Kris bowers. In Conversation with Kris Bowers Composer & Pianist, Green Book 2019-11-13

The Conversation: How 'Green Book' composer Kris Bowers taught piano to Mahershala Ali and honors Don Shirley

Kris bowers

And then orchestrate in the way that I would orchestrate it. But the biggest thing was just the actual sound of it. So having to learn his music and practice his music and get into his head a little bit musically was a treat. . That for me connected the two things so that there was some sort of sound that sounded familiar through all of it. But he was more or less forced to abandon his dream to perform the classical music he most loved and instead find a career in jazz and pop music because his record company persuaded him that audiences would not accept a black pianist on classical stages at that time. The story of the friendship between Shirley and Tony Lip is quite touching, especially in the fact that they remained close for the rest of their lives.

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When They See Us: Ava Duvernay’s Emotional Mix of Music and Sound

Kris bowers

K: I felt the freedom to channel myself a little bit, because Peter Farrelly wanted the score to sound very different from the Don Shirley stuff…. The crazy thing is we were only supposed to meet the first time for an hour. I actually wanted to be a cartoonist up until I got to high school. It has to be good. Shirley, who trained as a classical musician, was the first African American accepted into the Leningrad Conservatory of Music in the former Soviet Union. Something that makes you feel.

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‎Kris Bowers on Apple Music

Kris bowers

My household was very intense when it came to working on something or practicing. . And I thought that was really incredible given that going to school to be a jazz pianist, and to never hear about this pianist that obviously stood out from any other musician at that time. . It was there that began making a name for himself as a formidable jazz musician and he found regular work gigging around New York City.

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When They See Us: Ava Duvernay’s Emotional Mix of Music and Sound

Kris bowers

You can just play things that are a little ethereal, just barely poking through that sweeten it just for a second, and then go away, take a breath. There were times in creating that rich balance of layered sound that the film could have fallen out of calibration. In 2018, he supplied the soundtrack to the biopic film Green Book, about pianist Don Shirley. C: Was it nerve-racking at all, with this being your first studio film? Universal Pictures, Participant, and DreamWorks Did you also connect on any level with the circumstances Shirley faced? Even when I went to Julliard, everybody was freaking out about their course load and how difficult it was. He also composes for film, having contributed the soundtracks to the 2013 documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, and 2017 television show. We spent about three months doing lessons before we started filming. It never felt difficult for me; it just kind of felt normal.

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When They See Us: Ava Duvernay’s Emotional Mix of Music and Sound

Kris bowers

It was there that Bowers began making a name for himself as a formidable jazz musician and he found regular work gigging around New York City. That was him not giving up. That first lesson ended up being three hours, just playing the C major scale. C: To what extent do you think the racial and political climate today motivate you and the rest of the team in making this film? So I think that this film, for me, did that in a really great way. I keep saying to people that there was a dance party last night that felt like I was at a wedding, or a family reunion. That's the only time where it's really quiet.

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Kris Bowers

Kris bowers

DeAngelis would do something similar with the sounds from the two main characters. C: You started playing piano when you were four. Everything else really has to kind of roll with the music. The only adjustments that I really made were things to make it work better in the film, so shortening a song from like six minutes to two minutes, or something like that. I was also going to give him a couple of finger exercises to work with.

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‎Heroes + Misfits by Kris Bowers on Apple Music

Kris bowers

I know a fair amount about jazz and classical music, but I have to confess I was not aware of Don Shirley before I learned about this film. How could he have slipped by the attention of many music aficionados in the jazz and classical worlds? One of the things that really impressed me about the film was the performance sequences. He studied classical piano and jazz while attending Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and performed in numerous festivals while still a teenager. They said we should talk to people from the classical department, and they were talking about him as a classical pianist, not a jazz musician. The sound, though, was far from finished. So I see parallels with my life. But the biggest thing I tried to do to create some continuity was pulling from these Negro spirituals or pulling from early American folk music for melodies, not specifically from those pieces, but learning how those melodies were constructed, and then try to construct melodies that were similar.

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Kris Bowers Serves Double

Kris bowers

We all have implicit biases and all these things that we assume when we see people, when we interact with people. K: Ray kind of convinced me and talked me into it, and talked about just this festival and what it meant, and just the vibe of it here. In 2018, he supplied the soundtrack to the biopic film Green Book, about pianist. K: I think about my experience as a film composer, to be honest. After high school, Bowers earned both undergraduate and Master's degrees in jazz performance from Juilliard. What was your experience growing up here in Southern California in the 1990s and early 2000s? The Julliard-trained, Emmy-winning musician has tickled the ivories at the White House, performed with artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Kanye West and been crowned winner of the famed Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. That was one of the things that made me feel happy and proud about being a part of it.

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‎Kris Bowers on Apple Music

Kris bowers

My first meeting, usually, with a director or producers, is to impress them; to tell them all about myself so that they feel comfortable hiring me. We felt it would be disrespectful to his piano playing. C: Did you feel like you had to channel Don Shirley while writing the score, or could you channel yourself? When he and my grandmother would travel back and forth between Florida and California, he told stories of driving nonstop, being on the highway going 60 and 70 mph and switching places as they were driving to avoid stopping. What makes this story great is how incredible a musician he is. As I move between and collaborate with artists across genres and mediums, I hope you find something here that moves you.

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