David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

Phil DiPietro By

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AAJ: How'd you get the rest of the band ?

DG: Like I said, Brad was a sub. Now Brad has turned out to the better choice for this kind of music. I mean I love James but Brad has this looseness from playing with Ornette.

AAJ: Ornette?!

DG: Oh, yeah. Ornette, the Jazz Passengers, Marc Ribot. So the core band was there. The sidemen made sense. I mean part of it was just that I knew guys who were willing to do me huge financial favors for the music. I knew Rodney (www.rodneyholmes.com) from Wayne, and he has this jazzy jazzy, but funky, other way of playing.

AAJ: It's almost like prog rock at times, just all over the kit. And George Colligan (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/iviews/gcolligan.htm)?

DG: I think I met him through Binney (www.mythologyrecords.com/binney.html), who's also on the cd.

AAJ: And Ravi and Ralph Alessi are through Steve Coleman?

DG: Yeah.

AAJ: And you're on Ralph's new thing?

DG: That's not out yet. Check RKM for that (www.rkmmusic.com). I've got some space on that one, but I was disappointed with the amp I used for the session. That's some hard music too. Don Byron's on it as well as Nausheet Waits and Drew Gress.

AAJ: Your record seems like a natural progression from Coleman to Lost Tribe to Trilok to your own thing, as opposed to some other directions you've gone in with other folks.

DG: I guess it comes out of all those experiences...you know, playing with Steve and Trilok...though osmosis it's crept into my system. But even before I met Steve and the whole M-Base thing I had an attraction to odd meter music or whatever you want to call it. I was into Return to Forever and Mahavishnu and all that stuff.

I was introduced to playing jazz when I first started taking guitar lessons at age 15, with John Baboian, a teacher at Berklee School of Music. Then I kind of worked my way backwards into straight ahead jazz. But I was always into that type of music. The stuff I'm doing now, at least the Ritualism thing, has got the odd meter stuff. I just find there to be a lot of unexplored territory, you know, with rhythms as it relates to modern jazz harmonies and melodies. I mean jazz in the rhythmic sense has been pretty much in 4:4 with the occasional 3:4 and that's...

AAJ: That's it! That's what I really want to touch on with you. This is what Steve is known for and now you. You are one of the masters regarding this aspect.

DG: Well, there are other people, but a lot of them come at it from a different angle, like Brad Shepik with Pachora and the Commuters (AAJ interrupts)

AAJ: Yeah, but they're coming from ethnic rhythms.

DG: Well, they're using things in 11 and 21 or whatever. Steve's thing has evolved within his own projects. Like it used to be "this tune is in 5 and "this is in 7 , but around "Rhythm People it evolved into polymetric tunes. It went further with "Black Science where the pianist was in one meter, the bassist was in another and I was in another and the parts would intersect at various points creating cross-rhythms.

AAJ: Well, this is the wonderful complexity of your music. But it doesn't sound like that to the listener.

DG: Ritualism doesn't have that much polymetric rhythmic stuff goin' on. Some of it's implied, but Steve will have a whole tune just kind of looping with polyrhythmic stuff. I've written tunes like that but they didn't make it to my record. There are tunes where the meter changes within the tune but not long stretches where one meter is played against the other. There are only short bursts where one is played against the other...in a melody or something like that. Poly -rhythm is implied or even improvised a lot. Rodney goes into some metric modulation and we all do a bit of that. We do even more of that live.

AAJ: Yeah whatever that is? Metric modulation is...(SEE: http://homepage.tinet.ie/~251/lesson5.html)

DG:Here's a way to think of it. A basic one. For example say something's in 4. A lot of times I base things off of the triplet. So each beat is da-ta-ta, da-ta-ta, da-ta-ta, da-ta-ta.....like eight note triplets. 123,223,323, 423 etc. You can accent, for example, every 4 of the triplets..so its still triplets, but in 4 note groupings, so those twelve notes grouped in 4 groups of three are now in 3 groups of four, even though they are still played as triplets 1234, 1234, 1234...datatata,datatata,datatata.

Snapping your fingers while counting this over that pulse will show you how the emphasis can be shifted into a different rhythmic strata or layer. But the trick is really getting back to where you were, originally. Well that's always the trick I guess (laughs). But I mean that looping thing I was referring to earlier. When I improvise I base a lot of things off of triplet figures where I omit certain beats.

AAJ: You mean in your single note lines? I can really hear the time in your single note lines. It's a great element of your linear playing that there's rhythm in the line..which not many guitarists have, or if it comes out in their playing, they're not thinking about it in those terms.

DG:To me, guitar players for some reason have lagged behind in rhythm. It's a rhythmic instrument. I mean you hit it..it's a percussive instrument. I played drums a percussion before I played guitar. I'm a closet drummer. I love playing rhythm guitar as well, just laying in the pocket with the rhythm section. Just taking a few choice notes and just exploring the rhythm of those notes and then...seeing how other cats react to it.

AAJ: Well, that really came out in Lost Tribe a lot...between you and Adam Rogers.

DG:Yeah, sure. Well, I can't touch Adam when it comes to notes. In a way I had to find...he's such a note freak, and such a great player, and he's got such fluid lines.

AAJ: Nolo contendre, man. One of the great soloists on the instrument of our time, right along with yourself, in my opinion. I was thinking in terms of you guys playing off each other in Lost Tribe with those cycling single note lines, those hypnotic riffs behind the melodists or the soloists...like "Mythology from the first cd or "Second Story from "Soulfish .

DG:Oh yeah, definitely. That too.

AAJ: Can you break it down, timewise on a few of the tunes on your cd?

DG: "Ritualism is in 11. You can think of it as 11:8 but I like to think of it as 5 and Ã?—?":4.

AAJ: That's interesting...

DG:Phonically, it's 1,2,3,4,5 and1,2,3,4,5 etc. No space between the "and and the "1 .That's 4 quarter notes and the last is a dotted quarter note.

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