Louis Durra has never seriously considered being anything other than a musician.
My mother said I learnt to read from record labels,” said pianist Louis Durra.
“From two or three-years-old, I was obsessed with the record player.
“At 10, I was hearing music in my head and wanted to write it down.”
Louis, 55, was born in the US but has been living in Germany since 2013. His parents were music and theatre fans, who undoubtedly had a large impact on his life. Piano was his first instrument, and it was music that led him to Scotland.
Twice he travelled the long distance from Los Angeles to play at the Edinburgh Fringe. He walked around the city, taking in the other shows and was booked in by Billy Kyle to do a couple of gigs.
Louis said: “Bill ran the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh and passed away on October 31 this year. His role in Scottish jazz has been huge, and he is sorely missed.”
Playing in Scotland changed his life, according to Louis, who has now released five albums. He likes to keep researching new music online and attends a weekly music exchange group with refugees in Berlin.
Louis is touring with two Scottish musicians, drummer Doug Hough and bassist Euan Burton. The now Berlin-based pianist met his musical companions during runs at the Edinburgh Fringe. Doug is from the Glasgow collective Elusive Tree and Euan has played gigs with Phil Cunningham, Salt House and many other jazz musicians.
Louis said: “Doug stood in for another drummer when I played at the 2011 Fringe. I met Euan when I heard him play with Ari Hoenig, a great drummer from New York. Music can be a small world: I had heard about each of them before we met.”
Without the early music lessons his parents had provided, Louis’s life would be very different today. Touring has become important to him and it is now something the artist thrives on. Dialogue, street sounds, film, music, “the world we live in and things people have said to me” all influence him.
“I’m interested in the interaction between musicians and the things that vocalists do that might not be part of the song,” he said.
“Vocalists and their many different ideas of melody have influenced me.”
He said: “My aesthetic has evolved towards bringing out the life and beauty of a song or work, and using whatever tools I have to achieve that.”