Steve: Where do you align yourself within the history of Jazz? How does it factor into what you do?
Alfredo: I play Jazz and I’m not scared to say I play Jazz. I feel like there are people who think jazz is a four-letter word, but at the same time there isn’t “The BAM (Black American Music) Gallery” or “The BAM Standard” so it saves time to say jazz. There’s that side of it, but there are also people who very much play free jazz but say “I play creative music”. I think that’s a pretentious way to go about it… I play jazz (laughs)
S: Do you feel pressure from people who want to consume what you make knowing that you call it jazz?
S: What pressures do you feel when you make music?
A: Is it going to be good?
S: By what standard?
A: By an audience’s standard. I don’t want to play shows where people are not having fun.
S: So how have you dealt with ‘reading the room’/ ‘feeling the room’? How do you approach dealing with different audiences and their expectations and how is it different to you when you take a group to a rock venue versus a dedicated jazz venue?
A: I try to understand the audience’s expectations based on the performances I’ve seen at a venue in the past, and I will always try to play to that. I have a skill and at the end of the day I am an entertainer. Music is entertainment, so I am not going to have a big ego and think “this is my art and if you don’t like it you can get out” I have a job to do and I am going to do my job.
S: What do you think is the most authentic form of your own creative output? One where you totally have free reign or one where everyone watching you has a really good time?
A: I think it can be both.
S: So, what does authenticity mean to you?
A: When you’re playing your thing. It sounds like you.
S: Do you that is perceptible by other people or a thing only you can know?
A: It’s a little bit of both depending on the person. A good example is (redacted). His music sounds like his personality and people don’t have fun. I feel like I am a fun person. I like having fun and I prioritize having a good time, so I think that comes out in my music.
S: If someone comes to your show knowing that you call it jazz, do you feel the need to cater to a certain expectation or do you try to bring them along on your ride and hope they have a good time?
A: The second one. Personally, I feel like I am bad at playing the straight-ahead traditional stuff. It’s not genuine for me to play that way or to present my music as the stereotype of what jazz is. It’s better to do something that is me and aligns with the word and have someone figure it out. Maybe if it isn’t jazz hopefully it will be good to them/
S: What would you think if you got a review and someone claimed that your music isn’t jazz? Do you think it would have merit?
A: I would think it’s funny. My stuff is definitely referential to things that have been called jazz in the past. Whether its Big Head, Lookalike, or Secret Mall, the influences of all of those things come from jazz. It includes rock or funk, but all of those things have already been fused with jazz. So, someone saying my music is not jazz would just be funny to me
S: When you write music do you already have the audience in mind? Or are you trying to serve yourself? Or are those not exclusive to you?
A: I mean I write to serve myself primarily. I do have music for different audiences. Some of it is pretty accessible. You know we wouldn’t play our more out shit at an outdoor gig for people passing by.
S: How do you go about trying to balance the ideas that we do music as a form of expression and the fact that it’s our job and we want to make a living?
A: I think about it in a blue-collar way. I am working with my hands and I have a skill. People who get too caught up in these things end up losing work and make less money. Stuff like, “I’m not a commercial artist and I’m not going to play this.” They just want to do their thing. My stance on that goes back to Jason Rigby when I was just starting out. I asked him about doing Broadway gigs and what he thought about those. He said he hates playing those, but he makes money with the, and it’s something that he can do, and it doesn’t hurt to do. I think it’s all okay if you know your end goal in doing all of it.
Listen to Alfredo:
Together Alfredo and I wrote 4 bars of Music
Alfredo- ewi (electronic wind instrument)
Steve- electric bass