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Yuri Honing: Digging Deep

Lilian Alexakou interviews Dutch saxophonist

You were awarded Holland’s most prestigious jazz prize, the VPRO/Boy Edgar Prijs. Will you share your feelings?

Yuri Honing: The Vpro/Boy Edgar prize is an oeuvre award, which for me being a Dutchman, is a tremendous honour. Great thing is that the Dutch audience right now, welcomes me very warmly, most concerts are sold out and the responses are great.

Though I’m abroad a lot, it is great to get such rewarding in my own country and it does feel like a well deserved thing, after so many years of hard work.

You just released a new album, called True with your Acoustic Quartet.

True is my answer to Quartet playing in the classic setting of saxophone, piano, double bass and drums. When I started this group, everything we played seemed to relate to 40 years of jazz history. It took me a while to find a way to do it differently. The title track “True” refers to the fact that this might be the first recording on which everything I play relates for the first time only to myself, to build musical history. It is in that sense “True.”

You probably don’t like labeling your music but could you please give us a short description of your sound with your group Wired Paradise?

It is hard to categorise the music. It is a blend of rock, jazz, electronics and non western music. My place is that of the singer. I ‘sing’ melodies, more than I play solos.

The movies are actually just a way for me to find titles, though music to me is three-dimensional. I think the main goal is signature playing, making everything sound like Yuri Music and make sure it relates to modern times and city life.

How do you get your inspiration to compose music?

That’s a difficult question. I think somehow even when I can’t play the music at first I trust that I’ll find a way. Also I have a tendency to listen to music I don’t like just to see if there’s anything to get from; kind of a forceful out of the box listening. In my opinion it is good to dig deep, to find something decent and work on it for a while. I get inspiration from anything nice, new or strange. I especially like stuff that is out of the mainstream; in the borders of developments usually the good stuff is hidden.

“Good music is good music.” Do you make distinctions in art?

I think that all great art is alike, whether it is Baroque, heavy metal or jazz. Same holds for paintings, sculptures and pictures.

For you is jazz a language rather than a style?

I try to develop my own language, bases partly on my jazz background that somehow rises above the style differences, and has the potential to reach anybody no matter how little they know about music, and inspire them.

What are you biggest influences?

Right now I would say PJ Harvey, Miles Davis, Foo Fighters and Ligety. But it changes all the time…

Will you perform in USA?

Yes, probably in June at the le Poisson Rouge in New York.

Originally Published