Steve Lampert - Venus Perplexed

Interview with Steve Lampert

Steve Lampert - Venus Perplexed
Steve Lampert - Venus Perplexed

Part of what I love about my show, Somethin’ Else, on WOBC is that I am able to share music of relatively unknown, and certainly under appreciated, jazz musicians with a diverse audience of listeners. This past week I featured the profound music of Steve Lampert on the show.

Mr. Lampert has two albums out under his own name. The first, Venus Perplexed, was released on Steeplechase in 2004. The second, Music From There, was released on Bridge Records in 2007. I do believe that both of these albums are essentials in any jazz or new music collection. They are vastly unique and exciting pieces of music.

I was also fortunate to be able to be in touch with Mr. Lampert to ask him a few questions about his music, which draws on very diverse influences. He very willingly responded and I am happy to share this interview with the WOBC community.

-Aidan Plank via WOBC Jazz

Aidan Plank: Is there anything you’d like the WOBC audience to know about your music?

Steve Lampert: I’d like the audience to know that it really means a great deal to me that they would take the time to listen to my music and/or read this interview.

AP: Do you think of yourself as a trumpet player or a composer?

SL: I think of myself as a composer/trumpeter in that order.

AP: I love your music and it also perplexes me (which is part of what I love about it). I can’t pin you down. When I hear a lot of musicians play I can often say, “well, this person has listened to a ton of so-and-so’s music”. When I hear your compositions and your improvising, I can’t do that. So what I want to know is, who influences, or has influenced your music?

SL: Influence is, to me, a much more exacting word than “like” or even “love”; an answer to the latter two words would produce an extremely long list drawn from artists past and present; my answer attempts to answer your question as directly as possible.

The general “vision” of my music was in place pretty early in my life but it took many years to find, study, assimilate and synthesize the musical materials, compositional techniques, improvisational approaches and music technology that would make it possible to actualize my conceptions. Although through study, internalization of surface vocabulary, techniques, and re-creative imitation I slowly worked my way through the music of several improvisers and composers, it is, as you suggest, the abstracted musical materials and techniques from the artists listed below, not their surfaces, that I believe now inform my music. I’m always very happy when that fact is acknowledged; thank you much.

As soloists and explorers of ensemble interaction Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane are foundational to improvisational concepts; Jimi Hendrix opened “pictorial” vistas for me; Arnold Schoenberg, Elliott Carter and Charles Wuorinen are foundational to the compositional handling of post-tonal materials; the Studies by Conlon Nancarrow, although for player piano, implied to me the creative potential in composing for MIDI controlled synths and samplers; pieces by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt, Mario Davidovsky and Arthur Kreiger showed me the creative and expressive potential in composing for sequenced electronic music plus live performers; recordings by Bjork and M.I.A. (among other current performers) are often lessons on studio mastery in the service of specific types of sonic surface, i.e. “sound” in the all-detail-subsuming electronic music sense.

AP: What are you currently working on?

SL: I’m currently wrapping up work on my third CD; having the disc mastered, preparing print materials for the liner, cover art, etc.

AP: Where can folks hear you play (performances, recordings, website)?

The best way is to check out the records. They’re all available at the usual locations; iTunes, the record label websites (SteepleChase Records and Bridge Records), etc. Beyond that I’m really among the world’s worst self promoters, ha. I don’t yet have a website and I withdrew from performing (for several reasons) years ago although I’ve never thought of that decision as a final verdict. I do have a myspace but I rarely bother with it. Finally, although there’s no music on my page, I would love to be friended through facebook; I’m there every day at some point and it would be very uplifting to make contact with people who are interested in my music; I would really welcome the opportunity to chat with them in cyberspace. Steve Lampert on Facebook

AP: On the show that I played your tunes Metaloids and S-h-r-i-n-g, I also played a bunch of Kenny Dorham. How do you feel about that?

SL: I love that idea. While I accept, in a general way, the conceptual idea of cultural continuums, I reject the idea of genres and labels in music; I love the idea of mixing “past masters” with “current progress” both within and between cultural continuums.

AP: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

SL: Don’t allow your ego to define your evolution. What you “think” you are may demand adjustment over time; go where your music demands that you go.

AP: When are you coming to Oberlin to play?

SL: This question should really be “when are you going to play somewhere other than in your apartment or a studio?” ha. I don’t have an answer but I really do appreciate YOUR question very much.

Aidan, sincere thanks for giving me this opportunity to reach your listeners.

One thought on “Interview with Steve Lampert”

  1. Yeah, Aidan!
    “What you ‘think’ you are may demand adjustment over time; go where your music demands that you go.”

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