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Interviews

Jef Lee Johnson: It's Been So Long Since I've Seen with My Eyes

By Published: February 1, 2013
JLJ: Yeah, I was playing bass before Gerald. I told him to call Gerald because I wanted to play guitar but that's another story. Also, Jim decided he was sick of listening to a bunch of poor musicians sitting around saying, "We should do this or that," so he made his own thing. But you have to come up with your bucks and your product somehow and he'll try to take it from there with some distribution and getting some stuff reviewed. It's like little tiny people with stones fighting a giant army. It's a losing battle but, on some level, it should be.

AAJ: So for a little info and to buy the records you should go to Dreambox Media?

JLJ: Yeah, I don't have a personal website with an itinerary or anything. I haven't played a solo gig in two years. For the past three or four years, my band has been Ted Thomas Jr. on drums and Charles Bolland on bass. They are on my live cd, called "the Singularity."

AAJ: That's mostly culled from live Knitting Factory gigs, huh?

JLJ: Yeah, that's some of the last stuff we did. And after last year, I haven't been interested in playing a lot. But we should be playing. Hopefully, now with the French thing, etc., the ball will start rolling. A different "News from the Jungle" group did a gig two and half weeks ago. Me, Michael Bland and Reggie Washington on bass.

AAJ: I just saw Reggie here with David Gilmore and we were talking about you. He is truly one of the great bassists today!

JLJ: I've always like Reggie and tried to find an excuse to play with him and it finally happened-in Paris.

AAJ: Yeah, Reg always knows what time it is. Unbelievable grooving on those Steve Coleman records on odd meters.

JLJ: With Jean-Paul Bourelly too. And apparently we blew a few minds. You know getting the gigs together can be tough. Something could happen today which wouldn't be able to happen tomorrow. This just cam together when Sonny Thompson said he couldn't do the gig.

AAJ: I'd love to see you with with Michael and Reggie.

JLJ: I want to take my band over to Europe though. There's a definite thing goin' on with that. The stuff that's happening is all European stuff. There is a whole different climate there with people trying to playmusic. It's not all "pop or nothing" so.... It's been true for awhile. Their attitude is more like, "This is fine and this is fine, but we just want to leave this open in case some other people want to listen to some other music." Not like here where the attitude is, "Oh, you don't like this? What's wrong with it? What's wrong with you? " People here are into that herd thing.

AAJ: I think there's a lot of second guessing that goes on with the labels today.

JLJ: The labels just want to make money. That's not good or bad either. But if they think that only these few beautiful people represent the most money, then that's what they're going to put everything into. They're not interested in anything else that's trying to be different or musical. The people that are in charge of making the money don't know about music anyway. They only know about making the money.

AAJ: It used to be the industry was populated by music nuts.

JLJ: Once they find out how to make more and more money it's just a flood. "Let's get these music people outta here and figure out a way to make some bucks." But that's gonna change too, you know. Maybe when Britney Spears' little sister grows up, she's not gonna feel like listening to pop music. Everything centers around the kids cause they buy the records. They're not concerned about older people, audiophiles, or musicians 'cause they don't buy the records.

AAJ: I have that "Singularity" record and there is some serious shit on there boy

JLJ: And that was a hohum night. The gig we did the week after should have been the record. They both want to play and it's on me.

AAJ: I also have that "Communion" record, on DIW. Didn't you play drums on that?

JLJ: Funny you asked. Everybody asks. No, that's just a lot of drum programming.

AAJ: Some pretty impressive drum programming

JLJ: But that's what I would have played on the record-if I had elected to play the real drums on it .There have been some great comments on that. The guy that mastered it actually asked me who the drummer was on it. After I told him it was programmed he said, "You're going to make a lot of drummers very angry."

AAJ: You have so many aspects to your abilities. You could probably just make a living programming drums.

JLJ: Yeah, well if I thought like that...Anyway, yeah "Communion" is on a Japanese label and "Blue" is on a Florida label. That's all so suspect.


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Download jazz mp3 “This is This” by Jef Lee Johnson