JAZZ DURING CORONA: SASKIA LAROO
(translated from Dutch)
JAZZNU · MAY 1 2020
JazzNu cares about the fate of jazz and its performers. That is why employee Tom Beetz regularly asks a different musician this question:
HOW DOES SASKIA LAROO IMPLEMENT ITS ARTISTRY IN THE CORONA AGE?
“I thought I would have time to work in the garden because almost all of our planned gigs and tours have been canceled or postponed due to the corona crisis. But at the moment I am busy organizing a lot and making new music. New music to represent 'the new now' musically. Organizing because everyone in art is changing everything and there are incredible amounts of new initiatives coming up to keep the sector afloat, which I closely involve myself in.
Of course I have also looked for new ways to continue to practice my profession. I try to continue my life "normally" as much as possible and I am lucky to be able to perform online from home with my partner pianist / vocalist Warren Byrd. Every Friday at 7 pm we give a "feel-good" funky jazzy concert with our own songs and covers, which can be followed for free worldwide at my Facebook page. That was first from the kitchen, now from the bedroom and soon hopefully from the garden.
I think it is important to act as a troubadour as a musician, to interpret the feelings and events of the moment and to offer a kind of distraction and comfort to people in this uncertain time. That's why we also composed songs like The Corona Blues, Hold On, and It's Spring Time. It takes a bit getting used to playing for a virtual audience, but we do our best to create a good and varied story in 45 minutes with a tension arc and participation / sing / clap / dance moments to keep the audience involved and activate them. That works well from what we can see from the reactions afterwards. We vary the songs from nice swinging, funky to serious, esoteric jazz. We also play blues, latin and acoustic music, sometimes with electronic beats and effects.
What the lockdown has done to me is that I am happy that the globe has calmed down a bit and I find it relaxed that it is so quiet and wonderful that it smells so fresh outside. On the other hand, I am sorry that so many people die, including famous and favorite jazz musicians such as the African saxophonist Manu Dibango (Soul Makossa), jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis and trumpet player Wallace Roney.
What I miss most in this unreal period is performing with my bands in front of a real audience! My true passion lies in giving a great concert, playing wonderfully sparkling jazz solos with my grooving band in a cooking club or in front of a audience going wild at a large festival. Like in Brazil for an audience of twenty-five thousand people or in Mexico for thirteen thousand students. I also like small intimate concerts. Then you focus differently on the music.
What keeps me going is that I find it so special to be allowed to be a musician. Until I was eighteen I never thought this would be my life. I particularly like improvising, just inventing something on the moment while you play. But if I hadn't had the music, my inner life force would keep me going. Life is too fun, inspiring and special.
Moreover, I would like to learn a lot and am interested in many cultures, especially fueled by my foreign tours with my bands. Musically I want to continue to develop musically for which those acquired travel experiences are again a source of inspiration. One of my great sources of inspiration is looking for connections between music styles and cultures and making new music out of it.
In my little spare time I like to read audio magazines at the moment so very technical. In particular the magazines Computer Music Magazine and Sound on Sound. I find that super interesting and probably because of my interest in mathematics, which I once studied very shortly at the University of Amsterdam. It was there that I discovered the musical life at the same time, so that my studies failed hopelessly.
I dream a lot about writing beautiful compositions. I have a kind of radio in my head full of varied and inspiring music that I can turn on and off more or less to either compose or produce. It is said that composing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Yes, with the latter the radio has to be turned off.
I am very sorry that my tours have been canceled or moved, but I am very happy to be in my beautiful hometown of Amsterdam, cycling around in a beautiful center. It sounds so common but is actually very special. You will notice this especially if you travel a lot. Difficult for me to choose where I would like to go now because I'm homesick for all the places I've been to for gigs. From China to Brazil, from Nepal to Nicaragua and Burundi.
I think about the past and find it unforgettable that I founded my own record label in 1994. Everyone advised me not to but I didn't understand why. So I did it anyway. And then sold more than a thousand CDs in a week and urgently had to request reprints from the factory. Now I have eight CDs and a DVD on the Laroo Records label. My new album Trumpets Around The World has also been released on orange vinyl. ”