QUARTETO NUEVO INTERVIEW
DAVIS ART CENTER interview with
QUARTETO NUEVO MUSIC DIRECTOR
Christopher Garcia - 1999 thru 2015
done via email in regards to their 3/15/13 performance
at the DAVIS ART CENTER.
North Indian tabla, South Indian kanjira,
Mexican olla, baa wehai, mbwata, marimba,
PAISTE cymbals,miscellaneous percussion
soprano saxophone, alto flute
HOW DID QUARTETO NUEVO GET TOGETHER?
I have been making music with many groups for many years and I always loved the sounds
of these instruments e.g., classical guitar, cello, woodwinds and percussion. But I had never
had the opportunity to work in that sonic environment. So in 1999 I invited musicians to come
together to rehearse, perform and record compositions I had composed and/or arranged as
well as having them bring in their own compositions to breathe life into black notes on a page.
This only happens thru rehearsals and performance.
( I should stress for me anyway)
Like a good actor who can evoke and emote while reading thru
a script aloud it doesn't matter how good the individual is if the
ensemble is not up to speed with the material and the interpretation
and the INTENTION which only comes thru rehearsals and performance.
WHAT ARE EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
WHICH VERNACULAR DOES EACH MEMBER BRING TO THE GROUP?
A composer who also improvises has very different perspective on both due to their practical
experience of doing both. Kenton, Jacob and Damon are grounded in the classical tradition, i.e., they can read and interpret written music, in addition to composing their own music, i.e., they studied privately and at universities as well as playing popular music and jazz music which they also studied in "real time" i.e., on and off the bandstand.
They also teach individually.
They can each improvise over moving harmony
"jazz changes" as well as modally, over one scale and in different time signatures.
I have played drumset since I was 12 and started studying tabla and western music, piano and marimba when I was 17. So I played all of the above as well as studying tabla of North India with 4 different teachers since 1979. I also had a full scholarship to study North Indian Tabla at California Institute of the ARts where I was also in the percussion ensemble under professor John Bergamo.That training has allowed me to perform as a featured soloist with chamber ensembles and symphonic orchestras playing traditional western instruments and music written for ancient instruments of India and Mexico, i.e., I read and write also.
(Music that is)
Each of us is more adept than others at different things so instead of having people only do what they know how to do, we enthusiastically jump into what we don't know in order to gain that practical experience and bring each persons unique perspective to it. Improvising modally in 4/4 is different from improvising modally in 7/8 or 5/4 let alone playing in those time signatures. But there is more to MUSIC MAKING then playing in time and in tune
DO YOU START WITH MUSIC THAT IS COMPOSED FOR YOU
AND THEN IMPROVISE BASED ON THAT COMPOSITION?
AND/OR DO YOU WRITE YOUR OWN COMPOSITIONS?
Both. We each bring in our compositions and they change, they evolve, sometimes almost imperceptibly. This naturally occurs over time, much like a blossoming flower. Each individuals compositions and contributions become QUARTETO IZED over time. Improvisations are inextricably linked with the compositions, i.e., if the improvisation has nothing to do with the thematic material of the piece or the intention of evocation of the composition there is no point in playing the composition. Besides performing original compositions we also perform works of our favorite composers like John Bergamo,
Chick Corea, Egberto Gismonti, John McLaughlin, Erik Satie, Frank Zappa etc.,
BACK IN 2001 DID YOU INVITE MANY DIFFERENT MUSICIANS
TOGETHER TO REHEARSE OR DID YOU START WITH THESE SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS?
QUARTETO did not start with the individuals you will be hearing at this performance,
this is the 6th edition of the ensemble, the only constant has been myself and my musical vision.
Originally it was with 4 very different individuals, i.e., as peoples lives change so do their priorities and the music of QUARTETO always reflects who is in the group at that moment.
This particular version of QN4 has been rehearsing, recording and performing with the same individuals for awhile now, and we religiously rehearse every week when we are all in town and when I am not touring the world - 29 countries on 5 continents so far)
(Christopher Garcia plays drums for the ZAPPA ALUMNI band the GRAND MOTHERS
of INVENTION since 2003 and that ensemble performs 16 weeks per year. When he is not performing with THE MOTHERS he leads several different ensembles, and continues to be invited to collaborate with other musicians worldwide
MAKING MUSIC LINKS
CLICK ON LINK FOR PREVIOUS PERFORMANCES
The other members teach in and around Los Angeles in order to pay their bills.
Very few musicians in any city or country, are blessed to play the music they want
with the people they want.
WOULD IT BE FAIR TO SAY THAT EACH PERFORMANCE BY QUARTETO
NUEVO WILL BE A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE YOU IMPROVISE?
Definitely, but improvisation is relative and each tradition has its own vernacular.
Improvising in the flamenco tradition is verify different from improvising North Indian, indigenous Mexican, baroque or bebop.
They each have their own forms, vernacular, sound and resonance.
But improvisation is relative, every time you meet a stranger and carry on a conversation
you are improvising, every time you drive somewhere without a map you are improvising, it is something we each do every day. Some more than others and the more you do it the better you get at it, and having said that, imagine trying to carry on/improvise a conversation with someone who does not speak your language, the depth of the conversation may seriously suffer, or not.....................there are many different ways of communicating. I had this experience when I performed in Korea with musicians from Japan, Korea and the US,
all of the concerts were completely improvised.
TO USE YOUR ANALOGY OF THE BLOSSOMING FLOWER, WOULD A PERFORMANCE NEXT MONTH BE MORE DEVELOPED (BLOSSOMED MORE) THAN ONE THIS MONTH?
When you have a conversation with people you know are your conversations more developed or less developed every time you see them? It depends what the conversation is about, how many times you have previously discussed it etc., Hopefully you are in the moment at the moment and WITH the person and not judging your conversation while having it but simply enjoying their company................
In 2015 Christopher resigned from Quarteto Nuevo in order to continue to compose
and perform his music with every opportunity afforded him which has taken his music
and his instruments to 5 continents and approximately 40 concerts per year.