Jazz Portrait: an espresso with Damian Erskine

Image Credits: Damian Erskine © Luca Vantusso

June 9, 2020

Damian Erskine

Damian Erskine is a bass player well known for his ability to fit into almost any musical situation, extraordinary reading skills and his ability to improvise; he is an educator and a columnist as well. We interviewed him.

> Luca Vantusso

Damian Erskine in a few words!
Touring musician, educator, author, student, human…
What made you desire to be a jazz musician?
Before I was even really ‘into’ jazz per-se, I recognized that the study of jazz harmony on my instrument was the most direct path towards understanding harmony, how it functioned and how it related to my instrument. In essence, I saw it as the clearest road to realizing freedom of expression on my instrument. Through the study of materials, I became of the myriad of styles inherent to ‘jazz’ and truly fell in love with both listening and playing the music in earnest.

What is jazz today, in your opinion?
Personally, I think jazz is in a wonderful place in time. Information has become global and the new generation of players have influences shining through from all corners of the globe. To me, jazz is the free-est form of musical expression because its true intent is indeed to express yourself honestly and ‘in the moment’… acknowledging what is happening in the now and playing and reacting to that specifically. I’ve never been a purest and I love the merging of jazz with other cultural influences. Additionally, there are some truly stunning traditional jazz musicians coming up today as well, so I feel like the music is very well reflected on the global stage, in all of its forms.
How do you choose the repertoire and the musicians to play with?
I’m generally a working freelance musician, so much of the time, I’m just going where the gigs are but, when I have my druthers… I primarily focus on the musicians that I want to play with and let the music take us from there. The more the repertoire reflects the collective voice of the individuals on stage, the better the likely-hood that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak. In other words, when the repertoire is really speaking on an organic level to the identities of the musicians on stage, it has a real chance of taking on a truer sound of its own. Long-story-short? I try to pick or write the music that will resonate with the musicians that will be playing it… and I always try to operate from a musically honest place.
Jazz Portrait: an espresso with Damian Erskine copyright Jazzespresso 2020.
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Jazzespresso is a magazine, a website, a network, a hub, connecting all the souls of jazz all over the world. Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa: news from all over the world on a page in four languages. A multicultural reference point in English, Chinese and Spanish language for the lovers of this music in every country. For the amateur or the pro who wants to be updated about what is happening all around the world... Stay tuned.
Jazzespresso 不只是一個爵士樂雜誌,也是一個能將擁有各種不同精髓的世界爵士樂,包括美洲、歐洲、亞洲、澳洲及非洲各地,互相連結起來的網站及交流站。以中文及英文寫成的內容將是一個新的多元文化交流的參考點,為各地的爵士音樂愛好者提供來自全世界最新的消息。請持續關注!
JazzEspresso 不只是一个爵士乐杂誌,也是一个能将拥有各种不同精髓的世界爵士乐,包括美洲、欧洲、亚洲、澳洲及非洲各地,互相连结起来的网站及交流站。以中文及英文写成的内容将是一个新的多元文化交流的参考点,为各地的爵士音乐爱好者提供来自全世界最新的消息。请持续关注!
Jazzespresso è una rivista, un sito web, una rete che connette le anime del jazz di tutto il mondo. America, Europa, Asia, Australia e Africa: notizie da tutto l'orbe terracqueo in una pagina tradotta in cinque lingue. Un punto di riferimento multiculturale in inglese, cinese, spagnolo e italiano per gli amanti di questa musica in tutti i paesi del mondo. Per gli amatori o i professionisti che vogliono essere aggiornati su quello che sta succedendo in tutto il pianeta... rimani sintonizzato!

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