Alan Bryson

All About Jazz user Alan Bryson

An American interviewer based in Europe, fascinated by the art of tone, drawn to the muse of the blues.

Interviewer Since: 2007 | From: Germany | Profile Views: 15,463

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Music and nature are my passions. I was a child in the '50's and I was lucky to have a sister who came along nearly seven years before me. She controlled our afternoon TV viewing, so instead of cowboys and cartoons I watched American Bandstand -- basically the music from 'American Graffiti' was the soundtrack of my childhood. My favorites were Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Dion and the Coasters.

Like everyone around me in my teens, I was riding the British wave, but I also liked Motown, Stax, and the Beach Boys' summer hits throughout the '60's. I have vivid memories of seeing bands such as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Dr. John, John Mayall, the Allman Brothers and even Martha and the Vandellas singing classics like 'Heatwave' and 'Dancing in the Streets.'

As a teen I also loved Jimmy Smith and through him discovered Wes Montgomery, and around this time I started a love affair with the chords, rhythms, and melodies of Brazil. That led to Stan Getz and beyond. As a teenager I also remember buying a LP of Bach's organ music and being totally blown away. To the shock of my friends I bought all of Burt Bacharach's instrumental LPs.

I was also starting to get into blues at this time. At first it was bands like Paul Butterfield and the Electric Flag, and I remember not being able to find any authentic blues LPs in Daytona Beach until I literally ventured 'across the tracks' and found a small record shop near Bethune Cookman College, in a predominantly African American part of town. There I bought my first blues LPs by B.B. & Albert King. I was also listening to people like Earl Scruggs and Charlie McCoy and developing a great respect for the musicians in Nashville.

What I look for in a musician is someone who feels and expresses emotion - - players who are completely in the moment. I'm not impressed simply because something is complex, novel, or sophisticated -- generally it either has to move me, or it has to be one of those melodies that seem as though they must have always existed: Night & Day, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Round Midnight and so on. But I also think there is something primal in music which is associated with the urge to move and to dance, and therefore I don't look down on something that has a simple beat and is fun to dance to: I admit to liking a few disco songs, such as Earth Wind and Fire's 'Boogie Wonderland.'

Nowadays I'm heavily into jazz and blues, but my tastes are all over the map. For example, I began watching French music shows and discovered all this amazing African music. Recently a friend turned me on to an amazing slide guitarist from Calcutta named Debashish Bhattacharya. Music is truly a gift and it has been a major part of my life journey.

I remember seeing Duke Ellington on a talk show and someone was trying to get him to agree that the three chord music of today (the '60's) was crap. Duke was having none of it, he said something like, Music is a question of taste, if someone likes something, for him it's good. In the end that's what it comes down to.

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