Take Five With James Armstrong
Meet James Armstrong: My interests in music emerged in the late 1970s, when I was a student at UCSB. I used to transcribe Horace Silver's recordings between classes; priceless lessons in ear training and analysis. I was really stoked about piano, even though my undergraduate major wasn't music. Years later, I had private piano coaches, and worked as a sideman with a few ensembles in the Bay Area. But realistically, I'm mostly self- taught as a musician. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Instrument(s): Piano, drums.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I first heard the Horace Silver Quintet at Keystone Korner, in 1978. At the time, Silver was working on more open forms like "The Aztec Sun God," which really knocked me out; highly polytonal and rhythmic.
Your sound and approach to music: Although George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept introduced me to pan-tonality, I don't always strive for those effects in performance. Still, musical content remains very important to me; form alone is not sufficient. I listen to a lot of music by Bartók, Busoni, and Andrew Hill, whose music is strongly content-based. My new solo session is a good example of these tendencies; how the past affects time present.
What is in the near future? Rhapsody and Dedication CDs will be available soon. For now, check out the new website streams and downloads.