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Take Five With Otmar Binder

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Meet Otmar Binder:

I live in Vienna, Austria and work mainly as an theater accompanist. This includes writing film music and songwriting for myself as well as others. As a piano teacher, I focus on songwriting and piano playing for singers and actors.

Instrument(s):

Piano and vocals.

Teachers and/or influences?

I really had two really great piano teachers in Vienna, one being Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac, who was my classical piano teacher when I was a kid. She was very kind and very much there for her students. Although I knew that I would never be a classical pianist, she made me practice the piano and think about music.

The other great teacher I had was Heribert "Hepi" Kohlich, with whom I studied jazz piano until the spring of 2010. He made me rethink many aspects of, well, everything, really. Of course, we started off with voicings, scales, how to listen, what to listen to in other people's playing, the great players, great recordings, what matters in the playing live situation, and the other things were to follow soon.

Outside of jazz, I have a great affinity for classical music, which I don't play myself these days. I like listening to composers such as Joseph Haydn, amongst others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard Albert Ammons' version of "Swanee River Boogie."

Your sound and approach to music:

Would not exactly be the same had I not listened to a lot of Queen in my teens.

Your teaching approach:

Very much based on the way I've been taught. Do not ever force anything on anyone. See your students as artists, pass on and share generously, say you don't know if you don't, and find a good balance between being straightforward and sensitive—both are equally important. Stay interested in things other than music and share them.

Your dream band:

That's an easy one. My trio with bassist with Alexander Lackner and drummer Michael Strasser.

Other than that—if there was a chance to see Bill Charlap play with Jackson Browne, I would probably (meaning definitely) be there listening.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

"A Tisket A Tasket" on Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald JATP Lausanne 1953. I cannot sit still when listening to this. "St. Louis Blues," from the same album, isn't bad either, to put it mildly.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I'm pretty sure it was Oscar Peterson's We Get Request (Polygram, 1964) followed by The way I Really Play (MPS, 1968). No stopping ever since.

Did you know...

That I consider The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, by Mark Oliver Everett, and Shot in The Heart, by Mikal Gilmore, as some of the best written books I've ever read.

CDs you are listening to now:

Yaron Herman, Alter Ego (ACT);

Jason Moran, Ten (Blue Note);

Sonny Stitt, Blows the Blues, Fresh Sound (Fenn Music);
Florian Ross, Mechanism (Pirouet).

Desert Island picks:

Matthew Shipp, Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear);

Oscar Peterson Trio, The Complete Tokyo Concert 1964 (Jazz Lips);

Peter Martin, Set of Five (Peter Martin Music);

Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope);

Mozart, The Complete Da Ponte Operas (EMI Classics).

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

Making sure it's part of the music education in schools.

What is in the near future?

Remixing a track from my first album, recording an album with my friend, Heilwig Pfanzelter, and writing new material for the next (pop-chanson) album, which should come out 2014.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Going Down to Cuba" by Jackson Browne.

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

I have a great admiration for a lot of people, but also for good writers and journalists. So that's a bit of a dream here.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Otmar Binder

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