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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 52

INTERVIEW with Zdenko Ivanusic



ZZAJ:   We reviewed a CD you had produced, the "Donna Lee Saxophone Quartet".  Is that the only group you're with, or are there more?


ZI: No, there are some more groups I work with. Besides my full time job in the CROATIAN ARMY WIND ORCHESTRA as a principal alto and soprano, leading the "Donna Lee Saxophone Quartet" and  my own jazz trio , I play in a smooth jazz group "SWING AGAIN". Recently I have done some recordings as a guest artist on new albums of the Croatian pop-rock artists Bruno Kovacic and Mile Kekin. Also I play lead alto in a CROATIAN MUSIC INSTITUTE BIG BAND and sax quintet under Zeljko Kovacevic's (tenorman in National Radiotelevision BIG BAND) leadership.

ZZAJ:  Davey Williams & LaDonna Smith (fine improvisers) have visited your country many times in the past 10 years (or so).  Are you familiar with them?


ZI: I heard about them, but am not familiar with their work and I am not sure they were in Croatia. Actually they played in Slovenia, a country near Croatia, also former Yugoslavia republic/until 1991. Maybe they played on ZAGREB BIENALE (contemporary music festival), but I can't remember.


ZZAJ:  Are you strictly a composer, or do you play improvised music(s) also?


ZI: At first place I am jazz saxophone player (although I studied and got degree in classical saxophone performance), which means that I play improvised music. Also, like most jazz musicians I do writing my original songs and compositions and most of them are jazz compositions based on improvisation. I benefited from the classical study regarding theory knowledge, contemporary composition and form, because the greatest part of classical saxophone literature is contemporary music or 20th century classical music. Stylistically I am contemporary jazz artist and I do not shrink from avant-garde.


ZZAJ:  The Internet has been helpful to many musicians who have made it online.  Has it helped you in selling/distributing your music?


ZI: It helped me a lot in promoting myself and my music. I made a lot of contacts through the Internet and after all I am not well known in music business globally, but internet made me less anonymous. Now I am working on my upcoming CD and the Internet will be great tool in promoting and selling it.


ZZAJ:  The emphasis of my 'zine is on "high energy" music, without regard to genre, because we feel that is the music that can help the world most.  What are your thoughts on that philosophy?


ZI: Yeah, high energy is the most important thing for me. I respect good craftsmanship, technique and all parameters involved in music, but music without energy is vain. Also, under the term "energy" I also consider passion,  struggling (in improvisation, you know what I mean) and dedication to oneself conception and originality.  I listened recently to a young metal band. They were kids and I was enthusiastic with their playing and energy. I didn't hear any selfishness or egoism, they all played for the band creating extraordinary energy and this is what I respect the most.


ZZAJ:  Have you (or will you) perform(ed) in the United States?  In view of the recent attacks in NYC, are you more (or less) inclined to want to perform here now?


ZI: I never performed in the States and so far there are no any plans or schedules for performing engagement or tour. Regarding recent attacks in NYC, I'm not less interested in visiting the States and NYC especially. You know, terrorism is a global threat and the fact is that nobody is completely safe anywhere. So we should follow our destiny.


ZZAJ:  Many of the readers of this 'zine have their own home studios.  Do you have any experience with home recording?  If so, please describe it... if not, is there a reason?'


ZI: So far I don't have home studio, but I am planning in near future to complete and update my computer and organize a home studio.

I sent you Donna Lee Saxophone Quartet's home recording, but it was recorded live with stereo mic directly to mini disc. I am not in home studio technology yet, but it will be and should be my next step.

ZZAJ:  Please decribe an average "day in the life" for you as a musician in Croatia.


ZI: I usually get up about 7 am, unless I had late gig last night, I do my warm-ups on saxophones and at 9 am begins rehearsal with Symphonic Wind, if there is no rehearsal this day, I practice or have rehearsal with DLSQ until launch. At the afternoon usually shows up some recording sessions or rehearsals with other bands. If I have a gig in the evening I do sound checks. If there is no this kind of activities in the evening, I go home and do my composing, mail and spend some time with my girlfriend, or hang out and drink a few beer with friends.


ZZAJ:  Any "words of wisdom" for aspiring musicians?


ZI: At first do your homework and form your skills and craft. In my opinion, one should have recognizable original sound and concept, and have to be strongly convinced in what he or she is doing. Listen to all the music and artists, be influenced, but do not copy anyone, because this is the worst thing you could do. Nowadays, in the beginning of  new millenium, it seems that cannot be any originality at all, but only variations of something someone done before. In a way we have to agree with that, but still there is a space for new directions, I believe.

Best Regards!
Zdenko Ivanusic
Djalskog 82
10 000 Zagreb
tel: +385 (0)98 279 243


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