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19 Sep

Kathrin Pechlof Interview

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The Goethe Institut in Athens  presents  “ Women of German jazz” - prominent women, who gained international recognition in the jazz scene with the creative and high claims work.

The concert series continues  this October with Kathrin Pechlof, one of the few harp players on the German jazz scene.Irrespective of any conventional conceptions of harp playing, she uses her extraordinary way of playing to encourage the listener to throw all his preconceptions of the instrument over board. What the listener can expect, however, is delicate music that makes do with few notes, characterized by creativity, phantasy and clarity. Jazzonline met her fews days before her performance.

1-What lead you to jazz and why did you choose this instrument. What is it so special about it for you ?
The harp is my instrument since I was a child. At the age of 9 I got the opportunity to chose the instrument what i´d like to learn.At this early age I was fascinated by the unique floating and wonderful sound and the certain poetry of the harp. And still I am.I was classical trained and did classical studies, I actually still play classical music. These are my roots and i feel very much connected with the tradition of european music culture.But when I was in my early twenties I felt in a uncertain way "incomplete". I struggled with just reproducing music an fulfilling claims. Something was missing.I was friends with jazz musicians, joined their concerts. So I got more and more involved into this music. In Jazz I found the freedom I missed. It felt natural and necessary to me, the wish to discover and to search for something behind the borders. The harp was my instrument, so I decided to take the harp to discover what is possible in this genre with this instrument.


2-Which jazz musician had a great influence on you ?
In a way any musician I ever played with. And up to now I was very lucky to work with a lot of exceptional and inspiring musicians. And many of them supported me very much in finding my way. But to name one, the young pianist and friend Pablo Held inspires me with his approach to let the music grow, his way to let it float. He is transporting a natural spirituality in his music, which is captivating every time.

3-how would you characterize your music ?
Of course very personal. There are no Jazz harpist role models. No one to copy, but also no one to deal with in the meaning of dissociation. So I had to find my own personal way. Mostly I´m very intuitive, I´m listening to music and feel a kind of resonance and then automatically it becomes part of my language. Not note by note of course, but in the attitude, the meaning or whatever. It is a melting pot of styles and influences which reaches from Bach to Helmut Lachenmann and from Mary Lou Williams to Henry Threadgill.The music of the Trio is very special to me. Within the constellation with such wonderfull musicians and friends as Christian Weidner and Robert Landfermann I was lucky to find partners to create an ideal setting to develop a certain way of communication. Everybody brings a lot of its own experience. Christian composed beautiful music for the Trio. In very special moments the trio becomes a kind of "Metainstrument" what means all our voices become one.
4-You have released  with your trio at  Pirouet Records the album Imaginarium. Could you tell us a few word about it ?
The music of IMAGINARIUM offers a varied range of images, feelings, and associations. What we mean with that is this certain place what we all find in ourselves, when we stand still for a moment listening inside. it is a place of insights where wisdom is revealed and new questions are constantly asked. It is a place of unlimited possibilities, of permanent motion and change – a dreamlike reminder of the very essence of music. The compositions draw on a broad spectrum of sources. A Gregorian chant evolves into dodecaphony, Messiaen’s symmetrical scales, with all their ambiguity, create floating soundscapes; the harmonies of major/minor tonality contrast markedly with the gestures of contemporary improvisation. It would call it a special and quiet kind of chamber jazz.
We recorded the music with Jason Seizer from the Label Pirouet. I felt very happy with this situation. What I made before was by my own and always in a kind of Guerilla workflow. This time there was a producer, whom I trusted completely - he is a musician by himself. It was an interesting process to give up responsibility, but that turned out to be very enriching. Someboy who is not so close an deep into the music is listening different. And is able to bring aspects in the process, we were not able to see.

5-Is that what  you are going to play at Goethe Institut or are you presenting something else ?
First of all we will present the music of our recent album IMAGINARIUM, but we´ll also preview some music of the next, which we´ll record in November.

6-Except the trio, you also have a project with a sextet. How different is this project ?
In comparison to the trio, where we try to speak with one voice the music of this band is more about contrasts.
Writing music for a powerful and possibly violent brass section was a way to express aspects, which I would never be able to express on the harp with its soft and kind of bourgeois attitude. To handle this contrast was appealing to me. And I liked the possibility of polyphonic writing for three horns. With this very variable rhythm section and all this highly independent players I tried to find a synthesis of composition and improvisation.

7-What are your plan for the following month ?
We will record our next trio CD and I´m very excited about that. It feels like a gift to work with this band and to develop our common way as a trio.

Interview Patricia Graire – September 2014


Kathrin Pechlof Trio  on October 20, 2014 at 
  In collaboration with the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce 

Last modified on Monday, 25 September 2017 13:52