Article on Lotz online
Jazz interview with flutes, (piccolo, concert, alto, bass, pvc contrabass flutes, prepared flute, flute head joint, Bansuri, voice, fx) Mark Alban Lotz. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Mark Alban Lotz: – I grew up in Germany, Thailand and Uganda. My earliest influences and lasting experience of music were through the record collection of my father Rainer E. Lotz*. He is a collector of Schellak & Vinyl and a historician, journalist and researcher. There was a lot of Jazz and early music around in our home but as well Louis Armstrong, Ellington or Comedian Harmonists and Cecil Taylor!
Growing up in Thailand and Uganda have seen me attending quite some performances with traditional Thai Folkloric dance/music shows up to Ugandan Belly Dancing. As a child I was not only imitating Armstrongs ‚Hello Dolly‘ but also playing Thai Sword Fights and African Dancing
(My father is an important key figure in the research of the History of Jazz and early music. His latest releases (with Bear Family Records) are fantastic CD boxes containing 40 Cd’s and more on Black Entertainers in Europe (Black Europe), the box Cotton Club with live recordings from German radio broadcast 1932 directly from NY!, or a Cd box with the complete legacy of‚ Der Jüdische Kulturbund’ – the German Jewisch Cultural Society from 1928 till 34.)
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?
MAL: – In Bonn Germany where i grew up as teenager got attracted to flute as in Bonn there was a fantastic flautist, Michael Heupel. I saw him performing and was sold. A true phenomenon and unfortunately not well known. I gain my musicality and knowledge through next to Michael, my teachers, my students, fellow musicians and the great heroes in music history.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
MAL: – As a veracious instrumentalist I have studied two studies jazz and later classical at the conservatories in Hilversum and Amsterdam (Holland). Quickly followed by private tuition with great soloist in NYC and Los Angeles. Later studies of Indian Bansuri flute at Codarts Rotterdam. I strive for a refined technique, which is matched with a fluid virtuoso form of performance. I am combining with the virility of jazz with the sophistication of classical music. Through this I try to create and work on a unique voice and an inventive vision. My true strength though I believe lies in is my fantasy and the never ending urge to get better.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
MAL: – I practice with metronome. Besides that my studies of Afro Cuban religious folklore music as well as Indian music help me to expand my rhythmical experience and deepen my rhythmic life. As a flutist there is not have much sound left when playing in a standard jazz setting. We only can win with a good time. This is crucial for this instrument.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
MAL: – I still love bebop and adore fast changes. But in my professional life mostly modal or free improvisation is more common. I try to avoid patterns but still of course I use the same jazz language like all the others. Next to this I use vocabulary I made my own by my studies of Contemporary Music and Classical Hindustani music.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
MAL: – I have no idea as I do not follow. But there is a lot of great talent and hard working artists out there. For sure there is plenty of great stuff!
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
MAL: – What the balance is? No idea. But there must be a balance. Pure intellect as well as pure soul is boring after a while. The mix makes it sexy. Which mix depends on the artists mind …
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
MAL: – There are many especially as i traveled a lot and worked with many great (and often very unknown) geniuses in music. Santeria Ceremonies in Havana, religious rituals by the Lebu in Dakar, the traffic and respectively Delhi- and Cairo-bellies, the workshop in Tiraspol in Transnistria. Much too much to mention in detail.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
MAL: – I have the privilege to have done may collaborations in music: Some of the important were: With Javier Campos Martinez in a crossover with Afro Cuban folklore, Moldavian cross-over with Anatol Steffanet in Moldavia Calls, cross-over with music of the Fula with Omar Ka in A Fula’s Call.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
MAL: – That argument is not strong. Standards hardly are played anymore. There is a very broad play ground of many styles of jazz and another musics now in the music field. The people – not only young! – just have no idea as they do not know. They never experience the music. Here lies a huge responsibility for us musicians and jazz lovers. Bring the music out there in radio !, television!, and very important daily live!, clubs !, Festivals ! etc etc.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
MAL: – I dedicated my life to music. It is everything. It is horrifying as we musicians truly are junkies. We and our families have to life with all its consequences. Not a easy life.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
MAL: – Many Festivals and clubs are declining. Music gets more and more like fastfood for the people. Performing music in a loop is celebrated all over the globe and it is a insult to our intelligence. For a musician who makes creative music outside the mainstream life is tougher than ever. That is a horrifying future. Funny enough I am not concerned about the quality and future of the music itself as there will be always some young hipsters inventing new stuff in a total tunnel vision. You can not beat the creative energy of youngsters.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
MAL: – John Coltrane playing flute.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
MAL: – Hoping to collaborate with Romain Baudoin. A Hurdy-Gurdy virtuoso from Pau, France performing his own versions of folklore of the Gascogne and Aquitaine. That would be something … hope that someone picks it up and gives us some gigs!
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
MAL: – Improvisation. Living tradition. If good also authenticity.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
MAL: – Donso, Nasheet Waits, Oumane Sangare, Jacques Ibert, Hari Prasad Chaurassia and all the other great heroes in music.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
MAL: – New York in the 50/60s and so many other places … poehhh … Tibet!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan