School of Jazz guest DJ for August: Dylan Hermansen
Tenor saxophonist Dylan Hermansen from South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia will join Abe Beeson as virtual guest DJ tonight (Aug. 5) on Evening Jazz at 7 p.m. For the past year, he has been recording albums in his home studio. In the future, he would like to form a jazz band.
Which instrument do you play and why?
My primary horn is tenor saxophone with doubles on alto, soprano, flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet. In the nonprofessional realm, I play piano, guitar and a bit of drums when there is a kit around. I grew up around music so it wasn’t a stretch to pick up an instrument. Why the sax? Honestly it comes down to fate. Just picked it up and never put it back down. The flute came next, followed by clarinets. I love the flute because it has a delightful sound and is a relatively easy transition from saxophone. The clarinet was really out of necessity in order to double and get the gigs. The bass clarinet came later, and I really love it for recording. I can add that much-needed low end on my tracks and adds a lot of dimension. The piano and guitar came later because, when you start getting serious about music, you need to have some piano chops. The piano is essential for the study and exploration of harmony and theory, and the guitar is just a fun side thing. And of course, drums are the rhythmic equivalent.
What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?
My all-time favorite jazz piece changes with the seasons. I can’t possibly say. I am always looking for new sounds, conceptions, approaches and ideas, so naturally my favorite piece changes as I move forward. Sometimes I get obsessed with the newest sounds and artists like Hiatus Kaiyote's most recent release and other times I get tired of new stuff and get fixated on classics like Charlie Parker with strings. Sometimes my favorite piece is a pop tune and sometimes it's an opera by Ravel. I hate to avoid the question, but I honestly can’t say. I can say, however, with some certainty that my favorite artists that I return to within the jazz idiom again and again are Parker, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Chris Potter, to name a few.
Who is your jazz hero?
Most people who know me would without a doubt say my jazz hero is Chris Potter. They aren’t wrong. However, if I had to dive a little deeper, I would say Parker. Parker started it all. No one else has had such an immense impact on the course of music. You can play a Parker lick verbatim over any style of music today and it will sound just as hip as ever. Parker inspired the likes of Rollins, Coltrane, Brecker, Potter, Getz and literally every other jazz musician. If I were to say my hero is Brecker, that’s just a roundabout way of saying Coltrane, which is a roundabout way of saying Parker. If I said Potter, that’s another roundabout way of saying Parker. All roads lead to Parker.
Jazz is is a highly creative space for expression and communication. It’s a space in which all your influences can combine and mix to create something new. I think jazz is also a very flexible term that can be redefined by the individual. Some would argue jazz is about tradition and history, some argue that jazz died in 1959, and others might say jazz is about looking forward and innovation. All answers are correct because it’s defined by the individual. So why jazz? Jazz is whatever you want it to be, and as a musician and performer, that is kind of like the holy grail, right?
DYLAN HERMANSEN'S PLAYLIST
“ll B.S. (Haitian Fight Song),” Charles Mingus (Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus)
“Timbuktu,” Michael Brecker (Wide Angles)
“I’m an Old Cowhand,” Sonny Rollins (Way Out West)
“Jazz Crimes,” Joshua Redman (Elastic)
“Moddy’s Mood for Love,” Eddie Jefferson (The Jazz Singer)
“Dancing in the Dark,” Canonnball Adderley (Somethin’ Else)
“Boots,” Chris Potter (Ultrahang)