Home > Domino Grey - Electronic music, Interviews and Innerviews, Track Spotlight > miniStori Domino Grey’s Donna Schwartz from Melody Diagnosis Nu Jazz instrumental

miniStori Domino Grey’s Donna Schwartz from Melody Diagnosis Nu Jazz instrumental

It’s part III of the ongoing series behind the Domino Grey album Back in the Black.


Melo – D

Thus far we’ve touched base with the producer and a vocalist from Domino Grey’s newest musical endeavor, Back in the Black. Now let’s get in tune with ½ of the duo that composed my favorite track on the album, #14 Melody Diagnosis.  She would be none other than high – brass trumpeter, Donna Schwartz

Melody diagnosis isn’t my favorite feature because it is superior to the others, but because it’s unintentionally similar to the works of the late Jun Seba (Nujabes) and extremely well executed ↓

As a long time fan of Seba’s work the nostalgia was refreshing, even more so upon discovering Domino Grey wasn’t aware of who Nujabes was. For more about this collaborative effort keep reading ↓

ministori: Tell us a bit about your musical background and how you came to play so many instruments.

Donna Schwartz: I’ve been playing music since I was 9; I started on trumpet and played classical and jazz since then. I always liked the sound of the sax, so I got some tips from some friends and basically taught myself how to play tenor and alto saxes. I met my mentor, Lou Doboe, a.k.a. Lou Saxon, in my late 20′s, and he helped shape my sound and style.  He passed away from cancer a few years ago-I owe him a lot. I teach elementary instrumental music, so I made sure that I knew how to play all the instruments I teach.It’s important to model good sound, posture, etc. for the students.

ministori: As a musician who usually plays in a band, did you find the transition to a music studio difficult?

Donna Schwartz: I’ve done a little studio work before – one was for a demo DVD, others were for demo CD’s. I played trumpet for a fundraising CD for my church in New Hyde Park (Holy Spirit). I prefer playing live than in a studio – I like for performances to be spontaneous. I like to teach that way too… This studio gig was a little difficult only because it was over 90 degrees outside, and we had to shut off the fans because they were too noisy! The mouthpiece was slipping all over my face!  It was fun though!

ministori: How did you work out your part in Melody Diagnosis? Did you freestyle your performance or write a specific score to play in the studio? How is the creative energy divided?

Donna Schwartz: I played what I felt from the music; I didn’t have anything worked out. I came up with a couple of cool licks and tried to expand on them. 

ministori: How did you decide what elements to contribute to that track? Did you know what you would be performing or was it more of a jam session?

Donna Schwartz: I think more of a jam session. I like interacting with other performers and creating that way. i do like to know the form and where I am coming in, etc.  There are times when I like to work out a line or two that I think will be hot, but this time, we jammed.

ministori: That track has a very jazzy feel. Is that part of your musical history or do you adapt your playing style to the track?

Donna Schwartz: The answer is both. After getting the feel for the tune, some lines came out that were more jazz-oriented.

ministori: Is it true that you have several other songs recorded with Domino Grey and what can we expect from the near future?

Donna Schwartz: We played over a bunch of tracks in that session, so we shall see…

ministori: For electronic music and hip hop in general, musicians seem to have been moved out of the picture beyond their sampled contributions. Do you believe there is a real value in music being created from live playing as opposed to programmed using computers?

Donna Schwartz: I do feel that live playing adds something special to a performance.

ministori: I believe you were called specifically because the horns parts in the original recording were rejected by the label and the track was going to be shelved. Why are horns and brass so difficult to replicate with samples and synthesis?

Donna Schwartz: It’s difficult to replicate the articulation styles brass and wind players are capable of producing. Also, each person has a unique sound that changes in different registers and with different articulations; those aspects can’t be truly replicated through sampling.

ministori: There is a debate between playing by natural instinct and having a formal education in music. Is music theory a necessary key for unlocking creativity or is it a group of rules that restrict the artist’s imagination?

Donna Schwartz: I used to think that you had to be formally educated and that you must read music and have worked through Bach chorales. I think having a passion, working on your craft and developing your ears are more crucial for performance. Reading is great and it helps if you want to be a studio musician or play others’ music, but it is not totally necessary.

ministori: Where can we find more of your music and information on some of the bands you play with?

Donna Schwartz: My previous band was Shades of Blue, where we performed blues and some classic rock tunes. We had some videos out on YouTube under Shades of Blue NY. I currently am performing with Joplin’s Pearl, a Janis Joplin tribute band and rock and roll band. (www.joplinspearl.com or search for Joplin’s Pearl on Facebook) We also perform original rock music by Amber Ferrari, formerly Amber Rose from the dance/techno circuit.

Thanks for interviewing me!  :)

ministori: My pleasure. Thank you for the amazing interview!

READ Part I with Domino Grey


→ To purchase more of Domino Grey’s music check out his iTunes page, thedynamicuniverse, or cdbaby for the physical release. Stay tuned for up coming interviews with the female vocal and musical talent of  the album! ↓

  1. Jimmy Chase
    September 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    This interview was insightful! Can’t wait to hear what the rest of the sessions sound like.

  1. September 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm
  2. March 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

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