The Sound and me #25 with Gerry Lopez
How we nourish ourselves culturally
For me, the sound of the saxophone, from the very beginning, was somewhat hypnotic. The first time I heard it, it took hold of my ears and, well, it led to a lot of changes in my life. I was studying classical piano at the time. I wanted to go in that direction and, well, this sound, this new sound that was coming into my life very young at ten or eleven years old, it certainly changed the direction of everything that would happen after that.
At first, as I think with many people in Latin America, I started playing with anything, any reed, any saxophone. There wasn't a lot of choice so I wasn't even asking the question of what was to be played, what equipment, what saxophone. I just wanted to emulate that sound and chase after that thing I'd heard, those notes that had been jazz, no doubt, that had been blues. From that point on, well, I began to study, to develop my sound. I'm of the idea that the sound of the saxophone is very much connected to the experiences, the culture of each individual, the background that we have, the things that we see, that we listen to, how we nourish ourselves culturally as well.
My first references
In the beginning, I just, somehow I wanted to emulate the sound, I wanted to copy the sound of the people I was listening to. Jackie McLean, Lester Young, Charlie Parker. They were my first points of reference. But that was always linked to life itself, I meant, thanks to that, I could go and study in New York and during that period of emigration to the United States it was a very interesting process. It was a process where there was much more awareness of what exactly it was that I wanted to find when it came to sound, also in terms of vocabulary, because I was studying jazz at full throttle at that time and also living out those experiences in New York.
I've never left the saxophone
And the final part, the third part, very important in my journey, was my arrival at the Paris Conservatory and to discover, to hear for the first time the sound of how the instrument is played and how the conception of sound in France, the conception of sound of many of those who were my teachers, or are now great friends, which was much more focused on technical issues, really, to see how it happened, the whole technical side of the movement of the mouth and to go much further in pursuit of the equipment. So, for me it has certainly been a great blessing, because in my life, I've done it, I've left my country, I've left behind my native language, I've left women, I've left everything, but I've never left the saxophone.
And at this point in my life I feel that this search to find my artistic personality through the saxophone, because it's continuing and it's something that takes a long time. It's been going on for a long time and it's very interesting and very fun to live it.
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