“China Moses, it's a question of energy”

China Moses - JazzAscona 2016

Her origin resembles that of a star – shining, and born from other glowing stars. From her mother (DeeDee Bridgewater) she inherited the voice and from her father Gilbert she inherited a life within film and theatre as well as her last name (Moses).

On the 24th and 25th June (21.15pm, Stage Papa Joe’s), AsconaJazz once again opens its doors to Franco-American China Moses. She returns with a new repertoire, a new band (Luigi Grasso – Alto saxophone, “Level” Neville Malcom - Bass, Jose Joyette - Drums) and the pianist Raphaël Lemonnier, who already played alongside her during the 2010 tribute to Dinah Washington. Starting out in Soul and R&B, having solid roots in Blues and Jazz, as well as a steady foot in Hard Rock, China Moses allows us an insight into her childhood memories, as JazzAscona draws near.

Raised within a family of artists: music, images and personalities...

The most vivid memory I have is a simple piece of advice from my mother: “Make the most of what you have.” And that is exactly what I try to do. Another strong memory relating to music was when I secretly listened to “Darling Nikki” by Prince for the first time. I stole the tape from my mom. In relation to Film, I remember watching “Willie Dynamite” for the first time – a movie which my dad directed, and for which he and Jay Jay Johnson composed the music. It is strange how, as a child, you have no idea about how famous your parents might be. When I was 10 years old, my mother took me to a James Brown concert. We had a backstage pass and met him after the show. He came up to my mother and screamed “Dee Dee!” and they hugged each other. I was watching this and thinking “Holy Cow, how to these people all know my mother?”

Dee Dee in percentages: Mother, Friend, Teacher, Artist...

Dee Dee Bridgewater, in my opinion is: 50% Mother, 30% Friend, 20% Teacher and 100% Artist.

You once said on the radio that “the microphone is the amplifier of emotions”. Can you say the same thing about your voice?

If the microphone is the amplifier, then the voice is the message, and the soul is the emotion. Music makes me feel alive and being with the audience makes me feel at home. I believe that the only thing that counts is to find your place in the world, and luckily music has embraced me and helped me ever since I was a child.

You recorded your first record in Sweden at the age of 15, then  made further recordings in Paris and then the world... but much time was also spent in Switzerland...

Europe has been good to me, and Switzerland is a wonderful place to grow musically. That goes for the German, Italian and French parts of Switzerland - different forms of expression on efficient ground. I never thought there could be such a beautiful place in the world. 

Alarash is also the name of one of your bands – a fusion of Jazz, Blues, and Heavy Metal and so on...

Blues is the basis of pop music. As a result, it is easy to go from traditional blues to standard jazz right through to metal. Similarly, when you break down a song and play it acoustically, it is possible that you can no longer tell what style of music it is. And I’ve always had Rock within me. You cannot be a fan of Tina Turner, Bette Davis and Grace Jones, and not have Rock within your heart. It is all a question about energy...

A recently published work and a new album in sight...

I released the EP “Whatever” in March, which is now available on Spotify, iTunes and digital stores. My new album, which will be released in September, marks the beginning of me as an author and composer. It is a piece of work which has its roots deeply embedded in the Black American Music and contains different grooves and types of sound. But the goal which my producer Anthony Marshall and I set ourselves was that we wanted to write songs and not just grooves and riffs.

What can we expect in Ascona?

Raphaël Lemonnier will once again join me in sharing his and my world. We will play much from our new repertoire, but of course also some of our older songs. You can expect a lot of Soul, Blues and “all that jazz”! We will share our two worlds with my new band, led by the fantastic saxophonist Luigi Grasso. The rhythm section however, is English. 

Speaking of Lemonnier, your partnership seems to be endless. What is your secret?

Yes, copious amounts of champagne.

China Moses - JazzAscona 2016