Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lola Danza Weighs In.

Lola Danza is a force of nature. In addition to the hallmark quality of restless seeking and growing in stature, she is also a godsend to her colleagues due to effort she applies to non musical things like producing concerts and evangelizing for the music on public radio and elsewhere. And she is quite modest about this aspect of her life.

This is the first of what I hope will be many survey replies for a project I dreamed up to gather the words of actual artists. The inspiration comes from the old WPA writers project that was part of the FDR stimulus work during the first great Depression. With another one bearing down, I wanted to revisit the concept and share what I gather.

1.What brought you to music?

I come from a long line of musicians. My father is a jazz guitarist. My grandfather was a jazz pianist and had his own big band in the 40's. So I grew up with music.

2.Describe your role models, muses and mentors.

I have many mentors. Locally in Boston: Nat Mugavero, John Voigt, John Lockwood, Bob Gullotti, Bob Moses, Mili Bermejo. Generally: Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, Meredith Monk, Bjork, Jeanne Lee, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Maria Callas, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Lowell Davidson, Charles Gayle, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Anita O'Day, and many many more.

3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences.

I am proud and grateful to be involved with such a beautiful community of artists. And I am glad that we're keeping this music alive and that there is a devoted audience who loves and supports this music.

4.What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition?

When playing Free Jazz there is an important element of listening that is required. It's a different type of hearing. Its almost a meditative hearing. In my approach to free jazz I am always serving the music and not myself. I believe that this music is sacred and that the most important element is to make your bandmates sound better than you do. Giving is better than receiving and that's what this music is about. Its about healing and giving.

5.What role does teaching have in your work?

I believe that this music has a lot to offer to people. And so by passing this information along we keep this creative music alive. We're all searching for more information and new information. As artists we are always trying to grow and get better. So by teaching others we share information. And I believe in sharing. And as we teach we also learn. I believe strongly in education.

6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work?

Its a known fact that when the economy isn't going well art thrives. I think in the art community we can definitely put this time to good use. Unfortunately as a society we've become greedy and fake. Its times like these that shake us and test us. As artists we can remind society that creativity is just as important as anything material. "Creativity is more important than knowledge"- Albert Einstein. So when we keep this in mind, we as humans can accomplish anything. We have forgotten about our imagination. We, as a people have forgotten about creativity. Words create. We constantly create our environment. And as artists we can remind people that self expression through art can heal us. Creativity can open doors that we didn't see before or realize.

I believe in the power of positive thinking. When looking at the economy we can either see only the bad or we can see the good and how this is the time when artists can really make a difference. Its called an "Artistic Revolution". A revolution of the minds. We need to question our intentions and ourselves and not judge ourselves. But question. It seems as though people have lost their sense of curiosity. Now is the time to question things. To get excited about things. To dream the impossible and know that nothing is impossible. That as a people we can change things. That as a people we do have power. That as a people we can create the life that we want to live.

7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time?

Singing abroad is wonderful. There are amazing musicians everywhere and that's wonderful to experience. And its amazing to see how many people outside of the US love this type of creative music.

8.How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work?

Technology has made getting your work out there easier. Music business has turned into another animal altogether because of the internet. Its a work in progress. There are pros and cons with everything. Right now its a great time to be a little guy. Because its a fair and free market. And anything is possible.

9. Describe your current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do.

I just released another CD "Live Free" on my label Evolver. There personnel is Rakalam Bob Moses- Drums, Wes Brown- Bass, Matt Langley- Tenor and Soprano Sax, and me- voice. All About Jazz did a 5,000 word article on me.
Its a review on my CD and also a great interview. I am teaching master classes on improvisation at universities around the country. I will be going on tour to Korea and Japan this summer. I just recorded another CD to be released next year.

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