It gets the same every autumn when the ferocious need for jazz music starts kicking in. My auditory cortex is on fire and it almost gets unbearable because I want to wake up to jazz, have my lunch with jazz in the background and fall asleep to the sweet tunes of jazz. A few days ago I even had a dream in which I was strolling around Harlem with Duke Ellington, finishing the evening in Cotton Club. So what better way to start this autumn than with some unfathomable depth of improvised tunes produced by the super-talented free jazz saxophonist Cene Resnik? I've wanted to interview him for ages because he just has "it", meaning highly developed musical sensitivity, a slightly cryptic sense for auditory quality, a talent for spontaneous improvisation ... You get the picture. After all the formal education in Slovenia, he continued his studies in Klagenfurt and later in New York, where he collaborated with and learnt from artists such as Doug Hammond, Reggie Workman, Joe Zawinul, and Greg Osby. He released his debut album "Joyful Spontaneity" with the Cene Resnik Quartet in 2012. His latest work "From The Sky" was released early in 2014 and it's fresh and full of epic free jazz compositions. Cene is also a full-on Buddhist with a soft spot for nature, quiet mornings, simplicity and, of course, spontaneity. Say HEY to Cene.

Hi Cene, how are you? What's on you schedule right now?

Hi! I'm very good, thank you. Right now I'm listening to fresh recordings that we did last week with TROJNIK (Tomaž Grom on bass, Vid Drašler on drums, and me on saxophone). The music is free improvised and it sounds quite good and crazy. You can listen to it here and see for yourself.

How did you decide to play the saxophone? Were there any significant influences or passions behind that decision?

Somehow my clarinet teacher had a vision of me playing saxophone, haha. So he was telling me this constantly and eventually his vision came true. I got my first saxophone from my parents as a gift. When I saw it I just jumped up and immediately start blowing it. It was the beginning of a beautiful and long lasting relationship.

Were there any specific determining factors that led you toward your current jazz style?

No specific determinations, just as a follower of the Buddha and as a meditator I had experiences of my own inner nature of coming and going. It's like a wave in the ocean that rises up and dissolves back into the ocean, naturally. That's how I want to play my music - to be completely free, natural, spontaneous, and creative. Improvised music hasn't got many limitations. The only limit of one's mind and heart is his own imagination.

Photo by Nada Žgank
How would you describe your latest work "From the Sky"?

"From the Sky" is a live CD recording from 54th Ljubljana Jazz Festival. The energy and music differs from our first album "Joyful Spontaneity" - it's more energetic and in a way even more raw, naked. Live free jazz performances are basically much more edgy than studio recordings. Since playing live, energy and concentration are on a higher level. We are able to push our own limits much further with playing live than in studio. But the result isn't necessary always great or perfect - there is no second take when playing live. The more experiences a musician has, the better is his/her performance. Nevertheless I think that "From the Sky" is a milestone album. Lots of wonderful moments of how a band travels together from one "planet of sound" to another. I'm grateful to Pedro Costa (Clean Feed) who believed in me and gave me a chance to present my quartet live to a wider public through a Portuguese record label, Clean Feed.

Apart from the standard musical education, what processes did you go through in developing your approach to improvisation?

Meditation helps me a lot. In my everyday life I try my best to meditate, even before playing the instrument. I love spontaneity, peace, nature, quiet mornings and peaceful nights, trees and birds. I've always loved to play in forests, botanical gardens, city parks. When interacting with nature my playing becomes more natural, at least to me. Watching trees, flowers, how everything lives and changes. My sound is changing all the time, nothing is permanent. Not even a rock. Everything in nature is constantly changing. That is so wonderful to see. Contemplating like this helps me to be more spontaneous. To be present in the moment. Then each moment becomes meaningful.

 Do you find it challenging when you record improvised music?

Yes, definitely. It's a challenge to play something you can not rehearse. You need courage and curiosity. You actually don't know what will happen on the stage or in the studio before it really happens.

The further I get into jazz and the more research I do, the more I notice something: eastern practices. You've been practicing Buddhism for quite some time, so I have to ask: does Buddhism influence your connection with music?

As I said in some previous answers: yes. Meditation is very important part of my life. Even though I don't always have time to sit and meditate, I can practice the art of mindfulness. I do it while walking, smiling, talking, swimming ... When playing improvised and spontaneous music, mindfulness is much appreciated.

Cene's meditation teacher Lho Ontul Rinpoche
Do you perceive improvisation as a purely musical endeavor, or do you think it can also be used to convey a personal message, for instance ad ideological or a world-view related statement?

We should all learn how to improvise in our lives. Because we are all so busy in these modern times, filling our agenda books and calendars with so many things. Sometimes when our plans are not like we want them to be, we are sad, angry, or jealous. That is a good moment to just see our present condition and not react with emotions. Here we can improvise and that's when the meditation comes in.

Are there any emotional and spiritual connections between you as the musician and your instrument?

Yes, there is a spiritual connection. Saxophone is a wind instrument, so I'm using my body's wind channel to sustain the energy of the wind. Blowing through my horn, producing sound. Sound is energy. That is a deep connection with the universe (of colors and many imaginary places). Pure magic!

Can you name a few artists that have influenced and inspired you?

My meditation teacher Lho Ontul Rinpoche, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Salvador Dali, Björk, William Parker, Tony Malaby, Vincent Van Gogh, Beastie Boys, and Buddha Shakyamuni, to name just a few.

Thanks you so much for your time and answers, keep on jazzin'!

Photo: Simao Bessa

My Slovenian readers can listen to Cene's jazzin' on 25th of September (@ 21:30) at Menza pri Koritu, where the Cene Resnik Quartet will promote their newest album "From The Sky". See ya there!


  1. You give the best interviews! It is about time you broke dormancy!!!

  2. I really like what he said about meditating while walking, talking, smiling...Never thought about it before, but it totally makes sense :)

  3. What a cool dude. I'm not that familiar with jazz music unfortunately but I bet if you played me some tunes I'd recognise them. I horrible with names like that.

    Hope you're having a great week G