WILLIAM KURK: OVENBAKED FOR SURE!

By likemindblog

William-Kurk2

 

WILLIAM KURK, this versatile talent sings, composes, plays piano, trumpet, bass guitar and probably a lot more he doesn’t mention.  He’s also been nominated for a Black Theater Alliance Award for best musical director for the 2007 production of Sarafina!  He’s performed with some of the best.  William can be seen regularly in venues in the Chicago area.

William, thank you so much for doing this interview with me.  I know you’re a very busy man with a hectic schedule, so I sincerely appreciate it.  Shall we begin:

No. 1) What is music to and for you?

Liberation. The various angles of life-perspective and fiction-savvy imagination coincide during my demonstration of concepts, but in plain-English: it’s the essential amino acid that keeps me alive. From the beginnings of my life, through the very last moments, music is the locomotive that breaks, takes, and elevates me through the challenging weather of the world, both in spirit and physical.

No. 2) What inspires you?

Time. From the minutes on the clock, to the aging process of humans, animals, and plants, the progression of our existence is predicated on how much we contribute in the time we have. For some, the duration is long, others short, but time is the only principle that holds depth in my inspiration to share my message and gift. The world spins faster as you live longer, so my deeds are coming to a point of revel when I will affect lives through my actions of song, or be remembered as a leaf that fell from a tree just to be piled in the fray with everything else that does not bear fruit.

No. 3) When you are playing, creating, where does it take you? Where does your mind (spirit) travel?

I simply started playing piano to write tunewk3s and arrange vocals while in high school, so I never planned on becoming a full-time pianist.

When I’m performing (singing or playing keys), I honestly think about all those days as a teenager when I studied voice with my grandmother (Lena McLin), then stayed up all night trying to figure out Thelonious Monk and Chick Corea tunes. I reflect on my family members (both living and passed), and hope that I have made them proud. I also think about the future…beyond my own life existence, and whether the place I’m playing will exist 100 years from now.

No. 4) Do you think music, visual art and health are related and if so, how?

The eldest occupations of human life involve the musician, painter, and farmer. In the years of our ancestry, visual art was our photograph, music was our telephone, and both were our medicine. Time (that ole’ inspiration of mine) works against the preservation of anything organic, and for art, it stands against the opponent of progress and technology. Although these advances have made us closer as a globe scientifically, spiritually it has torn us apart from the wonders of the unknown, and the art suffers because of it. If art suffers, health suffers, as a result of the message being ‘microwaved’ and not ‘oven-baked’. There are many artists doing great things in the world, but the dynamic has shifted from artistic control to controlled artistic. Music and visual art entice different emotions and reflections of life, and while some doctors are gifted to be healers, both are a calling that must be answered by the gifted, so that the job is not just a science, and more of a purpose! Music and visual art makes us feel good no matter what we’re going through, so health-wise, it’s important to support a local artist.

No. 5)  I totally agree with you as to the shift in artistic control to controlled artistic. Oven baked versus microwave, good way of putting it.  It actually is on of the fundamental reasons I created my website, to bring back real value if I may say it that way.  In your opinion, what simple measures could be put forth to correct this?

IMG_5928Music education and appreciation is no longer a priority in the education and arts programs in America, which is the source of many problems that people have relating to various types of music. Other countries such as Germany, Japan, and France have an immense appreciation for the music, because it is a vital part of the curriculum. With budget cuts hitting schools and non-for-profit programs all around, the music is the first to go. As a result, there are young musicians that are in their teens and early 20’s who have never seen a Jazz Big Band or been to a Symphony. It starts at a young age, and that appreciation has to be instilled early, before the child is even conceived.

No. 6)  When you are playing for yourself, not performing, how do you feel?

When I’m practicing, I’ll start strong, and eventually, it’ll turn into some sort of composition of a self-contained jam session. Since I started playing piano as a teen, I had no thorough discipline for technique, but I was always passionate about learning concepts and fundamentals that attribute to my writing style. I never feel that I’m good enough, but what true artist doesn’t (ha). I don’t tend to have the time like I once did these days to play or practice alone, so ultimately, I feel a sense of serenity when it happens.

 No. 7)  Do you identify with your music and if so, on what level?

Everything that I write is like a child of mine, so I’m connected to the music I write, even if I don’t perform every song. There are times when I perform an original work, and realize that the audience may or may not connect with it, but that’s the risk you take with original music. Most people are not challenged these days with the faulty aspects of music business and people that are not musicians, who happen to run most of the venues where musicians dwell. People have grown used to hearing ‘Feeling Like Making Love’, ‘My Funny Valentine’, and anything that’s considered a standard or top 40. Thelonious Monk was constantly at odds for being contrary to the rest of the jazz scene, and his legacy is embedded in the fibre of jazz history, thus, it’s important for me to believe in what I do, so others can realize that their vision is just as important as those who they admire.

No. 8)  When do you do your best work?

I tend to do my best work when I’m against the wall, tired, frustrated, hungry, or perplexed. The only time I get to compose or practice is late at night, like 1 or 2am. People are sleep, and the world is still, so I can operate without interruption or distraction. I also do my best among other artists7435_186925413867_502673867_3804715_4947154_n when we share the same integral qualities for detail and execution. I can’t work with too many musicians, just because I’m not like most musicians, and as a result, I do my best with the least.

 No. 9)  Does playing music help you connect with your “higher self” whatever that may be for you?

Playing piano can be quite a task at times (i.e. weddings, open mics, grade school assemblies), but when I’m at church, that’s when I’m totally invested in playing for the lord, or giving myself freely in a way that most situations are considered vocational endeavours. When I’m playing my own music, I’m thinking about how my music (no matter the content) bares the foundation of my spiritual background. When I play in church on Sunday, I think about how good I need to be just to get at the gates, so in that regard, my playing is more focused during this time than most times.

 No. 10)  How do you feel about jazz?

Jazz is like my first girlfriend that I occasionally have to see here or there, but ultimately you grow distant because your needs change, or you just change as a person. As an art, it’s my heart and soul, but the business of jazz is what makes me sick. Most people that are in the jazz idiom (full-time) are quick to tell me that what I write and perform has nothing to do with jazz- just because it doesn’t sound like Bud Powell, Horace Silver, or Art Tatum. On my most recent album (The Sound: Vol.3), I feature artists such as Bob Mintzer, Will Kennedy, Benny Reid, and Corey Wilkes among many others, and these names are part of the current jazz climate. The problem according to purist jazz listeners is that ‘I didn’t use them for what they’re known for’, and that’s what puts me over the top. Musicians speak the language of music, and most of the jazz scene is uptight, educated, and pompous to anything that resembles ‘melody’ or ‘message’. I’ve stopped branding my sound as a ‘jazz’ sound, because it’s something different. It carries a jazz-influence, and most of what I liked about jazz is no longer present in today’s market. I still support jazz, but it’s suffering from old routines and standards that make it seem institutional, and not musical. Jazz might stand a chance elsewhere in the world, but the United States is not where I’m feeling it at the moment.

William, thanks for this most interesting interview.  I want to wish you all the best in all your future endeavours and until the next time, be blessed!

William’s links:

http://www.williamkurk.com

You will find other links on his website.

TO THE READER :

Your comments are welcomed and please leave your e-mail address as well if you wish to be kept informed of any changes.  ENJOY!

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Filed in: MUSIC • Friday, March 19th, 2010
 

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About

My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours