"I´m not afraid to use humor!"
Musicians like Bill Evans, Randy Brecker and Mike Stern use to choose him as producer, he has been a well-known sideman for many years now. - Jim Beard has published his 4th solo-album yet and was on tour now in the end of October ´99.
The two faces of Jim Beard
After the soundcheck (Quasimodo, Berlin) Carina Prange talked to the man who could declare himself a fighter against mainstream-music, against the "new trends" in the American music-industry - and who manages to integrate all kinds of feelings into his music. As he proves, humor and seriousness are things that do not necessarily exclude each other!
Carina: Your last two solo-CDs were released on ESC-Records - how did you come to be on this label?
Jim Beard: I came along with Joachim Becker. Before he worked for ESC, Joachim was working for Alex Mark (Lipstick Records). When Joachim left Lipstick, he took his artists with him. I have also done a record on Lipstick with Joachim. When he left, as a kind of function: the artists went with Joachim to form ESC. So that´s all that happened.
Carina: A sense of humor - how important do you think it is in your music and in your life?
Jim Beard: It´s not sooo much important - because I get the question a lot! I don´t feel like people should wake up in the morning and start laughing until they go to sleep at night. That´s not how I see it. There is humor in the music and there is humor in life - and then there is also very serious things in the music, as there are serious things in life. Complicated things and simple things. Everything is in a balance.
Jim Beard - "Advocate"
So many artists kind of feel this duty to be so serious all the time. I am very serious about my work as well, it´s just that I am not afraid of the humor. If something wants to come up and it has that quality, I don´t push it away, I welcome it - it´s just another side of the big thing we are in. - Humor in and of itself can be dark or brave - there is dark humor, there is brave humor. I´m just not afraid to use it.
Carina: Would you say your music is "fusion" music? What do you think of these categories?
Jim Beard: I think a lot of musics are fusion music. Jazz is a fusion of European harmonies and sort of African rhythms. You can look at any kind of musical genre and see like - maybe two sources - where it came from. It just so happened that this music created in the seventies which was like electric "sort of rock elements meets progressive jazz players" got bigger for "fusion".
That word "fusion", it is a "bad word" for a lot of people. And there are a lot of good reasons why. I mean, there´s an awful lot of crappy fusion music made, - there´s also been a lot of very crappy acoustic jazz, a lot of shitty rock. And I would not put myself into this fusion category - I kind of see myself more as a contemporary American instrumental composer.
Carina: What do you prefer - digital or analog technology?
Jim Beard: They are both great. An answer that Herbie (Hancock) gave to a question many years ago, which I think was a great answer: Somebody was asking him what he thinks about computer-generated music, sequencers and all this and he said: ‚It is only as good or as bad as the genius or the idiot who is making it.'
And it is the same with analog and digital. I mean there is all this "pro analog camps", they are so righteous and virtueous, they are so proud and they think, digital is sooo bad. I have heard an awful lot of shitty recordings done on analog equipment and I have heard a lot of great recordings done on digital equipment. It´s how you use it. I´ve got a collection of old analog synthesizers, I have got digital samplers as well.
There´s things I do when I make a record. I still like recording the rhythm section, drums onto the analog tape. That kind of puts it in one space, you can almost touch. But for creative composing and working - in that area the digital domain is amazing - it can be almost too versatile, you have to be careful not to edit the soul out of the music.
Carina: In the promo-text from the record company we are told that you ‚reach in some points the humoresc form of music that Frank Zappa played' - are you interested in Zappa´s music?
Jim Beard: I was never a Frank Zappa record collector - although, when I was in college I went to a couple of his shows when he was on tour. That was the thing I liked most of him, he did this light show - it was just amazing. But I couldn´t stop rattling off songs from his records and shows and everything.
Carina: How important is it for you to express yourself with your music - and how important is it in this respect what your fellow-musicians do?
Jim Beard: Well, I think almost the biggest expression of myself is the composing and arranging - for this record. The concept of the record is the biggest expression out of myself. But I also tried to shape this record in a way, that people involved in it could express themselves more - I left more room for Arto (Tuncboyaciyan) to "give his thing" and Gene Lake and Matthew (Garrison). So, you know, the concept is my expression, but I picked these other people for how they express.
Carina: What do you want to communicate to the audience with your music?
Jim Beard: I would say - that there´s someone just doing something a little bit different than the "usual gang that´s out there". You know, we are really trying to play some adventurous music as honestly as we can. I don´t want to name any names, but there is a lot of contemporary jazz musicians, who I have always - when I was younger - looked up to so much in respect because of the records they were making. And I thought they were really "blazing new trails" and were taking the music to a higher level. Most of these artists that I think of - now they´re like doing always "retro" - I think they gave up or something. - So maybe I just want to show people that not everybody has given up.
CD: Jim Beard - "Advocate" (ESC-Records, Efa Medien GmbH)
Efa-Medien im Internet: http://www.efa-medien.de
Jim Beard Band:
Jim Beard (keyb), Bob Malach (sax, flute), Jon Herington (g), Arto Tuncboyaciyan (perc, voc), Matthew Garrison (b), Gene Lake (dr)
Foto/Cover: ESC Records