September 28, 1955 / November 12, 1998

TRIBUTE INTERVIEW

(May 1990)

◄ Kenny : Music Is A Gift From God ►

 

Gert : Hi Kenny, it's such a pleasure to meet you again. There are many people around who know you because of your long time collaboration with Sting. All jazz listeners know you but for all those who want to learn more about you, could you please sum up your musical career before 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles' album and tour?

K
enny :
when I started to play piano I was very young... seven years old, playing classical music with a teacher from my neighbourhood. Then I didnít really love music. My parents made music for me more like going to school. When you go to school , you have maths, you have English, you have science... music was the same. You must do that or you get beat. I had very strict parents. So I studied music and then I went to high-school, I went to college, I got into jazz, I took piano lessons and I started to play fusion with Michael Urbaniak and different fusion groups. Later I began to play with jazz bands : Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Elvyn Jones... I canít remember now... Michael Breaker ... Many different people, many musicians I played with before Sting when he wanted to start the first band, ĎThe Dream of the Blue Turtlesí. He wanted jazz musicians and Branford... I really owe it to Branford ! He told Sting ę You must get Kenny, you must get Kenny Ľ, now you have Kenny (He laughs, saying these words as if he's talking to Sting in person).
Itís been working out cause we have a good relationship.

G : Iíve heard
that you've played with Crosby, Still & Nash...

K :
Many years ago I did a record with them, yeah... It was fun but... In this Kind of commercial music Sting is the best.

G : Do you realise that you are one of the best Keyboard player of your generation ?

K :
(he laughs and a smile of shyness appears on his face) I donít really think so. When I hear music from real masters like Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret... when I hear musicians like them it makes me keep straight on the path of knowing that I have many things to get through. I appreciate the people who says that... all I can say is that I really love music. And I believe in God to
o. And I consider it something from God. I respect and like that. He gave me an extra, a bonus. I donít know why...

G : What can influence your way of playing ?

K :
I listen to a lot of commercial music, I listen to rap as well as classical music... Everything is good. When I play with Wynton or Branford, many music styles they donít like. But for me I like everything, so I play all styles. This album we are doing with Sting
('The Soul Cages'), I think itís very good. I think itís gonna be much commercially successful than any other one. He has a new great guitar player, Dominic Miller. He helps the music so much that I think Itís going to sell very good.

G : Who are your preferring pop singers ?

K :
Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Sting. I like Phil Collins cause is very simple and his songs are immediate hits. He doesnít mind being simple and it turns out to give him millions of sellings world-wide. Sting is more like... Heís very serious. The thing Iíve learned from Sting is not only... musically Iíve learned from him but what Iíve learned also is about simplicity. Iíve learned more about pop music... But with him Iíve learned, definitely much more than anything else, about life cause he is a very determined man, very... focused and disciplined too. He works very hard. Thatís what Iíve learned from him cause I can get lazy sometimes.

G : Iíve noticed that you didnít choose your preferring singers only for their music but also for what they are...

K : For what they are as for their music too. If a man is a great musician but inside, spiritually
, not good, I donít like him. He has to be clean in these ways too. If someone is bursting of to play music I think he should really be modest, and he should learn to share.

G : What is the most important thing for you in this life ?

K : To grow, to be in secure... Right now in my life, I donít really want anything. All that I need are only material things like a house, a place where I can play music. I have anything else I need. At the moment, I live in the Queens. Itís about 12 kilometres from New-York.

G : Were you born there ?

K : Yeah, I was born in Brooklyn. I grew up in a ghetto (he laughs).

 

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