AAJ: How did you start playing the church organ? What is the main difference there from piano or keyboards?
MT: I started playing the church organ during my Bach studies. With time I have developed a certain keyboard technique that I apply to the organ. The fact that I am not a church organist gives me an atypical attitude. The organ allows me to improvise polyphonically, which in jazz happens quite seldom, because I don't have to respect a certain rhythmical pattern.
AAJ: What is your opinion about the contemporary jazz or the so-called New Music?
MT: I have realized that we have to talk more seriously about music, because the appetite and intuition that come from our natural musicality are gradually diminishing. I am not saying that music will disappear, but it will remain in some well-protected zones while repetitive music, sampling and other electronic devices, which have nothing in common with the musical art, will take its place. These are things that are connected to technology and which -by not being done by musicians but rather by those who sell music -have led to certain standardization. The result is the limitation of the rhythm to metrics, the disparity of the melody, the use of a single harmony and in the end, of a suggestion of harmony. These were practically all backward steps to the zones of primitive music without musical tradition and a serious cultural background. Music has some very clear dimensions, which will be slowly disappearing if we don't cultivate them. You can be atonal for a while, but this is a dangerous thing, because after a while you end up in a cosmos, without any reference system. The whole thing is gravitational.
AAJ: You have published a book in which, among other things, you draw a parallel between jazz and the chess game. Would you like to develop on that?
MT: This is a book I am very fond of. Its title is The Referential Sound and the Arch of Occidental Music. The analogy with the game of chess occurred to me during the morning shower. That's when I get the most of my good ideas (laughs). It goes like this: The King is the referential sound, the Queen is the melody, because she can move in all directions, the Rooks are the harmonies, (harmonies are called Towers, by the way), the Bishops are the scales and the knight who moves in L is the motive, the pattern. As for the Pawns, I was wondering for a while what to do with them until I realized that they are the sounds themselves. In the moment when you emit a sound you sent the pawns ahead, and they cannot return.
AAJ: You said that you started improvising very early. Did your study of Bach influence in any way your art of improvisation?
MT: Absolutely. Not as a structural or as a compositional modality, but Bach has influenced what I call the purity of the musical gesture. There is a kind of profoundness there, a kind of letting the music do its own thing. That's the secret. Of course we don't know it and we cannot apply the Bach method, but we can intuit it. It means letting the music flow naturally. It is so natural that you cannot change a single sound. Mozart and Bach are such well structured and natural composers, that if you change a single sound it would be like changing the nose of Mona Lisa. And that is the best proof that music results from the cosmic rapports we bear in ourselves. And it ensues from our moral position towards these rapports. Music is a natural force that has become very rare. I am aware that we cannot write anymore music of that complexity and that one cannot improvise along the Charlie Parker inspirational line, but we cannot stop making music, because it would be as if you told a child not to play.
AAJ: What heft has the conceptual factor in your compositions?
MT: It has a corrective function and when I am somehow confused, a normative one. But in the moment the music comes towards you, and all the premises are available, the conceptual aspect risks endangering the inspiration.
AAJ: What are you working on now? What are your future plans?
MT: My main project is to play with as many people as possible. I plan to get my book translated and published in an international language, maybe English, who knows. And I also aim to finally stage a musical I wrote some time ago after a play written by a great Romanian writer I. L. Caragiale, The Lost Letter.
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