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Q: You’re a latecomer to jazz. How do you interpret standards in such an original way?
A: Someone gave me some great advice once — to sit with a lyric and see what kind of picture it creates in your head and then how would you put that sort of vibe into music. Lyrics are super-important to me, so if I can say them in the most honest way for me, that’s what I’m aiming for.
Q: How do you go about writing songs with your mentor Arne Fogel?
A: It’s pretty fantastic to work with him. He lets me say what I want to say. Like come up with the concept. He works as a great editor-slash-composer. He has a great idea of the full context of songs.
Q: The album is mostly ballads but on the opening track, your own “Weight of the World,” it almost sounds like you’re singing with a hip-hop cadence. How did that come about?
A: That was very much stream of consciousness. It’s kind of wild. I was surprised by that. I can’t really explain it except that I grew up listening to lots of popular music. I was surrounded by soul music.
Q: How do you feel about returning to the Dakota?
A: I loved living in Minneapolis, and I would have never thought to leave except that jazz is such a small field and I just wanted to try to tour more. I love coming back home, and everybody has been so nice about the album. I’m super-excited to see the familiar faces and the new people that are just hearing the album because of all the things that have been written. I love Minneapolis — and St. Paul.
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719