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New John Scofield Interview up on All About Jazz

26 Sep

Scofield looks back on his ’80s music—and his time spent with Davis—fondly. “It looks funny to us now, because of the fashion and some of the synth sounds,” says Scofield. “And Miles was actually bigger than a rock star; that’s my theory- -that rock stars kowtowed to Miles. A rock star’s just a rock star; this was Miles Davis, man, the giant of modern music who was playing the rock star role. When Miles played, people like Jack Nicholson and Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger would kowtow to him. He was the number-one guy, period, culturally, in music. I remember the Montreux gigs [soon to be released on DVD] as being especially good for us. Miles at that point—sometimes he wouldn’t play; he had a social life that was happening, going to rock star parties and stuff, and I don’t think he played that much. But when we went out on tour, he really got his chops up. And for Montreux, we’d been playing a couple weeks.” Read the full interview

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1000+ Jazz MP3s — Free & Legal

10 May

Here’s a free and completely legal way to get into jazz with a mp3 library of over 1000 tracks for your own private, personal, non-commercial use. Continue reading

John Scofield Interview: Talkin’ Blues

1 Apr

2013 UPDATE:  You can now download the audio of this interview, or stream it here

John Scofield is one of the world’s most influential and respected guitarists, a musician and composer who has worked with many of the greatest names in jazz: Chet Baker, Gary Burton, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and scores of others. His 30 plus solo recordings have taken his fans on a remarkably wide-ranging musical journey – from straight ahead jazz, bebop, and fusion, to funky experimental outings with Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood, and even gospel jazz fusion with his Piety Street Band.  On his current album 54 (Emarcy, 2010), he is backed by a 50 plus piece orchestra, complete with strings, harps, brass, and woodwinds, and, as always, he somehow manages to play in a way that appeals to jazz aficionados and discerning guitarheads.

Fans of Soulive, Phil Lesh & Friends, Govt. Mule, and John Mayer are well aware that John Scofield is an exciting and soulful player, and this ability to be true to himself as a serious jazz artist, while also appealing to rock, R&B, and blues fans is what makes him so special. After watching him (@ Moogis.com) blow the roof off the Beacon when he sat in with the Allman Brothers Band on March 18, 2011, I thought it would be fascinating to talk to this jazz icon about coming of age in the ’60s & ’70s and get his take on the icons of blues rock. So this interview was conducted just a few days after that event.

Regular readers of this blog know that I publish my interviews on All About Jazz, but this year a major retrospective interview with John Scofield was already planned for the later part of 2011 to coincide with the release of his upcoming album A Moments Peace (Emarcy, 2011.) Nevertheless, he graciously agreed to this interview on blues rock guitar for Jazzamatazz, and I resisted the urge to ask him about jazz and his work with Miles and the other jazz greats – we can all look forward to that later this year on All About Jazz. Meanwhile, if you see any names you don’t recognize, or any of your favorites, be sure to check the hyper-links – there are even links to posters of concerts John saw as a high school student.

Jazzamatazz: First, as a blues fan I want to tell you how much I love your album Piety Street (2009, Universal Music). It’s one of those recordings where everything just seems to have fit together perfectly, from the material and musicians down to the great cover art. And the fact that you decided to do a gospel album in New Orleans and actually ended up in a studio on Piety Street, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

John Scofield: Yeah, it was one of those things, almost like being helped from above. It was also so much fun doing that record. Of course I knew the studio was on Piety Street, but it really didn’t register until I got down there.

Jazzamatazz: Jon Cleary was a great choice, it’s uncanny that a guy from England sings and plays piano like someone who grew up in the 9th Ward, and if that weren’t enough, he’s a fine guitarist.

John Scofield: Jon Cleary is just a major talent, and we did a year of touring after the album came out. It was wonderful working with him and he’s just become a great friend. He’s actually been into it for a long time, his story is rather interesting. His father and uncle were way into the music of New Orleans when he was a kid. So he grew up with New Orleans music playing around the house all the time, and his uncle was a musician. His sister was also really into it and had already moved down there, so when he was about age eighteen he was already playing and singing it, and at this point he’s lived down there for a long time.

Jazzamatazz: You’ve also had John Boutté who famously sings the theme song for HBO’s mini-series Treme. Have you had a chance to watch it, and are there any plans for you to appear in an episode?

John Scofield: Yes, that’s so great. We actually recorded Peity Street before that, and I was so happy to see that they used his music for the series. I actually watched one of the episodes with Jon Cleary in it, it’s very good. They haven’t asked me, but I’ll be there if they want me.

Jazzamatazz: You seem to have retained a rock energy when you need it, but other than a bit of B.B. King I can’t spot a particular influence from a blues or rock player. Were there any rock or blues player you listened to in your early years who had a lasting influence on you?

John Scofield: So first, there is influence, and then there are also people whom you like and respect. I liked and respected all of the blues players, and they all kind of played a bit like B.B. King, Otis Rush, Albert King and Freddie King. And I loved those guys, and Hendrix and Clapton, and I was a teenager when that first came out.

I started playing guitar at the end of 1963 just before the Beatles came over. [Laughing] I think I had my guitar out holding it when I was watching the Beatles on television on the Ed Sullivan Show. Continue reading

My Interview with Jim Hart

23 Mar

UPDATE: Jim Hart has been nominated for musician of the year in this year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards, one of the most prestigious set of jazz awards on the UK jazz calendar.

Jim Hart is one of the hottest young musicians on the U.K. jazz scene. His impressive skills are matched by a level of experience and maturity that belie his age. His musicianship elicited this praise from vibes heavyweight Joe Locke: “Some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time. Definitely the best vibes playing I’ve heard in a long time.”

An alumnus of Chetham’s School of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he was awarded the John Dankworth “Most Promising Musician” award in the BBC Big Band of the Year competition for his drumming, and his skill as a vibraphonist earned him the British Jazz Award for “Rising Star” in 2006, and for miscellaneous instrument (vibes) in 2007.

Read the interview on All About Jazz

25 Essential Albums: 1960 – 1974, a guide for music fans under 30

13 Oct

GOING OLD SCHOOL

This photo from August 1969 shows people on the way to Woodstock.  A month earlier they watched people walk on the Moon, Continue reading

My Interview with the Ace Session-Guitarist Louie Shelton

27 Jan

Some of the artists with whom Louie Shelton has worked.

When Louie was 13 years old he met an up and coming Elvis Presley.  Elvis was playing at Louie’s  junior high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Years later in Los Angeles as a session guitarist  he was in the studio with Elvis.  Louie was one of two people in the studio when young Michael Jackson sang “I Want You Back.”  He was in the studio with John Lennon and Phil Spector.  T-Bone Walker, James Brown, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder are also among his credits.  He also produced Seals & Crofts and played lead guitar on their most memorable hits.

His 2009 induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame provided the perfect backdrop for this conversation with All About Jazz about his remarkable musical career.

READ THE INTERVIEW ON ALL ABOUT JAZZ

My New All About Jazz Interview with Matthias Bublath

8 Oct

allaboutjazz screen capture

Matthias Bublath is a young German born pianist based in New York City.  He has exceptional compositional talent and is also a Hammond B3 specialist.  Initially he approached me to review his new CD, but after hearing his music I thought he deserved some wider exposure.  I highly recommend any of his four CDs and you can read our interview here.