Uri Gurvich Interview, NYC

By Filipe Freitas

Uri Gurvich, 2017, ©Clara Pereira

Uri Gurvich, 2017, ©Clara Pereira




Name: Uri Gurvich
Instrument: tenor and soprano saxophone
Style: contemporary jazz
Album Highlights: The Storyteller (Tzadik, 2009), BabEl (Tzadik, 2013), Kinship (Jazz Family, 2017)







When did you decide to become a saxophonist? How did it happen?
I started playing the saxophone at age of 10. When I got into high school I was already pretty serious with it and got more into the instrument. Eventually as the years passed it evolved into being my profession. It wasn’t a certain decisive moment; it was just something that happened naturally.

Who are your favorite saxophonists?
My top three are John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Cannonball Adderley. These are the three I studied the most. I also love Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Joe Lovano and Michael Brecker. 

Kinship is such a strong word and concept, which was the conceptual basis for your new album.  How did the idea come up as motivation/inspiration?
With the album Kinship, the compositions came first and then the title. I tried to write tunes that had a certain connection or a shared message, showing the band’s special bond as a multi-national group of people. Being from four different countries, we have certain cultural differences but we share a common language and affinity through music. On a broader scale, we have seen a lot of divisions within society (especially in recent months), but our goal with this album was to spread a message of global unity. For me, the word “kinship” evokes all of these ideas.

Can you talk a bit about your compositional process?
I don’t have a specific compositional process, but I usually try to start with one decisive element; it can be a certain form, groove, portraying a certain place or person etc., even though sometimes this leads to a completely different thing! Then I see where it takes me from there. Also, I often write some little ideas or motifs in a notebook, and many times will go back to it or utilize some of those. Every couple of years, I try to keep the compositions within a certain vibe, with the hope of eventually creating a cohesive book/album of compositions. 

Tells us an adjective that better describes you, and then do the same for your bandmates.
I think that the best adjective that describes us is – Courageous.

Your top three jazz albums?
John Coltrane – Crescent, Charlie Parker – Bird with Strings, John Coltrane – Live at the Half Note, and many others... 

Name two musicians whom you've never collaborated with, but you'd like to.
It would be a dream to collaborate with Chick Corea or Bill Frisell.

What do you have to say about the current jazz scene?
I think that jazz music, all around the world, brings positive energy and uplifts the listeners’ spirits in these hard times. For me, that’s what jazz is about. Of course, the jazz scene is changing and will change as the world changes, but the message is here to stay. 

Can you briefly describe the hardest and the happiest moments of your career?
My happiest moments have definitely been playing live music in different parts of the world. Usually, these moments were achieved through hard work and sometimes struggle, making them all the more memorable.

Projects for the future?
This fall, I’ll be presenting the new album in Germany, France, and Spain and also will be touring across Europe with the Danish bassist Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, and with the Argentinian guitarist Ramiro Olaciregui in Ecuador. 
I’m also working on writing music for two new projects, which I’ll present in January 2018 in a weeklong residency at the Stone – one is a chord-less quartet featuring trumpet player Adam O’Farrill, and the other is an electric-centered band featuring bassist Panagiotis Andreou. 

Anna Webber Interview, NYC

By Filipe Freitas

Anna Webber, 2017 ©Clara Pereira

Anna Webber, 2017 ©Clara Pereira



Name: Anna Webber
Instrument: tenor saxophone, flute
Style: avant-garde, contemporary jazz
Album Highlights: Binary (Skirl, 2016), Simple (Skirl, 2014)









If you weren't a musician, what would you have been?
I was very close to studying anthropology in college.

What do you picture in your mind when you're improvising?
I'm not picturing anything. I'm trying to respond as honestly I can to whatever musical stimuli are coming my way.

What was the first tune you really fell in love with?
Not sure about the first tune, but one of the first jazz albums I got obsessed with was Joe Henderson's album Page One.

Tell me 2 persons who marked you the most as a musician.
I was lucky enough to have very generous and supportive teachers when I was in high school and college - those are the people who've likely shaped me the most musically.

Besides jazz, what other styles do you listen to? Tell me your favorite musician(s) for each style.
I listen to mostly not jazz - a lot of hip hop, rock, pop, new music, etc. Recently I've been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen, Elliott Smith, Kendrick Lamar, and Iannis Xenakis.

When and how did you form your Simple Trio? What are the qualities you most admire in Hollenbeck and Mitchell?
I formed the Simple Trio in 2013. I had studied with John Hollenbeck when I did a master's degree in composition in Berlin in 2011/2012. Matt Mitchell and I became friends when I moved back to New York. I like working with both of these guys because they have the ability to play very complicated music in a way which belies its complexity - they make it sound natural and alive. We also have large areas of overlap on our aesthetic sensibilities, so I can trust them to improvise in a way that brings out the best in my music.

On what projects are you working right now?
I'm going to be writing a set of octet music this summer for a new band. I also just released a digital album with a trio called Jagged Spheres which I co-lead with Elias Stemeseder and Devin Gray.