Archive for category Jazz Gtr Interviews

Sam Dunn Interview

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam in the shop and as is the way of the socially connected world we live in I saw we had many mutual musical aquaintences. I’ve since had the pleasure of checking out Sams playing which seems to cover the whole range of jazz guitar from gentle solo guitar to burning bebop playing. I strongly recommend you head over to his website and check out his fantasic playing, teaching concepts buy a cd or even better try and catch him live with one of his many musical endeavours.

Cheers Sam!

Q: What/who were your initial influences?

Blues, and bluesy rock was my way in! I loved, and still do, guitarists like Albert King, BB King, Stevie Ray, and of course Hendrix. I had a band when I was at school, just jamming on 12 bar riffs that we’d learned, with my friend playing bass and his dad playing drums. His dad is a massive jazz fan, so after we’d finish playing, we’d have dinner and he’d put on jazz record or two. One evening, when I was about 13, after attempting to rock out on ‘3rd Stone from the Sun’ or something similar, he put on ‘Bean Bags,’ which is a really swinging album led by Coleman ‘Bean’ Hawkins and Milt ‘Bags’ Jackson. The guitarist on it absolutely blew me away, I was instantly hooked. Bluesy, but playing ‘weird’ notes! It was a real moment of epiphany for me, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. So it’s all my bass playing dad’s fault! The guitarist on the album was a very young ‘Kenny Burrell.’ This was in the pre internet days, so finding out information was a lot harder than it is for students of jazz today- I’d visit local libraries, and take the train up to London to visit jazz CD shops. I eventually discovered Django, Barney Kessell, lots more Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. Joe Pass in particular remains a massive influence; I love how he would just sit and play a tune, as opposed to working out a formal arrangement. I found a few transcription books, and made my way through them as best as I could, and learned a lot from magazines like ‘Just Jazz Guitar’ and ‘Guitar Techniques.’ There was nobody that lived near me who could teach jazz guitar so I taught myself, transcribing (very slowly at first) and learning songs from records, CDs and tapes. I think that it should be a challenge to learn this music; it really is a life long mountain to climb, which is something to be celebrated. I feel like I’m still scratching the surface, and it’s exciting to be in my mid thirties and still feel I have a ton of music to learn! I continued to teach myself as best I could until I ended up going to Leeds College of Music and then later the Guildhall, to study formally. Later on I discovered more contemporary approaches to playing jazz, but I’m glad I did it in an almost chronological way.

Q: Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I’m kept pretty busy between my teaching and gigging around Yorkshire and beyond. I have a few projects on the go – my trio is always fun, with Bassist Garry Jackson and drummer Steve Hanley. It’s pretty loose and open, we play standards, and my compositions. Rehearsals are great fun, we tear the music to pieces and make it our own. I play as a duo with pianist Paul Wilkinson, we’ve just released an album of originals called ‘Open House’ which got a nice review in JJG. I’ve got a new band that I’m really excited about which will be a lot of fun – called ‘The Perpetual Motion Machine.’ Its got myself and my old pal Jamie Taylor playing guitar, and Riley Stone Lonergan and Ben Lowman on Sax, with Garry and Steve on drums. We have our first rehearsal in a few weeks, and have a few gigs booked in later in the year. I play with vocalist Sophie Smith when our schedules allow, and we have a few gigs booked in for the spring, and in a few projects let by others. I teach guitar at a local private school, and also run weekly jazz workshops for Sheffield Jazz, and Heart in Leeds. So it all keeps me busy to say the least!

Q: What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

I finally got it! Last year, an old friend was selling his late father’s 1966 Gibson ES175DN. It really is the best guitar I’ve ever played, the sound is just magic, and the neck is to die for. I have a 7 string Benedetto prototype that I bought from Howard Alden, which was an early incarnation of what later became the ‘Bambino Deluxe,’ and I just got a Comins GCS1ES for gigs where I’m too scared to take either of the above. I love the sound of 7 string, but I think I’m going to always be a dabbler at best – I love playing my 175 too much!

Q: Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?

Thats a hard question! I loved seeing Russell Malone with Ray Brown and Benny Green many years ago in Wigan of all places! So strange, being in Wigan and thinking, there’s the bassist from ‘Charlie Parker with Strings!’ Anytime I see Adam Rogers he always blows me away. I’m not fussed if there’s no guitar on a gig – I’m more interested in the music than the instrumentation. Brad Mehldau always has something new to say. I recently saw Derek Trucks, and he was great! His tone and phrasing were just fantastic.

Q: Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

I’m sure anyone reading this will be familiar with the ‘biggies’ playing contemporary jazz guitar; Adam Rogers, Gilad Hekselman, Lage Lund, etc etc so I’d like to mention a few of the excellent players near me if I may. There was a group of us at Leeds College of Music that have gone on to be working pro jazz musicians, playing in very different styles. Simon King is an outrageous guitarist, and also plays several other instruments to a baffling level. Tam De Villiers is now based in Paris, and is quite amazing, check him out! John Kelly, Nick Svarc, Jamie Taylor are all great as well, and have totally different voices on the instrument.

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Brad Williams Interview

I was contacted via Twitter by Brad and had a listen to his Youtube channel and loved what I heard; tasteful, in the tradition but not in anyway painting by numbers if that makes sense- check it out. I was glad he agreed to an interview. Thanks Brad!

What/who were your initial influences?

My very earliest influences were stacks of 45 RPM records my parents owned. Scotty Moore with Elvis Presley was a big one, Steve Cropper with Otis Redding was another. At 12 I was exposed to Hendrix, and at 15 to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. Then I started going out as a teenager in my hometown of Memphis to hear Calvin Newborn at least one night per week— this was in the late 1990s.  But my single biggest guitarist-influence, to this day, is Charlie Christian— such an incredible sound and conception, and true, deep feeling in every note. His influence exploded out in every direction— through Wes and Benson obviously, but also through T-Bone Walker into the blues, then Junior Barnard on the country side of things, and Chuck Berry and beyond into rock. Charlie Christian is truly the electric guitar’s ‘big bang.’ More than guitarists, though, I’m most influenced by any musician who delivers real depth of feeling and real, honest individuality. There are too many to list, and fortunately there’s no reason to narrow it down.

Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I’m doing a lot of writing and producing these days, in all sorts of idioms, and a fair amount of performing. Not all of it is improvisation-centered. Last year I worked and toured quite extensively with vocalist José James, and currently I’m playing and writing a bit with artists like Kris Bowers, Cory Henry, Samora Pinderhughes, and Sly5thAve, as well as some more song-oriented projects with lots of great artists like Adesuwa, Kimberly Nichole, and more. Really just staying busy and keeping my vision very broad. My organ trio record, which features Pat Bianchi on B3 and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, comes out 4 September. I’m very excited to see the public’s reaction to Tyshawn’s organ trio drumming, which is fantastic. So many music lovers know his work in contexts very different from this, so I think a lot of people are going to really get a thrill from hearing him like this.

It was an interesting project in that we decided to do an entirely analogue capture the whole way through— we tracked and mixed to tape, and Scott Hull cut a great-sounding lacquer master from razor-blade sequenced quarter-inch reels. The LP edition will have never touched a computer at all, and I chose this way of working with a very clear musical result in mind. Rather than having the temptation to fix and edit, I wanted to enforce being true to the feeling of the moment. What was most interesting to me were all of the little things that bothered me initially. Most of those came to be some of my favorite parts of the record once it aged a bit— there’s real humanity there, and with modern recording workflows, a lot of this humanity gets eroded through little fixes, edits, and punches. I think this is because humanity and vulnerability, while engaging to audiences, can be uncomfortable when it’s your humanity and vulnerability!

What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

I have always liked guitars— I have 20 currently. I’ve always, from the very beginning, liked to have a lot of guitars around. Amps, too! So it would be hard to pick one. At any rate, things like makes, models, and vintages are purely academic to me— I have to play a particular guitar before I know if it speaks to me or not. Another of the exact same make, model, year might not strike me the same way. There are some I own that were particularly obvious to me the first time I picked them up. I have this 1953 Epiphone Triumph Regent that someone added a pickup to in 1954. It’s a carved-top guitar—it was an acoustic originally—and the pickup was bought out of a catalog, made by Carvin in the mid-1950s. I also have a blue 1962 Fender Jazzmaster that I’d never sell, and a 1944 Gibson Southern Jumbo flat top.

Most of my guitars are old; I tend to like the ones that have been played a lot. Sometimes I feel that as with any other tool that’s worked with in the hand a lot, like they can somehow accumulate personality. That probably sounds weird. But in the end, there’s music in any guitar— it’s up to the player to find out what the guitar does and how it can be worked-with, creatively. I’m a big fan of old inexpensive guitars, for instance— there’s almost always something they do that is unique and characterful. I’d be happy with almost any guitar on a desert island, I think!

Best guitar gig you’ve ever seen?
There’s one that comes to mind for me that I’ve talked about a few times since. I was about 18 years old and went to see B.B. King in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; the hall held about 8,000 people. I was young, deep into jazz guitar studies, trying to get my hands around all the technique and my ears around all the harmony. Mr. King had a second guitarist with him— a young kid playing a big archtop— and he gave this kid the first solo of the show. The kid played great; lots of notes, some bebop-inspired language, and I remember thinking “wow, I’ve heard the B.B. King records; I know he’s not going to play more stuff than this guy!” After the younger player’s solo, which finished to polite applause, B.B. King played a single note— one of those stinging upper register notes he’s so famous for. The energy in the hall immediately elevated to this transcendent place— you could feel the electricity of the whole crowd’s emotions being stirred simultaneously. It was a transformative moment for me, because it caused me in one instant to completely re-evaluate what was important to me in music. From that point on, the question was always “is this idea in service of some kind of feeling?” Because it’s not enough, to me, to just be a clever idea or an impressive thing to demonstrate. If it’s not working toward making me feel what B.B. King made that whole hall feel that day, then it’s not what I’m after.

Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

Well, there are all the usual ones— the legends. Charlie Christian gets a shout-out, again. Freddie Green was always another big hero of mine, due to his deep concept as a rhythm section player. For me, there’s a whole school of Memphis session guitarists that are just my favorite lately. The late Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, Skip Pitts, Michael Toles, Bobby Manuel, Steve Cropper, and— above them all, to me— the great Reggie Young. Most of your readers have heard these players somewhere or other; as session players they were all incredibly prolific, and on some important records. There are some others that are so worth checking out that don’t get as much talk these days— Oscar Moore, George Van Eps, Gene Bertoncini… As for current players, my friend Charlie Hunter has a fabulous new record out with Curtis Fowlkes and Bobby Previte. Isaiah Sharkey is another player I’m really impressed by, as is Tony Scherr… his slide work is so full of real feeling. There are really too many great ones to name.



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Jules Faife Interview

It’s great to be in an era where finding out about new and different artists doesn’t involve having to go down to the library or rely on word of mouth; this is one of the best things about the new internet age. Recently I was contacted through this blog by Jules Faife and he kindly agreed to do an interview for us. If you’re down south then definitely check him out, great playing and any fan of John McLaughlin is a friend of mine!
What/who were your initial influences?
I started out like many young teenagers, imitating the blues and rock guitar of the 60s and 70s… Hendrix, BB King, Muddy Waters, Clapton, Jimmy Page… and 80s guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Jeff Healey… then from my local library in Leeds I started borrowing tapes and CDs of Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, George Benson, Joe Pass…
Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?
It’s been a great year… last summer I did the first gig with my band, playing material from my debut album “Compás”… and the album was finally completed this summer, where I launched it at Pizza Express Jazz Club. Other gigs are coming up at the Union Chapel, Cafe POSK and Marsden Jazz Festival. I do have new ideas for a second album but I’ll hold them off for now until I really understand what to do with this first one!
What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?
I’m not fussy with particular guitars… but although I enjoy playing the electric (strat), steel string and bass guitars, a nylon string guitar (Classical or Spanish) would suit me on a desert island… I’d try to conquer those impossible flamenco palos, and maybe for once I could learn a Charlie Parker line properly!
Best guitar gig you’ve ever seen?
I saw Paco de Lucia playing live in an outdoor amphitheatre in Cordoba, Spain in 2010… at midnight… pretty special!
Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out? I recommend for people to hear modern but accessible flamenco (also with a jazz influence), check out Vicente Amigo. I love the way John Mclaughlin plays in his Remember Shakti band. In terms of instructional DVDs, I’ve always found Eric Johnson very impressive with his versatility and feel.

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Matt Chandler Interview

Matt is an up and coming guitarist originally from the Midlands and now based in London with his exciting trio, he’s released 2 albums so far “After Midnight” and “It Goes Like This” to critical acclaim and has worked with Tony Kofi amongst other top artists. He was picked this year as the winner of Eastman Guitars International ‘Future Guitar Legend’ which included a trip to LA to play with the legendary John Pisano so the future is looking great for Matt. Make sure you drop by his website or see him at a gig
He kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us; cheers Matt!

What/who were your initial influences?
I have to say, Joe Satriani. Listening to him made me want to play guitar, then later, Pat Metheny got me into Jazz.

Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?
At the moment i have a new trio. This has Sophie Alloway on drums and Jason Simpson on Bass. We hope to be getting out playing soon. There are some videos of us up on my website
I also have a few shows coming up in Autumn in the midlands with the BoHoP Trio and Wendy kirkland.

What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?
I already have it . My Gibson es 175.

Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?
Best jazz guitar gig i have ever seen must be Jonathan Kreisberg at the pizza Express this April. Kreisberg, for me, is one of the best. He has it all, very rich harmonic and melodic content and, of course, a great tone!

Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?
If you can try and check out, Filipe Monteiro, Richard Rozze. both really good players, they can be found online. Also, i think people should check out John Pisano more. My reason is to do with actual comping and rhythm work in the sense that i think this area of jazz guitar can tend be overlooked by most of us. John Pisano is an excellent example of superior comping.I am a firm believer in you are only as good as the guy that is comping for you or your rhythm section. What the other guy/girl plays can have an enormous effect on how good, or bad, you are going to be on a gig. , whilst i was in LA i had the pleasure of playing a couple of tunes with John. Right from the word go my performance was really comfortable, its almost like John sizes you up and knows what your going to do before you do and adjusts his comping style to suit. We should check John out more for the benefit of who we are going to comp for!

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Joe Diorio Interview

Phew I’m tired, went to see Jonathon Kreisberg last night in Oxford at The Spin jazz club, great gig!

Joe Diorio Interview

Not mine but just found this recent interview from one of my favourite players, the great underrated Joe Diorio!

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Dutch bop guitarist Dick Onstenk has a great blog here worth checking out, this month he interviews great NL guitarist Jesse Van Ruller

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Jens Larsen Interview

I was contacted by Jens Larsen who is a guitarist with the band Traeben who are from Denmark and really play and sound great. I found it particularly interesting as I am in a band with the same instrumental format. I urge you to check out their website (follow the highlighted links on the band name) as there’s some great tunes.  One of the reasons I started doing the interviews was to get an insight into players from different countries and how they ended up on the path that lead them towards jazz guitar.


01. What/who were your initial influences? 

When I was 12 my best friend could not play with me when on Thursdays because he was having guitar lessons so I thought I’d get lessons too.I started having lessons every Monday. I had classical lessons until I was 19. Where I lived in Denmark  you could only learn classical guitar. When I was in High school I started playing in the school band on the electric guitar of the school, and later I got one myself. When I moved to a bigger city to study mathematics at the University I started to take lessons in electric guitar. From there I drifted from classical via blues and rock into jazz because I discovered that I really liked playing with other people and also improvising. I was amazed that so many rock bands were not improvising, I thought all solos were improvised at that time. When I discovered Charlie Parker, I was searching the library for some fusion that I liked and that was that! I did not find any good fusion untill many years later.

02. Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I am at the moment in the middle of the release tour for the 2nd Træben album: “Push”. We released it in the Netherlands in March and it will be released in the rest of the world on October 1st. Træben is my main project right now. We have been playing quite a lot and the band functions really well, and in more ways than just playing, so that is very nice and I am really enjoying that. Push is the first album where I really got to write a lot of music and that’s also a reason for me to be proud of it. Push has been very well-received in the press and also with bookers so we have not had too hard a time getting to play concerts, and we have had featured videos on All About Jazz, and there are two reviews coming up there too. This first part of the release tour has taken us through Benelux and we are now planning to go to Germany and Scandinavia in 2013. We are also in the process  of writing the next album and testing the tunes live. I guess I feel very blessed at the moment.

03. What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

I am not sure if I have my desert island guitar. I have been playing an Epiphone Sheraton for the last few years and I really like it and it sounds great, but I just bought an old Ibanez 2630 which feels better, but I still did not get it setup with the strings I use, etc so I can’t tell if that is it. It might be though, at least for now, until I want something else it never ends…

04. Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?

The best concert I ever saw did not have guitar in it. I saw the Dave Holland Quintet on North Sea Jazz nine years ago (I think..), and that was really great! It completely blew away everything else I saw that day. For guitar I don’t know of one thing. I’ve seen Kurt Rosenwinkel quite often and that was always great. Charlie Hunter, Nguyen Le, Scofield they are also all fantastic. I’ve seen quite a few Scofield concerts too, I am never going to get tired of that. I saw Allan Holdsworth Trio live last year which was great too. I have realized that I need to go see more concerts. When I see live music I take so much more with me, and it keeps me going for weeks after. The last concert I saw was the new Chris Potter quartet that was fantastic too.  I hope I get time to see something again soon. I never saw Gilad Hekselman live and it’s been a long time since I saw Ari Hoenig.

05. Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

There are many. Nguyen Le is great and he is in jazz circles not that well known. I’ve had the fortune to hear him in more mainstream jazzlike settings and he is good at that too though not always very true to tradition maybe. All his world music influences are also interestingand a lot of his arrangements are great.I saw a concert from an Icelandic band called ADHD which was great! Maybe it is more the songs and the way the band works than the guitarist, but the concert was fantastic! Underplayed very dynamic and very intense! In the same way I really like the Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s stuff, even though it is completely different.  He has made some records with Bill Frisell and Lee Konitz that are very nice. Somebody showed me a video with Prasanna and Vijay Iyer which was very interesting too, completely different approach in some ways, the whole sitar phrasing on a guitar is very interesting. Another guy whose name I don’t hear so often is Lorne Lofsky. I have one of his CD’s, “It Could Happen To You” and that is great!

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