Pernille Bevort: Cowboys and Girls
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.