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Interview: Aaron Goldberg Trio

Aaron Goldberg & Leon Parker have been supported by the French-American Jazz Exchange (FAJE) in 2014.

Read more about their feedback, their collaboration and the creation of their album.

Name of band or ensemble: Aaron Goldberg Trio
Names of collaborators: Aaron Goldberg - Piano, and Leon Parker - Drums
Name(s) of interviewee: Aaron Goldberg
Name of album: At The Edge of The World
Year of release: Summer 2018

FAJE: How did you meet?

Aaron Goldberg (A.G.): I met Leon way back in 1992 in New York City, over twenty-five years ago, when we first played together. We did not play again until twenty years later in 2012, after he had moved to France, performing as a trio in a chateau in the small village of Ainay-Le-Vieil.

FAJE: What brought you to collaborate? 

A.G.: We have always felt a strong musical connection. Leon was one of my favorite drummers when I was young and a musical influence on me in the 1990’s. When we began to play again together two decades later, the force of this connection was instantly clear. We feel time in a similar way, we have a confluence of taste, and most obviously we both enjoy a collaborative, communicative, adventurous, interactive spirit in the music. Playing jazz with Leon is a stimulating, empathic constant conversation.

FAJE: How are your musical styles similar? How do your musical styles differ or complement each other ?

A.G.: In a jazz context we generally have highly complementary approaches and many shared influences. Especially after moving to France, Leon began to focus more exclusively on his embodirhythm project. I was well aware of this and felt that it would be exciting to try to meld his skills in this new area with his mastery of drumming in a piano trio. As a result we have been working on the right balance of elements that will allow the entire trio to shine as well as bring Leon's body rhythm and vocal percussion into play. This requires some new skills on my part as a pianist, artistic opening by Leon, and of course subtle but crucial contributions from the bassist in the ensemble.

FAJE: How does French-American cultural exchange come to play in your work?  

A.G.: Leon spent years building his technique and concept of body and vocal percussion while living in France for fifteen years, with a series of French collaborators and students. This experience has obviously shaped both his life and music in innumerable ways. Personally as well I also have a long and fruitful relationship with the French jazz scene, and many close French colleagues and friends both inside and outside the music industry. I feel a strong connection between the New York and Paris jazz scenes in particular. So there is a sense in which both Leon and I have become somewhat “biculturel” or “multiculturel" due to our international experiences.

FAJE: Could you speak about your album ? What was your inspiration ? 

A.G.: The idea of this album was to present our trio repertoire in such a way as to showcase our collaboration, to capture in real time the way that Leon, Matt  Penman and I converse together in the jazz language. Secondarily it was to document our first forays in bringing body rhythm and vocal percussion into a jazz piano trio context, hopefully as seamlessly as possible. It is thus both a continuation of what we do best and an exploration of what more we can bring.  

FAJE: What impact did FAJE have on your album/tour ?

A.G.: The FAJE grant had an enormous impact on our recording and touring. It allowed us to overcome various obstacles and tour together on a more regular basis despite the intercontinental challenges. It also helped to fund and inspire not just one but two recording projects, one of them the aforementioned trio album and the second an upcoming album under Leon’s own name as well. We cannot thank the FACE foundation and FAJE staff enough for their fruitful assistance. 

Discover more about Aaron Goldberg here.