Bassist and composer Bruno Schorp has written music inspired not so much by the pandemic state of the world for the past year and a half, but our need for art to shine through and lift and inspire us. His compositions are fresh, bold and meaningful.
The upcoming EP called “The Depths” (set for release in 2022) is an anti-statement, taking the listener actually out of the depths of a very hard time: lockdown, uncertainty and for artists, a big, fat pause button as everyone had to figure out how to continue performing music. As the song begins, the rhythm skips along the top like a skimmed stone on a river, gradually taking on speed and complex over-melodies. The sax leads us through with assertive melodic strokes. The song’s predecessor, “The Owls,” is accompanied by a poignantly artistic video. The song itself is stunningly haunting, moody, lovely and gathers more energy into complex rhythms and counterpoint, with its primary speaker in the sax. Schorp delivers an array of fanned-out feelings, sparks of ideas and captivating forward motion in this new music.
Personnel on “The Depths” includes Bruno Schorp (bass/composer); Ben Wendel (saxophone); Tony Paeleman (piano); Karl Jannuska (drums) and Olivier Calmel (string quartet arrangement).
What got you into jazz and why did you choose the bass?
It’s a quite unusual as I started music at the age of 18, which is rather late for professional musicians. Before entering the jazz world, I started studying electric bass and was influenced by the soul & funk music. When I passed the exam for the Conservatoire of Nancy, I switched to the double-bass in the classical course and then joined the Conservatoire of Metz to play Jazz music. I was charmed by the sound of the double-bass and jazz music was already a challenge for me: rhythm changes, elaborated on and interpreted by high-level musicians.
What was the biggest challenge in learning and what do you feel you want to continue to improve or develop?
Music is a real challenge where all steps are obstacles: how to link the body and the instrument, harmony and theory.
To me, jazz learning curve is endless. You can always do ear training, improve your sound, develop harmony and rhythm knowledge.
The most important thing for a bassist to know that they DON’T teach you in school?
I was able to observe that students aren’t often valuated for their uniqueness during their years at the music school. Of course, this evolves at the pace of the society changes: fostering gender equality, exploring new music, thinking out of the academic world.
Unfortunately, on the other hand, the basics are often left behind. Playing the bass is grooving more than anything else.
How did you meet Ben Wendel and why did you want to work with him?
We had the chance to meet in Paris, thanks to a close friend (the drummer Karl Jannuska) while we were dangling between the multiple Sars-Cov-2 lockdowns.
His last album “High Heart” was on top of my personal playlist for a year. I came up with the idea to write a jazz quartet composition for him. Incorporating a string quartet part to this matched his universe also.
What inspired the current track, “The Depths”?
After the release of “The Owls,” I thought I wanted to write something lighter and flow out of the depths of the sanitary crisis. Solitary confinement and a time freeze inspired me for “The Depths.” This music needed to sound like a rhythmic and poetic rebirth boost.
The video (“The Owls” your last release) is very somber and beautiful at the same time. What challenges go into producing a video that reflects what you are also saying musically?
Everything was new to me for this first track. I learned how to write an animated video clip, adapting the scenario to the messages: the urgency of ecological awareness, the limits of our urbanized lives. On the music composition, I also learned to orchestrate plans, textures and shapes with the specificity of each music bar to serve the storyline.
What was your workaround during lockdown?
Music is not everything, and my closest ones helped me a lot to see that. It was also all about daily routine to write music and compose for others while live music was impossible.
Do you have new gigs and performances lined up?
As a sideman, every day is booked with a new gig now, which is great! But I’m also looking forward to releasing this EP for 2022 and still focused on this.
If you could play anywhere, where would it be?
NYC definitely. The energy of the musicians leading to cross-cultural encounters is appealing.
Favorite or most memorable sideman gig?
I was honored to play several gigs with Nelson Veras, the incredible guitar player who also lives in Paris. I think I never found such a connection while playing music.
Favorite festival or large event?
Namaste! The best international Jazz festival happens in Katmandu each year!
Since 2013, I’m regularly performing and helping the organization to coordinate the line up. It’s always such an energy boost!
Advice to new bassists?
It’s not an easy question, there’s too much to say but I would emphasize the need to stay inspired by ones’ favorite musicians while being open-minded.
I’m 46 today and it’s only now that I can develop a personal music as a leader, even after 2 records released. You need to be patient, especially since the essence of a bass player is to be a sideman, always there to support the band.
For more information visit https://brunoschorp.jimdosite.com.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
© 2021 Debbie Burke