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David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

By Published: January 6, 2007

He would have things where there are no scales written but more like ...he would have these cells, containing certain intervals. He was studying Bartok for a minute. This one book by Elliott Antokoletz [The Music of Bela Bartok: A Study of Tonality and Progression in Twentieth-Century Music] analyzes Bartok's music. He borrowed some of the concepts from that book and put it into some of his music on "Black Science . Unfortunately, he spends months digesting this stuff and when it comes time for the record date, we have about five days to learn it. This forces me to put it into terms I can digest more easily, such as converting the concept into a 5 or 6 note scale I can deal with. Not just scales, but intervals, expansion, contraction, the Fibonacci series and all this stuff. To me, that's great and its his thing, but I haven't found too much use for that approach with the stuff in the things I've done. I like the more intuitive musical approach, with some science.

AAJ: Well, I think your stuff is a bit more accessible.

DG:I use more conventional chords and things like that..but being exposed to Steve and his approach, maybe my thing would've been different, or say, Osby's thing might have been different.

AAJ: Have you worked with Greg too?

DG:Only in the studio, never any live gigs with his band. I wish...'cause I love his writing and his playing. These days, especially, he is writing some great stuff. He's another more intuitive writer... some of his new stuff is great.

Not many people take the time and have the dedication Steve does to developing something new and different. He's very absorbed in what he does. He's made some conscientious decisions to be that way. He's decided to really devote his life to that, even on a personal level. In a way you need to have that attitude to go that deep into stuff.

AAJ: In terms of the compositional aspect, how do you do what you do?

DG:The way I approach writing- it's more simple than a guy like Steve, but it's not simple. His ways of conceptualizing things is definitely complex, but the music may not be, compositionally. Anyway, the way I write a tune varies from coming up with a bass line to layering a rhythm on top of it and then a melody...or it could come from the keyboard. I write with mostly the guitar and piano. The piano helps me come up with things I wouldn't come up with otherwise. It really helps me for arranging horns. I want to vary the music that comes out. I don't want it always coming from guitar. It can come vocally as well. Sometimes I do the tune from the chord progression too, so I can come at it from all aspects. One thing I'd like to be able to do is write more quickly. For instance, I'd like to have a batch of tunes ready to go for the next thing

AAJ: That all probably plays into what you're doing. For instance, If you were gigging relentlessly with your own project or selling more records with your own project, you would probably be writing more for your own thing.

DG:Oh definitely. It's very hard to keep your eyes on the prize. For instance, I have yet to do a tour with this band, George, Rodney and Brad.

AAJ: To get those guys on the road would be tough. Rodney's got the gig with Steve Kimock now, not to mention the one he had with Santana. What do you think of that ?

DG:I think it sucks. He should dedicate all of his time to me. I'm just kidding. But I throw three gigs at him a year. Seriously, if I could come up with a guaranteed tour, these guys would do it. For instance, I had a ten date thing almost booked for March 2002 in Europe, but the agent pulled the plug in December, because things didn't come in quickly enough. The agent's in Italy and we're on his roster, but not enough local promoters who work with clubs or the clubs themselves, were interested.

AAJ: Well, these are the people to get on board, then.

DG:No question. But the record isn't even distributed there, so I'm not so known. Plus, we're trying to get a certain amount of money to make it happen. So all these factors contribute, and as a possible March tour starts coming together, with not enough dates to make it work, you either have to start all over, like we're doing, or run the risk of canceling if you string it out too long, which you definitely don't want to do either. I'll probably hook it up with some local promoters over there myself, now. In Europe things have slowed down. Again, if you're not on a major label you don't get the attention

AAJ: What about here?

DG:Forget the states man. Unless you're playing straight ahead stuff or smooth jazz, where are you gonna play?

AAJ: It's that dead?

DG:I think so yeah, unless you're like Christian McBride or Josh Redman on a major label, yeah.

AAJ: What about these jam bands who do the grassroots thing and get the tours together, get this buzz going. I think your music would appeal heavily to this crowd.

DG:You think so?

AAJ: They've embraced MMW. I'm sure this crowd would like you or like, Steve Coleman's music.

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