KAREN DEVROOP


Testimonial

The Theo Wanne mouthpieces are simply the best mouthpieces every produced! They are the most free blowing mouthpieces I have ever played allowing for flawless execution of the altissimo range. After many years of experimenting and trying different mouthpieces, I have finally found that one mouthpiece that produces the sound I have long sought after.

Biography

Karen Devroop is a jazz saxophonist and jazz pianist from South Africa. After completing his bachelors and masters degrees, in South Africa, he pursued his doctoral studies at the University of North Texas in the USA. While in the USA, he toured extensively performing at several jazz festivals in the US with his quartet. In 2008 his quartet opened the Gretna Jazz Festival with Cedar Walton. Upon returning to his home country of South Africa, he re-established his quartet with some of the country's leading jazz musicians. He has performed at several jazz festivals in Europe, Asia and South Africa. He has performed as a side stage act for Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago, Jill Scott and Queen Latifah. His debut CD recording "Reminiscing" was released in 2009 and garnered international recognition with airplay in over 35 countries on all six continents. Track 4 "The Wise Gentleman" peaked at no 4 on the jazz charts in Spain before retreating. He currently teaches at university level in South Africa teaching saxophone, jazz improvisation and conducting the university jazz ensembles. In addition to his performing schedule, he is in demand as a clinician and guest conductor.
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Inspiration

Why did you choose to become a musician?
I was inspired by my late dad who was a self-taught musician. With limited resources and training, he went on to record 13 albums and lead one of the most successful bands in the country.

What is your experience when you feel connected into the music?
Everything is in sync...my mind, body and feelings work as one to express my emotions. I feel completely overtaken by a higher power that cannot adequately be expressed or described in writing.

What is your experience of when you don't feel connected to your music?
The music is lifeless. There is no reason to continue other than to "complete the gig".

Where does your inspiration comes from? What does it feel like?
My inspiration comes from within. My spirituality has taught me to constantly be a better person. I am constantly inspired to be a better person and accordingly a better musician.

What is your experience while improvising? Does it relate to any spirituality you may practice in your life?
It is not very easy to explain but when improvising I feel my spiritual being taking over my performance. I constantly seek to experience a higher level of existence and improvisation allows me to at the very least reach for, if not attain that level of existence.

Where does your inspiration while composing come from? What is your experience of that inspiration like?
I am generally not inspired to compose but rather approach composition more systematically. I was once told by a good teacher of mine, that some of the great composers like Bach could not rely on inspiration to compose. They were employed to compose new music daily and their very existence depended on producing new music daily. Hence it was not so much of an inspiration as much as it was a required process. I try to follow the same model, although at times I am inspired by life events.

Do you have any fun stories of inspirational moments to share?
On my first trip to the US in 1996, I spotted Bob Mintzer at the IAJE Conference in Chicago. I plucked up the courage to introduce myself to him and let him know he was one of my idols and what an honor it was to meet him. To my surprise, he wanted to chat further with me and spent 30 minutes walking around the expo talking to me. He willingness to spend time with me, a young musician at the time taught me to always give my time to younger musicians who are in need of direction.

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