Linzer Rundschau, a weekly newspaper in Linz, Austria
Linzer Rundschau, Wednesday, November 21, 2007, Page 12
US jazz musician Doug Hammond is known for quality
By Judith Scharinger
The US American jazz star Doug Hammond has received the Upper Austrian State Government Prize for Art in an Intercultural Dialogue. The musician has lived in Linz since 1989 and teaches young musicians at the Anton Bruckner Private University.
Congratulations on being awarded the Upper Austrian State Cultural Prize.
The prize was a big surprise for me. It gives me a little bit of the feeling of recognition. I think it also had something to do with the fact that I’ve been doing the “Jazz am Berg” at the Bildungshaus St. Magdalena for 15 years. I try to offer the best quality jazz there. Being famous doesn’t mean that you have quality. Therefore, I make the effort to bring people who are not famous, but are high-quality. Jazz is the highest level in music. That’s why it is important for me to lead my students at the Bruckner University to the roots of jazz and its culture.
What does jazz mean to you?
No racism and no nationalism is allowed in jazz. When I play jazz, I am in another world, in another state. I can’t describe it. My primary objective when playing is to dissolve myself and to just be the instrument. The most important thing is not to think about what I want to do. The idea is to play the music just like it is demanded at that moment. The moment I begin to think about myself, I’m out of the music. So I want to bring people into the world of music.
What should people find in the world of jazz?
Music is my life. Therefore, I’d like to bring the people into this world. I believe that music is the only means to save our planet. I don’t believe that religion, politics, money or wars could save it. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any bad music – there definitely is. But most of the time it is influenced by financial profit.
Which music do you listen to besides jazz?
I love classical music from Ravel, Bartók, Tchaikovsky.
Do you also listen to Austrian folk music?
Do you mean the Oberkrainer? I don’t listen to the commercial folk music, because I don’t like it. But I do like listening to music from the mountains made by these crazy people with harmonicas. I also like Eastern European folk music, especially from Rumania, as well as Muslim music.
What about the music from Life Radio or Ö3?
I never listen to the radio.
You came to Linz in 1989. Not only do you enjoy the reputation of being an excellent jazz musician, but also of being a person who stands up for the integration of foreigners.
I don’t like the word ‘integration’. I prefer the word ‘association’. Integration implies being just like the others. In the US, integration means being just like white people. Association means everyone agrees to be the person he or she is and to respect this difference.
Sometimes it helps to be different. Integration implies that I, as an American here, will become an Austrian. That is the wrong terminology. Association means to respect the culture in which one lives and to live within its borders. When I’m in a foreign country, I have to respect the culture of the country and the way of life. That doesn’t mean you have to change your personality or your lifestyle.
What do you think about the projects for the European Capital of Culture Linz 2009?
I don’t know them. I live here practically as a hermit. The Linz 2009 Committee approached me to do a commissioned piece for Brucknerhaus. I’m very happy about that, because this is my first time.