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Take Five with Tihomir Stojiljkovic

Take Five with Tihomir Stojiljkovic
Tihomir Stojiljkovic By

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I've never heard deeper music... Tihomir dug up the Balkan region in full. —Bojan Z, French/Serbian pianist & composer
About Tihomir Stojiljkovic

Jazz pianist/composer Tihomir Stojiljkovic was born in Leskovac, Serbia. In his debut album Solo we discover the treasures of Balkan musical heritage, tastefully reinvented through the language of modern jazz.

At the age of six, Tihomir started playing mostly traditional music on the accordion. By the age of sixteen, he improvised in various musical genres on keyboards. In his early twenties, he developed his own piano style that he would later qualify as Balkan jazz.

Tihomir is a self educated-jazz musician, who was raised in a not so jazzy environment and barely had the use of a real piano. His musicianship evolved from years of wandering, listening to his heroes (Keith Jarrett, Paco De Lucia, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Thelonious Monk, Billy Cobham, and many others...), and collecting every piece of knowledge he comes across, he gradually painted the big picture he was holding in his heart.

"Learning to play jazz was not the only challenge for me, but also to sound in a particular way, determined by my background... I had to take a completely unknown path, in every sense of the word..."

While preparing a solo tour, Tihomir is currently also working on a piano trio record, in which he will take us once again in his remarkable way, through the ancient stories of the hilly Balkan region...

Piano, accordion, guitar, percussion:

I consider piano as my first instrument, but the interesting thing is that I started with accordion, then I played keyboards, and meanwhile, I've learned to play the guitar... the piano came much later...

Teachers and/or influences?

I am a self-taught jazz pianist, and my biggest influences are Paco De Lucia regarding the composition, and the Keith Jarrett as far as playing is considered. But because I was listening like crazy to Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Thelonius Monk, Billy Cobham, and many others... I suppose I'm heavily influenced by all of them...

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

I started playing music at the age of six, so for me, it's like I always knew...

Your sound and approach to music.

I've always wanted to sound as unique as possible. For me, Jazz is not just to be played, but to be invented over and over again...

so, I'm trying to sound fresh and original, with a new approach to the rhythm, harmony, melody, generally the whole style, and because the Balkan jazz is still an unexplored area I have a lot of space for that...

Your teaching approach

Straight to the point. There are a few crucial "secrets" that students need to know, and then I let them be, because technical things can be learned, but the talent also can be quenched through the process of learning...

Your dream band

Every musician that I can play with without much talk and learn from is welcome to my dream band...

Road story: Your best or worst experience

As my jazz career just starting I'm looking forward to all of them...

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My debut album Solo for now...

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

I'm giving a new life to jazz music by creating so-called Balkan jazz...

Did you know...

I still don't have a real piano, never had a teacher or any support to become a jazz artist, and I never gave up on it...

The first jazz album I bought was:

I don't remember that, but I do remember that when I've heard jazz for the first time I felt disgusted by it, it wasn't love at a first sight exactly,

but rather everlasting love... and then I was buying and buying records...

Music you are listening to now:

Whatever comes to me, regardless of the genre, as long as it's at a high artistic level...

Desert Island picks:

Paco De Lucia: Live in America Keith Jarrett: The Koln Concert Chick Corea: The Mad Hatter Dorantes: Orobroy John Mclaughlin: Live at Royal Festival Hall

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Flourishing... maybe not so original and authentic like before, but still very much loved and wanted...

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

The first requirement is that jazz needs to be performed well, then needs to be modern, new, ever-evolving, that would always bring the audience...

What is in the near future?

Solo piano touring and the preparation of the next piano trio album...

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

Subconsciously everything before I start; the piano, the audience, my self-taught technique, luck of the real education... as soon as I start I just flow with the music, I go deep into the exploration of my inner world, which is how I experience jazz music...

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Maybe one of my future most well-known compositions...

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Some made up, a nonsense melody that relaxes me...

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

I don't have a clue...

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

Jesus Christ, I'd like to ask him a few questions...

Why do you consider yourself a jazz musician?:

That's the most natural thing that came to me...
About Tihomir Stojiljkovic
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