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Todd Neufeld: Transcending the Limits of Sound

Jakob Baekgaard By

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TN: Rema Hasumi and I created Ruweh Records in late 2015. It began simply as a vehicle to release albums we were involved with, and have control over them : music, sonics, design and schedule. My contribution has been largely on the audio production side of it: seeing over the recording, mixing and mastering of our releases. It's a painstaking work, but it's something I have some ear for and sometimes enjoy. Mu'U is our fifth release, and there are some more special releases coming down the pipeline in the future.

I'm pleased we've been able to release several debut albums so far: by myself, Rema, Sergio Krakowski and Raphael Malfliet. These are all artists who are dealing with their identity, especially in a cross-cultural way, quite explicitly. Rema's "Utazata" confronting a very honest interaction with Japanese Folk melodies, Sergio's "Passaros" expanding his expertise in Brazilian music into a whole new realm, and Raphael's meetings of improv with works deeply connected to European 20th century classical music. I'm proud that we've helped foster that type of work, so relevant and needed today.

AAJ: How would you describe the state of jazz right now? Do you find that there is a receptive audience and are you optimistic about the development of the music? Who would you say are showing new paths in the music today?

I can't really say much about audiences in general, I guess I can only feel the audience in front of me. But, the musical world is not in a bubble. The society is growing more focused around a personalized and isolated experience. People more and more interface with life through their personal computer. Less and less, to a large frequency, do people go out and experience live life -live music, live arts, that "realness" of life. And of course it has a self-fulfilling kind of prophecy, the more time people spend on the computer, the more people expect computer rhythms and computerized shapes and sounds, and less are they in touch with the realities of the live experience.

Much music today, even the very best stuff that's being produced, to me sounds very much of this computerized world. It's shapes, it's contours, sound mechanical. It doesn't mean it's not very interesting. But, for me, I think there is something not only that I love, but fundamentally important about the uneven contours, the "mistakes," the beautiful blemishes of the music from those folk heros we love. There is what could be said to be a realness, that is unmistakable. I do think, when I listen back to Mu'U, that I was really making that human stamp a priority on this album.

AAJ: You are also a guitar teacher. What are some of the most important things that you would like to pass on to the students?

I don't really have anything I objectively consider important for students. What I try to do is just understand the dynamics of the student with their path, and the dynamics with my presence as a type of teacher. If I can understand on some level where they're at, then it's easy. I can look to see if there's an overlap with an area I feel like I have some real knowledge, and if so, I can try and influence them, show them some new dimensions to a pursuit they're already on.

Though, in the future I think I'd like to teach more by deed, less words. More by how I live my life and what I've found on the guitar.

AAJ: Finally, what are your plans for the future?

I'd like to perform with the "Mu'U" band live. Our live performances are extremely dynamic and expansive and seem to really reach the audience. But, I'd also like to next pursue another context, that has some of the opposite elements of the "Mu'U" band. A solo album is definitely in the offing for sure. Besides sideman performances coming up, I'm planning a solo tour in Europe for May 2018.

Photo Credit:

P. 2: Dave Kaufman

P. 3: Jimmy Akagawa

Discography:

Todd Neufeld: Mu'U (Ruweh Records, 2017)

Thiago Thiago de Melo: Amazonia Subtarranea (BlackSalt Records, 2017)

Stephano Chytiris: Egata (2017)

Vitor Goncalves Quartet: Vitor Goncalves Quartet (Sunnyside Records, 2016)

Raphael Malfliet: Noumenon (Ruweh Records, 2016)

Sergio Krakowski: Passaros : The Foundation of the Island (Ruweh Records, 2016)

Flin VanHemmen: Drums of Days (Neither/Nor Records, 2016)

Carlo Costa: Strata (Neither/Nor Records, 2015)

Rema Hasumi: UTAZATA (Ruweh Records, 2015)

Stephanos Chytiris: FLUX (2014)

Richie Barshay: SANCTUARY (2014)

Alexandra Grimal: ANDROMEDA (Ayler Records, 2012)

Tyshawn Sorey: OBLIQUE I (Pi Recordings, 2011)

Tyshawn Sorey: KOAN (482 Music, 2009)

Samuel Blaser: PIECES OF OLD SKY (Clean Feed Records, 2009)

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