiasmante e fulgurante execução ao dobro do tempo, reveladora do virtuosismo do solista.

Seguiu-se “Paquito”, onde se destacaram o intenso Groove da Secção Rítmica e as longas, infinitas linhas melódicas de Paulus. A dinâmica do seu fraseado oscilava entre uma intensidade frenética e um progressivo relaxamento que conferia um renovado ânimo ao solo.

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“O Paulus teve a arte de incluir, no seu espetáculo, dinâmicas e texturas diferentes, conseguindo captar a atenção dos ouvintes durante todo o concerto. Embora o seu inglês não fosse brilhante, conseguiu comunicar  bem com o público mostrando sentido de humor e, acima de tudo, humildade.” (Alcides Miranda – músico)

Em “Festival 48” a execução da introdução num Pedal à mínima, com oitavas, começou por criar tensão expectante na sala. É então que o tema explode num solo de fraseado absolutamente estonteante, rapidíssimo, onde Paulus se eleva tocando tercinas sobre a base rítmica sólida de Romino e Noah.

A música seguinte começa com novo pedal, mas desta feita completamente diferente do anterior. O som da guitarra de Paulus faz lembrar uma citara. O tempo é rápido e proporciona o primeiro solo do baixista Noah Schafer. Salienta-se o Groove deste momento que proporcionou um forte e merecido aplauso a Noah, a executar um solo ao nível de Jaco Pastorius.

“La Roulotte” surge, neste contexto, como uma balada suave, melodiosa e doce. Precedeu a interpretação do Hino do Gypsy Jazz, o tema “Minor Swing”, composto por Django Reinhardt. Paulus homenageia o génio, pai deste género musical, a maior lenda entre os gigantes dos gigantes do Jazz ao interpretar o solo registado na gravação original de 1937. Se dúvidas houvesse acerca da facilidade e destreza de Schafer na improvisação, estas ficam desfeitas quando ele mostra como usar o polegar esquerdo para tocar notas graves a meio do solo. É então que o ritmo muda para um tom Gypsy Bossa e dá lugar a novo solo no baixo de Noah Schafer, que arranca, novamente, fortes aplausos da plateia.

A fechar a primeira parte, a banda tocou “Paulus Waltz”, tema original constante do novo álbum “Letter To Van Gogh”. Neste momento foi perceptível a boa disposição e humor dos músicos em palco, sempre sorrindo, olhando uns para os outros em jeito cúmplice, revelando naturalidade e alegria rara de se ver nos palcos de Jazz. Não havia tensão, apenas naturalidade e bem estar, como se estivessem a tocar na sua própria casa. Foi bonito de se ver e o público respondeu efusivamente a esta conversa musical.

Havia ainda tempo para ouvir um tema tradicional popularizado por Django em 1947 – “Dark Eyes” (também conhecido como “Black Eyes” ou “Les Yeux Noir”). O “tremolando” inicial suscitou arrepios de surpresa e crescente expectativa nos ouvintes. Paulus irrompe na execução da melodia e interpretação do solo original de Reinhardt seguido do solo de Noah, executado em oitavas no baixo. Paulus ainda voltaria a solar sobre um “stop chorus” deixando o público completamente rendido e ansioso por mais na segunda parte.

O CONVIDADO ESPECIAL – GYPSY JAZZ PORTUGUÊS

“Congratulations! Excellent concert and excellent surprise guest.” (comentários entre amigos à porta do Festival)

Logo na primeira abordagem feita a Paulus Schafer sobre a possibilidade de vir tocar a Portugal o músico lançou-me o desafio:

“Hi Nuno, great news!!! October 16th The Paulus Schäfer Trio will be there! Do you want to play with us a few songs at the start of the second set?”

Eu fiquei do outro lado do computador, sem saber bem como reagir ou o que responder. O sentimento de responsabilidade misturava-se com a alegria da eventual possibilidade de me juntar em placo com estes músicos.

Ao partilhar a honra que sentia pelo convite, Paulus voltou a sublinhar:

“It should be nice to play some songs together!”

Aqui está um dos melhores músicos da história do Gypsy Jazz a convidar um desconhecido musical para tocar no Festival Seixal Jazz. Ele não se importou com o meu nível musical, com a minha experiência, com a minha qualidade… por esta altura o Paulus nem sabia que eu ainda não tinha uma Gypsy Guitar.

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Por volta das 9 horas da manhã, no dia do concerto, logo após apanhar o Paulus e o Romino no aeroporto (o Noah chegaria mais tarde), estávamos sozinhos numa esplanada da Expo a tomar o pequeno almoço quando o Romino pegou na sua guitarra, estendeu os braços e disse:

“Here, Nuno, play something for us.”

Eu olhei, lentamente, para o gesto de oferta de Romino, estendendo os braços, como que me convidando e aceitando para dentro da sua comunidade musical. Ali estava eu, com uma guitarra dos Anos 50 nas mãos, a tocar para eles. Só aí tive a certeza de que logo à noite estes malucos me iriam pôr a tocar com eles!

A facilidade e a naturalidade com que tudo aconteceu foi inspiradora. Durante o dia, e em conversa com Romino, ele confidenciava-me que toda a gente era convidada a tocar, não interessava o seu nível, a sua destreza técnica ou musicalidade. Não há, sequer, competição entre os músicos da comunidade Sinti porque todos aprendem uns com os outros.

“Se alguém é convidado para tocar e o Paulus vê que não tem tanta facilidade no instrumento ele não vai começar a tocar aquelas coisas todas que ele toca, ele não vai começar a tocar super rápido. Não, ele vai tocar de forma a ajudar quem está ao lado dele. Todos nós fazemos isso.” (Romino Grunholtz)

Eu sorri, feliz por sentir tanta bondade e consideração entre os músicos Sinti… lembrando-me, por oposição, de tantos comentários e atitudes depreciativas ocorridas em Jam Sessions de Jazz contra músicos menos experientes.

“Adorei o concerto e evidentemente a execução musical do nosso português Nuno Marinho.” (Guta de Carvalho – fotógrafo)

Para a abertura da 2ª parte, os quatro músicos traziam na manga os temas “J’Attendrai” e “Djangology”. O público reagiu muito bem, contagiado pelo elevado sentido de responsabilidade e emoção que o Trio transbordava.

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Seguiram-se temas de Django Reinhardt como “Coquette” e “Claire De Lune” com uma introdução a solo de Paulus; uma balada original do último álbum “Theme For New York” e “Mimosa” introduzida pelo riff inicial de “Billy Jean” de Michael Jackson que deixou toda a gente encantada e derretida pela genuinidade dos rapazes.

A banda voltou, posteriormente, à interpretação de um standard de Jazz, desta feita com a apresentação de “Summertime”. Paulus executou nova introdução a solo e Romino juntou-se ao líder com um acompanhamento leve e espirituoso em jeito Gypsy Bossa. A dinâmica da melodia era variada e repetida com diferentes interpretações, ora por mudança de oitava, ora com diferente ataque e feeling na execução de cada nota.

Aproximávamos-nos do fim do concerto e Paulus aproveitou o momento para agradecer aos técnicos de luz e som, bem como o seu convidado Nuno.

Todos ficámos surpreendidos quando o Paulus agradeceu o trabalho dos técnicos de som e luz, é raríssimo isto acontecer. (Carlos Garcia – Organização)

O concerto fechou com “Starry Night”, o tema de encerramento do novo álbum do Trio, que provocou uma imediata e ensurdecedora ovação de pé de todos os presentes.

O público pedia mais e os músicos retribuíram com a interpretação extremamente sentida de um dos temas mais incríveis do repertório de Django Reinhardt – “Nuages”. A expressão nas caras dos músicos transparecia coração e emoção, culminando num belíssimo final a solo do Mestre Paulus Schafer.

“Calorosa e disciplinada energia e grande destreza técnica, ao mais alto nível. Fiquei rendida com a grande simplicidade e calma serena destes grandes profissionais. Estou fã e por isso aguardo o regresso!” (Susana, à saída do espetáculo)

O WORKSHOP

No dia seguinte, a escola JB Jazz acolheu a realização do workshop de Paulus Schafer. Contou com a presença de cerca de 20 praticantes de variados instrumentos e alguns professores.

Paulus começou por falar da importância de tocar com sentimento e emoção. Isso é o que é importante e é aí que a nossa atenção se deve focar, não na técnica, não nas notas, mas em tocar com o coração.

Para tal, o correcto desenvolvimento da técnica de mão direita é indispensável e Paulus partilhou um exercício, nota a nota, com cada um dos intervenientes.

Seguidamente tocou uma frase longa a uma velocidade estonteante, perguntando após a sua execução:

“Do you want to play that?”

Entre suspiros de incredulidade e sorrisos alegres ouviu-se alguém lá atrás a dizer “mas isso é bué de rápido!” Paulus percebeu a preocupação dos seus discípulos que, com o olhar, pareciam querer dizer que a sugestão era demasiado elaborada e longínqua para o seu nível. Foi assim nos 7 exercícios práticos que Paulus partilhou com os participantes. E em todos os 7 Paulus, parcimonioso, gentil e paciente tomou cada um dos participantes “pela mão”, guiou-os nota a nota, e só avançou após garantir que todos estavam em condições de começar a construir velocidade de fraseado.

Para além do exercício técnico, Paulus partilhou – para deleite dos alunos – duas frases típicas do fraseado Gypsy Jazz, acentuações rítmicas para a guitarra de acompanhamento, a dinâmica do tremolando, improvisação com base em acordes e uma intro típica de Django Reinhardt.

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No workshop, o Paulus conseguiu por toda a gente  à vontade, não fazendo distinção entre os participantes mais experientes e os menos experientes neste estilo musical. Aqui, mais uma vez, a sua simpatia e humildade foram cativantes, bem como o seu encorajamento aos intervenientes  menos confiantes. (Alcides Miranda – músico)

A sessão decorreu com extrema naturalidade e fluidez, ficando ainda mais patente a natureza gentil, amiga, integradora, motivadora, preocupada e fraterna de Paulus Schafer.

A sessão acabaria em grande, com Romino a juntar-se ao líder para tocarem “Starry Night” e, a pedido de um dos alunos, “Paquito”, música que causara tremendo impacto na noite do concerto e que voltaria a levantar o espírito dos presentes.

Fechava-se, assim, com chave de ouro, a participação pública de Paulus Schafer, Romino Grunholz e Noah Schafer músicos que, deram tudo o que tinham, de coração aberto, numa demonstração exemplar de humanidade, humildade e gentileza muito própria da comunidade Sinti.

O concerto do Paulus Schafer Trio foi fenomenal e mais fantástico ainda o Workshop. Foi um dia de grande aprendizagem, pois poder ver de perto toda aquela técnica e clareza com que o Paulus toca é incrível! Conhecemos também o Paulus como pessoa e ele mostrou ser muito humilde. Deu-nos dicas e palavras de incentivo muito importantes. Certamente para repetir. (João Menezes – aluno)

Joao Menezes com Paulus Schafer 

AS MEMÓRIAS DE UMA EXPERIÊNCIA INESQUECÍVEL

Olhando para trás, lembrando todos os pequenos passos que foram dados para trazer o Gipsy Jazz a Portugal e para mobilizar as pessoas a construir a nossa própria comunidade, é um exercício emocionante. Não deverão ser muitos os que vestem a pele de promotor de eventos, músico e jornalista ao mesmo tempo. Mas há já muito tempo que aprendi que ninguém fará o trabalho que só nós queremos e podemos fazer.

O que mais fica na memória desta experiência é o sentimento de união da comunidade Sinti. Um profundo respeito pela música, um sentido de responsabilidade fraterno, um “tomar conta do próximo” constante num espírito de entre ajuda.

Paulus Schafer não é só um grande músico. É uma grande pessoa. Tem um conhecimento musical diverso e amplo. Vive e respira música a toda a hora. Durante o tempo que me foi permitido acompanhá-lo por Lisboa e Seixal Paulus cantava, deliciado, temas de Frank Sinatra ou Billie Holiday.

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Noah Schafer, um miúdo de 24 anos, respira energia e bom humor. A sua postura em palco cativou, completamente, a sala inteira. Veio ter comigo, mostrou-me fotografias do seu filho de 3 meses e suspirou: “I miss my son”.

Na despedida, a sós no aeroporto, falou-me da importância de tocar com os músicos da comunidade. “Nuno, you have the Gypsy sound. Now you need to come to our camp in The Netherlands and play with us”.

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Antes do início do concerto, enquanto os músicos aproveitavam para fumar – “Because it’s good for the heart”, dizia Paulus, com bom humor – eu aproveitei para agarrar a minha APC e tocar um pouco. Passado um pouco Noah entrou na sala e começou a falar de uma melhor maneira de executar “La Pompe”, o acompanhamento da guitarra ritmo. Um pouco depois Romino entrou na sala e exemplificou, na minha guitarra o que Noah estava a falar.

Esta capacidade de entrega e dádiva, em qualquer momento, tem o forte poder de nos tornar humildes. Lá fiquei eu, sozinho, a praticar os novos concelhos que estes gigantes do Gypsy Jazz me acabavam de dar. Estes gestos extremamente atenciosos não me prepararam para o que viria a acontecer de seguida…

Paulus entra na sala onde eu estava e pede-me a palheta que eu tinha na mão. Debruçou-se sobre mim e executou “La Pompe” com a sua mão direita, enquanto eu executava os acordes com a esquerda. Parámos, ao fim de um tempo, e sem trocar palavra, Paulus como que me abraçou, de pé (eu sentado com a guitarra ao colo) e começou a tocar com as suas próprias mãos o ritmo “La Pompe”. Era como se eu estivesse a ser protegido pelos braços de um pai que, carinhosamente, ensina ao seu filho a melhor maneira de tocar. Ali estava o segredo, a um palmo de distância dos meus olhos… o ângulo da palheta, a posição do pulso direito, a pega da mão esquerda. Ali estava eu, entre os braços de um dos músicos que mais admiro, com a minha guitarra ao colo.

São estas as memórias que guardo de três amigos que me vieram mostrar o mais profundo sentido de comunidade e responsabilidade pelo outro que alguma vez tivera oportunidade de experienciar.

E neste particular destaco, com especial carinho e atenção, a figura de Romino Grunholz. Um ser humano fantástico. Por detrás daquela figura máscula e imponente reside um homem sempre disposto a ajudar, protector de Paulus, rápido a traduzir ou explicar as barreiras linguísticas que nos separam. Romino era sempre o primeiro a mostrar gratidão e reconhecimento pelo mais pequeno gesto e foi nele que eu identifiquei que a importância desta música não está no virtuosismo, ou no ego ou na vaidade superior. A importância desta música não está no indivíduo, mas sim na comunidade, no todo – “Latcho Drom”, uma grande viagem. O coração desta música está na guitarra ritmo, na festa, na celebração, na união, no todo e na amizade.

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Foi isto que senti quando fiquei uns minutos à porta do quarto do hotel a ouvi-los tocar. Foi isto que senti nos camarins do Seixal, do outro lado da parede, ao ouvi-los tocar um tema que me levou às lágrimas. Foi isto que senti no concerto e na despedida no aeroporto.

No último dia, a caminho do almoço no Restaurante Duetos da Sé, ao subir as escadinhas do Arco de Jesus, Romino começou a correr e a trautear, divertido, a música vitoriosa de Bill Conti, “Gonna Fly Now” (Theme From Rocky).

Mais tarde, no restaurante Romino disse uma coisa que me encheu de orgulho e alegria: “The whole trip was perfect”.

Ao escrever as linhas finais deste artigo, deitado na cama, exausto, recordo a cena final do combate entre Rocky e Apollo. Rocky não ganhou, mas saiu vitorioso. Ele não caiu, manteve-se íntegro até ao fim. Não desistiu, persistiu. He took a beating but he stood there until the end. Porque o mais importante não são os feitos individuais, é a música. Aquilo que as pessoas guardam no coração não é o solo esmagador, ou o auge da perfeição. As pessoas guardam para si aquilo que a música lhes transmitiu. E é por isso que o Gypsy Jazz é a forma musical improvisada mais seguida e mais querida de sempre.

A abertura do Festival Internacional do Seixal Jazz não fica apenas marcada por receber a comunidade Sinti no nosso país. A verdade é outra: foram eles que nos receberam a nós, de braços abertos, oferecendo uma grande lição à nossa comunidade do Jazz. Somos todos irmãos: Swing, Bebop, Free, Contemporary, Modal, Gypsy Jazz… filhos da mesma mãe. E todos aprendem com toda a gente.

Talvez em Portugal o Jazz cresça, um dia, saudável, com mais compaixão, respeito e colaboração entre os seus intervenientes. É difícil entender a ausência de tantos agentes responsáveis pela dinamização do Jazz em Portugal na abertura do Seixal Jazz. É angustiante verificar que as cerca de 7 bandas de Gypsy Jazz a actuar regularmente em Portugal não aderiram em massa a esta festa. E é triste observar uma ou outra reacção menos educada de quem tem dificuldade em receber ofertas desinteressadas feitas de coração aberto.

Não é por falta de convites nem apelos, que músicos e agentes do Jazz faltam, deliberadamente, a eventos que se desejaria serem de adesão global. Mas, felizmente, mesmo sem a sua presença, as salas estão cheias, pois não são eles que compram discos e assistem a concertos ao vivo. É o público. O público é que consome, adere, vive, celebra e rejubila.

A grande vitória desta louvável iniciativa protagonizada pelos organizadores do Seixal Jazz não é a sua vitória pessoal. Rocky saiu vitorioso sem ter ganho o combate. O Seixal Jazz, o Paulus Schafer Trio ou o Nuno Marinho apenas trabalharam para que o público saísse vencedor.

Registe-se o facto de que as vendas dos álbuns do grupo atingiu um número que há muito não se verificava no Auditório do Seixal Jazz. 

“Nós ADORÁMOS!!! Desconhecíamos o Paulos Schäfer Trio, mas ficámos rendidos à magnitude da sua música. Foi uma excelente e agradável surpresa. Uma noite bem passada!” (Carlos e Manuela)

Este evento teve a feliz capacidade de mobilizar gente de todos os quadrantes. Recebemos espanhóis que voaram propositadamente de Madrid ou da Galiza para assistir ao concerto; recebemos amantes do Gypsy Jazz, ansiosos por todas as oportunidades de ver ao vivo concertos do género; recebemos curiosos do Jazz à procura de alargar os seus horizontes para outras sonoridades; e recebemos mesmo quem nunca tinha ouvido falar do Gypsy Jazz e que foi aconselhado por amigos ou pela crítica jornalística que anunciou o concerto.

O concerto foi muito bom! Como não conhecia o género, estava um pouco receoso de que fosse um tipo de Jazz que não ia gostar, mas foi mesmo bom! Foi muito agradável de se ouvir. Este é o tipo de música que, sem te aperceberes, estás a bater o pé e a acompanhar o ritmo! Obrigado por terem contribuído para a vinda do Paulus Schafer Trio! (Pedro)

O impacto internacional que este concerto teve também se fez sentir. Mais uma vez, a comunidade do Gypsy Jazz espalhada por todo o mundo é ávida por participar, consumir e estar a par de tudo o que acontece no seu seio.

Neste particular, a presença e participação de Patrus Cassey, um canadiano que viajou, propositadamente, até nós, responsável pela edição e publicação de milhares de videos de incontáveis músicos do Gypsy Jazz, não passou despercebida. Em poucas horas, o primeiro video que Patrus disponibilizou gerou 22.000 visualizações.

Palavras para quê…

No dia seguinte, de volta à realidade, voltei a ligar o telemóvel e o computador. De toda a actividade gerada, um sem número de notificações e impressões positivas, recebi apenas uma mensagem. Vinha de um dos mais internacionais, respeitados, reconhecidos e estimados músicos da história do Gypsy Jazz, responsável por ensinar esta linguagem a milhares de pessoas por todo o mundo (eu incluído):

“Congrats on the festival Nuno. I’m seeing and hearing great things about it. Great work!” (Robin Nolan)

O balanço final desta aventura é extraordinariamente positivo. Portugal está no mapa do Gypsy Jazz mundial e precisa de toda a força, energia e colaboração para crescer vigorosamente.

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Humildemente agradeço ao Paulus Schafer, ao Romino Grunholz e ao Noah Schafer a sua disponibilidade para virem a Portugal tocar e ensinar Gypsy Jazz.

Agradeço, também, ao Henk Van Beurden da Fundação Sinti pela ajuda na logística e agenciamento do concerto.

Agradeço, profundamente, aos irmãos Lala do Duetos da Sé, Carlos e Eduardo que nos deixaram completamente apaixonados pela sua comida.

Uma forte palavra de apreço à APC–Instrumentos Musicais, pela excelente guitarra que construíram especialmente para mim.

Caloroso agradecimento ao Patrus Cassey pelos videos e por viver connosco, tão intensamente, estes dias em família.

E, sobretudo, um agradecimento especial a toda a equipa do Festival Seixal Jazz 2015 pelo seu exemplo de profissionalismo e competência.

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O trabalho que desenvolvi para trazer este concerto a Portugal é dedicado ao público, aos amantes, praticantes e interessados pelo Gypsy Jazz e, em especial, à Mafalda Corregedor que – todos os dias – tem de me ouvir, em casa, a praticar este estilo de música que eu adoro.

No fim de semana de 16 e 17 de Outubro de 2015 conheci uma verdadeira família do (Gypsy) Jazz. É um prazer e uma honra poder servir esta música e os seus intervenientes. Muito obrigado.

Em nome da equipa que fez este espetáculo o nosso muito obrigado pela forma como tudo se passou nesta noite e pela simpatia dos músicos. Nuno, obrigado por me teres convencido a fazer este espetáculo. (Carlos Garcia – organização)
We thank the managing board for the invitation, the hospitality and a perfect organization. We thank the great audience at Seixal Jazz and at last we thank Nuno Marinho for his great organizational skills! (Paulus Schafer)

Nuno Marinho

Lisboa, 21 de Outubro de 2015

(o dia em que Marty McFly chegou ao futuro)

 

 

Gypsy Jazz Master Paulus Schafer’s Interview

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Paulus Schafer is one of the most prestigious contemporary Gypsy Jazz musicians.

A truly original Sinti community descendent from the Netherlands, he is the exponent for the Django Reinhardt musical tradition of the XXI century.

It is an honour and a privilege to welcome the Paulus Schafer Trio to promote and stimulate the original European Jazz language in Portugal.

For the first time in our country’s history we have the opportunity to listen to this wonderful art form at Seixal Jazz 2015, moreover through the hands of one the greatest teachers of the genre alive.

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1 – What inspired you to make music? Could you tell us something about who influenced you and what was going on around you at the time.

I was born with music; it was inevitable. For me, music is like breathing, you don’t think about it, it just happens.

In our community you just grow up with Gypsy Swing. There is music every day. It is an ongoing process; you constantly try to improve your playing. You listen to Django Reinhardt’s music on LP’s and cassettes, and you practice, practice, practice…

We don’t study at the conservatory. It is taught from father to son, from uncle to nephew. My family is the inspiration. My family is in fact the essence of gypsy swing.

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2 – Wasso Grünholz and Stochelo Rosenberg must have been a huge influence. Have they motivated you to practice?

Mainly Wasso Grünholz influenced my musical development. I listened to him by crawling under his caravan, listening to the most beautiful tunes. Then I ran to our own caravan and tried to copy what I heard. Of course I often watched him play and also I asked him many questions.

I didn’t need outside motivation. For my family and I making music is a given. It’s a form of happiness you simply can’t avoid. The most important motivation, for me, was the day Wasso said: “Now I want to hear Paulus!” What he told me was the best thing that ever happened to me. He stimulated me to find my own style.

Stochelo Rosenberg opened the doors to the world with his music, and he showed us that the Dutch Gypsy Jazz style is being appreciated everywhere. That encouraged me to also put myself out there and start my own band.

3 – What were the biggest challenges in your musical career?

The challenge is just to have your own voice! You can either make it or break it. As I said before, it is a natural process, in which you find your own style, step by step.

Unthinkingly copying other musicians is not my thing. The greatest challenge is to be yourself and develop your own style. Like Wasso challenged me: “Now I want to hear Paulus!”

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4 – How much did your playing change throughout the years?

Not so much has changed. It is a natural process, like the lifestyle of our community that develops in a natural way as well.

In our musical style nothing revolutionary has happened. I often wondered though, how would it be if Django were still alive? Of course I do get influenced from outside as well, without being aware of it. It just happens.

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5 – Can you describe the Sinti lifestyle? Is it different from the Gadjo (non-tzigane) lifestyle?

Our lifestyle is traditional and strongly family oriented. We take care of each other and of the elderly. We live very socially and not as individualistic as people in a city.

The peace and quiet of our community, my family, my relatives, my wife and kids is important to me. I am always happy to be back home again, where my roots are.

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6 – How do you balance work and private life?

I don’t have fixed rehearsal times or moments to relax. It comes and goes. When my nephew, brother or other relative drops by we play. Then new ideas emerge naturally. You can’t force music.

Of course we do rehearse for a CD recording and then we make strict appointments.

Regularly, musicians from all over the world visit our little camp and they love to come play with us. They know everything about theory, but what matters is to do it, and to do it with your heart and your soul!

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7 – What do you value the most in music and in musicians?

If the music really moves me, I value the personality of the musician and the way the music is played. Then I build on that, in my mind I start improvising, and developing it further.

1 - Artista Schafer

8 – You’re the first Gypsy Jazz Sinti musician ever to play in Portugal. How do you feel about that?

I had no idea that I was the first one. It is a real honour to play at the Seixal Festival. It is amazing that I would be the first gypsy musician to play there.

We will play with all our heart, as always, hoping to win the Portuguese people over for our music. If they truly enjoy it, our concert has been a success.


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9 – Do you meditate or do something else to focus before a concert? 

Mediation is foreign to me. In the band The Five Guitars I work with guitarist Jan Kuiper, who is a yoga teacher. Of course we talk about that.

I find peace in my guitar playing. That makes me come alive and makes me want to give the best of me.

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10 – You’re currently working on a new album. Tell us something about it.

It is called “Letter to Van Gogh”. The painter Vincent van Gogh has lived in my village, Nuenen, for a number of years. He was an outsider, and in the time he lived here he made that famous painting, “The Potato Eaters”. It is a dark canvas of very poor farmers, quite depressing. When he moved to France he met other artists and his work becomes an explosion of colour.

The Potato Eaters (Van Gogh 1885)

Sinti to this day are still outsiders. And cooperating with other musicians certainly has brought more colours to my style. On this CD (all original compositions) I have the privilege to play with outstanding musicians, like Stochelo Rosenberg, Peter Beets, Tcha Limberger, Jan Kuiper and Dominique Paats. This is my musical letter to Van Gogh! I will bring the CD and play a few tunes from it.

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11 – What would you like to be acknowledged for? What’s the most important aspect of your life’s journey that you’d like people to remember?

My journey is our journey. The journey of the Sinti: Latcho Drom, a long travel. We just look at today; tomorrow is another day. We’ll see where we will be playing then.

We, all of us, are modest when it comes to thinking about that. What people remember is not us, but our music.

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12 – What would you say to Django if you had the chance to meet him? What would be the record, the musician or the song that you would suggest he should listen to?

I would not suggest anything to him. I would play with him and be extremely happy. That would be a dream come true…

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(Special thanks to Irene Ypenburg for her translation of Paulus’s words.)

How To Deal with Procrastination – Part II

19b - procrastination

Last week, in Part I we covered:

1 – Overwhelming;

2 – Things we don’t enjoy:

A) Anxiety

B) Inadequacy

C) Comparisons

Let’s resume the Mindful path to deal with procrastination.

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3 – How to deal with our mind’s suffering stories about an activity?

Our mind often fears (A) failure, (B) powerlessness or helplessness or (C) missing out on something else.

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A) Fear of failure

The fear of failure is the fear of not achieving a best-case scenario.

Also called “Perfectionism”, this leads us not giving our all. We prevent ourselves of giving 100% so that we can have an excuse in case something goes wrong.

The story line here is revolving around an idealized outcome, and the simple possibility of coming short is unbearable.

Since we can’t control every single factor in life, the outcome of our efforts doesn’t mean anything about us. Good outcomes doesn’t mean we’re great and bad outcomes doesn’t mean we’re bad either, because there are always factors, circumstances and details we can’t control.

Cristiano Ronaldo can’t be considered a great football player for scoring 5 goals in one match, and he can’t also be considered a bad football player for scoring an own goal in a match! Maybe the opposite goalkeeper was in a bad day; maybe he’s teammate tried to clear the area and happened to hit Ronaldo’s body for an own goal.

We can only control how hard we practice, and this frees us to try our best. Putting the idea of falling aside results in a decreased need to procrastinate, and an increased response to action.

“How hard do you play when no one is watching?” You can’t fail when you’re doing your best. Aim for your best even when no one is watching.

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B) Fear of powerlessness or helplessness

Our mind plays a trick on us. It often times says – “You have to do this” – making us feel that we don’t have a choice. This lack of control creates resentment towards tasks we feel forced doing.

The fact is that any action has its opposite reaction, creating an outcome, product or result.

By focusing more on the consequence of our choice we empower ourselves with the control we need. Forget about the dual process of “To do or not to do, that is the question.” That is not the question! The real question is “If I practice I’ll get better. If I don’t practice I’ll be stagnant. So I CHOOSE to practice, I choose getting better.”

No matter what the situation is you always have a choice. Look for all the choices that a situation provides you and choose the one that can give you the best outcomes.

Focus on the results, look ahead and see the benefits of an action. Always choose greatness.

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C) Fear of missing out on something else

This form of procrastination doesn’t usually prevent people from initiating an activity, but it will interrupt the drive, motivation or will to perform.

“This is a waste of time. This isn’t fun.”

(This is actually a feeling I’m having right now, while I’m writing this post! Isn’t this awesome? Let me look closely to this emergent feeling.)

There’s a big difference between Happiness and Fun.

Fun is a temporary solution, a distraction from thoughts. Since it can’t endure, it will create lack between fun moments and creates suffering moments. A fun moment is simply a distraction shift from your thoughts to something else, because it makes you stop paying attention to them.

Happiness, on the other hand, makes you feel complete and whole, everything is enjoyable and leads you to a life of fulfilment. The sense of peace installs in your core and you experience to be happy in every situation.

Happiness is not the accumulation of fun moments, so stop waiting for another fun moment experience. This brief relief you are seeking only creates a gap of void and suffering in between those happy times.

Eating a whole bucket of ice cream can be very pleasurable, but think about the tummy ache waiting for you in a few hours!

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4 – How to deal with present suffering through distracting activities

Our physical, mental or emotional pain can knock us down the mat. TV, Facebook, constant Email check, simple activities, mind consuming activities, work avoidance or systematic breaks are symptoms of a larger problem.

19d - procrastinationdemotivator

Although these activities might give us a little high, a bit of pleasure, they make you hooked up like an addict. You start going to your temporary source of pleasure to escape from pain or sense of lack and you shift your attention away from your feelings and thoughts.

But this kind of problem doesn’t go away with the most determined will power. Here is where this becomes interesting. Forcing yourself to stop behaviours doesn’t work. You wind up repeating the same pattern over and over again. Understanding the reason why you are choosing this behaviour will stop it!

The next time you feel the need to doze off from your meaningful activities ask yourself what are you trying to escape now. Look inwards and find which thoughts are you trying to avoid.

How do you feel when you are pulled to a distraction? Go to the root of your suffering in order to suspend the need to go to distractions again.

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5 – How to deal with a task that isn’t the right fit for us

If you experience lack of motivation to start or complete a task this activity is not neutral to you. If you avoid it it’s because you believe it’s creating you suffering and you should address to the other 4 reasons why we avoid a task.

A neutral task doesn’t take time or energy for you to complete so go deep inside of you and focus on the real story your thoughts are preventing you from access.

In the end, think about your energy, work and activities has a bottle of your favourite drink. Will you spill it all out, procrastinating pointlessly, or will you drink it vividly, tasting every little sip?

One final friendly thought about this topic: Keep this article close; you will need it one time or another. Every time you feel discouraged resume your reading and navigate through the possibilities. Discover more about yourself and how you react to your own activities, work loads and exciting goals you may set for yourself.

 

For more on the subject check Noah Elkrief’s work on http://www.liveinthemoment.org/how-to-stop-procrastinating/