When you hear the word “Jazz”, David Binney is one of the names that would come to mind. He has appeared on stage with Aretha Franklin at Carnegie Hall and recorded as a sideman for many high profile projects such as Uri Caine’s Mahler Project, Drew Gress’ Jagged Sky and Medeski, Martin and Wood. David is also a founding member of Lost Tribe and Lan Xang. He started his record label, Mythology Records, in 1998. He performs regularly at the 55 Bar and among many popular venues in New York City. We had the pleasure to watch his performance with his band and talk to him at 55 Bar.
How did you form the band that you play with tonight?
I met Dan, the drummer, and Jacob, the keyboard player, a long time ago in a band we were touring with in the 90s. They were still young guys in school. I met them and I liked the way they play. There was a bass player, Thomas Morgan. He hasn’t been in the band for 8 years. Eivind Opsvik is a bass player I used to play with a lot, so I put him in the band once Thomas left. We have been doing this gig for more than 15 years.
Who are some of the major influencers for your compositions?
There are million composers. Classical, jazz, rock, country, R&B… everybody. I listen to everything. I don’t copy anything literally but I’m sure all those influencers are in there. It’s all in there. I listen to a lot of classical music, a lot of electronic, jazz… Everything you listen to is in there, but I don’t consciously copy somebody. The list will take me forever to list. My favorite people are endless.
You’re such an influential musician and you are one of the top names of today. What inspired you to achieve your level of success and how did you decide to take this path?
Well, I don’t think you decide that. You just do the best you can, and if people like it you become that. I wasn’t trying to be; I was trying to – I still am – trying to play music well. And if I do and people like it then I’m happy. Then naturally you get more popular and people think you’re a top musician. But you don’t decide, “Oh I’m going to be a top musician”. I knew I wanted to come to New York. That was the decision. I knew that I wanted to do my own record and write my own music. Those decisions dictated. But you just don’t decide to be the top. You just decide to do what you want to do.
What’s the hardest part of being a jazz musician?
Working, I guess. In this day and age, just keeping working. There is not much work as it used to be. But I don’t feel there’s anything that is hard about being a jazz musician. I think it’s difficult to become good at it but it’s not difficult to be one.
Where do you think the future of music is heading? For example, what’s going to happen in the next 10 years?
It’s always developing like everything else. It will just be more developed. Obviously the electronic aspect will become more and more part of it because we are becoming more and more technological. Techniques will get better. People will do more amazing things on their instruments. But everything will continue as it was, too. There’s still going to be everything that is happening now, but it’s just more developed. I can’t say where it is going to go, but I don’t think about that very much. I just try to push my music.
What do you recommend for the young generation today?
t depends on what the person needs. In a general sense, if you really want to be an artist, you just have to do it, practice really hard, work really hard. Do what you want to do. You can’t really think about money. Don’t worry about your financial future. You gotta do it because you love it. If you’re in it for any other reason, then that’s the wrong reason. If money comes, it’s fine; if doesn’t come, it’s fine too. But, you have to work really really hard, conceptualize, and push things forward.