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Vahid Matejko :: Light Of Unity Becomes Brighter
by Leonid Auskern

Our readers firstly met with young and talented composer from Germany Vahid Matejko few years ago. We published review of his debut album Come Together and interview with Vahid in Jazz – Quadrat № 6/07. Bahai believer, he is a man with Iranian, Polish and German roots. Synthesis of the musical traditions from different cultures is the main aim of his art. Vahid’s music is deeper than world music, as we usually understand this term. Now he continues his work in this direction. His new album Light of Unity is another step on his way. You can read, in Russian, a review of this album. Also Vahid got his diploma in jazz composition / arrangement with highest mark level and special honour graduated from Cologne Music University last summer. He has another projects in the same time – two of his books about Klezmer music were released this year. Humanism is the basis of Vahid Matejko’s art, he collaborates with musicians from different corners of the Earth and his music doesn’t know any confessional or national borders. The name of his new album Light of Unity is the symbol of the brotherhood of men. There is no doubt that Light of Unity becomes brighter because of Vahid’s art. Our conversation with this interesting man isn’t only about music…

Leonid Auskern (L.A.): Тhere is a three years distance between Come Together and Light Of Unity. A lot of events was in your life in this period. Name the milestones of this period, please.

Vahid Matejko (V.M.): In this time I wrote different music Books for different instruments with compositions and arrangements of mine including CDs for each book. Some are published and international available already, some will come out soon this year and others also next year.
I made different order compositions and productions for different clients in many different music styles also including pop music and work now 50 percent of my time as an order composer/arranger and producer but the other 50 percent I make my own projects. Through orders from different clients I get also many inspirations because often they show me their favourite different music flavour and so I need to analyze it and confront myself with it so that I can work with influences from their music flavour for their special compositions they order. I really enjoy always the encounter with new influences and hope that it will stay my whole life. I think changing and developing and keeping an open mind is a very important thing as a composer. And whole life should be an development.
Another important thing for me was my diploma in Jazz Composition/Arrangement with special honour and highest mark from Cologne Music University last summer. And I had the pleasure and honour to work with some really famous and renowned artists during the last years from where I became also many new inspirations. With some of them I got also very good private friendships. I would say that the last 3 years brought to me a lot of maturity in my private life and in my music. And much developments and I thank God for this.

L.A.: It seems to me, the principles of the work in these two projects are the same,
but the author feels the difference, of course. What can you say about it?

V.M.: Well from the ideology yes. Both of this works are influenced from the Bahai religion which influences my whole life and which I belong proudly to. The sentence from Bahaullah “The earth is one country and mankind is citizen” also influenced “Light of Unity” definitely.
But from the art side I would say there is much difference. The combination of Big Band and Orchestra is a much bigger project. On this CD there are some of the most renowned soloists present from Germany. And I think I can say that I have become much closer in my own style. And another difference is also that in “Come Together” I´ve composed actually with western instruments but influences of other cultures. But in Light of Unity I´ve also composed for different instruments from other cultures connected to western. Therefore I had also to meet with musicians from this cultural background and inform myself about their instruments and the possibilities before I was able to write something for them.

The composition “Iranian Journey” is dedicated to the Bahai youth in Iran. They are not allowed to go to university because they don´t want to become Muslims. The government tries to force them to deny their faith and otherwise they are not allowed to get education. Some reasons are that in the Bahai religion there is no fanatic, man and woman are equal religion and science should go hand in hand and there are no priests who can earn money from believe. I admire the courage of this young people and they are for me the real Iranian heroes who protect the freedom of their country and stand up for their believe in a better world and also for the future of their country. I wish that the situation will change soon for them.

L.A.: Oborido Suite is the main part of your new album. How the idea of this large-scale work was born?

V.M.: In the name Oborido are two things “Obo” for Oboe and “rido” for didgeridoo. It was a fascination two involve the instrument didgeridoo in this western classical instrumentation of string quartet and oboe. At the same time I was very interested in pygmy’s polyrhythm structures and also listening aborigines music a lot. And as composer I gave myself a special task to involve an Instrument in an such long piece which can play only one note or an half tone over it. So I involved the didgeridoo in different functions not only as bourdon also as short tone in combination where the cello takes deepest function and so there is even for some parts harmonic chord changes existing.

L.A.: From Feel The Energy to Singing The Blues - how can you charakterize every component piece of the Oborido Suite?

V.M.: “Feel the Energy” is the opener from this nearly 20 minutes long suite based on the didgeridoo rhythm which starts. The other side is based on Iranian rhythm in 6/8 and also containing Nordic canon structures.”Back to the Roots” has the strongest kind of pygmy’s rhythmic elements and “Singing the Blues” is something funny with having blues system and structure in the topic based with new music and jazz rhythm structures.
I feel it as a journey all together through different places but also as a kind of unity and a musical langue.

L.A.: Some of the ethnic influences in the Light Of Unity music fan can easy “decipher” – for example, eastern (Iranian) in Iranian Journey, Latin in Dulces Recuerdos, Klezmer in Bazar In The Old City. But some compositions are more “closed” for simple hearer in this sense. Can you “deciper” the ethnic roots of Mandiba Wata, Crafty Conversation or title composition, for example?

V.M.: Mandiba Wata has many African influences, polyrhythmic structures melodic classical orchestra Influences and different topics who find over a longer way together to each other and getting closer. And it i s played by Big Band and orchestra tat the same time. At the end the African and very classical motives appear united and have found to each other harmonicly on an long way, and are an new result. The world could be the same like “ Mandiba Wata” if we could trust more our hearts and be more open for each other and loose prejudices. We are different, have different backgrounds but this can be very interesting like in “ Mandiba Wata” it is also interesting who many different styles who get first presented partly grow together over the time of the piece.

Craft Conversation a Big Band Composition is based on 12 tone music. The beginning of 12 music was created by Arnold Schönberg. Typical for this music is also that motive melodies will be played backwards. I used these things often and other typical things from this temporary music form and systems. I made an reharmonisation over the atonal lines through modern jazz harmonic. So you can say harmonised atonal lines. And therefore I chose jazz funk rhythmic. Instead of congas and Big Band usually common percussion there is the iranian Tombak ( a finger drum) involved.

Light of Unity took the most time during the production. It´s the piece where the most musicians are involved at the same time. Big Band and symphonic orchestra at once. A lot of odd meters Balkan temporary-jazz and classic influences but also some Indian rhythmic structures and many others.

L.A.: Do you remember the brightest or, may be, most dramatical moments in the work on Light Of Unity?

V.M.: There were many bright moments. One of bright moments was for example the work with the drummer legend Prof. Keith Copeland. He has played for example with people like Stevie Wonder or temporary with the “Bill Evans Trio” and some other of the greatest Jazz Stars. Also his Father played with people like Thelonius Monk and so on. It´s a so unbelievable feeling to see how close we are still to the history of Jazz and I was very touched and proud to be able to work with him. Also the work with Prof. Heiner Wiberny (first alto sax of the WDR Big Band Köln) was amazing and unique his Solos over some orchestra recordings. Another great experience was also to work with Iranian musicians who play not by notes. I had to practise their voices by playing the notes on piano and letting them learn their parts by heart. Also Frank Gratkowski,Claudio Puntin, Prof. Michael Niesemann where very special. It took much time but this way opened for me also new possibilities to be able to mix more music instruments from other cultures with the west ones.
Actually the brightest thing is how many love and efforts all the different artist gave and I am thankful and proud of each one of them to have them on my CD.

L.A.: And now questions, connected with another your interesting project. I mean two books, released by Alfred Publishing – “Vahid Mateikos Klezmer Play-Alongs fur Klarinette” and “Vahid Mateikos Klezmer Play-Alongs fur Violin”. Why Klezmer? What is especially interesting for you in this kind of ethnic music?

V.M.: I love the melancholic sadness and happiness at the same time. Laugh and cry, oriental and western influence at once. It´s soul, emotions, energy and vitality. I think it is important to make this music possible to learn and play for many musicians and I hope that my books can be a service for a great music and art which I admire.

L.A.: I see two large directions in modern neo-Klezmer. One of them is more traditional – I mean music of Giora Feidman or a lot of neo-Klezmer groups from Poland, Germany, France, New Zealand, etc. Another direction is connected with Radical Jewish Culture movement – John Zorn’s Masada projects, Hasidic New Wave, Pharaoh’s Daughter and other groups from New York downtown. It seems to me, your Klezmer music is nearer to the first direction. Is it right and what is your opinion about music of John Zorn and musicians of his circle?

V.M.: Well I would say that my way to compose and arrange Klezmer is different in the books. I have written some pieces with more traditional arrangements for people who like this more original and authentic style but I also mixed in other pieces r ock, funky, pop and Balkan and jazz influences and my own note and so it´s also interesting for youth and people who are more modern orientated or like more to play unique styles. So everybody who is interested can find something inside.

I think it is important that also different Artist have different ways after knowing the basics of an music. It´s also good to keep developing new things from it. But important should be always the process to occupy with the basics of something deeply before something new should be created from it. I respect the people who bring new things but also the old Masters in this styles from who we can learn the authenticity by listening to them.

L.A.: It was a great pleasure for me to listen the CD’s of your Klezmer Combo, supplemented to the books. Can you add some words about soloists on these CD’s: Prof. Igor Epstein (violin) and Claudio Puntin?

V.M.: Both of them had been my first choice and the ideal musicians for this project. Prof. Igor Epstein is an fantastic jewish violinist with finest qualities and growing up with klezmer music but also an excellent jazz violinist and fantastic musician and human. Claudio Puntin is for me one of the most impressive clarinet players I know and also unbelievable gifted.

Both of them are fantastic examples and good inspirations how the pieces can sound if they are played on highest level. And I am very proud to have them both also taking part in “Light of Unity”.

L.A.: You mentioned the Köln Klezmer Akademie in your books. Is it a research institute? Do you collaborate with this organisation?

V.M.: The Klezmer Akademie Köln is a music school with a very social engagement and a supporter of music culture and other arts, including the Klezmer music. It is mentioned in the book because a part of the recordings were made there. I am not part of this school but every time I work with music from other cultures I try to get the most authentic musicians from the backgrounds of this music cultures.

L.A.: And my last question isn’t too serious. Name three music albums which you would prefer to take with you to the desert island.

V.M.: As a good businessman I have to make now some advertisement and mention “Come Together”, “Light of Unity” and the next one which will be released in future.

L.A.: Thank you! I wish you new successes and new musical discoveries!

published 20.07.2009 © 2005 jazz news :: home page