Yaron Herman: An Urgent Need to Play
YH: He was booked for other concerts at the same time. Therefore I decided to tour with Simon Tailleu, who is not only a friend but a great musician. We played together in Newtopia [with Raphael Imbert]. He is brilliant and has a lot of imagination and swing. Furthermore he is highly driven.
AAJ: Tonight, again, we had the privilege of a great performance from Gerald Cleaver. What do you think about the way he is playing?
l:r: Matt Brewer, Yaron Herman, Gerald Cleaver
YH: I always say the same thing, Gerald is an amazing drummer. What's interesting is that I felt his musicality much before I played with him live onstage. When we talked, we both felt that we knew what we were talking about and that we had the same idea about musicthat we were looking for the same things. We have the same view about improvisation. I have never heard Gerald do the same thing twice; each time he pushes you to go further. It is very demanding but at the same time it comes very naturally to him. It has nothing to do with being intellectual; it is just that he has a very deep knowledge of jazz.
AAJ: How did you meet Matt and Gerald?
YH: I met Gerald when I lived in New York for a few months. I shared a flat with him in Brooklyn when I was 20. We practiced together and I knew straight away that I wanted to play with him. For him music is not about ego; he needs to play musica kind of urgency.
I met Matt on MySpace. I navigated on his page and I was instantly struck by his sound, a sound not only great but also ample and round. We exchanged messages, he went onto my page and was seduced by the way I play. Two months later the three of us were together onstage. Matt and Gerald had never played together before, and so this cooperation was totally new. The association didn't work too well at first. It took some time. Matt's style is not as free; he is very mathematical. But if you listen very carefully on the last album, Muse, I give them much more space. It does happen sometimes that I play only with my left hand and you can feel that behind me something is happeningstrange rhythmic and serious groovy sounds.
AAJ: Do you feel that by playing with American jazz musicians you are finally closer to a jazz culture that you could not find anywhere else?
YH: To be honest, yes. There are lots of French musicians who know jazz very well but from a rhythmic point of view you can't find something that compares to it. When you go to New York you understand why. There are so many musicians; you need to be always at the top. It is cruel and terribly demanding, but it pushes you to work like a dog. For example, over there you can see two drummers or two pianists working together, trying to progress together. In France, that's not possible. Everybody is very protective of their little world.
AAJ: Between Time for Everything and Muse there is a big jump, a massive progress. But Time for Everything givees the impression that you had greater freedom, whereas you are more reserved on Muse. On this last album there is an adaptation of rhythm on a totally different level.
YH: Of course as we progressed through concerts; this happened quite naturally after the first album. Something more complex happened in our way of playing. Careful; I say complex, not stern. The way of communicating became multidimensional. It wasn't only between me and Matt or me and Gerald anymore but it was more interactive between the three of us. We started to come closer to the real meaning of a trio. So I started to write in that direction. Contrary to what you are saying, I think that we are freer in the way we are playing. It is not only about the way I play anymore; it is about the way we play together. If we look at the essence of the trio, the energy is still there, but it's a different energy.
AAJ: You composed much more on Muse. What is the most important thing in your writingthe melody, the harmony or the rhythm?
YH: It is a whole. There are things, ideas that I get when I am traveling in a plane, or when I'm at home, at any time, and I take note. I write tempos and structures, and afterwards I try to put it all together. For instance, on "Ysobel" we can hear Gerald playing a riff. This was something I had in mind from the beginning. It starts with little things that I compose and that I try to imagine played as a trio
AAJ: Are we going to be able to hear you again as a sideman?
YH: I never say never. But I do other things apart from the trio, for example when I play with Michel Portal.
AAJ:This is not really what I would call the role of a sideman
YH: It is very impressive to play with him. Portal is totally open; I don't know anybody who plays like him. We really have a good time playing together. We are not trying to play at high speed; we are really sharing the moment and the space.
AAJ: How did you meet with Portal?