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Take Five with Lukas Gabric

Lukas Gabric By

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As a teacher I see myself almost like a doctor or a soccer coach. Besides my teaching job at The City College of New York, I also teach saxophone students and studio classes at The Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program. The doctor approach comes into play with new students. In that context I "diagnose" students to alleviate "symptoms" and "prescribe" exercises that improve their improvisatory or saxophonistic "health." The soccer coach way of teaching pertains to preparing students for auditions, competitions, recitals, and other sorts of performances. In general, I like to inspire my students to be the best versions of themselves they can be and to interest them in aspects of music that they might have not thought about or heard of before.

Your dream band

There are far too many people to list in this category. I hope to continue to work with the people who I already collaborate with. I don't subscribe to the whole idea of jazz stardom because skill and fame don't always correlate as they should. I'm always excited to perform with someone who can really play, and I don't care much about them having the biggest name.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I think that what we really contribute in jazz is our own sound. After all we all have the same twelve pitches at our disposal. In that sense it's all about how you say things musically and not always about what you say. With my new album "Labor of Love" I hope to bring a little more sophisticated simplicity as well as a concern for melody to contemporary jazz. I've been missing these elements in many current releases lately.

The first jazz album I bought was:

Four -Joe Henderson with the Wynton Kelly Trio. I must have listened to this album about a million times. I got it when I was fourteen and I still think it's one of the greatest albums of all time. The hook-up between Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers is unreal on this album. The extensive solos Henderson takes on the album never lose their narrative focus as he guides the listeners through so many unbelievably diverse and fascinating soundscapes. It's also a great document featuring his incredible time feel and ability to completely let go and return with the strongest and clearest material imaginable. His pallet of musical detail is also phenomenal along with his imaginative interpretations. Kelly adds incredible flow and momentum with his comping and never fails to find the perfect voicing for Henderson's musical utterances.

Music you are listening to now:

Szilvia Elek: Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre: Pièces de Clavecin (Hungaroton)

Christopher Hogwood (Conductor), The Academy of Ancient Music (Orchestra): Henry Purcell's Dido & Aeneas (Decca)

Queen: The Platinum Collection: Greatest Hits I, II & III (Hollywood Records) Desert Island picks:

Joe Henderson: Joe Henderson With The Wynton Kelly Trio—Four! (Verve Records)

Michael Brecker: Time Is Of The Essence (Verve Records)

Stan Getz: Stan Getz at Storyville, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note / Roulette Records)

Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Trio—Live In Europe 1959 (Complete Recordings) (Solar Records)

Dexter Gordon: Go! (Blue Note)

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

It's very hard to make a statement about a term that is on one hand not accepted by some and that has on the other hand become such an all-encompassing descriptor. I think that the root of the question inevitably leads back to a definition of jazz, which seems like a futile endeavor these days. I like to believe that it's the idiosyncratic elements of jazz that make it unique and distinct from other genres and idioms. What I consider jazz or part of the realm of jazz today, generally seems to center around a concern for virtuosity and complexity at the expense of sacrificing lyricism. I also find that too often we hear performers approximating a style rather than being true to what they hear inside their musical minds while improvising. There are also many political aspects which are amiss in jazz which are in turn manifestations of larger issues.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

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