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Interviews

Steve Korn: Third Time's a Charm

By Published: January 15, 2004

AAJ: “Beacons” is a classical-sounding ballad with a contrapuntal head harmonized for Davis and Taylor on soprano saxophones – an ambitious undertaking in any genre. The tune’s composer is Jochen Feucht. Who is he? How did you hear about his work?

SK: Jochen Feucht is a fantastic German saxophonist who I happened upon accidentally. About two years ago, Dave Marriott recommended the recordings of German pianist, Florian Ross, an amazing composer. I really loved the drummer on the CDs, Jochen Rueckert. I went looking for more CDs featuring him and was led to Jochen Feucht’s Signs and Lines recording. I really liked the playing as well as his composing and decided to transcribe “Beacons” for my record. It provides a nice contrast to the rest of my material.

AAJ: “Little Bird” is a delicate piece with a beautiful harmonic progression – the perfect vehicle for Marc Seales’ piano artistry. What prompted you to compose this sonorous tune?

SK: I think Marc Seales makes this the perfect vehicle! Marc has been one of the most important musical influences in my life. We have a wonderful relationship with enough common ground and enough difference that I think we push each other into new places in sort of an oblique way. We tend to hear rhythm and phrasing similarly, so there has always been a fundamental rapport in our playing. Paul Gabrielson also deserves a lot of credit for finding that balance of space and time-keeping that gives this piece it’s unique feel. Paul is a fantastic bassist with a tremendous range as a player. He can swing his ass off or play very sensitively and spaciously as evidenced on this piece.

As for “Little Bird” it was composed for my daughter, Hannah. My wife was pregnant with Hannah at the time and we didn’t have a name for her. We asked my son, Ben (then two-and-a-half), what we should name her and after presenting possibility after possibility, only to be turned down, I asked Ben what he thought her name should be. Without hesitation he blurted out Big Bird!!! I told him she wouldn’t like to be called Big Bird and he suggested Little Bird. We agreed to use it as a working title. The melancholy quality of the piece was because some tests had suggested that Hannah had Down’s Syndrome. I composed the piece during the two-week period we were waiting for the results of our amnio. We’d gone through the same thing with Ben and fortunately both are fine. I think the piece expresses not only some of my sadness, but a little bit of pain and hope. I’m glad you sensed that there is a story behind it.

AAJ: Your recording ends with the tongue-in-cheek “Theme Song from the Sit-Com of the Same Name,” a retro-soul-shuffle with shades of Barney Miller. There’s a natural playfulness in this tune that, I imagine, must have been fun to record in the studio. Who says jazz musicians take themselves too seriously?

SK: I’m glad the lightheartedness comes across, it was exactly my intention. This song is simply fun to play. I was hesitant to include it on the CD, but thought exactly as you said, not to take everything so seriously. I really enjoy just playing a simple groove, trying to make it feel as good as possible and this was a perfect contrast to some of the other pieces on the CD where I’m continually reacting and changing what I’m playing.

Visit Steve Korn on the web at www.stevekorn.com .



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