All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Camila Meza: Following what the music has to say

Friedrich Kunzmann By

Sign in to view read count
I’ve always followed what the music tells me...The story of the song, lyrically and musically, is the main focus, so I try to arrange in a way that the instrumentation serves the song
Since the success of her 2016 effort Traces, Chilean-raised and New York-based guitarist Camila Meza has been incresingly gaining more recognition in today's jazz-guitar demographics. In addition to the all-star cast comprised of the likes of Shai Maestro, Matt Penman and Kendrick Scott, it is also the sense of sophistication and singularity in composition that defined her last record and made it her most balanced outing to date. In light of the ongoing Pannonica-project, brought to life and led by Austrian double-bassist Gina Schwarz, Meza was invited to join the band for a most colorful evening filled with a diverse pallet of sounds and styles at the Porgy & Bess in Vienna, presenting original compositions by both.

In our interview, conducted in a bar in downtown Vienna the following evening, Meza pointed out how the collaboration came about and which challenges it posed.

Camila Meza: Gina is doing this project (The Pannonica-Project) once a month throughout the year. In addition to a fixed cast of musicians she invites a special guest; the focus is on women instrumentalists from anywhere around the world and I believe she chooses a different instrument every month.

All About Jazz: Gina goes all over the place in her compositions. She introduces a very experimental and atonal side to her compositions. Was it hard to get into that for you or are you often confronted with this style of jazz?

CM: Yeah, We covered such a big scope of music yesterday, it was fun that way! And yes, I would say that I am confronted with all types of jazz but only rarely go into free-improv, which I actually dig! But I have to be in the right situation to feel comfortable and free with it. That seems hypocritical, no? I need to feel free to play freely...(she laughs)

She most certainly had to have felt comfortable on the day of the concert. The entire group displayed great chemistry, culminating to tight and enticing grooves throughout and Meza shone on her own compositions as well as on the jazz-fusion and free-jazz tinged explorations by Gina Schwarz. Although placed at the center of the stage, Meza did not so much take the spotlight in every song as lend her knowledge and skillset to the general sound in democratic fashion. This notion of restraint was even more noticeable here than on her already reserved role on Traces. Most likely due to the slightly enhanced instrumentation: In addition to the quartet, comprised of herself, Gina Schwarz on bass, Judith Schwarz on drums and Philipp Nykrin on the piano, the band also featured sax/bass-clarinet, trumpet/Flugelhorn, Violin and Cello—forcing Meza to rearrange her pieces:

CM: Rearranging my songs was really fun! But I had to do it in a really short time due to my busy schedule just before this concert. So I basically only had a day and a half to do the rearranging on the computer.

Hard to imagine such little time was spent on the rearranging. Opening with the fresh breeze that is "Para Volar," which coincidentally is also the opener of Traces, the band demonstrated new rhythmical variations on a driving 6/8 beat, wonderfully ornamented by smoothly harmonizing strings and brass. "Greenfinch and Linnet Bird," "Away" as well as the melancholically haunting "Amazon Farewell" also made it into the set, each immersed in new light by means of reinterpretation, the latter profiting from the enhanced arrangement the most. While the studio version of "Amazon Farewell" already finds a cello widening the sound carpet, the further addition of Flugelhorn, bass-clarinet and violin made the composition bloom with unhinged solos by all involved.

In combination with the monthly Pannonica-Project concerts the special guests furthermore hold workshops at the ipop Jazz University in Vienna, a successful collaboration between the University and the Porgy & Bess. Meza had just returned from holding said workshop when we met for the interview.

AAJ: Do you often do workshops and do you enjoy doing them?

CM: Yes I do, and I've been increasingly doing more and more. The first one I held was at Stanford University and I was really nervous at the thought of having to teach so many people at once. While doing it though I realized it comes really naturally to me. I've been having so much fun holding workshops ever since and have more and more opportunities to do them as well. For example I've been invited to go to Singapore in March to do a workshop as well (for a second time).

AAJ: Growing up in a very musical family in Chile, you were exposed to classical music by your parents and to 70's fusion (Scofield and Metheny to name a few) by your siblings, leaving the question: What South American artists influenced your musical taste at an earlier stage in your career?

CM: First of all, I have always been very open to all kinds of music. I don't prefer any specific genre. So there are so many artists that have had an impact on my musical upbringing. The Brazillian classics, anything from Elis Regina to Milton Nascimento, were always omnipresent and of course the all-time classic Antonio Carlos Jobim, whom I've covered a couple of times in the past. When it comes to guitarists I'd say that Tonhinho Horta has had great influence on my early upbringing as well. Just today in the workshop I also talked about Mercedes Sosa, who was one of the biggest voices in Latin America. In Chile, there are these two artists that took the folklore to the next level: Victor Jara (who I also have covered a bunch) and Violetta Parra.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Traces

Traces

Sunnyside Records
2016

buy
 

Retrato

Vértice Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Randy Weston: The Spirit of Our Ancestors Interviews
Randy Weston: The Spirit of Our Ancestors
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: September 7, 2018
Read Val Wilmer: Dues And Testimony Interviews
Val Wilmer: Dues And Testimony
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 5, 2018
Read Bob James: Piano Player Interviews
Bob James: Piano Player
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: September 3, 2018
Read Ben Wolfe: The Freedom to Create Interviews
Ben Wolfe: The Freedom to Create
by Stephen A. Smith
Published: September 1, 2018
Read Peter Epstein: Effortless Precision Interviews
Peter Epstein: Effortless Precision
by Stephen A. Smith
Published: September 1, 2018
Read Dan Shout: In With a Shout Interviews
Dan Shout: In With a Shout
by Seton Hawkins
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention" Interviews Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 9, 2017
Read "Thandi Ntuli: On Exile" Interviews Thandi Ntuli: On Exile
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Bokani Dyer: African Piano" Interviews Bokani Dyer: African Piano
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 7, 2018
Read "Mica Bethea: Quintessential Band Geek" Interviews Mica Bethea: Quintessential Band Geek
by Barbara Salter Nelson
Published: January 29, 2018
Read "Jessica Lurie: In It For The Long Haul" Interviews Jessica Lurie: In It For The Long Haul
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Mandla Mlangeni: Born to Be" Interviews Mandla Mlangeni: Born to Be
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 11, 2018