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Leslie Pintchik: Two Different Kinds of Art

By Published: May 9, 2011
While Pintchik has created some beautiful tunes, she has not, to date, written any lyrics. Given her love of literature, is this something she has plans to develop? "I haven't thought of writing lyrics," she replies, "although a lot of people ask me about it. Someone commented that my tunes are 'very lyrical—they should have lyrics put to them,' so perhaps that's something for the future."

It may seem rather counterintuitive to think that a love and understanding of literature could be a problem for an artist, but Pintchik did initially believe this: "When I first made the switch from a life teaching literature to a life in music, I was so painfully aware of how rudimentary my music skills were and how much I would need to learn—and so late—that I regretted the time spent in literature." Her view has changed with time, and she is now more positive about the place of literature in her own approach to music: "I feel now that all that I've read informs the music I hear and play, and that is probably especially true for the music I compose. I'm only guessing, but perhaps my background in literature and poetry is part of the reason that I initially felt most comfortable as a composer, rather than as a player. In the end, everything in anyone's life, artist or not, is grist for the mill, and I'm grateful to have had the chance to explore two different kinds of art. I sense that it has enriched me in ways I can't articulate, but nonetheless feel."

Being A Critic

In July 2010 Pintchik was invited to write a short piece for the Jazz Journalists Association website about the role of the music critic. Her life as a Columbia University teaching assistant gives her the kind of insight into criticism that few other jazz musicians possess, and the article is an insightful consideration of this rather difficult- to-define and at times esoteric activity. As well as making some perceptive points about the abilities required of a critic, the article also offers one of the finest comments made about the music of Monk: "Monk's compositions sound to this day like they were written tomorrow."

Pintchik laughs loudly when the article is mentioned. In it, she discusses how important it may be for the reviewer to have historical and technical knowledge of the music, but makes the point that what is required above all is an "agile and open mind." It's a point that she makes again: "It really depends on who you are—as a writer, a musician, any human. It's who you are that gives your words some weight, some gravity. It's not just a musical issue, it's a human issue. ... In the end, every writer, like every musician, has their own voice and it's very complex and marbled with many issues."

The Future

What does Pintchik have planned for the future? Unlike many jazz musicians, she is not someone who spends a lot of time on the road. Perhaps the time is right for the band to tour more widely? "That's true. We've had some steady work in New York, and I haven't really traveled. In the future, I'd like to have the chance to do so and play to a wider range of people. I'd like to work more with the trio and the quartet, another CD project, more writing. Beyond that, I don't know." Although Pintchik has her own label, there are no plans to record other artists: "No, not as yet. I have some friends who are great musicians, and part of me would like to work with other people, but it's a big project. It would be a nice thing to do."


Leslie Pintchik, We're Here To Listen (Pintch Hard Records, 2010)

Leslie Pintchik, Leslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert (DVD) (Pintch Hard Records, 2010)

Leslie Pintchik, Quartets (Ambient Records, 2007)

Leslie Pintchik, So Glad To Be Here (Ambient Records, 2004)

Photo Credit

All Photos: Courtesy of Leslie Pintchik

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