Q&A with Nick Russell
On Oct. 4, Nick Russell performed a show, The Music of Miles Davis, at the Rails End Gallery in Haliburton. Questions were sent to Russell on behalf of the Echo.
How did you get the idea for this show?
I wanted to create in Haliburton County the jazz club culture that I’d observed in urban areas like the GTA or NYC. I’m of the mind that if one can offer a cultural event that is presented well, then people will come no matter where the show is whether it be in a city or small-town. I feel very fortunate to live in a community that has extended such support for what I do and some of the ideas I’ve had over the last year and a half. Thank you!
Why Miles Davis?
Miles had a large personality and incredibly vast and explorative body of work. It makes him such an interesting study of the language of jazz and how jazz cannot necessarily be summarized by style or era. Jazz could perhaps be summarized as a music that is constantly searching, pushing boundaries and being redefined, stretched and improvised. This is something that Miles was very good at and demonstrated through the various transformations of his sound over the decades that he was a band leader. One can gain a lot of musical understanding just by paying attention to Miles Davis’s career and music. His compositional style allows for a lot of interpretation for a band such as the quartet formation that played on Oct. 4 at the Rails End. As players this is something we greatly enjoy!
Who’s your band and how do you know them?
Dylan White - Electric Bass
Nicholas Russell - Electric Guitar
Andrew Liorti - Keyboard
Daniel Monich - Drums
All these players met in Guelph, Ont., in their early 20s. We were all studying at the University of Guelph. We’ve played together (and around each other) for over a decade and have collectively done hundreds of gigs.
How did you rehearse?
There were no rehearsals. I planned the set list and sent it to the band prior to the gig.
When and how did you determine you’d become a full-time musician as a career?
I am certainly artistically inclined and I think have been so from a young age. Being part of family where music and the “life of the musician” was everyday talk, I feel this fostered and perhaps framed my view of the arts through a musical lens. I think though, that if my time and inspiration were applied to other endeavours, say painting or natural science for example, I would have continued to work in these other fields with equal zest! I am very grateful to have found music as it’s my main mode of expression. So, maybe music chose me and I chose music. We chose each other as a career. I still have a lot of work to do and am working often to improve my ability on the instrument, develop my sense of time-feel and also refine my musical voice.
How can you describe the importance of music to a student/ young person today?
I think an arts-based education is crucial. Especially in a production-oriented society where the individual is often valued by material prosperity, social notoriety, etc. Probably an arts-based education is the most important thing now – also study in philosophy, literature, myth, psychology, etc.
It’s important to give youth (and adults, too) a way to explore their inner world and perhaps find a way of communicating what’s sometimes hard to do through spoken or written word. Music specifically is community building, confidence inducing, and very fun. As a player who is still working on their musicianship skills as a dad of two great little girls I’ve resolved that music will never be a thing that I ”finish,” like a statue or building a house, and thus needs to be enjoyed as a process or path.
Russell’s newest release on acoustic guitar, Late Night & Early Morning, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Bandcamp and at www.nicholasrussell.ca.