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Interviews

Scott Kinsey: It's About Meaning

By Published: March 27, 2007

AAJ: One of the producers on Kinesthetics was Souvik Dutta of your record label Abstract Logix. What has it been like working with him?

SK: It's been a great experience, right from the beginning. I had finished the record about a year before and was holding on to it. Souvik just sent me an e-mail and said, "I heard you just did a record and I'd love to hear it. I wrote him back saying, "I'm sorry but I'm saving it for another label and I'm really not that interested.



Then I thought: "What am I saying this for? [laughs] I called him back and said, "Yes, I would like you to hear it. He listened to it, got back to me, said he loved it and would love to release it. I thought, "Why not? I've been waiting way too long already and I really need to get this thing out there. I felt like now was the time.



Within a day he had a release date for me. He had the distributor saying that he had some art work started. He had all this stuff happening. Everything moved extremely fast and that was the main thing I was looking for. I wanted things to happen ASAP because I had waited way too long. For years, people have been asking me about it on tours and I kept saying, "I don't know. I was sick of that. Souvik just made it happen.



The situation was very good right from the start, because he didn't want to buy the record like every other label on the planet who will give you a certain amount of money to own the master. He never wanted to go there. He realizes that this is your music, you've worked hard on it and you should own it.



I just liked the guy, the organization. Even though they're small they care. They're interested and they put the time and effort in I'm very happy with that.

AAJ: It's a pity that there aren't more Souvik Duttas around in the music business.

SK: He does it because he loves it and that's 99%. This is not some generic company that just throws it out and doesn't care about it. I didn't want to go that way. I had a lot of offers like that and I just turned them all down.



Then on the other side of the coin I'm releasing the album in Europe on Joe Zawinul's label Birdjam. Joe and I are very good friends and he's working with Joachim Becker on the label. Joachim Becker was the guy who did the Tribal Tech stuff for the last couple of years, so I've known him for a long time. They'll put out the record there. Overall it's a great partnership.

AAJ: Where did the inspiration for "Sometimes I... come from?

SK: It's a Steve Tavaglione tune that changed direction a few times but it just sort of happened organically. It was really based on a drum pattern and a vey chromatic melody that in Steve's original version was a lot more avant-garde than what we ended up doing. That rhythm is actually inspired by the early Miles band and the early Weather Report with [drummer] Eric Gravatt and [bassist] Miroslav Vitous, and that kind of forward pulse, a free jazz sort of approach.

AAJ: Your Joe Zawinul/Wayne Shorter influence has been cited endlessly but less well-documented is the influence of Ahmad Jamal. How significant an influence has he been on your playing?

SK: You know, I'm glad you asked me about that. Everybody talks about Joe and Wayne and so forth. It's a kind of an obvious one, but I think if you listen you can hear the Ahmad influence.



I'm very happy to say that because I love Ahmad Jamal. I love his playing. He's really one of my very favorite pianists. All the stuff from the late '50s all that stuff with his original trio. It's so inspiring to me, the way he plays, the way he hears music, the way he phrases, the use of space, the touch, everything. His concept and the feeling he has, and the swing that they had as a trio.



When people ask me what I'm listening to I can never think of anything, but if I sit down and think about it I always come up with Ahmad. There are a thousand MP3s on my iPod and they're all Ahmad Jamal.


L:R: Seamus Blake, Kirk Covington, Scott Kinsey, Matthew Garrison



If you listen to my CD, on the surface you may not hear it at all, but if you really listen you'll understand. A lot of the phrases and even some of the rhythms, on "Under Radar for example. It's in me, the way I think about phrasing and playing in general, a lot of it comes from Ahmad Jamal.



He's playing differently now than he used to, but of course he still has all that, everything he used to have and more. Nobody really phrases like him. He has a very conversational way of phrasing and sweetness in the melodies. And just beautiful ideas. I think Keith Jarrett got that from him. I don't know if he says that or not but I feel it. I also love Keith Jarrett and am inspired by what he does.

AAJ: A musician with whom you've had a long association is Bob Belden. Could you tell us about your involvement with him?

SK: I met Bob through a friend of mine, Jim Goetsch, who told Bob about me when I first moved out here. [L.A.] Bob flew me up to New York to do a record date and it turned out to be the Prince Jazz (Blue Note, 1994) record he made for Japan. Since then I've ended up working on almost every record he's done, and done a lot of tours with him.



It's been great. Bob's a very inspirational guy. He's a true genius, the kind of guy who can write a big band chart in ten minutes starting with the parts—doesn't even need the score. He's ridiculous! He's a really brilliant person and he's also a great saxophonist and producer.



We have a very good relationship and we're still doing stuff. We just did a concert at Merkin Concert Hall [New York] about three weeks ago. We did [Miles Davis'] Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969), the whole album. It's a concert series that they're putting on to recreate classic jazz records.



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Download jazz mp3 “This is That” by Scott Kinsey