Thursday, May 24, 2012

Catching Up With Gary Honor: Heads & Tales Interview Part Two!

The Australian jazz scene is incredible with players like JC Stylles, Andrew Dickeson, Dan Barnett and Laura Kahle. What makes the scene unique and how does Gary Honor become a smooth jazz player? How did your artistic path come to be?

G.H. - "That’s a tough question, I’ve never considered whether the Australian scene is one of the best, but there is some serious talent here anyway.  I think, as a nation, we are determined and are often coined ‘battlers’ because, while we occupy a large landmass, we are a small population and are often found attempting to punch above our weight so to speak. It’s the ‘Aussie way’, we get in there and give it a go to do the best we can! 
For me, I think I was lucky that I went to music school with some of today’s finest players and that exposure drove my competitive nature to excel and gave me a certain amount of ambition too. You mentioned Laura Kahle, she was in my class along with Katie Noonan, Zac Hurren, Jake Manricks and Phil Noy... some amazing sax players in that list who are all killing it in the more straight-ahead jazz circles internationally.  Even back in music school, while I was learning my ‘jazz chops’ I was always more the ‘pop’ guy but I liked that, it set me apart and it was a title I enjoyed and embraced.  I guess it’s always resonated with me more than the swing/bop stuff.  I grew up listening to my parent’s 60s and 70s rock’n’roll records, bands like the Beatles, Moody Blues, Santana, Neil Diamond, Cliff Richard etc. Then in high school I started taking lessons with Andrew Oh, who was the No.1 studio pop sax player around town. He also introduced me to guys like Sanborn, Brecker, Grover Washington Jr and Nelson Rangell.  The energy of his playing and his sound rubbed off on me, I wanted to be just like him."

You are a multi instrumentalist. Tell us what you play and how it helps your creativity and finally the last jazz record you purchased?

G.H. "Well, I’ve just mentioned Andrew Oh, he was fabulous on all the saxes, flute and percussion. And it’s pretty common for sax players to play flute and clarinet as well and Andrew encouraged that.  I had to play a fair bit of clarinet and flute in the Conservatorium Of Music Big Band and I continued that when I joined the Navy Band for a few years before moving to London.  I played flute and piccolo mostly because of Andrew but also after hearing Nelson Rangell, he’s a monster on them. Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer got me interested in playing Windsynths and I have 3 of those as well. I’ve also got a piano in my studio that I muck around on and work chords out with but I’ve in recent years become very interested in congas/percussion.  I’ve found it’s really helped my rhythmic ‘centre’ and it great ‘double’ for a horn player.  I had a conversation with Peter White once and he said, “play more instruments.. makes it easier for people to hire you!” ..or something along those lines. I think he’s right, wondering what I should learn next...
And the last CD was:
James Valentine – The Power And The Passion (2011)
I was in a local CD store and it caught my eye because he's a sax player performing classic Aussie rock songs in a straight-ahead jazz manner.  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but an interesting take and certainly was food for thought."

SETUP INFO:
ALTO SAX - YAMAHA YAS-62S with CUSTOM G1 NECK and a few other after shop key modifications. 
MOUTHPIECE - VANDOREN JUMBO JAVA (BLUE) A55
LIGATURE - VANDOREN OPTIMUM
REEDS - VANDOREN JAVA 2 1/2

TENOR SAX - YAMAHA YTS-82ZS
MOUTHPIECE - VANDOREN JUMBO JAVA (BLUE) T97
LIGATURE - ROVNER EDDIE DANIELS II
REEDS - VANDOREN JAVA 2 1/2
SOPRANO SAX - YAMAHA YSS-675
MOUTHPIECE - VANDOREN V5 JAZZ S35 (highly modified)
LIGATURE - ROVNER EDDIE DANIELS II
REEDS - VANDOREN JAVA 2 1/2

FLUTE - YAMAHA 674H with a MARK HOZA IRONWOOD 'KYTHING' HEADJOINT
MICS: RODE NTK AND K2 in the studio / For live I use an AKG C519 clip on.