archiv of the category interviews


an interview with Janet Klein

Oh!, the recent album by Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys is a real different and unique effort in these days or like Janet puts it “like music from a lost planet“.
In her jazz-not-jazz interview Janet Klein talks about her love for the vintage stuff, how she became a keeper of said music from the lost planet, what she likes about modern technology and a lot more. So enjoy your visit to Janet’s parlor.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. How did you become so fascinated by the early 1900s?

Janet Klein: I was an artistic type kid growing up in San Bernardino, California, a rather dreary town, although if you look at photos of it from old postcards from the 1910s, it was at one time, a beautiful place…lots of orange groves and a Carnegie Library building with an onion dome, an idyllic valley setting. The only places I found beautiful were those spots that were old or left alone and in tune with nature, like the old ranch down the street called the “Bachelors Back Achers” or the old Mission Inn, built in the early 1900s in nearby Riverside. An old stone cottage stood in the wash near our house, that was used as a shooting range…it was a mysterious old structure. Pointing down to the wash was a natural arrowhead shape imbedded in the hill above. Indians looked to this signpost to find a natural hotspring below. The hotspring, for as long as I can remember was a closed off Christian enclave. It had once been the fancy Arrowhead Springs CountryClub in the 1920s. Most of the modern buildings around town looked like trash. It’s that basic sense of discontent and a search for places or things that made me happy or intrigued. I was fairly disconnected and discontented with contemporary culture and retreated to my dad’s painting studio where he had a great record collection and a nice bohemian atmosphere. I was more comfortable around my parents, grandparents and great aunts than with other kids my own age. They told me great stories about New York in the 1930s-50s and about their experiences in the “Old Country”, i.e. Poland. When I visited them I loved to see objects in their homes, clothes in the back of the closets, photographs etc. I became quite a sentimentalist…I love objects and places infused with the presence of a person or a history.
As far as female role models, I had wonderful women around me, strong, lovely, interesting, smart, talented…I didn’t care for the tough-talking, “athletic” unfeminine angle of the “women’s liberation” movement I saw around me in the 1970s. The grown women I knew didn’t seem to be oppressed, in fact, they were ruling their respective roosts. “Bra-burning” wasn’t as interesting to me as going through the lingerie drawers of my lady relatives. I think I am attracted to finding evidence to show that women have always accomplished impressive things and have had no shortage of intelligence, attitude and feminine power, without trying to be “like” men. Which has led me to paw through alot of old books, photographs, printed matter,etc. When I see photos of women from the 1910s,20s 30s…I relate, I see people like me. I look at books and magazines today and I feel like an alien.

Q: You’ve just been on a tour in Japan. What was the experience like to perform in a country with a totally different culture and what do you like about the Japanese audience?

Janet Klein: We love it. This was our third tour in Japan and we have felt very welcomed and comfortable. To our surprise we’ve met and played with talented Japanese groups playing, American string band, jug band, klezmir, 20s hot Hawaiian music there. The clubs are beautiful and well-equipped and our fans have been gracious and enthusiastic. Sometimes girls wear their grandmothers’ kimonos to show me the old fabrics, and bring old photos. I have learned several obscure westernized jazzy Japanese songs from the 30s and recently a well known boogie woogie type tune from 1947, that translates as “The Ginza Can Can Girl”.
I admire Japanese culture very much. They are so careful with their land. It is a very aesthetic place. There seems to be a real preservation of regional specialty and the appreciation of nature is apparent in so many ways. I wish their sensibilities of modesty and politeness and their aesthetics of “small scale refinement” would make their way over to the USA. We could use a good strong dose of that kind of influence.



an interview with Funsho Ogundipe (Ayetoro)

It’s been a while since I raved about Ayetoro’s The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I (The Jazz Side Of Afrobeat). And even though the album was recorded in 2003 it’s still fresh and fans of jazzy Afrobeat (or afrobeaty Jazz) should check it out. The good news is that Vol II will soon be with us (early July 2006). So here’s your chance to learn a little bit more about the man behind Ayetoro, Funsho Ogundipe, in his jazz-not-jazz interview.

Q: You’ve started quite late in your life with playing musical instruments. In fact you’ve never played the piano before you were seventeen. Please tell me how music have changed your live. Was there a certain situtation or moment when it just made click and you know music is your calling?

Funsho Ogundipe: Music has always been there. To me it was only natural.

Q: Where do you see your progress as a musician in the ten years with your band Ayetoro?

Funsho Ogundipe: Interesting. The journey is really the reward in itself. Meeting musicians from different countries and performing together is fantastic. Also learning how to be a band leader and adjusting to the different processes involved in playing live and recording albums in the stuidio. As a musician I cannot be still. I have to create. so the journey has been good for a man of my temprament.



an interview with Malena Perez

Be prepared for something big when Malena Perez debut album Stars will be released next month. It’s a fantastic musically varied album and Malena is a real sweet person who flew to California to make some new photos specially for jazz-not-jazz…ha ha, not really but she provided me with some new photos. And look for the new 12″ single Praise The Day coming this month. It will feature the original version Malena did with Osunlade, as well as a dub remix version that Osunlade did himself.
In her jazz-not-jazz interview Malena talks about her musical background, how she met the musicians involved on Stars, her own label Cubanita Groove Records and much more.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. We are you coming from musically? Who has influenced you?

Malena Pérez: Wow. I guess I would have to say that I’ve been inspired by Life itself! My mother and father both surrounded me with music growing up. And on a personal level, I’ve been through some really difficult experiences that have found peace and a welcome place in my songs. There is nothing like the different facets of the human experience to inspire poetry or lyrics! Over the past several years I’ve been listening to Amel Larrieux’s solo albums, Fertile Ground (fronted by Navasha Daya, who I have so much respect for!), Jill Scott, Minnie Riperton, Eva Cassidy, Everything But the Girl, Flora Purim (who I actually got to meet at Temple Bar in Sta. Monica last fall - such a surreal experience!), and deep house music like the Naked Music albums (i.e., Blue Six/Beautiful Tomorrow). I also love Kyoto Jazz Massive. I’ve always been inspired by Latin women who have set the standard for quality vocals and really know how to express emotion through their art - Gloria Estefan’s Mi Tierra album is amazing!…Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo, Cesaria Evora, Astrud Gilberto, Susana Baca…these women have been and will continue to inspire me musically. I also have significant choral training in liturgical music, which is why those (I’ve been told “angelic” - and perhaps prayerful) qualities of my voice are sometimes really evident. I really just never feel more free than when I am singing, and I feel that I am continually given messages of love and healing to share with others!

Q: You sing in English and Spanish. I wonder if you also speak German. After all your mother is German. Did your parents raised you speaking three languages? And how important were your parents for your decision to pursue a career as musican?

Malena Pérez: I was raised speaking English and Spanish, both of which I am fluent in. When I was little, my Cuban grandmother - my “Abuela Elsa” - kept me during the weekdays when my parents were at work, and she spoke to me only in Spanish. And I can speak some Mandarin Chinese - but not German! My parents never pushed me toward one career or another, though I have to say that my mother has been extremely supportive of my decision to pursue my passion and calling to share these gifts. I think she always “knew” that I would end up on a creative path. And my father is an avid lover of music, so I guess I get that from him! I definitely have my mother’s entrepreneurial spirit and couldn’t be happier pursuing what I love to do and helping others in the process.



an interview with Karen Bernod

Just when I thought I have achieved everything with the jazz-not-jazz website with the recently published Sandra St. Victor interview (and now I can die…just kidding), Karen Bernod comes along with her answers to my questions. I just love the internet!
To put yourself in the right mood for Karen’s excellent new album Life @ 360 Degrees, which is scheduled for a release on May 15th by Dome Records in Europe, continue reading and learn amongst others what Karen has to say about her new album, why her collaboration with Greg Spooner is almost scary and what connection Karen has with Will Dowining.

Q: Six years have passed since you have released your debut album Some Othaness For U. Why the long hiatus? What happened in these six years?

Karen Bernod: Well..has it been that long? Wow!! I’ve been basically working towards this day. Perfecting my craft, experiencing new life endeavors and traveling the world abroad accompanying other artists, making new connections, and creating new music. I guess that’s why it doesn’t seem THAT long to me. But you’re right it’s been quite a while! :-)

Q: You’ve produced/written the new album with Greg Spooner again. Please tell me how you’ve met him and what’s the musical vision you share?

Karen Bernod: Greg and I met in the early 90’s at a spot here in Brooklyn, formerly known as Dean Street Cafe, now Tavern on Dean, which I still frequent. Then it was a live music/restaurant/bar. The music is no longer live but the food is good and the drinks are tasty! At that time there was Open Mic Nite and Greg said he’d heard about me, and thought I was a great singer and suggested we work together. I sang one night and he insisted we work together…and the rest is history. What we share is divine. You can’t find that special something with everyone. That thing when I sing a melody or a bass line or lyric and he goes to the keyboard and plays the exact chord structure that I’m hearing in my head. It’s almost scary. :-)
Greg is also Noel Pointer’s former musical director. That alone speaks volumes. Extremely talented brutha. And beautiful person. He’s one of my best friends. And his wife is also a sweetie for putting up with us ! lol



an interview with Sandra St. Victor

Some ten years ago I’m sure I would’ve thought that anyone, who would’ve told me that in ten years time I’d have a music site and I would publish an interview with one of my favourite singers, is ready for a lunatic asylum. Back then Sandra St. Victor was with Warner Brothers who had just released her Mack Diva Saves The World album. And we all know how major labels like to protect their artists from their fans and besides in 1996 I didn’t even know how to spell internet. So in some ways it was good that Sandra St. Victor became an independent artist after Warner dropped her. This way it’s much easier to get in contact with her. Well, to cut a long story short, here’s finally the jazz-not-jazz interview with the Mack Diva, Sandra St. Victor.
Since I’m a fan of Sandra since the day I bought a copy of the Evon Geffries & The Stand release Sex w/o Love, there are a few more questions than usually. And watch this site for an interview with Peter Lord and Jeffrey Smith coming in the near future with more questions about their new album Super Sol Nova which is scheduled for a release this autumn.
And for some Sandra St. Victor live on stage together with the Daughters Of Soul visit They’ve put a 2 1/2 hour concert online. [By the way you can also watch concerts on Fabchannel with other artists featured on jazz-not-jazz like Amp Fiddler, Julie Dexter (with the Flowriders), Rahsaan Patterson, Mark De Clive-Lowe or Legends Of The Underground.]

Q: Recently you’ve been busy with the Daughters Of Soul. Please tell me more about the live gigs you did with Lalah Hathaway, Simone, Indira Khan, Leah McCrae, Joyce Kennedy, Nona Hendryx and Caron Wheeler.

Sandra St. Victor: Daughters of Soul is a pet project of mine that I’ve wanted to for almost five years before it actually happened. I have so many great friends that I’d never worked with, but we both wanted to. Also, I thought that putting interesting people together on stage is always fun! The experience was more than I thought it would be. These shows were and are exceptional. The women are true professionals, and consumate performers. Especially Nona and Joyce, We all learn so much from them. Our audiences seem to be dazzled for the entire show! It’s over two hours long, and people still beg for more encores, absolutely fantastic.

Q: Is the Daughters Of Soul project only a project for live gigs or do you plan to record an album in the future as well?

Sandra St. Victor: We’re working on a DVD and an album now.



an interview with Mala Waldron

It’s been a month ago since I reviewed Mala Waldron’s album Always There. If you’re looking for inspiring music soul music with lots of jazz (or jazz music with lots of soul) then Always There is the album for you.
In her jazz-not-jazz interview Mala talks about the influence her parents had, why she dedicated three songs to family members and her Soulful Sound imprint amongst others.

Q: Both your parents are professional jazz musicians. How much have they influenced you to become a musician yourself? Did they try to push you in this direction?

Mala Waldron: Fortunately, neither of my parents tried to push me in that way. They seemed to take note of my natural affinity for it, giving me lots of encouragement. As a young child I used to watch my mother rehearsing for performances. Mom started me off with classical piano lessons at age 7 years. When I wasn’t practicing scales or some sonata, I would often go through her sheet music collection looking for something “cool” to play to impress my friends. Sometimes my father took my sister, Lauren, and I on tour with him in the summers. I remember one concert in particular, in Italy where he was scheduled to do a solo performance. I was about 13 years old and recall feeling frightened for him because there were thousands of people at this outdoor festival. I couldn’t imagine what he could do up there all alone to hold this audience’s attention. I saw him take the stage and in a matter of minutes, mesmerize the entire crowd. It was an amazing experience that made a lasting impression on me.

Q: You’ve had the chance to work and record an album with your late father. Please tell me more about this experience.

Mala Waldron: The first time my father and I worked together it was in 1995 during a tour of Japan. Jazz vocalist, Jeanne Lee was also on that tour with us. Dad turned 70 that year so I wrote a song for him called “He’s My Father” and gave it to him as a birthday gift. Later it became the title track of our CD. We decided to make a recording of the songs we were performing. We ended up going to a studio on one of our days off and recorded six tracks. I couldn’t imagine trying to accomplish so much in so little time, but Dad seemed so relaxed about it, I just followed his lead. I did “He’s My Father” and another original piece as solo piano/vocals. We recorded the rest of the tunes as piano duets on two grand pianos. One of my favorites from that recording is a free piece called “Cat and Mouse.” It was totally improvised from start to finish. We didn’t know beforehand what we’d play, but somehow it was decided that I would be the “mouse” and he’d be the “cat” — the rest just unfolded naturally.



an interview with Kellylee Evans

Kellylee Evans recently impressed me with her all-original album Fight Or Flight?
And it looks Kellylee and I have more in common than just liking her music: Then, I proceeded to do my favourite thing - procrastinate. Well, I’m actually another person who likes to procrastinate things but finally I’ve found the time to copy & paste Kellylee’s jazz-not-jazz interview into my template. So keep on reading to learn more about how Kellylee started writing songs, why she recorded her debut album in NYC, what she had in mind when writing Enough or Rapunzel and much more.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. When and why did you started singing and writing songs?

Kellylee Evans: I used to only sing standards. Even as a music listener, I found that I wasn’t open to listening to original music in jazz. Pop music, no problem, but for some reason I had this shut down mechanism when it came to jazz. I only wanted to hear songs that were familiar. And sing songs that were at least familiar to me.
I had this music theory teacher that kept telling me that I would never make any money as a singer if I didn’t write my own music. I thought you had to be a born writer. I had co-written a song as a teen with someone I knew, but I didn’t think I would be able to do it on my own. Still, I really respected this teacher and I went out and bought a bunch of books on songwriting. Then, I proceeded to do my favourite thing - procrastinate. I needed something really big to make me focus on writing.
That came one day after I had an ankle roll over playing tennis in the morning and almost ended up dying that evening. I had an allergic reaction to a common over-the-counter drug and went into anaphylactic shock. The next day, I started writing with a vengeance. One of my first songs, “I Don’t Want You To Love Me” ended up on the album. In fact, the album is all my first songs.

Q: Who has influenced and keeps influencing you musically?

Kellylee Evans: I was listening to Abbey Lincoln a lot initially, Sting…Shania Twain. When I say that, people cringe, but I love the way she is able to make songs that people really identify with. I think she’s great. I listen to a lot of soft rock, Coldplay, Keane, Rufus Wainwright, Feist. Every song I wrote seemed to come to me over a dancehall or calypso beat. That definitely speaks to my West Indian heritage (both my parents are from Jamaica). I have a very diverse musical collection - country, jazz, opera, classical, rock, pop, lots of pop, calypso.



an interview with Walter Smith III

Now that was really fast…I’ve mailed Walter Smith III my interview questions yesterday night after I’ve written about his highly recommendable debut album Casually Introducing and just a few hours later I already had the answers.
So here’s your chance to learn more about Walter, his music, why he teamed up with a Spanish label for his debut and the inspiration behind the album cover.

Q: You’ve started playing the saxophone at the age of seven. How soon did you know that this is your instrument?

Walter Smith III: I actually started at 7 because my father actually had been a professional saxophone player in New Orleans, and he kind of pointed me in that direction. After a few years it just kind of seemed that once I started to listen to instrumental music that all of my favorite players happened to be saxophonists. That made me really decide to stick with it.

Q: How important were your stays at the Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music for your musical development?

Walter Smith III: While I was at Berklee, I went through a huge amount of musical growth. Coming to a town like boston, you are surrounded with a lot of guys (and girls) on every level in all genres from all around the world. I felt like I was exposed to lots of different styles of music as well as many different approaches that really helped to encourage and motivate me to practice and learn all that I could from them. I was also able to work with a great trumpet player Darren Barrett weekly, and he was really a mentor to me in terms of exposing me to lots of different possible approaches to improvising. Also Bill Pierce and George Garzone were huge influences on me during my time at berklee. My Manhattan School days were really benificial to me due to the location in New York. I got a chance to be in the scene and work a lot as well as get some wisdom from the great faculty that teaches there. I got a lot of help with my writing from Gary Dial, Phil Markowitz and Dave Liebman.



an interview with Deborah J. Carter

Just like Beautiful Nubia jazz singer Deborah J. Carter has become a constant artist on jazz-not-jazz with three albums reviewed (‘Round Midnight, Girl Talking and recently Deborah’s excellent tribute of Beatles songs Daytripper) and a previous interview featured. It’s good to see that independent artists can establish a career apart from the mainstream and major labels. And of course it’s good to see that these artists support websites like this one.
In her second jazz-not-jazz interview Deborah talks about the Beatles, their songs, her workshops and life in the Netherlands amongst other things.

Q: In the liner notes of Daytripper you are quoted with “I was never the greatest fan of the Beatles themselves but compositions of their calibre are a treasure“. Please tell me why you decided to dig out these treasures.

Deborah J. Carter: There was no ‘digging out’ of these treasures to do. These are songs that kept popping up throughout my lifetime - they still do - and I simply wanted to record them the way they were playing back to me in my head. I had never owned recordings of any of these songs, but the compositions were so familiar to me that by the time I started preparing the initial charts I already knew the chord progressions of most of them. Besides the original Beatles charts themselves I had heard several versions done by other artists of their songs. I think the most impressive of them was Sarah Vaughn’s Beatle’s tribute produced by Toto. I heard that album back in the 80’s and I think since then, I was forever destined to make a Beatle’s tribute album of my own.

Q: Please tell me why of all the songs the Beatles wrote you’ve chosen the eleven songs on the album. Is there a certain story behind the songs you’ve recorded?

Deborah J. Carter: Except for Fixing A Hole - which I first heard four years ago - these are the 11 songs that I knew best and found most interesting to ‘jazzify’ with my trio. The two songs on my album that have been in my repertoire the longest are ‘Something’ and ‘Yesterday’. In both of these songs, the things I liked best about them were the melody and the lyrics; I thought it would be nice to put more elaborate chords underneath. They say ‘less is more’, but now and then ‘more is also more’.



an interview with Beautiful Nubia

Following my third review of an album by Beautiful Nubia (i.e. his new album F√®r√®) here’s the third jazz-not-jazz interview with the man who knows like no other how to combine food for thought with music for your feet. This time Segun Akinlolu aka Beautiful Nubia talks amongst other things about the re-recording of songs from his album Voice From Heaven, how he teamed up with Tunde Kelani to write the theme song Ikoko Akufo for the movie The Narrow Path and the risks of globalization for the African continent.

Q: Please tell me what the new album Fèrè means to you and where do you see the progress as musician, singer, songwriter compared to its predecessors?

Beautiful Nubia: I think Fere showcases the greater cohesion of the band (it’s has been the easiest album to record so far). Beyond this, there is really not much difference - we are still trying to reach people with uplifting messages while not losing sight of the need to be commercially attractive.

Q: Some of the songs are re-recordings from your Voice From Heaven album. Why did you re-record them? And in which way are they different from the original take?

Beautiful Nubia: The early recordings were done in a much different way and using fewer musicians. And since we normally play these songs at our shows and people love the new arrangements, we thought we should record them anew especially since some of them are suitable for ongoing events in the world.



an interview with Alesia Dessau from Natural Selection

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed Natural Selection’s debut album Come On Over…and just like their debut album followed the maxim good things come to those who wait the interview just needed a little time.
So here’s your chance to learn more about Alesia Dessau and her band Natural Selection.

Q: Natural Selection exists since 1996. Congratulations to your 10th anniversary by the way. Please tell me more about these ten years. Your website says you started as a jazz quartet. What did happen that made you change your sound?

Alesia Dessau: Thank you! I started singing jazz in restaurants for extra money while in college. I had written some songs and started bringing my charts to gigs. The musicians liked my music and that gave me the confidence to share more of my music. We then began to rearrange jazz standards and adding R&B songs such as “Feel Like Makin Love” by Roberta Flack and “Superstar” by Lauryn Hill to the sets. After college, it was hard to keep a band together, so I concentrated on writing songs while looking for new musicians.

Q: How would you describe Natural Selection’s music to someone who hasn’t heard you before? And who has influenced you in the ten years of existence.

Alesia Dessau: I would describe Natural Selection’s sound as “Original Soul”. Some of our influences are Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman, Incognito, Brand New Heavies and Stevie Wonder. Given the various backgrounds of the musicians of Natural Selection, our sound is truly eclectic. We mix a bit of R&B, funk, rock and hip hop into our sound…and it’s always groovin!



an interview with Danny Green

Past Due by the Caballero-Verde Quintet was a welcome breath of fresh (Latin) air last month full of grooves that makes me long for summer finally to appear.
In the meantime the Quintet has been re-named the Danny Green Quintet with Ian Tordella on saxes and flute replacing trumpeter Bill Caballero.
In his jazz-not-jazz interview Danny Green talks about the new energy Ian Tordella has brought to the group, his love for Latin music, his other groups Gente Fina and Trece de la Suerte and much more.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. You’ve started quite early with music at the tender age of five. How pushy were your parents back then?

Danny Green: My parents were always supportive of my piano studies. They were never overly pushy, but they made sure that I practiced and was prepared for my lessons. I think I went through phases where I really enjoyed practicing as well as phases where practicing felt like a chore. Around the age of twelve, I got pretty tired of the music I was playing and decided to quit taking lessons. Of course my parents were disappointed that I wanted to quit after seven years of lessons, and so my father bought me my first keyboard with the idea that it would keep me interested in music. He was right. I started playing around with the sounds and connecting it to the computer. Soon I started learning how to play the music that I was into by ear, and from that point on, music became a passion instead of a chore. The only pushiness then from my parents was to stop playing so that they could sleep at night.

Q: Who has influenced you musically and how did you discover your love for Latin jazz?

Danny Green: I have had a ton of musical influences throughout the years. I studied jazz piano with Kamau Kennyata at UCSD for three years, and he would definitely stand out as a major influence. My classical teachers, John Mark Harris and Luciane Cardassi, have also been very influential as well as Rick Helzer, who I am currently studying jazz with. As far as artists go, there are so many to mention. I’ve always been very interested in the mixing of styles, and so my two biggest jazz and Latin jazz influences are Brad Mehldau and Danilo Perez. They both have such unique sounds which touch on their roots and move forward at the same time. Other musicians that have influenced me include Chano Dominguez, Caetano Veloso, Wayne Shorter, Ernan Lopez-Nussa, Michel Camilo, Chucho Valdes, Paquito d’Rivera and Ruben Gonzalez. I tend to go through phases where I spend months listening to a specific musician or composer. For the past two years, I’ve been immersing myself in the music of Rachmaninoff. I learned his Second Piano Concerto, and I’m working on the third. More recently, I’ve started doing a lot of listening to Mahler’s symphonies (especially No.2 and 8).
I’ve been into Latin music for about six years. My first exposure to it was seeing the Buena Vista Social Club documentary. Shortly after seeing it, I got some of their albums and started playing along to the music. Eventually I checked out Chucho Valdes and Irakere and fell in love with that music. Through friends and other musicians, I kept hearing of more and more Latin Jazz artists.



an interview with Kim Leachman and Steve Wright (daysahead)

About a month ago I praised the album Turning Point by the band daysahead, which impressed me with their unique sound. In their jazz-not-jazz interview Kim Leachman and Steve Wright from daysahead explain why they hardly use any keys on their debut album, how they’ve met, talk about the turning points in their lives and much more.
By the way, here’s your chance to download a video of Falling Flower (it’s a mov file so you should have Quicktime, Quicktime Alternative, vlc or jetAudio installed). The Soundstage site of also offers videos of other music acts from Atlanta like Anthony David for example.

Q: Please tell me how you’ve met and how you’ve founded daysahead.

Steve Wright: Kim (Baton Rouge, LA) and I (Richmond, VA) were working as backup for Aezra Records recording artist, Crea. I was playing electric guitar and Kim was singing background vocals. Her voice caught my attention and stood out above the other vocalists. I approached her to demo a few songs I’d written. Well, our first session proved that she could write in addition to sing and we instantly knew that we had to start our own band. Kim and I immediately started writing for our debut album. I called on some musician friends and we started recording. We are fortunate to have worked with some great musicians on Turning Point including drummers James Barrett and Joe Lee, and bassists Myron Carroll, Jeff Smith, and Aaron Clay. The current band is Kim and myself with James Barrett (drummer from Baton Rouge, LA who played on 6 tunes on Turning Point) who is versatile with rock solid tempo, and Brandon Gilliard (bassist from Anderson, SC) who is extremely talented and a strong improviser with nice groovability. This rhythm section will make any band sound good!

Q: Is daysahead a duo with two regular additional musicians or do you consider yourself more as a band with four members?

Kim Leachman: Although Steve and I are the band leaders, we consider our musical talents equal to James and Brandon’s. We have a team mentality. daysahead performs as a duo with Steve and myself, a four piece with James and Brandon, and on occasion we’ll add background vocalists and a percussionist.



an interview with Jonny Enright (Grupo X)

Grupo X’s second album Food For Your Latin Soul is a must-have soulful Latin jazz album. Period. And when temperatures will (hopefully) rise soon in Europe it will sound even better. If things work out, there will also be a vinyl EP with remixes by Rich Medina and Bobbito Garcia to be released this summer as Jonny Enright, head of Grupo X, mentions in his jazz-not-jazz interview. Read on to learn more about the group’s name, their influences, how they teamed up with Lisa Millett and much more.

Q: It’s been almost six years since Grupo X released their debut album. What happened in the six years and why did it take you so long to come up with a second album?

Jonny Enright: The last few years seem like a blur, with one thing and another. When X-Posure came out were really working hard as a band, touring and promoting the album and EPs. In the summer of 2001 we started recording the follow up album at a studio in Hoxton, North London, and things were going really well; in fact we just about finished five tunes. Then I became a father for the first time and, not surprisingly, the project stopped for a while. After a while we got back into recording, but it was a bit more of slow process, due to lack of money and time and the guys in the band being busy with other projects.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, at the end of 2003, brimming with ideas, Jimmy and myself had a writing session up in Yorkshire, where my family now lives. We got most of the remaining tunes done and booked ’60s analogue-based Toe Rag studio in East London to record the band. It was like stepping back in time. Even the ‘phone was from the ’60s (and I don’t think the toilets had been cleaned since the ’60s). Aside from the conditions, we had a few really good sessions with engineer Ed Deegan and I think we really captured the live sound of the band.
By the end of 2004, Simon Edwards (our bass player) had taken the project by the scruff of its neck and remixed the tunes in his studio and given the tunes a veneer and punch that had been a bit lacking. We felt we just needed a couple more songs to get the album right, so we went into Ed’s studio (Gizzard) in East London and finished off the recording, apart from a few overdubs, which we did at mine and Simon’s as well as some flute at Finn’s.
So that’s the story. Although it’s been a long, drawn-out process at times, we’re really pleased with the final result. And we promise to be quicker with the next one!

Q: Please tell me something about the group’s history. How you’ve met the group members, how you came to be called Grupo X and what’s your motivation and the musical vision you share.

Jonny Enright: Grupo X came out of Jimmy Le Messurier’s successful UK 11-piece salsa band La Clave, formed in the mid ’80s. I joined the band in 1991, whilst still at music college. We were really busy, playing three or four times a week in the UK and making regular trips around Europe. We used to get asked to do weddings and parties from time to time, so Jimmy started a cut-down version of the band called Hijos De La Clave (Sons of La Clave). We got together a good repertoire of classic salsa; tunes by Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto (RIP), Mon Rivera and the gigs went down well. Jimmy had his hands full with La Clave, so I offered to run the band.
We got asked to do a gig in Richmond Town Hall (this was in 1996). The booking agent didn’t like the name we had (she was a bit fussy) and asked me to find another, so I said “Grupo X.” It was a bit tongue-in-cheek; the idea was that we were this new mysterious band, when in fact we were all from La Clave. So that’s how we became Grupo X.
After we’d done a few gigs as Grupo X, I started to take the band a bit more seriously and began writing for it. We’d been playing together for so long (in one shape or form) that we had a really good natural groove and understanding. We were all into the same kind of music, Latin and non-Latin and we were really good mates. Not a bad basis to start from!
By about 1998 we were starting to get club gigs up and down the country in clubs like the Underground in Leeds and the Toucan in Cardiff. The scene was quite new and fresh and people wanted to hear good live bands. We found we were going down really well with our audiences. They liked our groove and found us good to dance to. We were still essentially a salsa band, but we’d started to get into boogaloo and Latin Jazz. It was a matter of finding what style suited us as a band and what went down the best with the crowds.



an interview with Nick-e

Canadian artist Nick-e aka Nicole Pratt demonstrated her diverse musical sound on the recently released mini album Mosaic which takes listeners from soul to jazz to urban/R&B to electro. The good news is that she’s already working on a full length album which will include a healthy dose of organic and electronic sounds and textures as she mentiones in her jazz-not-jazz interview.
So continue reading to learn more about the story behind her song Muse, Nick-e’s influences and the Canadian black music scene amongst others.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. When did you start singing and writing songs?

Nick-e: I began singing close to the age that I began talking. Probably around 3 years old. I used to sing with my cousins and perform for our parents on holidays. As I got older, I joined school choirs and pretty much stuck with it all the way through high school and then went on to get my diploma in music production in college. Growing up I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories and as I heard music in my head I would turn some of my poetry into songs. The more I did it the more comfortable I became with the idea of song writing and I just continue to try to improve with every new song I write.

Q: Who has influenced you and how would you describe your music? Where do you see your niche in today’s market?

Nick-e: I was surrounded by a lot of music growing up. My brother was a DJ which exposed me to a lot of new music along the way such as R&B, Hip hop & Reggae and being close with my cousins, my uncle would listen to a lot of music like motown, The Stylistics, Al Green, Prince, & Anita Baker. I was influenced by these artists and also gained other musical tastes like Sade, U2, Janet Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Donny Hathaway. I think because of this exposure, I’ve learned to appreciate a lot of different types of music and incorporate those diverse musical styles into my own music. Kind of like a Soul/Jazz/Pop fusion. It may not be deemed the most popular style of music in relation to today’s current market, but I find that the market today is very fickle. I’ve never tried to mold myself into what the industry wants me to be. Today’s gem is tomorrow’s trash. I’ve always just tried to be more concerned with being honest and loving the music I create for me first and then hoping that others can appreciate it as well.



an interview with Francisco Mora Catlett

River Drum, the recent album by Francisco Mora Catlett, is a welcome change between the more traditional jazz and Latin jazz albums and with the Amazona Suite there’s an inspiring and moving piece of music that would be worth the price of the album alone.
In his jazz-not-jazz interview Francisco talks about the afore mentioned Amazona Suite, his work with Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra and Outer Zone Band and much more.

Q: Your album River Drum has been released some months ago. How content are you with the responses it’s got so far?

Francisco Mora Catlett: This is an album with great significant meaning for me. It was on the shelf for sometime, and at one point it was almost lost (the celluloid in the “2′inch 24 tracks”, where it was originally recorded, decayed and it had to be baked, restored and transfer into a digital format). It is out now and has brought about the opportunity to manifest one of the most important works I have done in Detroit, with some it’s best musical talent. I am also very happy with the audience response; it should have been out a while ago.

Q: Please tell me how you’ve hooked up with Premier Cru Music who released River Drum.

Francisco Mora Catlett: George Katsiris the CEO of the label is an old student of mine from MSU. We have stated to work on his projects in NYC, when he heard the digital master he said it would be a crime to let it sit any longer so he took the initiative to master it and released. I thank him for that his courage and his musical sensitivity.