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Take Five with Omer Ashano

Omer Ashano By

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That would be Chet Baker Sings. To me Baker's singing and playing sound the same. His style touches my heart and is an example of unique instrument- ear connection to which I aspire to and practice to reach such a level. I've been listening to this album for years and it has accompanied me through my best and worst memories and romance. Listening to it makes me feel in love even if I don't have an "object of my affection."

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

I think the most important thing I contribute musically is the fact that I try to play like Omer and not like somebody else.

Did you know...

I'd say my greatest influencers in jazz violin are Didier Lockwood and Stephane Grappelli, however, I'm not heavily influenced by other jazz violinists in my musical approach and I'm actually quite judgmental of them.

Music you are listening to now:

Lionel Loueke: Gaïa (Blue Note Records Ola Kvernberg: The Mechanical Fair (Jazzland Recordings) Maurice Ravel: Orchestral Works (SWR Classic) Alick Macheso: Zvinoda Kutendwa (Mobile Music Trust) Oumou Sangaré: Moussolou

Desert Island picks:

Jimi Hendrix: Axis: Bold As Love (Sony Music)

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

If artists start approaching jazz music in the same straight-forwardness and humbleness people approach pop music I believe the jazz scene will become much more unified, open minded and focused on the aesthetics of music rather than the aesthetics of different narratives people come up with for their music. I believe this will also make the music more accessible to larger audiences.

What is in the near future?

A few shows to promote my freshly released EP! Also excited to tour again with my band OSOG this summer, performing the Memphis Levitt Shell as well as the Philadelphia Folk Festival!

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

Fear itself. I fear feeling nervous on stage. When I'm nervous I cannot connect with my ears as much and then I feel that what I play has less personal and musical significance. I know that anxiety dims down your connection to yourself at the moment thus I feel that I cannot give all of myself over to the audience.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A chef! Jazz and cooking are so closely related. You know what I mean?

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Johann Sebastian Bach. I would inquire about how he practices, what he thinks about while improvising and ask him to teach me his sickest II-V lick!

What do you want to tell jazz musicians of unconventional instruments such as the violin?

Always strive to play like yourself and not like someone else. Imitation and emulation of other musicians and instruments are a key tool in the process of learning improvisation. However, at some point a musician needs to set his own path, imagine a sound you aspire to and start seeking it. Too many non-traditional instrumentalists and jazz violinists in particular, are focused on trying to play like someone else. One is trying to play like Bird, the other like Grappelli and the third like Coltrane. That's great but those instrumentalists also have to understand the merits and limitations of their instrument. A jazz harp player may be able to transcribe and play a Freddie Hubbard solo note for note but yet it will never have the same intensity and projection of a trumpet and so playing the same notes is not enough to have the same musical impact compared to when a trumpet player plays it. Jazz musicians of non conventional instruments should realize that and seek a sound within a genre that compliments the style but also compliments the qualities of their instrument. Most importantly, you want to be true to yourself and have an authentic and unique sound, then why keep trying to play like someone else?
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