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Catching Up With

Greg Diamond: Conduit as the Direction

By Published: December 18, 2012
AAJ: Your band is a quintet, but you recorded the album in a sextet formation. Why did you decide to use this format?

GD: The formation of my band is anywhere from a quartet to a sextet. I like quintet with piano and sax for two main reasons. I like using sax to double unison lines with guitar. This music is energetic and vibrant and the saxophone adds a certain edge and makes it more compelling and lyrical. The piano adds color, warmth, and harmonic/rhythmic support. I also write a lot of my music on the piano and I have parts written specifically for piano. When we perform without piano, it's more of a challenge but I really enjoy it as well. It changes the vibe completely. The reason I added percussion is because it adds a different color to the music and it also gives it more drive and groove. We don't always have the luxury of performing as a sextet, but when we do it's really great, especially with Mauricio. Mauricio is phenomenal.

AAJ: Seamus Blake is on Conduit , what does this tenor player give to your compositions?

GD: Seamus is one of my favorite tenor sax players out there. His tone, his lyricism, his range, his control, his soulfulness...these are all trademarks of his playing—he has it all. He also has a very distinguishable sound that's immediately identifiable just like Dex [Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
], Trane, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
, Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, etcetera. I feel that he's been a great fit on both records because he's one of the most melodic players around today, and that really meshes well within the framework of this music. I feel that in this repertory melody, form, and groove are all inextricably linked; Seamus understands the vibe of this music and brings it to another level. I'm really grateful for that.

AAJ: What changes can we find between your new album and the previous one, Dançando cum Ale (Self Produced, 2008)?

GD: There are very notable differences. There is a four-year gap between both record dates. We added piano, and there's a different drummer and percussionist. There's no question in my mind that I sound very different on this record than I did on Dançando. We, as musician,s are constantly changing and evolving and what we produce is a direct reflection of that. If you're playing the same exact way today than you did a year ago, then there is something wrong. Music and art, just like life, is a process of evolution. Another big difference between Conduit and Dançando is in the repertory. This record is all original music and Dançando was half covers and half originals. I feel much more confident with myself as a composer now than I did five years ago. For the past few years we've only been playing my tunes at our shows as well as on tour. If the guys in the band were not totally invested in the music that I write then I would pick other covers—thankfully they are and we always have a blast when we play together.

The guys in my band keep inspiring me to keep pushing forward with this project. Their faith in me is galvanizing—I really admire and respect each one of them tremendously as musicians and friends. Finally another difference in this record is the general band sound. We had been playing this material for a while before going in to record. Our sound and vibe as a band was more defined, everyone was really comfortable with the music before going in to record, and that made a big difference.

AAJ: Do you think that with this album you set the beginning of the consolidation in your musical career?

GD: It's tough to say. I feel that we've definitely set the course. We've all grown together as a band and defined our sound. Everyone in this band has taken the music, internalized it, and made it his own. Now that we have laid down the foundation we want to get the music out there. I have quite a bit of new music that I really want to record as well, and I intend to do so when I raise up some funds. It's hard to say where things will go in the future. I feel that there's still so much to learn, but for now, I'm just living in the moment, taking things as they come one day at a time.


Selected Discography


Greg Diamond, Conduit (Dot Time Records, 2012)
Greg Diamond, Dançando cum Ale (Self-Produced, 2008)

Photo Credit

Maria Paula Abadía


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