Tell us about the recording and how the ensemble cast came to be because with names like Pat Bianchi, Joey DeFrancesco and Donald Harrision the release will certainly be getting some second looks. Pure Passion and perhaps record of the year!
Let me start off by thanking you for such a beautiful review of "for the soul". We all appreciate you taking the time to listen and review it. Thank you Brent Black. Wow! I'm honored that you feel "for the soul" may be the finest release this year. The way this project came about was through Randy Johnston's recording of "people music" also on random act records. Although I never worked with Randy before he hired me along with Pat Bianchi to make his record. Its a great record and we all gave 110%. A few days after we completed Randy's record I got a call from Scott Elias asking if I would like to record under my name. I was thrilled! I jumped at the opportunity and both Scott and I kicked some ideas around. We pretty much agreed on everything from the start Scott was and his very supportive. I felt comfortable right away. I knew who I wanted to have on the record right away and I knew these guys would work well together. I have a long history with all the guys on the record. I first met Joey DeFrancesco in Buffalo, NY when I was 15 years old. I would sit in with his trio every year they came to town. By doing so he eventually hired me subbing for the great drummer Byron Landham when needed. I've had many great experiences with Joey. We are family I love em. I've been a fan of John Hart's before I met him about 7 years ago. He have spent many moments on the road, in the studio, on the band stand etc. We perform every Sunday night at Birdland for Jazz party going on our 4Th year. He's one of my favorite cats out here. Jon Irabagon is one of the most sincere guys performing these days. He always plays his ass off! Our relationship goes back to when we were students at The Juilliard School. Another cat that I had spent many moments with. I told him he had to make this record or else hahaha! Pat Bianchi is one of the finest organists today. He is a true organist! I first met Pat when he was visiting a mutual friend of ours named Sal Azzarelli in Buffalo. I think he was on thanksgiving break from Berklee. This had to be 96' or 97'? When he moved to NYC some years later is when we reconnected. We always had a love for the organ trio sound especially Joey D's trio with Byron and Paul. Pat is like my brother from another mother. All of these guys were so excited for me and they were all very supportive and wanted to make it happen. All of us are like family I think that is an important element to making music.
You like to swing! Are some of the younger performers today by passing "swing" such as featured on this release in favor of hanging out in odd meter and holding on to that speed is king mentality to become the flavor of the month and the next "rising star"? Rufus Reid once told me advanced degrees are nice but you pick up twice the knowledge on the bandstand during the time it takes you to get that masters in performance.
C.I. - "Yes I like to swing. I want to feel great. I am into and play all styles of music. Jazz today in my opinion is world music. There are so many elements brought to this music from all over the world. I'm not saying that its good or bad. I think it is very important to stay aware of what is happening music wise. That's how I grow. I don't agree with certain individuals that don't have an interest in checking out new music. With that said yes playing odd meters and fast is a trend. But it doesn't mean anything if you can't play the blues, can't swing, etc. There are also a bunch of cats out here my age that totally understand this and that's the reason why they are all working with the best in the business. Well I would bet that teachers and professional musicians would agree with Rufus' comment. Yes jazz education is apart of the scene nowadays. School gives students an opportunity to be around other students who share the same goal. It also is a way for us to move to cities such as NYC. I graduated from The Juilliard School in Jazz Studies. Yes I learned a ton there but the only way I was able to apply the information was on the bandstand. Not every student realizes that. I didn't until I graduated and started working out here. Those students who understand that they have to get up on the bandstand are the ones that usually work."
There are some phenomenal covers on this record including Steely Dan. How were the tunes picked and when covering Josie for example - is there ever any added pressure or are you looking for the best way to put your own stamp on a tune that doesn't disrespect the original but shows how harmonically gifted you are as a lyrical drummer.
C.I. - "Thank you. These tunes were all tunes that I always wanted to play. These groups are influential on me especially music by Weather Report. I kicked a list of tunes around with Scott and co-producer Bob Belden. Scott thought it would be cool to cover Josie. He was right. The way I get to put my stamp on it is to simply allow the guys in the band to express themselves. I have been in situations where the leader likes to call all of the shots. That situation is a drag. I don't want to handcuff my band mates and dictate. Five heads are better than one as far as Im concerned. A group effort. That is the reason why I didn't want to rehearse extensively. Over rehearsing takes away the creativity. I brought in sketches of each tune explaining the vibe that I was hearing we ran it then recorded it. As far as Josie goes the sound of Hart's intro triggered the sound of Tony Williams Lifetime to me. Everyone felt the same way so that is how our version came to be. As a drummer I respond to the harmony or sound at that moment. Billy Hart plays this way he's a hugh influence on me."