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Franklin Kiermyer - on his way towards other cultures

Although Franklin Kiermyer has never played drums with Pharoah Sanders´ Band - Sanders´ saxophone can be heard on Kiermyers CD "Solomon´s Daughter". - Following own and foreign cultural roots and influences, the drummer and composer Kiermyer finally came into contact with music and culture from Nepal. There - in the music and inside of himself - he found a lot of spirituality and transcendence.

Franklin Kiermyer

Some time ago in Berlin, Carina Prange met Kiermyer while he was on his way to Kathmandu. Then they talked a little bit about his project, his impression of Germany ... - now they have done a more intense e-mail interview:

When did you start playing an instrument? Which one was it?

When I was five or six I started fooling around on a small xylophone and soon afterwards on a little song flute. Then my Grandfather gave me a set of bongo drums and I was "hooked". By the time I was twelve I had my first set of drums. I started playing music because it moved me so much and that's why I've continued. I've never really pursued being a professional for hire.

Where did you grow up / Did your parents have any connection with music?

I grew up in and around Montreal, Canada. My parents always enjoyed music a lot but were never involved as musicians. My father especially was very fond of Big Band, New Orleans and Classical music. My mother was an excellent dancer, and her father - my Grandfather that gave me the bongos - was a well known charleston and jitterbug dancer. There was always a lot of music being played on the phonograph when I was growing up.

You were in New York for a long time and live in Woodstock - how did that happen? Whereelse did you stay for a longer time?

New York was always considered the focal center for the music I grew up admiring - so moving there to be in that milieu was always my plan. Last year I spent five months in Nepal and India and then returned to Woodstock, New York. I'm presently in Nepal again and will have spent another five months here this year, pursueing spiritual practise.

Franklin Kiermyer Quartett - "Solomon´s Daughter" (1994)

How would you describe the way you play the drums - what is special about it?

I tend to play very long phrases. I focus on a kind of prayer-like chant while I play and I try to open up the energy as much as possible.

When you play with others - what is the relationship between you and your fellow-musicians?

I think that the music works best when we all feel that there is only one song with no separate "selves" playing it. So I just try to relax and focus on the heart of the vibe. It's like there's only one thing happening, not these different musicians per se.

What should music "do" for the listener?

I think that music can be a way for people to let go of their self centered experience and transcend conceptual mind and open up to realization.

At this moment "meditative cultures" seem to be most interesting for you - what is important for you about these?

I've always been drawn to Spiritual music and I've tried to find the strongest examples of this vibe. So I've listened to alot of different music from different places and learned from the underlying principles. I've found that the practise of meditation seems to work best to create an environment for realization. I'm much more interested in this realization than different cultures.

Franklin Kiermyer - "Sanctification" [review]

Your jewish roots - how much influence do they have - and what do they mean for you?

Growing up Jewish gave me an opportunity to reflect on the difficulties of discrimination and oppression and also to experience the strength of survival and the legacy of a very ancient culture. But mostly, I was affected deeply by the strong underlying current of spiritually in Judaism. It seems much more rooted and organic than an organised religion. Like something in peoples spirit. The sounds of the chanting and singing of prayer in Synagogue really influenced me.

How did it feel for you to come to Germany, the country of the Holocaust?

I must say that I was really aware of my feelings crossing the border on the train from Amsterdam. I grew up with a real sense of the horror that took place then, and the impact it has had on peoples lives. Most older people in my community lost most if not all of their family during that period. But on the other hand, Germany is not at all alone as a place where these kinds of things have happened. Unfortunately, it's harder to find a place on this earth where something terrible like this, even if on a smaller scale, has not taken place! These atrocities are still happening now. That's what's most horrible of all.

Carina Prange

CD: Franklin Kiermyer - "Sanctification"
(SunShip Records, 1999) [review]

CD: Franklin Kiermyer Quartet feat. Pharoah Sanders
- "Solomon´s Daughter"
(Evidence ECD 22083-2, 1994)

SunShip Records im Internet: www.mobilitymusic.com

Foto: n.n.
Covers: 'Solomon´s Daughter' by Henrik Langsdorf, NYC; 'Sanctification': n.n.

© jazzdimensions2000
erschienen: 5.5.2000
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