What else can you possibly say about a musician like this that hasn’t already been said by fans, “armchair experts”, his musical peers and much more informed/credible writers – long before this blurb made its way to the world wide web. Who am I to think that I could possibly add anything valid to these contributions ?? For this reason I would prefer that John’s performance in our video speaks for itself and you make your own informed decisions about it.
Like some of you we have been fortunate enough to see John live on numerous occasions and hear him on countless records. Our appreciation of just what sort of musician he is was taken to yet another level when we were able to witness first hand John shaping the trio on the fly to finish up with what you will see on the full feature video (the preview will give you a taste of this).
It was truly something special to see these guys (John, Ed Simon and Adam Cruz) at work, going through the process of getting to the end result as opposed to what many of us often hear/see – the final polished performance on a record or at a gig. Each of the 3 tracks (Tall Tale, The Well and Imprint) were done in 2 takes, carefully analysed in the control room before deciding –” it’s done ….next”. The trio settings of these songs gave them a different angle/spice from the original recordings on Imprint and Songs, Stories & Spirituals.
Not surprisingly the track was judged on the overall feel and mood of the song. Sure it was John’s feature, but the final decision on “the take” was made as a collective team. It would have been easy for “The King” to decide which take he soloed best on and then dictate this “the loyal subjects” – but from what we saw this would be totally out of character for John.
The other aspect of this performance that struck us was the sensitivity (or almost sixth sense) of each musician to be fluid enough to go with the direction of the song but then to be able to say something valid and in context when one of the other members started to go somewhere else with it. Sure this thing is common in a live setting when the band has hundreds of people and applause to feed off, but when you have a sound engineer, a camera crew and a studio…….and then you have to create this with nothing more than the 3 people ….that you occasionally play with….as an outsider witnessing this it again helps you appreciate why guys like this are held in the regard that they are.
To get to experience this sort of musical intimacy with such players is something that we were truly privileged to be part of. It was again refreshing to see that your childhood musical heroes lived up to your wild expectations not just as musicians but as people – that day in Kampo Studio’s NY will be memorable not just for the musical reasons, or for getting our car towed with all the equipment 2 hours before the session, but to see that these guys were the real deal.
Till next time…..