KATHMANDU, Oct 11: Grammy nominated Dr Gene Aitken is considered one of the most exciting and energetic jazz clinicians today and he is in Kathmandu!
A conductor, performer, composer, adventurer, clinician, adjudicator and producer of education events, Dr Aitken was appointed the first Cultural Envoy to Nepal by the US Department of State in 2007.
The same year, he was also awarded DownBeat magazine’s Jazz Educator of the Year and inducted into the DownBeat magazine’s Hall of Fame. In addition, he was the 32nd member inducted into the 1995 International Association of Jazz Educator’s Hall of Fame along with Ella Fitzgerald and Doc Severinson, joining luminaries such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others.
Dr Aitken is in Nepal to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC) and he will be holding a workshop on October 12.
Excerpts of the interview
What do you think about the Jazz music scene in Kathmandu, Nepal?
When I was here five years back, the number of students was just 60 in KJC, but now there are over 300 students enrolled. The quality of students is tremendous and the variety amazes me too, from vocalists, guitarists to violinists, it’s all good.
Is Jazz music growing all over the world?
Jazz has progressed all over the Middle East and China and many other places where it wasn’t there previously. We’ve seen growth in places like Iraq, so music is growing in general in a very rapid rate. Jazz music too is being addressed. People may play rock, pop and any other genre, even Nepali classical music; they all have some influence of jazz music. To attract more people towards music, because it is the only medium of communication, which you don’t have to learn, all over the world, it should be included in the curriculum and not as an extracurricular activity.
What kind of music do you listen to besides Jazz?
I like all kinds of music from pop, rock classic rock, culture music to even hip-hop. As long as its music, I listen to them all.
If you were not doing music, what would you probably be doing, Dr Aitken?
If I wasn’t a musician, I would probably be doing technology and because I am an active person, I would also probably be doing dance. But when I say technology, I mean musical technology (smiles).