Carlos Bica

I heard Carlos Bica for the first time three years ago with his trio Azul. It was one of my favorite evening of the Reims Jazz Festival this year. Interview :

How have you became a musicien ? What was the first musics you’ve heard ?

I was born in a family where music didn't exist at all. However, I allways loved music and for that reason I had my first garage bands at the age of 15. First of all I played guitar and drums. At the age of 18, my father inscribed me at the music academy (a private school) as a gift because I entered the university I was very excited but I didn't know wich instrument to learn. I went to the academy and by acident I took a look at the double bass classroom and listened for a few minutes the bass teacher praticing. I was very impressed with the sound of that instrument I didn't know at all. We changed a few words and he said "...well, we will see us tomorrow". That's the way it happened, this is how I became a bass player.

The good thing about that is that to be really free as a musician you can't "wear the skin" of your instrument.

I didn't choose the double bass, it was the one who choosed me. My favorite bands as teenager where : Jimmy Hendrix, Yes, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Blood Sweat and Tears, Led Zeppelin, etc.

Which are the musicians and the experiments which have influenced you ?

I was influenced by all kind of music and musicians. To mention a few names : Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Charlie Haden, Lennie Tristano, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Stravinsky, Miroslav Vitous, Bach, Górecki, Debussy, Ravel, Police, Frank Zappa and the music of my home country (Fado).

You moved from Portugal to Berlin some years ago. It seems to be the good place for improvised music in Europe…

Berlin is a great city, a very open city,and that's great for an artist. You can find here artists from all over the world who really want to do their own thing.

Each time I listen a CD of Azul I can be sure I will have melodies in my mind for several days… I have the impression you write songs, without words, but songs.

I try to catch the deepness and the autenticity in the music I write and play. It's not enough just to write a piece, it needs magic. I am allways looking for that magic in the music. It is all over, you just have to develope the ability to recognize it. My compositions are basically songs without words. Even when I am improvising freely, I'm still looking for that song affinity.

I think Azul is around ten years old now. It seems to be a perfect trio for you…

"Believer" is Azul's fourth album celebrating our 10th aniversary. We played together on stage for the first time 15 years ago (not yet under the name of Azull). It is not common at all in jazz that a band keeps the same formation for such a long time. Nothing was planned and I'm very glad that it happened. If you play with other musicians for such a long time the music goes to another space dimension. Frank and Jim are two of the best musicians on this planet and they have the great quality to be able to serve the compositions and the music, which is not very common between jazz musicians. The music is the one that says what and when you have to play. The sound of Azul was born with the constellation Möbus-Bica-Black. I'm very happy for that unique quality.

Like Frank Möbus you seems to be connected to New York.You play with Jim Black, I read you have played with John Zorn’s "Cobra".

I met and played with several musicians from the New York jazz scene but I never went to N.Y. I allways wanted to do my own thing, something that grows up in my garden in Europe. I don't feel any special connection with the american jazz music, I like some of the american jazz musicians as well as I like some of the european jazz musicians. It doesn't depend on where the musicians come from or the style of music they play.

I think It is the first time with azul you work with electronic. Is it a specific search or is it just a good meet with DJ Illvibe /Vincent von Schlippenbach) ?

I was looking for a way to introduce a new sound direction in our new album. An instrument and musician that would allow the sound of the band to go further , but at the same time I wanted to keep our guitar power trio sound quality. When I heard DJ Illvibe for the first time in a club in Berlin, I was very impressed by the way he is able to improvise with the turntables. It has nothing to do with electronics, people are just used to connect this kind of sound with electronics, it's very analogical the way he works. He is great a musician and his colaboration on "Believer" is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks Vincent !

When I listen to "Through the mirror", last piece from "Believer", I have the impression it is writen for a film. Have you ever writen for cinema and are you interested in this particular art form ?

I love cinema. I've already writen music for a few films and I'm looking for to do more. The film directors who asked me to do music for cinema had heard my music before and that`s why they asked me to work with them. I don't see any pictures when I compose but I "see" feelings and if they are strong enough you may translate them into pictures.

Except cinema, are you interested in other art forms ?

I keep a regular work colaboration with the theatre scene and since a couple of years with the dance scene. The directors allways gave me a free hand to do my own stuff. That's great because you get a new input that will transport you to an unknown place.

Next gigs ? Projects ? Records ?

Azul will be promoting the new CD "Believer", touring in Europe for 3 weeks in May-June (...unfortunately we will not play in France). "The expense of spirit", new album with the singer Tuomi will be released in March and we will be on tour. I'm working now on a new dance project "Caruma" that will be presented at the Culturgest in Lisbon in March.
...I don't have the habit to do long distance plans, I believe if you work with passion things will find their own natural way.

Interview by Pierre Villeret