Posts Tagged John Scofield

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.

Enjoy!  

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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Phil Robson Interview

Phil is one of the top jazz guitar players in the UK and has an amazing CV including stints with Big Jon Patton, Charles Earland, David Liebman, Steve Lacy, Mark Turner, Billy Hart, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Marc Copland, Wayne Krantz, Mike Gibbs, James Genus, Peter Herbert, Bob Brookmeyer, Tim Garland, Tommy Smith, Django Bates, Tom Rainey, Drew Gress, Stan Sulzmann, Jeff Williams, John Hebert, Ben Street, Duane Eubanks, Bobby Wellins, Denys Baptiste, Iain Ballamy, Donny McCaslin, Ingrid Jensen, Jean Toussaint, Cleveland Watkiss, Julian & Steve Arguelles, Gary Husband, Mike Figgis (film director), Jason Yarde, Jiggs Whigam, Sir John Dankworth & Dame Cleo Laine, & as member of BBC BB with: Joe Lovano, Patti Austin, Maceo Parker, Eliane Elias, Giavanni Hidalgo, Rufus Reid, Vince Mendoza, Madeline Bell, Horatio El Negro Hernandez, John Riley, Barbara Dennalin, Anne Hampton Callaway, Mark Murphy, Georgy Fame, Martin Taylor, Michael McDonald, Pee Wee Ellis, Sammy Nestico & Bud Shank. Lalo Shiffron, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Peplowski e.t.c….!!!! Check out his website and in particular have a listen to his latest release “The Immeasurable Code” EDIT: JUST NOMINATED FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY JAZZ AWARDS 2012 or catch him on tour this year. I hear a rumour he may be opening up for Pat Martino at Ronnie Scotts soon as well…!
Q: What/who were your initial influences?
My initial influences which made me really want to play guitar were rock bands, particularly Black Sabbath, Hendrix & Led Zep. The 1st people who inspired me to play jazz were Miles Davis & Barney Kessell.
Q: Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?
I am doing various gigs at the moment but my big projects for 2012 are a UK CD launch tour with my band ‘The Immeasurable Code Quintet’ in September & gigging throughout the year with Christine Tobin’s amazing ‘Sailing To Byzantium’ & ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ projects. I will post full details on my website www.philrobson.net & there is info about all my projects up there.
Q: What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?
My desert island guitar would be the Gibson L5 which Pat Martino played around the late sixties/early seventies.
Q: Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?
4. That’s a tough one! Have seen so many great ones (Frisell, Martino, Bernstein, Scofield, Kessell, Rosenwinkle, Eubanks, Metheny etc etc). I think Kenny Burell trio was very special in Nottingham sometime around the late eighties.
Q: Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?
All of the ones I’ve mentioned already but I would say Kevin Eubanks to pick 1 as many people are not really aware of him. Seeing him play in trio setting with Dave Holland & Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith many times in the early nineties really changed my own direction. Ralph Towner is also very interesting. There are also many ones here in the UK which I admire such as Mike Outram, Mike Walker, Alan Weekes, Mark Ridout, Dave Okumu, Colin Oxley to name just a few & there are many really exciting young guys coming up.

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John Clarke Interview

John Clarke from the Southern Jazz Guitar Society contacted me and very kindly answered our interview questions. I will do a feature on UK jazz guitar societies soon.

What/who were your initial influences?

Jim Hall (‘Jazz Guitar’ with Carl Perkins and Red Mitchell), Barney Kessel (‘Four’ with Hamptom Hawes), Wes Montgomery (all the Riverside recordings)

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

I only average half a dozen gigs a year, and this year it’s less than that, but I play in public twice a month at jam sessions. Last year, one of the bands I play in supported the Clark Tracy Quintet at the Reading Jazz Cafe, and another band I play in has played at The Marlborough Jazz Festival, the Brighton Jazz Club, the Reading Jazz Club and the Southampton Jazz Club in the past. The close proximity of London, and the dearth of gigs there for pro musicians means that, now, these local gigs can attract London jazz musicians for modest fees, so there are fewer opportunities left for local semi-pros and good amateurs.

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

My ’59 Gibson L7 with Kent Armstrong custom archtop pick-up, but a similar vintage L5CES would be even better. I also have an Ibanez AS200 bought c. 1990, which is an exceptionally nice guitar.

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

Wes at Ronnie Scotts, I guess, but Pat Metheny at The Shaw Theatre c. 1980, and Mike Stern at the Bracknell Jazz Festival c, 1987 also stand out

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

Depends on the era (my taste covers all from fifties to the present). Pre 1980 – Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Pat Martino, and Jimmy Raney are my favourites. Post 1980 – Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Mike Stern, or for a more conventional sound, Peter Bernstein and Jesse Van Ruller.

John Clarke
Basingstoke

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David Angus interview

INITIAL INFLUENCES

In the mid 60’s I played rhythm guitar in a fairly regulation type r ‘n b
group in the Lancaster area having made fair copies of a Fender Jazz Bass and a Stratocaster for a ‘name’ guitarist who later became a top London session player. I imagine that Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry were the sounds that first caught my ear and of course the first Elvis album ( Blue Moon, Mystery Train etc., ). Bizaarly, I then heard Monty Sunshine play Petite Fleur (jazz!) in Chris Barber’s band and later the music of Sydney
Bechet and so took up clarinet for three or so years learning to reading in
the process.

After a career in design, teaching and retail management which left little
free time, I returnedto the guitar when my wife and I moved to Derbsyhire in the mid-1990s and for some time focussed on BB King and in particular Chicago Blues. My first lessons were with Andy Gatford in a back room at Foulds and I still have his excellent notes to crib from now when
I give the odd lesson! The instrument itself brought me to jazz and although
Wes had caught my ear in the 60’s it was not until we retired here to South -West France that I really became aware of the diversity of jazz guitar. Additionally, every town in this part of France has a music college and all French youngsters are taught Solfège. There is tremendous enthusiasm for music ‘en direct’ ie live and the span of genres is mind boggling but even here
( 1 1/2 hours north of Toulouse ) there are many pro and semi-pro jazz trios and quartets playing bebop and standards although not surprisingly the predominant style is manouche or gypsy jazz.

GIGGING

Jazz jam sessions hereabouts ( we are in a rural area ) are fairly thin on
the ground and in spite of my earlier comment re-pro level gigs the scope for ‘advanced beginner/intermediate’ players is fairly limited. Jamming with friends is very much the order of the day and I meet regularly with an English friend here who writes jingles and film music and has a profesional studio. He tends to lay down piano tracks and then we work on standards for fun. I have until recently been one of three ‘programmateurs’ who choose the headline acts for the Cahors Blues Festival ( oldest in France: www.cahorsbluesfestival.com ) and have played from time to time with committee members. I have also co-organised one or two charity
concerts here ie Tsunami, Haiti (Gary Brooker et al )etc. and this has
resulted in useful 1:1 jamming situations.
Of course, at my age ( a young 65ans! ) I just need the extra 10,000 hours
to get together my chops!!

GUITARS

When I left the UK ( almost 8 years ago now ) Dan was just getting together
his jazz guitar stock and archtops seemed much less interesting at that time. I seem to recall purchasing one acoustic flattop and one Strat from the
shop and a Laney amp ( or maybe the Fender DeLuxe 90 ). However, almost as soon as we arrived here I bought an Ibanez Artcore jobbie and loved the feel and tone although I now realise how humble it was. Shortly after, I was
in touch with the guy who established Peerless Guitars in the UK having
ordered a Jazz City direct from Korea. This resulted in my establishing numerous retail accounts from Toulouse to Bordeaux for Peerless. I also found a number of endorsees including Big Jim Sullivan and Bill Nelson for the marque and set up the link with Matt Otten who has had 1000,000s of hits on You Tube with the 2 models I sent him. I later on somehow ( quite legitimately! ) acquired a Peerless Monarch and a Renaissance Custom for my troubles. I love both guitars ( both all-solid )but find the mini- humbucker on the Monarch a little thin sounding and routinely play the guitar through a Boss EQ and the Renaissance Custom ( 330 clone ) now
has a Benedetto A6 in the neck – love it. They keep company with a Baja Tele
( SD Alnico II in the neck ) and French Lag Tramontane acoustic for ‘grab
and go’.

My ‘Desert Island’ choice is probably an Eastman depending upon my pension ‘lump sum’ when it arrives!

BEST (JAZZ GUITAR) GIG

Not sure how to quantify this one. I feel I ought to include John McLaughlin – Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974 . However in recent years we have seen excellent concerts ( mostly at the fantastic Marciac Jazz Festival in
the Gers ) Al de Meola and Stanley Clarke and twice now, the incredible
Bireli Lagrene ( bebop as well as the manouche material.) Off to see him in
Nerac with Sylvan Luc in a couple of weeks. Last October we also saw John
Scofield with his trio at the Jazz Sur 31 festival ( 60 concerts in and
around Toulouse each autumn. Spoilt for choice! Best thing here too is the
average age of the audience at these gigs – mostly around 30ans.

GUITARISTS TO CHECK OUT

For me, BIRELI LAGRENE is probably one of the greatest living guitarists –
forget all the magazine surveys! Just catch him if you can. This is the guy
who had the entire repertoire of Django down by the time he appeared at the
Montreux Festival aged 14ans! Beyond that, I rate highly, Anthony Wilson (
who plays with Diana Krall ), Ted Greene, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, MIMI FOX, Bobby Broom, Grant Green, John Scofield, Russell Malone, Joe Pass and of course the vastly underrated Jimmy Bruno.

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