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Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound

Jakob Baekgaard By

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PS: We have been playing together for four years, although Pablo (Diaz) has been my partner since 2009. I think the word Tensegrity (as the name of our recording) is a good word to describe how we communicate musically. It is a mix of "tension" but also "integrity" or wholeness. Each member of the trio is very different from the others, this creates a necessary tension between us, and it is from this tension that we create our music. We've never talked so much about it, but it seems it works well for us, so we keep on going. I don't know if we are striving to make a specific kind of music, I always prefer to think that it is our music that is trying to find us, we just have to practice to be in the state to let it happen.

AAJ: How would you describe your approach to composition and the difference between improvisation and composition? Do you have certain techniques that you return to?

PS: I studied a lot of composition technique at University. I was a good student, but when I wanted to compose I often found myself trying to make a great and pretentious piece. It never worked! Too many ideas, a lot of notes and effects...After all, it was real experience that made me a composer. I learnt to listen to all the orchestra inside my head, this was and still is more important than technique. In my opinion improvisation and composition are really close. The difference is "time" and of course, orchestration. Today I feel more comfortable with spontaneous improvisation. Nevertheless, I use composition to set some ideas or states that I would like to generate before improvising. These ideas do not always come from music, they could also come from poetry, dance, painting, or just thoughts.

AAJ: How did you become involved with the experimental jazz scene in New York?

PS: That's how it started: When we (Pablo and me) were planning our first trip to NY we contacted Roy Campbell and Cooper Moore by email, we had listened to a lot of their music and we wanted to meet them, talk, share and play...we couldn't meet Roy, he passed some weeks before travel, however he left, without knowing, a door open to the free music community, because of him we met Ras Moshe, Connie Crothers, William Parker, Matt Lavelle, Daniel Carter, Hilliard Greene, Patricia Nicholson, William Hooker, Fay Victor, Steve Dalachinsky, and many other wonderful artists. Cooper Moore and William P. became our artistic hosts in some way, they showed us and introduced us to this awesome world. Without realizing, we were so involved that we felt that we had to come back, and we did it, and started to play, and made recordings. We met Andrew Drury on our second trip, we became close friends and we still have projects together.

AAJ: how would you describe the experience of playing with bassist, poet and composer, William Parker?

PS: The experience of playing with WP was amazing. We shared very special moments with him in NY, but never played together. It was here, in Buenos Aires, (when he came to the Jazz Festival), when he offered us to record some music. The session was relaxed and very productive, we didn't talk so much and played a lot! Our relationship became music for the first time, it was wonderful. I think NY has a great experimental/free scene. There, we found we had a lot in common with many people from different countries and we still keep in touch with many of them!

AAJ: As I understand it, you also teach. Where do you teach and what is your approach to teaching?

PS: I teach Piano, Complementary Piano, and Jazz Ensamble at "Conservatorio Manuel de Falla," in Buenos Aires. Although I have to follow a study programme, I'm always encouraging the students to find time to investigate. I also advise them to think deeply, ask questions, (criticize if necessary), about all the information they receive in the institution. This is because there's so much information nowadays that they can't process it, becoming overwhelmed most of the time; in addition, they have too little time to play. I take my own experiences in music to transmit them. I try to help them to start finding their own music, and we practice hard to find their own technique too. Personally, I have great interest in the links between movement and rhythm. Last year I started an anual workshop (outside the institution) to focus on this particular relationship. This year I will start it for the second time. I'm very much looking forward to it. It is a really necessary space to go deep in my researching. Besides, this is a great complement with the conservatory.

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