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Jeff Gauthier: Fiddling with the Future

By Published: June 30, 2008
AAJ: How about "Satellites and Sideburns"?

JG: Joe Zawinul had passed away about a month or six weeks before the recording session. I know that's when Nels started working on that particular song. The title is a direct reference to Joe, his sideburns, and there's a particular style of Fender Rhodes piano that has satellite speakers, so that's where that reference came from. It's also a concept that especially in the Goatette, we've worked with for a long time, which is, Joe said once everybody solos and nobody solos. This is something that we've been doing since Quartet Music days. We're all thinking about the material and listening very intensely to each other and playing off each other.

Also, part of that, it has to be said, is the magic of playing with Nels Cline and Alex Cline, these twins who have been playing music together since they were five years old. There's some kind of connection that they have that once you get in the middle of this, it's like getting caught up in a wave. It's a very exciting thing. There are other situations where it might feel better to step forward and be the soloist, but playing with this particular combination of musicians it's actually more comfortable, I think for all of us, to really be playing with each other. It's very exciting.

AAJ: Have you played with Joel Hamilton and David Witham as long as the Cline brothers?

JG: No, no, no. I've been playing with Nels and Alex for almost thirty years with Quartet Music. But, after Quartet Music broke up, I was working with Eric Von Essen, trying to think who we could play with to replace Nels in something that would be more my project than a group project. Eric introduced me to David. So, the first Jeff Gauthier quartet record was David Witham, Eric, Alex Cline, and me. So, I've been playing with David about seventeen years.

When Eric passed away, Joel was the only guy we ever auditioned, and we played our first gig with him and realized he was the one. These are both really amazing musicians who are becoming more appreciated out in the world because of their work on Cryptogramophone. In fact, David just released a record called Spinning the Circle (2007).

They're both hard working musicians who are very successful as free lancers in LA. David's been George Benson's music director for as long as I've been working with him. He's played in Ernie Watts' band for years. Both these guys sound great on this record. Joel played the most amazing solo on "Friends of the Animals." He's got thirty seconds to do it, and he played the most amazing solo. It cracks me up every time I hear it.

AAJ: Do you have any production projects coming up?

JG: I have lots of ideas. For the Fall, there's going to be a new Nels Cline solo album, which is called Coward. Nels plays all the instruments. There's a lot of acoustic guitar, dobro, lap steel, electric guitar, he has this thing called the drum buddy that he plays. There are two large suites, and one of them is dedicated to Rod Poole, so there's some really wonderful micro tonal things going on in that one. I think it's one of the most personal things he's ever done.

And then there will be an Alex Cline CD released around the same time, which is called Continuation. That has Myra Melford playing piano, I'm playing violin, Peggy Lee is playing cello, and Scott Balton is playing bass. Alex is playing his huge drum set and all kinds of percussion and gongs. It's all Alex's music, and it's really a wonderful record. So, we're looking towards these for the Fall, probably late September.

AAJ: Any final thoughts on holding the line between business and art?

Jeff GauthierJG: Something's got to give. A lot about running this company, trying to put this music out, is all about pushing a rock up a mountain. At some point I'm going to have to realize that I'm tired and does it really make sense to push this rock up a mountain? At the same time I'm really happy with the way this new CD came out and it's inspiring me to want to do more.

The feedback with what's happening in the world is that people aren't interested in the CDs anymore, but they're still interested in the music. The playing field has leveled quite a bit and almost everybody can get their music out there some way almost as well as we can, even with all the distribution channels we have. The real difference we have is that we have a little bit of cache and people know the name of the label and if we send it to a reviewer they're more likely to look at it, and if they aren't familiar with the artist, they might say, hmm, "Cryptogramophone, I've liked some of the other things they've done, I'll give this a listen."

I am being called more to play the violin. Inwardly that is, the phone isn't ringing.

Selected Discography

Jeff Gauthier Goatette, House of Return (Cryptogramophone, 2008)

Jeff Gauthier Goatette, One and the Same (Cryptogramophone, 2006)

Various Artists, The Music of Eric Von Essen, Vol III (Cryptogramophone, 2006)

Scot Ray Quintet, Active Vapor Recovery (Cryptogramophone, 2003)

Bendian, Gauthier, Liebig, Stinson, Bone Structure (Cryptogramophone, 2003)

Jeff Gauthier Goatette, Mask (Cryptogramophone, 2002)

Alex Cline Ensemble, The Constant Flame (Cryptogramophone, 2001)

Various Artists, The Music of Eric Von Essen, Vol.II (Cryptogramophone, 2000)

Alex Cline/Jeff Gauthier/G.E.Stinson, The Other Shore (Cryptogramophone, 2000)

Various Artists, The Music of Eric Von Essen, Vol I (Cryptogramophone,2000)

Alex Cline Ensemble, Sparks Fly Upward (Cryptogramophone, 1999)

Jeamette Wrate and the Northern Lights Ensemble, Echoes of a Northern Sky (Cryptogramophone, 1999)

Photo Credits

Top Photo: Peak, courtesy of Jeff Gauthier and Cryptogramophone

All Other Photos: Anne Fishbein, courtesy of Jeff Gauthier and Cryptogramophone

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