Evan Weiss: Soundscapes
EW: I was very young. Looking back now on my lessons with Don, I wish I could go back and relive some of that. I mean, I was a kid. I wish I would have appreciated all that back then, just so I could've soaked up his history a little more. He was always a really beautiful musician, and was always coming from that heartfelt place, no matter how much he was getting after me about practicing this or that. Whatever it was he had me working on, he was coming from an honest place. I always really appreciated that about him, even at a young age.
He passed away a couple years after that. I was able to go to his funeral, which was really nice. A huge crowd of Seattle musicians showed up and played "Amazing Grace."
AAJ: Are there any genres or concepts that you have yet to experiment with, but would like to?
EW: Like we were saying earlier, I would love to write more for film. I would also like to write for orchestra, not that I've ever done it before or know how to do it, but I feel, if given the opportunity, I would jump on it. I think if I were given enough time to work on it, I could come up with something really worthwhile.
AAJ: Other than being an arranger, what other projects are you involved with?
EW: Well, I have an original quintet that I play a lot with down in Dallas. These two projects are what I do with my original music, and then there's various other projects, some singer/songwriter and big band stuff. Nothing that I'd talk too much on, at least not right now.
AAJ: If you had to think of a single concept or theme that this album represents, what would it be?
EW: I guess balance. You know, in musical aspects, but also balance between mind and heart.
Spiritual balance is also really important. My family was like a rainbow of different religions, but I didn't find myself being particularly drawn [to any certain religion]. Religion has never been my thing, but spirituality certainly has been. I feel like I've grown a lot through my music, spiritually.
I mean, it sounds kind of cheesy to talk about improvisation as meditation; that's something people have been talking about since before John Coltrane, but it definitely applies. It clears your mind and allows you to experience another place. The things that complicate life drop away when you're playing music.
AAJ: According to your philosophy on music, there is great music all over, both trained and self-taught. What do you think is the main tool for creating great music?
EW: I would have to say honesty. If your music is honest, then it's going to come across as honest; it's going to communicate something. Music is really about communication. If you go to music school and you learn all the right things to do, and you write a song based upon all those right things, then you're not saying anything; you're regurgitating. It's like trying to write a story based upon what somebody told you were the aspects that make up a good story. Sure, those things might help the story play out, but that's not what makes it a good story. You have to say something. You have to have something to say, and if you can communicate that effectively to your audience, then that's good music. I may like it, I may not like it, but I think it will still be good music because it's honest.
Evan Weiss, Math or Magic (Inner Circle, 2010)
Backside Pick, Higher Place (Backside Pick, 2009)
Nobody's Business, Forward Momentum (Nobody's Business, 2008)
Hildegunn Gjedrem, The End of the Beginning (SiTMoM, 2007)
All Photos: Courtesy of Evan Weiss