Interview with Roger Willemsen

as shown in 'Willemsen's Musikszene' in November 2000 / Daughter of Hermann Breuer, a reputed trombone player, found her way here as Soloplayer, Bandleader and as composer.

CB: I don’t sell my music through my looks. The CD does not provide a certain image of me. The cover image is an elusive one, it helps people to listen better. I was taught saxophone in the classic way, in the beginning no improvisations. And then one day after I asked my father: “Please teach me the standards”, he started to accompany me on the piano. We played nearly every day for about an hour at home. He jotted down the pieces and the scales for me …

RW: When did Jazz become a language for you?

CB: At that age not yet. At that age it was more like a language that I could speak with my father. Not using much words, one has somehow the music in common….I believe it was more like that …

RW: Is it easy for you to express what you feel inside on your instrument?

CB: First one learns the language of Jazz. One has to learn the words first. It is simply hard work to learn the Bebop reportoire of phrases played over chord sequences. Then there are certain lines to learn that Parker plays, Coltrane plays others as does Branford Marsalis. And then, one day, one finds one can stammer, and from then on it progresses till one is able to speak really well in this context, with these words.One day one notices that it is not exciting in the phrases of other people, that is not me.That is the start of a new search, and that is how one develops.Because I grew up in a musical family, I could learn in a playful and natural way. I wanted to know the academic approach too and thus I went to study at the school of music and played academically, following the books.

RW: Is it possible to play jazz in an academic fashion?

CB: One can play truly academically, so that you know that you play the flat 9 at the right place here, as well as the flat five there and that you play over the correct chord sequences. I was like that, and now it is allabout forgetting this stuff again.

RW: Comparing your CD with Coltranes' 'My favorite things', there is a sequence in which you start with a similar technique, you play the Soprano with a staccato.

CB: I would like to arrive at a point at which I play…. one third of the notes that I play now. Simple. Less. Perhaps this too is just a phase too, currently I still think that I am on the way towards playing really the minimum required notes.

RW:Because it becomes more true?

CB:Maybe because it becomes more true, maybe because one gives the listeners more space for their own associations.I experience this myself. Often I hear musicians playing and I think:if he only played nothing for once, create a pause or something.

RW: So what do you think is the secret? Timing?

CB: Yes, I think so. To master the pauses, somehow Supported by her drummer Joost Patocka, Carolyn Breuer startedher own record company in the attic of her house: “Not now Mom! Records.

CB: Why work hard on the saxophone to produce something in which one does not believe, and what one does not feel.That is why selling records up to now has not motivated me at all. There was no other way. Carolyn Breuer could only develop her own musical style without commercial pressure and away from the obligations from the established record companies. Listening to her music one clearly hears this.

RW: You are daringly working with melodies to a much higher degree than your contemporaries.Aren’t you afraid that you might become too sweet?

CB: No. There is always Keith Jarrett, he is much more melodic than I am. In the end it is jazz, it should be fun. It must be a happening. People should have the feeling 'that something is going on between the msuicians'.That is effectively happening when we play, people do have the feeling that they were witnessing four people creating something together.

RW: Communicating happily.

CB: Yes, That is what it is all about in the end

RW: Does that mean that after finshing your concert you are less lonely?

CB: No, I don’t think so.