Oliver Lovekin And Afraaz Mulji Collaborate with Pizzazz

Wednesday

Oliver Lovekin And Afraaz Mulji Collaborate with Pizzazz








 Q: What city are you from?  What’s it like back home?

A:

Oliver:

I’m from Toronto, Ontario! Here in Toronto unfortunately we’ve just gone back into Stage 2 Covid Re-opening (as of mid October) which means indoor dining has been stopped (which includes indoor shows), gathering sizes have shrunken, and generally, people are once again in ‘stay at home’ mode. 

 

Afraaz:

I am from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Dar is a bustling city on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is a commercial hub and as such, there are lots of industrial endeavours and activities which take place. However, the pace of life is much slower than Toronto where I currently live. I draw inspiration from the Dhow and Tarab music. My favorite place in Tanzania is Zanzibar's historic Stone Town. Particularly the magnificent doors. 

 

 

Q: How long have you guys known each other and how long have you been a group?

A: 

Both:

We’ve known each other for a little over 3 years now. We actually met in Montreal, playing chess in Café Pi on St. Laurent Blvd. At the time, we were both studying at McGill University. It was before I made the transfer to music full time, when I was studying History and Classics, and Afraaz was studying Composition. After a year, I moved back home to Toronto, and started music full time. When I heard Afraaz was also living in Toronto, we eventually decided to get together and play. The recording we’ve captured is our first time playing ever, and our first time seeing each other in 3 years. 

 

Q: I understand you both are multi-talented artists, what motivates you guys to perform at such high standards?

A:

 

Oliver:

I would say I am very lucky to live in a great creative hub like Toronto. By constantly being surrounded by phenomenal musicians, I would say that the motivation to perform at high standards is thanks to not only my own influences, but also a combination of my peers, as well as the great creative minds on the scene.

 

Afraaz:

My practice draws from the realms of literature, philosophy and spirituality. From Zen Koans to Sufi whirling, from Mughal Gardens and Dancing Fountains, I seek to capture the essence of ineffable beauty and distill it into sound. I am motivated to present and curate sounds that meets the standards of best practice established by the most rigorous methods of my craft. 

 

 

 

 

Q: If you had to describe your music, what would be the sum of it all?

A: 

 

Oliver:

My Music. Period. Ok, just kidding. That’s a really hard question- one reason is because I’m into many different styles, I think it would be better to describe what aspects I look for in music, which would then permeate into the music I enjoy playing.

 

One of the big things I really want is for whatever I’m playing to be ‘in the moment’. Music that allows for things that aren’tprepared to happen. In the vast majority of classical music, pieces are composed with the intent of the composer’s vision to be realized, but less so on the micro level of the individual musician’s creative goals. For what I enjoy doing, as a performer, I prefer to have more say in what I play, so music that has improvisation, from jazz to hard rock, will usually be higher on my list. And there are always exceptions. In some of the most through-composed avantgarde classical pieces, there are open solo sections with tone-rows as reference material. If you don’tknow what that is, no bother. It is just to point out that virtually all music genres have elements of spontaneity, with varying levels. “Free” music, or sometimes dubbed “Free Jazz” arguably has the most spontaneity, since nothing is pre-meditated, and everything is ‘in the moment’. It is perhaps the most honest and transparent insight into a musician’s influences, and their overall sound aesthetic since there are no idiomatic limitations or expectations. 

 

Afraaz:

Music and indeed all the humanistic pursuits are a reflection and embodiment of the inherent Pluralistic, Interdependent and Interwoven natures of our existence. Therefore, I see my practice as a call to acknowledge and embrace the Cosmopolitan Ethic, to celebrate our differences and see them as a source of strength and inspiration, while also acknowledging our commonalities, that is, what makes us human.

 

Q: How was it coming up as a youngster, what big moments shaped your career today?

A:

Oliver:

One of my earliest examples of music I remember was when I was being bathed as an infant. My father would see to it that I was safe and, from nearby, he would be playing his acoustic guitar, playing classic British Invasion era music, like Rain Songor Lola or Over The Hills and Far Away. Seeing a role model like my father playing guitar was a pretty powerful combination, and then when I was in grade 6, it only helped support my pre-teen need to have a cool electric guitar! In high school, I found that the absolute coolest and most high-profile ensemble was the Senior Jazz Big Band. With several of the music staff having gone to jazz school, they would sit in and take a solo, which blew my mind! I felt that even though it was Satin Doll or Shiny Stockings, when they took a solo, it was like a super-power! How did they know what to play, and how did it always sound right? I had to learn more! Over the course of high school I had that chance to play in the Senior Big Band, as well as the Jazz FM91 Big Band, and a few smaller groups. All this made me want to pursue music even more, enjoying not only the study of music, but the camaraderie and collaboration between other bandmates. After applications and transfers, I’m happy to say that I’m doing what I wanted! In music school, studying with like-minded people, and playing shows and collaborations! Itsamazing to think that, just last week, I was in Humber Recording Studios recording on the same acoustic guitar my dad played for me some 18 years ago!

 

Afraaz:

I was fortunate to grow up in a pluralistic society which had influences from many diverse cultures. I had friends from all sorts of backgrounds and ethnicities. As a result, I was exposed to many ways of life and ideologies. From that melting pot, I was able to identify what inspired me and what resonated with my values, thereby creating a hybrid amalgamation of systems of value which have shaped my artistic voice and identity. 

 

I have been fortunate to perform and record at such prestigious venues as Maison Symphonique, Roy Thomson Hall, Four Seasons Center and the Aga Khan Museum. These opportunities have enabled me to play the finest instruments in some of the most remarkable acoustic settings, a privilege I do not take for granted.

 

Q: Are there any notable musicians that influenced you during your upbringing?

A:

Oliver:

This is going to serve as a list of not only my influences, but if you asked my family, the music I’ve played ad-nauseum: Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis Quintet, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Lorne Lofsky, Ben Monder, Webern, Messiaen, Ligeti, Bartok, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg

 

Afraaz:

An eclectic plethora of artists have shaped my style, from Oscar Peterson and Art Taum to La Monte Young and Samson Young. My influences also include Zakir Hussain, Allan Holdsworth, Cameron Carpenter and Messiaen. My most important influence is, without a doubt; Brian Eno

 

Q: In Jazz music, there's always room for experimental sounds; what are some of the techniques used to expand your boundaries?

A:

Afraaz:

I have studied classical technique and repertoire extensively, while also constantly experimenting with free improvisation, world music and polyrhythms. The resulting sound in distinct and unmistakable, a blend of musical traditions that embraces the distinctive traits and heritages of the sonic worlds I inhabit.

 

Oliver:

To name a few, Twelve-Tone Rows as a source of melodies or harmonies, the Triadic-Chromatic concept (George Garzone), Generic Modality Compression (Tim Miller + Mick Goodrick), Liberated Dissonance (as coined by Dave Liebman), chordal superimposition (on a G- chord, a Bbmaj9/G would give a G-11 sound!), and Pedal-point common-tone modulations with chords bigger than 7 chords (ie: EMaj13 and Bb-Maj9 both share C#/Db and G#/Ab, so, bridging the two very different sounds by said “pedal point common-tone modulation”). 

 

 

 

Q: If there is anything else you could be doing right now, what would it be?

A: 

Afraaz:

Skydiving, Architecture and Gardening. Designing fountains

 

Oliver:

Call me boring, but honestly I’m pretty happy doing what I do! I regret not being able to jam as much with other musicians at this time, due to the covid-19 pandemic, but in this field of study, having time alone at home is invaluable. For me, this is a great time for personal growth and diligent study. All my heroes put in a lot of practice and work before they became as successful and in-demand as they are now. My only hope is that I look back critically on this time and am happy with how I used my time to better myself, and my goals. 

 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your musical process? Has it taken a toll on your career?

A:

Afraaz:

It has caused me to become more introspective, pensive....

The pandemic has certainly taken its toll on my career. From losing gigs to not being able to practice on a pipe organ.

 

Oliver:

Regarding my musical process, the pandemic has allowed me more undisturbed practice time at home, which was an unexpected benefit! On the flip side to that, I’ve had lessexternal influences for a while, which has forced me to think up and develop my own answers and approaches to musical problems. Career wise, unfortunately there was a Musical I was going to be doing session work for, playing in the ‘pit orchestra’. That was cancelled. On the other hand, before we went back to Stage 2 in Toronto, I got the chance to do my first ever residency at a venue, doing a five-week residency at a great whisky bar called the Emmet Ray where I played jazz music on Thursdays in either a Trio or Quartet. The venue had plexiglass screens on the stage, and everybody wore masks, but it was still really funand was livestreamed on Facebook! I also played a livestream show from my home, and am about to record for the second time in 2 weeks in Humber Recording Studios

 

Honestly, you never know what’s going to happen nowadays, but in anticipation of further lockdowns, I have improved my home-recording capabilities, which will help with more from-home livestream shows! 

 

Any last remarks?

Oliver:

The group that Afraaz and I have started is just at the conceptual beginning. With covid limiting gathering sizes, and now indoor shows shut down for the foreseeable future, we will resort to home-livestreams, composing, and recording. We’ve been considering the addition of a bassist, and perhaps a drummer too. Beyond quartet, we are both excited to use this group as a vehicle for experimentation, and have already spoken about projects that could see this group doing performances alongside art gallery exhibits, write music for a larger, chamber ensemble, or even orchestral works. The sky’s the limit, but the founding principles of openness, spontaneity, and a mutual affinity for experimental music, jazz, classical, ambient, and rock will still be the strong bedrock that we create from. 

Afraaz:

Cadences by Afraaz Mulji

 

Windows open wide,

To embrace the cadences of my heart.

cherish each sound, moments...Eons...

You are my Muse,

You are my Music...