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David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

By Published: January 6, 2007

AAJ: Update us on your most recent activities.

DG: Well I've done a few gigs recently with my band. Gene subbed for Rodney in New York. In Boston I brought Reggie Washington on electric bass and Adam Klipple ( on keyboards. I've gigged with Brad Jones' band and with Kindread Spirits. I've got some Uri Caine things, the Schumann thing and..I gotta buy a banjo for this "Tin Pan Alley thing we're doing. Uri calls it "The Sidewalks of New York . I'm not on the "Tin Pan Alley record. It's turn of the century type stuff. He doesn't change that stuff up like he does with Mahler! He plays the "Tin Pan Alley stuff pretty straight. I dig that "Philadelphia Experiment Project he did with Christian, too.

I also have another project I'd like to get focused on that is more like an African- Brazilian type thing, kind of like Hermeto Pascoal type stuff. I want to get that going in the right direction as well.

I'm supposed to go back out with Cindy Blackman again soon ?" her rock/jazz project.

AAJ: I've heard some of that stuff. Now, are those all her tunes or is it a band writing project.

DG:They are all her tunes.

AAJ: What are rehearsals like with these different projects you do?

DG:Well Lost Tribe and Trilok are the bands I've rehearsed the most with. Believe it or not, Steve's rehearsals are real loose. Trilok likes to have it polished. He's incessant. Personally, I don't always like it so tight and worked out. I mean, I like to have the parts played right and the arrangements mapped out, but I like to have the elements of surprise and some looseness in the music too.

AAJ: Tell us about Aka Moon.

DG:That's a cool project because it's me, Pierre Van Dormael and Prasanna ( on there playing basically their music. It's somewhat reminiscent of Five Elements type stuff. They're from Belgium. It's Fabrizio Cassol on alto, Michel Hatzigeorgiou on bass, and Stephane Galland on drums. They borrow heavily from African and Indian concepts.

AAJ: And in fact they travel there to play with them right?

DG:Yes. They're named after a band of pygmies they lived with in central Africa.. They go to India regularly they really study the music. Stephane especially is ridiculous, like a European Marvin Smitty Smith.

AAJ: Do you teach?

DG: I was thinking about possibly doing a bit more of it. I'm a bit at odds with academia and how it relates to music, with the whole concept. It seems to me, like, why do you need a degree in music, and now even Masters and a Doctorate, in order to teach? Let's be real. The best teachers are the ones who've gotten their masters on the road. That's what I like about the New School. They have a roster of working jazz musicians. I teach there and at City College too. Also, Ralph Alessi and Peter Epstein started a thing called The School for Improvisational Music (

AAJ: So even though you're at odds with academia you're going to work there?

DG: Well, see now, that's the thing. This is run by, basically, and features classes and workshops by, performing artists and educators- Steve Coleman Don Byron, Uri, Jim Black, Billy Hart, tons of people. Last year, classes were held at the Knitting Factory- a series of workshops basically. I had trumpet students and bass students that wanted to study. I like teaching what I'm passionate about.

There are some high points in the teaching game but I am not into overanalyzing shit. Ok, you have got to learn your scales and modes, learn all your basic stuff, but then you have got to listen to how to apply it. You've got to transcribe way around it. If you want to be a jazz improviser you have to learn from the masters. Then, you have to play with people...who are better than you. You have to put yourself in an environment where you get your ass kicked.

AAJ: Sounds like learning how to play basketball! (laughs)

DG: Sometimes students want some secret formula that you're not gonna get in a school environment, that you're not going to get living in Iowa.

AAJ: Hey, I've been there. I've been one of the guys who wants the information but just doesn't have the skills in place at that moment to absorb it.

DG: That's why this school is so good. They meet and play and perform among themselves and also with faculty, too. Auditions are by tape, so you have to be at a certain level of feel and creativity to attend. Of course, there's no degree, but you just might learn more than you ever learned somewhere else. I've done master classes at the New Schools and I'm on their roster. That's a great place as well. I wish I'd gone there instead of NYU.

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