Q&A with David de Vries – 2007 NJA Finalist

When did you start playing guitar and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?

I first starting playing guitar because I was getting a little bored piano lessons. My brother was learning the guitar and I thought I would make the switch. At the time I was playing Metallica and Guns and Roses songs on the piano and it just didn’t seem right.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?

The first jazz cd I ever bought was a John Scofield album called ‘Best of on Blue Note.’ I bought it in Bali on my schoolies trip. It was unlike anything i had heard before. I also really like Jim Hall’s sensitive approach to the guitar. Last semester I did my honours thesis on Jimmy Giuffre’s music, I really like his freedom and sound, same goes for Ornette Coleman.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?

I’ve written many songs after getting home from a great gig. It’s a wonderful feeling when you get home and your itching to play. I also get really inspired by Roman Polanski’s movies.

What’s your favourite place to play or practise?

I really enjoy busking in the tunnel at Central train station in Sydney. I used to have a little bit of practising anxiety from my father always always telling me to ‘turn it down.’ I never feel that way there. People always seem to smile at me.

What does the Wangaratta festival of jazz represent for you?

It’s such a uniquely Australian event and I look forward to it every year. For me it’s all about smoking spliffs with your favourite musicians.

What are you listening to now?

Jimmy Giuffre, Lee Konitz, Derek Bailey, James Muller, Steve Reich, Jim Hall, Sonny Rollins, John Zorn, Debussy, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Albert King, Bill Evans, The Chicago Underground Trio, Ornette Coleman, Curtis Mayfield, Farfinkle Pugowski.

Return to the main Q&A page… 

These annual Q&As with National Jazz Awards finalists are coordinated by Miriam Zolin.