an interview with Lyman Medeiros

Lyman Medeiros has recently released his very strong debut album The Funky Supervillain, which surely will sound good in ten years time. And it would be interesting to do another interview with him in ten years. But for now it’s time for the jazz-not-jazz interview with Lyman. Here’s your chance to read more about his love for the upright bass, his collective The Lower Level and how he wrote his song Big City Dreams amongst others.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. How you’ve discovered your love for music, especially jazz and why you wanted to pursue a professional musical career.

Lyman Medeiros: Well I started playing the electric bass when I was thirteen years old. I knew my father (who I wasn’t close to at the time) played bass so I wanted to as well. By the time I got to high school I knew that I had a natural talent for music.
When I got to university I knew you couldn’t study the electric bass, so I switched over to the upright bass. A few weeks into my first semester I attended a performance by Ray Brown and his trio. Something in me snapped, and I knew I wanted to play the upright bass for the rest of my life.

Q: How did you meet your fellow musicians who played with you on this album. All of the songs feature you and Quinn Johnson on keys and yet three different drummes plus an additional musician on each song. Is there a permanent line-up for the Lower Level?

Lyman Medeiros: The Lower Level is more of a collective than a permanent band. All of the original compositions and arrangements are mine, I produced the record and for all intents and purposes it is my ‘baby’. But I didn’t want to release it under only my name for a couple of reasons: It is not really a jazz record in a traditional sense, my music relies heavily on the improvisation and interraction of the other musicians, and my name is hard to spell and pronounce! I thought it would be much better to give the band a name.
The Funky Supervillain is not a showcase of my jazz talents but a wider-ranging concept that includes the other musicians. I met most of the musicians in Steve Tyrell’s band. Steve is a standards vocalist I’ve been working with for a few years. If I didn’t meet them in Steve’s band they are local L.A. musicians who I’ve been playing with for a while. I chose the musicians for each group of songs based on what instrumentation I wanted and, quite frankly, who was available to make the rehearsals and the sessions. There are many world-class musicians on The Funky Supervillain, Lew Soloff was a founding member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and has played with everyone from James Brown to Barbara Streisand to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Tom Brechtlein has played in bands with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Farrell, Robin Ford, and Chick Corea…these guys stay busy. I am lucky they made the time to share their talents with me.



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