By Lucas Wieser
Raymond Ding, President of DMusic, and William DeBruce, Co-Founder of d.tech Jazz, are two experienced jazz musicians at d.tech. Here’s an exclusive interview, demonstrating how they got started.
Q: When did you first start getting into Jazz music? How?
R: I started playing in 7th Grade. I wanted to try out music so I joined school band, and since I played saxophone I liked to listen to sax music.
W: I played for school, and we played a lot of “Jazzified Pop Songs” that made me want to actually try out Jazz.
Q: What instruments do you play? How did you get your start?
W: I play alto sax. Basically my mom was a huge fan of Kenny G. so she basically made me play sax and I was like ‘Ok.’
R: I started playing tenor sax for school band I was first chair and it was really fun. Tenor sax sounds more like John Coltrane.
Q: What is the appeal of jazz music to you?
R: Jazz makes you really think intellectually about what you’re playing as you’re playing it. As a saxophone player you really need to develop muscle memory, so that you can play what you’re thinking about in real time. Getting better at the art of improv is a very satisfying experience.
W: The harmony, chords, and theory are way different from any other genre.
Q: Some of your favorite songs/artists?
R: Cannonball Adderly, Coltrane, Elvin Jones, Mccoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Clifford Brown [The list went on like he actually wouldn’t stop].
W: Charles Mingus, Stevie Wonder, Chet Baker.
Q: What would you recommend a person who hasn’t listened to jazz before do to start? What artists should they begin with? Why?
W: Kind of Blue – Miles Davis, Giant Steps – John Coltrane, Village Vanguard Albums. Those are some of the classics, once you listen to those you can start developing your own tastes.
Q: These days you don’t really hear Jazz on the Radio, why do you think that is?
R: Pop music is a very easy thing to listen to, made for short attention spans. When you listen to jazz you have to focus on it, the progressions are really complicated, and it just depends on the listener.
W: Less people are becoming musicians today, and a lot of the time people don’t understand what they’re listening to. To really see what’s going on, you have to give it some time. Another thing is that it’s hard to listen to jazz when you don’t understand the work put into an arrangement that an educated musician would. Pop music is far less complex, and I think there is a cognitive dissonance between today’s listeners and fans of jazz.
R: A really amazing thing about jazz is that it’s one of the only things that was created by Americans, I mean how many other things has our culture contributed to the world?
Q: What do you guys think about the phrase ‘Jazz is Dying?’ as seen in the movie ‘Lala Land.’
R: I don’t think jazz will ever truly die, it may not ever be as popular as it was, but people will never stop playing or listening to it. It’s a true art form.
W: Jazz has become the new samurai, super sick, but slowly dying into modernism.
R: I feel like jazz is “dying” because people aren’t embracing the foundations of jazz, the classics. From that so many forms of jazz branched out, bossa nova, Afro Cuban, swing, and jazz is a type of music that explores how far you can go with music. These days we don’t ever hear anything that really makes you go ‘what’s going on’ that challenges the norms of what music is today like jazz did.
Q: Favorite Jazz Song(s)?
R: So What – Miles Davis. It was the first jazz song I ever fell in love with.
W: Fly me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra, It speaks to me.