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David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

Phil DiPietro By

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DG:I use more conventional chords and things like that..but being exposed to Steve and his approach, maybe my thing would've been different, or say, Osby's thing might have been different.

AAJ: Have you worked with Greg too?

DG:Only in the studio, never any live gigs with his band. I wish...'cause I love his writing and his playing. These days, especially, he is writing some great stuff. He's another more intuitive writer... some of his new stuff is great.

Not many people take the time and have the dedication Steve does to developing something new and different. He's very absorbed in what he does. He's made some conscientious decisions to be that way. He's decided to really devote his life to that, even on a personal level. In a way you need to have that attitude to go that deep into stuff.

AAJ: In terms of the compositional aspect, how do you do what you do?

DG:The way I approach writing- it's more simple than a guy like Steve, but it's not simple. His ways of conceptualizing things is definitely complex, but the music may not be, compositionally. Anyway, the way I write a tune varies from coming up with a bass line to layering a rhythm on top of it and then a melody...or it could come from the keyboard. I write with mostly the guitar and piano. The piano helps me come up with things I wouldn't come up with otherwise. It really helps me for arranging horns. I want to vary the music that comes out. I don't want it always coming from guitar. It can come vocally as well. Sometimes I do the tune from the chord progression too, so I can come at it from all aspects. One thing I'd like to be able to do is write more quickly. For instance, I'd like to have a batch of tunes ready to go for the next thing

AAJ: That all probably plays into what you're doing. For instance, If you were gigging relentlessly with your own project or selling more records with your own project, you would probably be writing more for your own thing.

DG:Oh definitely. It's very hard to keep your eyes on the prize. For instance, I have yet to do a tour with this band, George, Rodney and Brad.

AAJ: To get those guys on the road would be tough. Rodney's got the gig with Steve Kimock now, not to mention the one he had with Santana. What do you think of that ?

DG:I think it sucks. He should dedicate all of his time to me. I'm just kidding. But I throw three gigs at him a year. Seriously, if I could come up with a guaranteed tour, these guys would do it. For instance, I had a ten date thing almost booked for March 2002 in Europe, but the agent pulled the plug in December, because things didn't come in quickly enough. The agent's in Italy and we're on his roster, but not enough local promoters who work with clubs or the clubs themselves, were interested.

AAJ: Well, these are the people to get on board, then.

DG:No question. But the record isn't even distributed there, so I'm not so known. Plus, we're trying to get a certain amount of money to make it happen. So all these factors contribute, and as a possible March tour starts coming together, with not enough dates to make it work, you either have to start all over, like we're doing, or run the risk of canceling if you string it out too long, which you definitely don't want to do either. I'll probably hook it up with some local promoters over there myself, now. In Europe things have slowed down. Again, if you're not on a major label you don't get the attention

AAJ: What about here?

DG:Forget the states man. Unless you're playing straight ahead stuff or smooth jazz, where are you gonna play?

AAJ: It's that dead?

DG:I think so yeah, unless you're like Christian McBride or Josh Redman on a major label, yeah.

AAJ: What about these jam bands who do the grassroots thing and get the tours together, get this buzz going. I think your music would appeal heavily to this crowd.

DG:You think so?

AAJ: They've embraced MMW. I'm sure this crowd would like you or like, Steve Coleman's music.

DG:I'd hope you're right. But just testing that out is a problem. I know Steve and Andy Milne (http://users.tellurian.net/amilne/) have gone out to the west coast previously and lost money. I wouldn't even mind that as long as I could pay the band.

AAJ: Oh you have to pay the band, Dave?

DG:The other thing is to get some young, hungry cats who would do the road thing for less money. But it's very hard to find other guys who can play this music well. I can get the band from New York to Boston, but that's as far as I've gone with it. I really want to focus more on Europe because the chances there of making it happen are better. Plus, the gigs pay more there.

AAJ: So, basically bands get treated better there on some semi-established circuit of clubs?

DG:Yeah.

AAJ: So finishing up your current project? Did all the tunes you had make it onto the record?

DG:Well, I had sort of an African 12:8 thing written that we didn't finish up.

AAJ: I hear a lot of that in your chordal work. Do you have a direct influence from African guitar players?

DG:No, you mean guys like Papa Wembe? I listen to it and have a couple of recordings, but I have yet to really check it out. Better to go there and absorb it. I've played with some African guys...I played with Francis M'Bappe, from Cameroon (www.francismbappe.com) for a number of years. Rodney was in that band, too, for a while. Francis has got some funk in his music too. He can groove his ass off.

AAJ: Is he related to Etienne M'Bappe, from Zawinul's band?

DG:No relation. There's another guy named Hilaire Penda that my brother and I played with. He played with Trilok. I'd like to get over to France and check that out a bit more, too. There are quite a few guys in France from Cameroon, West Africa and Bali that are great, but you only hear about a few. I like African, Brazilian and Indian music, and consciously or unconsciously, those ethnic feels make it into my music.

AAJ: In terms of your record, what do you think of the indie thing?

DG:It's been a lot of work. Recently, Lian Amber and Dave Fiuczynski responded to Jazz Times with a great letter to the editor. I guess a review for his cd said something to the effect that they decided to start their own label due to a lack of major label interest. They responded that the lack of interest was on their part, with a laundry list of reasons why. Like, artists don't own their stuff, they barely get enough money to record, pay musicians and put it out, they don't see a dime after it's done, and on and on. In fact they've reacquired the rights to the first two releases, own it and distribute it, and get all the profits. Amen to that.

But it's been tough, I'm basically doing this on my own. I have management, but they don't handle the record company stuff. It's been a serious learning experience. I went to school and studied music and business, but I've learned more this past year than I learned in four years in school

AAJ: How come you and your buddies, like Matt Garrison, Dave Fiuczynski, Gene Lake, Ravi and Ralph Alessi go to some distributor and get a joint European deal.

DG:Actually, that's something we're looking at.

AAJ: It certainly seems like the labels and distributors figure out more ways to squash than help the independent artist. A lot of it's just the history. For that statement to appear in Fuze's review is just an example of how the media buys into the whole label thing.

DG:For sure. But having said all that though, I still wish I was signed to a Warner Brothers or a Universal. There's tradeoff, no doubt. But with whatever price you pay for it, you get a certain level of prestige, it gives you certain attention as far as festivals and clubs, and you will get advertisements in some major publications. It makes hooking up tours easier too. Whatever happens from there happens. But at least you have that initial push.

AAJ: When did you start playing?

DG: I started when I was fifteen. After high school I went to Clark University in Worcester Mass. I went for two years as a business major with hopes of minoring in music, but the music program was not geared to jazz or a minor. I transferred to NYU and graduated from there in '87. That was a great move, just to get to New York. Joe Lovano was teaching there, and pianist Jim McNeeley. Originally I wanted to go to Berklee but my father talked me out of it. He wanted me to go to school where I could study something else. He wanted me to check out other things as well.

AAJ: Not surprising considering who he is.

DG:I mean he went to the New England Conservatory himself (Note: David's dad, Marvin is Boston area business man with a big soft spot for music, and has owned the Western Front, a reggae club in Cambridge for over 20 years). I wouldn't say my family encouraged me towards music, but they didn't discourage me. In retrospect, maybe Berklee wouldn't have been the best choice. It seems like the best players go for a while and get out. I feel good that I went to college and finished up with a degree... and paid my loans off after ten years for the piece of paper hanging up on the wall. It looks good and the frame is real nice (laughs). Actually, who cares how you learn it, as long as you learn it.

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