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In Depth Interview With Mark Egan by Jake Kot

Meet Jake Kot

Mark Egan has been a major hitter on the New York scene for quite some time now, and with his new release “Truth be Told”, it obvious he’s keeping himself right on the cutting edge with no end in sight. A stellar lineup for this release featuring Mitch Forman, Bill Evans, Roger Squitero, and Vinnie Colaiuta provides a stunning reflection of the relevance of this 21st century artist.
His resume is sterling, and his voice is easily recognized… no easy task these days. His early days with the Pat Metheny group are nothing less than great musical memories for many of us, and he’s kept himself very busy with a diverse array of projects over the years from working with the likes of Sting in the pop (using that term loosely) arena, to stints with such jazz greats as John McLaughlin, Dave Sanborn, and Jim Hall. Add to that a genre jumping discography of over 275 sessions and you can see why he’s a well-respected voice in the bass community.

His obvious passion for sustaining “creative” endeavors speaks well of this artist, and in a time when that seems to be more of a challenge then it used to be, also speaks well in terms of his desire to keep the philosophy of music for music’s sake alive and well. Longevity is one thing, but “successful” longevity is another, and Mark seems to own that one which I both applaud, and feel comforted in a sense knowing that true musicianship, out of a simple “love for the music”, is not a dying art.

Jake: Let’s start off with your new CD “Truth Be Told”. What was the inspiration behind this particular effort?

Mark: I have to backtrack a little bit to the CD before which was a trio CD that I did with Danny Gottlieb and John Abercrombie called As We Speak. That came out in 2006 and was sort of a compilation of a lot of trio playing that I had been doing, not only with my own band, but with the Larry Coryell trio with Paul Wertigo on drums. On that record, we tried to feature the openness of a trio setting. And for my next project, which is the most recent one, Truth Be Told, I wanted to branch out and feature more of a quartet sound. During that time in 2006 I had been playing in a lot of different situations, especially with Bill Evans band Soulgrass, and also did some recording with Vinnie Colaiuta with Bill Evans as well, so I wanted to orchestrate it more and get more into a groove concept as opposed to the sort of ECMish esoteric trio I did with As We Speak. It was a conscious effort to do a different type of project, and I wrote with the players in mind, Bill Evans, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Mitch Forman. My basic intent was to do something to feature my groove playing, and also allow myself to be more of a team player supporting these great soloists, Bill, Vinnie, and Mitch. So I wrote tunes around that. I also already had some songs from the past that hadn’t been recorded on my own records, songs that were recorded on other people’s records. For instance, the first track, which is called Froglegs, was a song I wrote in 1998. I wrote it to do on one of my own recordings someday, so that was one of the tunes that I redid.

I’ve been so fortunate to play with so many great players, especially drummers, and every one of them comes from a different direction with different influences, which makes me play differently as a bassist. In the case of Vinnie, not only does he have an incredibly strong groove for most any genre, but his technique and his soloing are so advanced. He’s a great improviser as well as a great groove player. I knew when I was putting this record together that Vinnie would be perfect because it was very groove orientated. But beyond that, I really wanted to open it up, so I wrote a lot of the songs having vamps at the end with some ostinato type figures that Vinnie could play over, and he blew me away every take.

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