A Conversation with Jean-Michel Pilc
JMP: It's almost like French food. It's respected everywhere, but the place it makes the most money is not in France. I can tell you more people go to expensive French restaurants in New York than in Paris! Jazz was born and raised in America. Jazz is universal music that was born in a special place in space time. Again, it's like the big bang. Why was the universe born at that moment, at that place? I guess Einstein would tell me 'place is the wrong term'. But jazz is a big bang that happened in America and could only have happened because of that incredible melting pot. People easily forget that people of all origins are responsible for the birth of that music. That if you listen to Beethoven or Chopin, you have moments that sound like ragtime already. So it's a whole mix between European, African-American, Italian, Jews'everyone. So it was born and raised in America. So now it has that image that it is American. And it is. Let's face it, until recently the greatest creators of that music were like 95, 98 percent American. I think in the recent period jazz got back it's universal character that it had at the beginning. You know, you don't need to be in one special place in space-time to be aware of things now. As a result you have great musicians appearing pretty much everywhere.
I felt this in me when I moved to New York. When you are not from America and you are a jazz musician you feel a lack of confidence. What happens is, it's almost like you are not supposed to be a jazz musician. When I came to New York and I started jamming and I realized they loved my playing, that some of them had maybe never heard things like that, when many of them said 'You're bringing something new here' all my complexes'and many non-American's have this inferiority complex'completely disappeared, I must say. I felt, I am entitled to play this music like anyone else. It's what I say. I am an artists. It doesn't matter that I am French or Jewish, or Black. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I am me.
AAJ: Do you think you'll ever go back?
JMP: No, I don't think so. I think it is important for me to stay here, where I feel good'When you come to New York you realize that's one of the only places on earth where no one cares about what the others do. You do your thing. You come here, and you do your thing.
Visit Jean-Michel Pilc on the web at www.jmpilc.com.