Tag Archives: Clarinet

Artist Feature: Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh is a clarinetist and composer we recently connected with through musician Timo Vollbrecht. Kinan grew up and studied music in Damascus, Syria, and has continued with his craft in New York City over the past 13 years. Throughout his interview, he discusses various strands of Reflection and Response, whereby artists sometimes reflect on their surroundings and on other occasions work to idealistically recreate realities. However, in Kinan’s opinion, art allows him to access another world of emotion not readily available in everyday life. Along with his words, this multifaceted artist showcases some incredible compositions that display his range and creative vision. He’s released three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, and an album with his New York-based Arabic/Jazz quartet, and the future is filled with some ill upcoming projects including a commissioned flute concerto, film scores, and tours in Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Peep the dialogue below along with some dope sonic landscapes from this dedicated craftsperson!

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Making music is an act of freedom by default.

– Kinan Azmeh

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

KA: I was born in Damascus, Syria, and have been living in New York for the last 13 years.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KA: If we think about it on the most general level then we do realize that this is how nature works, cause and effect, action and reaction. In the arts, reflection and response are a little bit more complex. There are several schools of thought when it comes to the arts, one that says that the artist’s role is to reflect on the world around him/her, others say that the artist’s role is to recreate the world in the most idealistic way. I don’t subscribe to either camp; my personal philosophy is that we make art to experience emotions that we don’t have the luxury of experiencing in real life, some kind of fantasy world that is more complex than what is experienced in our daily lives.

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

KA: I grew up playing western-classical music in Damascus, a city that is very rich and diverse in its musical traditions, then moved to New York. That opened my eyes (and ears) to a variety of music that I enjoy performing today. I have been wearing different hats at different times, sometimes playing as a soloist with orchestras performing western classical repertoire, at other [times] you would find me playing with my Arab-Jazz quartet in New York, and other times playing with electronics and visual arts. I am now at the stage where I am trying to bring all these heads under one hat. I am working now on a concerto for improviser for soloist and orchestra. I do feel that music is a continuum and I would like to [replicate] that in my musical life as much as possible. I have a number of projects that are coming up including a commission to write a flute concerto, a couple film scores, and also a number of tours are coming up in the US, Europe and the Middle-East.

Who or what inspires you?

KA: I am inspired by what’s around me, my life, the lives of others and nature. However, the main idea that is occupying my brain for the last three years is home, Syria. Since the revolution began three years ago, I started to wonder about the role of art: can a piece of music feed a child, can it stop a bullet? Certainly not. But it inspires me to know that I have the power to inspire someone else, to reflect and to think. I am also inspired by the belief that making music is an act of freedom by default, which continues to provide me with the tools to keep creating. The piece “a sad morning, every morning” was written to commemorate one year of the Syrian revolution in March 2012. The title says it all, you get up in New York, first thing you do is you turn on your computer and you “put your hand on your heart” as the saying goes, waiting for the sad news to come from home (since Damascus is 7 hours ahead). The piece was written in very little time and it gave me the peace of mind i needed at that particular moment. It was also the first piece I wrote after almost a year of a silence.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

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Feature: Jaime Echagüe

Gente! Es otro viernes y aqui en la serie de Features estamos muy entusiasmado de dar el bienvenido a una nueva voz. Jaime Echagüe nació en Madrid y sigue viviendo una vida artistica muy activa. Ha sido parte de grupos como “Flamenco en el vagon,” como multi-instrumentalista. Abajo se encuentra pensamientos y su perspectiva unica de Reflección y Respuesta!

People! It’s another Friday here at the LIFESTYLE and we are excited to pass the mic to a new voice. Jaime Echagüe is from Madrid and continues to live an active artistic life in the city. He has been a part of various groups such as “Flamenco en el vagon,” as a multi-instrumentalist. Peep the dialogue below for his words and unique perspective on Reflection and Response!

Jaime Echagüe

Reflexión hablando de las personas para mí significa mirarse en uno mismo, adentro. Y además lo asocio con paciencia y planificación...Respuesta para mi es exteriorizar, pero hacerlo como “respuesta” a unos estímulos externos, y como siempre estamos recibiendo estímulos estamos en constante respuesta.

Speaking in terms of people, reflection means to look within oneself, and is also associated with patience and planning…Response is to externalize and to do so in “response” to some outside stimulant. Because we are constantly receiving these stimuli we find ourselves in perpetual response.

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicos, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?


Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JE: Soy originalmente del Madrid, he nacido en esta ciudad y me encanta. Lo anterior es en términos geográficos, pero cambiando de tercio y hablando de realidades personales estoy en un momento muy intenso de mi vida, tanto por lo que pasa alrededor como la gran energía y entusiasmo que tengo actualmente para hacer cosas. Cómo todos estoy buscando mi realización personal o acercarme a ella lo más posible, he hecho muchas cosas en la vida y me entusiasman muchas cosas, pero solo hay una cosa clara del todo La música para mí es muy importante y me acompañará toda mi vida, no dejaré de tocar nunca. No me cuesta asegurar esto pues es algo que me sale automático.

 JE: I am from Madrid, I was born here and I love the city. That’s in geographic terms. Speaking for myself, personally, I’m at an intense stage of my life because of what is going on around me and the great energy and enthusiasm I feel to make things happen. Like everyone, I am searching for personal meaning or at least to get as close to that as possible. While I have done many things in life and there are many things that interest me, only one thing remains clear above all. Music, for me, is very important and will accompany me all my life. I’ll never stop playing. This isn’t a difficult proclamation because it’s something I know to be true, something automatic.

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does “Reflection” and “Response,” mean to you?

JE: Reflexión hablando de las personas para mí significa mirarse en uno mismo, adentro. Y además lo asocio con paciencia y planificación. Para mi dos de las habilidades y capacidades más importantes que puede tener una persona para acometer sus objetivos en la vida

Respuesta para mi es exteriorizar, pero hacerlo como “respuesta” a unos estímulos externos, y como siempre estamos recibiendo estímulos estamos en constante respuesta. Somos emisores de respuestas que producen estímulos a nuestro alrededor. Lo que lleva a la interacción y como hablamos de música diré que esta es una de las respuestas más grandes que se puede dar en el “canal” de los humanos (en el que nos vemos sintonizados y nos entendemos)

JE: Speaking in terms of people, reflection means to look within oneself, and is also associated with patience and planning. For me, these are the two most important qualities one can have in accomplishing goals in life.

Response is to externalize and to do so in “response” to some outside stimulant. Because we are constantly receiving these stimuli we find ourselves in perpetual response. We are human transmitters of response that in turn produce stimuli of our own in our surroundings. These responses make up interaction and music, which is one of the most important responses that come through human receptors (through which we recognize and understand each other).

Cómo se mete tu música en esta definición?

How does your music fit in with that definition?

JE: Lo he ido introduciendo un poco en las preguntas anteriores, la música es una forma de expresión y de comunicación con los demás, ahí se engloba la respuesta, que es inmediata. La reflexión no me es tan fácil encajarla en algo concreto, es más amplia, puede ser la reflexión durante el proceso creativo, tanto improvisando como en diferido.

JE: I have started introducing a few ideas in the previous questions. Music is a form of expression and of communication with others that demonstrates universal, immediate response. I find it harder to come up with a concrete idea of reflection; it is a broader concept, perhaps reflection takes place during the creative process, whether improvised or recorded.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

JE: 
Mi actividad musical se centra en formarme, en técnica y armonía, para alcanzar la excelencia en mi sonido y técnica. Pero siempre dejo paso a la aventura, pues para levantar mi motivación necesito tocar, cuando no tenía nivel suficiente me defendía con la percusión y así conseguía estar metido en mundillo. Con todo esto lo que quiero decir es que sin tocar en público y otros músicos me aburriría y no me dedicaría a esto. Actualmente y aunque suene curioso estoy tocando en los vagones de metro flamenco de una cierta calidad con un cantor. Podéis escuchar algún tema nuestro grabado en:

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flamenco-en-el-vag%C3%B3n/409528255787146?fref=ts

Otros proyectos que tengo avanzando son:

Colaboración con Color And The Kids

 http://www.facebook.com/thecolorsandthekids?fref=ts

Una banda que podría pegar fuerte, Pendientes de inicio:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pendientes-de-Inicio/275486952535869?fref=ts

Y haber participado en la grabación del primer disco de Vivian García, cuyo trabajo conocéis bien en este blog

 JE: I am currently working on improving my technique and playing ability. However, I am always up for a little adventure and before I felt comfortable playing woodwinds I would get by on percussion – which is how I was first able to get into the world of music. What’s important here is that I would get bored without playing in front of people or jamming with other musicians. Without this interaction I wouldn’t be a musician. Though it might sound strange, I am currently performing flamenco with a singer on subway trains in Madrid. Here is a song we’ve recorded:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flamenco-en-el-vag%C3%B3n/409528255787146?fref=ts

Other projects I’m involved in moving forward:

Collaboration with Color and the Kids

http://www.facebook.com/thecolorsandthekids?fref=ts

A band that could do big things, Pendientes de Inicio

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pendientes-de-Inicio/275486952535869?fref=ts

I also have played on Vivian Garcia’s debut album, whose work appears on this blog.

Quien o que te inspira?

Who or what inspires you?

JE: Para en cuanto al saxofón me inspira el sonido de Stan Getz, el cual es sumamente peculiar. Y escuchar otra música, estoy escuchando mucho Nu Jazz pues me vuelven loco las rítmicas y el buen feeling que se consigue en esos temas. Es jazz para bailar, un toque de funk y buen rollo. También me vuelve loco la música de Nina Simone. Ahora mismo mi máxima sería sacar un proyecto en esa onda, tipo Saint Germain (muy recomendable), componer unas letras y hacer Nu Jazz con un poco de electrónica, mucho bajo y unas líneas de viento que hicieran moverse eróticamente a cualquiera . Ah y voz femenina…wow, eso sería genial¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

JE: In terms of the saxophone I find inspiration in the completely odd sound of Stan Getz. As for other music, I have also been listening to a lot of Nu Jazz; the intoxicating rhythm and groove drive me crazy. It’s Jazz that you can dance to with a touch of funk and good vibes. Nina Simone also drives me mad. Right now I would love to organize a similar project, perhaps something like Saint Germain (highly recommended). The idea would be to compose the lyrics and make Nu Jazz with a bit of electronica, a lot of bass, and some woodwind parts that would make anyone move erotically to the groove. Ah, and a female voice…wow, that would be sweet!!!!!!!!!

Hay algo más que quieres que sepa el Collectivo?

Is there anything else you would like the collective to know?

JE: Cualquiera debería dedicarse un poco a la música para ser más feliz

JE: Everyone should dedicate themselves [even] a little to making music in order to be happier.

Saludos a?

Shout out to?

JE: A toda la gente que me acompaña en esta aventura de la vida, que no es poca

JE: To all the folks that accompany me on this adventure of life, which is not a few.

Sin Ti (Letra original, guitarra: Alex Metroman / Vientos y percusión: Jaime Metroman)

Reflection and Response.

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