Pernille Bevort: Cowboys and Girls
AAJ: The sound of the tracks recorded in the studio is as good as the sound of the three live trackswhich sound greatyou must be pleased with the overall sound of Playground + 1.
PB: Yes I am. You know, I took a chance, which I usually do (laughs); I had a feeling that it would be a good idea to record this live session that we had, which was the first step. Then I listened to it and I thought, yeah, I really like some of those tracks. I like the live energy, sometimes things happen when you play live, because you're in front of an audience and it's now or never. Then I thought it would be nice to add some studio recordings of other tunes I had in mind, and I thought what kind of story should be on this CD, what would fit, something like a gathering of novellas.
The bassist, Thomas Vang, is the one who made the studio recording and the one who mixed it all, and he has a good feeling for that, to make the sound fit between those two recordings.
AAJ: It s quite rare for a CD which mixes studio and live recordings to do it quite as seamlessly as this, so hats off to Thomas Vang.
PB: He did a very fine job. I've used him for three or four of my CDs.
AAJ: You've played before with pianist Marie Louise-Schmidt; tell us a little about your history of playing with her.
PB: As you can hear she has the inspiration of Thelonious Monk in her playing, and I really like it. I met her at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen although we didn't study in the same year. She started a trio with a female bassist and a female drummer a lot of years ago called Sophisticated Ladies and they played with the trombone player Richard Boone, and I've been playing once in a while with that trio as a soloist. I liked her playing and figured it could be fun to do something together. We've also done some concerts as a duo.
AAJ: The Rhythmic Music Conservatory is an unusual name, is it somehow different to the typical musical conservatory?
PB: In Denmark we never had a place where you could study rhythmic music in a concentrated fashion, not really. We had the ordinary classical conservatory and then we had the university where you could study some rhythmic and some classical, but not at a very high level for the rhythmic students. Therefore some people gathered who thought we have to do something, for rhythmic students who want to study harmony and improvisation at a high level, and they succeeded to get support from the government of Denmark and start this education. I might be wrong but I think it started in '84, or '85.
In the beginning it was just an ordinary apartment of several floors in Copenhagen and it was sound-proofed so it wouldn't bother the neighbors. They took in fifteen students a year and you studied for four years and you would become what they called a Musician and Teacher within Rhythmic Music.
They had about forty five students all in all when I started and it was kind of fun because sometimes it was difficult to get a place to practice, so you just had to practice downstairs on the toilet, (laughs) and we were very creative that way.
It was a little school but fun because everybody knew each other. Now it has become a much bigger institution, with a totally new building, totally new equipment and it is a very fine place indeed where the students study now. They also take in more students each year and it has become quite a big institution. I guess it is different in each country, but now you can become a teacher of rhythmic music but at a higher level than before.
AAJ: What was your route to the saxophone?
PB: What was the mistake in the beginning? (laughs) Like many small girls in school around the age of seven or eight I got a recorder as a Christmas present, and I was hooked on music somehow. I had a good teacher who was one of my parent's friends, who took all those kids and made us play together, so I was used to playing together. I practiced on this recorder and I reached some kind of level playing a lot of different things but then I grew older and, well, you know, there wasn't enough noise in that instrument. (laughs) I needed something with more output I guess.
And then I fell in love with the sound of the soprano saxophone because I heard Sidney Bechet on some old records, and I thought, wow, now this sounds good, now we can talk about output, a special sound. I don't know why, it just caught me somehow. I borrowed a soprano saxophone at the beginning and then bought one when I was thirteen or fourteen, and just started playing without a teacher. I did a lot of wrong things in the beginning but I had this energy and this urge to do something and that carried me through. Later on I had lessons and had to change a lot of things. But I had this energy, this childish energy that just wanted to do something, and I managed not to spoil it, and I guess that's why I continued. (laughs)
AAJ: So Sidney Bechet was your first inspiration?
PB: I find it in a way a bit funny now, because when I listen to him now I can really hear this body in the sound and all these things, but the use of the vibrato I don't use myself, and maybe I don't even like it anymore. (laughs) But that was my kick-start somehow. And then I changed to the tenor when I was fifteen and went to a school where I studied music with other young people and I got to know Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and lot of different things.