David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

Phil DiPietro By

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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.

AAJ: Did you start playing with heavy cats right away, when you got out?

DG:Yeah, I missed my graduation by two days because I went out with Steve Coleman. That was my first professional gig. That was 15 years ago, so I was 22 or 3. I had taken a year off between Clark and NYU. I joined the Black Rock Coalition right at the beginning. Kevin Bruce Harris and Geri Allen must have told Steve about me. Kelvyn Bell was the guitarist in the band before me. He's on the first two records. That was my first real thing, touring and stuff, but it wasn't paying the bills. I was managing a bookstore at the time, as well.

AAJ: Did you do the Kevin Bruce Harris records after the Coleman records?

DG:No, the first thing I did was "Sine Die on Sting's label, Pangea. I met Sting and all.

AAJ: He's got Chris McBride, now. I know you played on Chris's last cd. That'd be a nice band, with you and Christian McBride, huh?

DG:Well, actually, my brother, Marque, did a couple of gigs with Sting you know. He was playing on a project with Katia LeBeque and they had some gigs in Spain and Italy and Pompeii. Christian was on the gig as well. Then September 11th hit and the cancelled the rest of the gigs that they had scheduled. It was a special side project for Sting..

Anyway from '87 to '94 I played with Steve.

AAJ: Are you one of the Five Elements?

DG:I guess so, yeah I'm on those Five Elements records and more. I guess I'm water (laughs).

AAJ: Yeah you, Reggie Washington and Gene Lake. That's a rhythm section right there.

DG:I recommended Gene for that gig. Then my brother and Rodney came in for an audition and Gene, well, he just wiped everybody clean, man. Amazing, amazing player.

AAJ: Great cat too. I love his solo cd (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/reviews/r0301_107.htm)

DG:Oh yeah. In between all that I was still working part time "regular jobs. I actually did gig with Sam Rivers before I graduated, but during Steve's time I also did a couple of Kevin Bruce Harris records. He was in Coleman's band at that time, before Reggie Washington. I played with Ronald Shannon Jackson real briefly and then Don Byron.

AAJ: What about Cassandra Wilson?

DG: I only did a couple of gigs with her. Steve produced that record ("Jumpworld , 1989) and I wrote one of the tunes on it. I came close to doing a record back then for Muse because Greg Osby was producing a bunch of sessions for them. But he was trying to get me and another of his guitar players to do a cd and I just wasn't interested in doing a record with another guitarist. I'm on a couple of the Lonnie Plaxico sessions that came out on Muse.

AAJ: What happened to Muse's output?

DG: I know that Joe Fields sold one of his catalogues that he owned and made some money. Maybe that's why they do less recordings. Cindy Blackman, who I play with, just got done with her obligation to Muse.

Every once and a while I did gigs with my own thing but I never pursued it heavily. In '91 I had my daughter, and I was going through some heavy personal things around that time. Looking back, that consumed a lot of my space, you know, and a lot of my focus. And then I started working with Trilok. Right before I went over there to work with Trilok, I quit Steve's thing. Trilok flew me over there, to Germany, to check me out and then rehearse, so it wasn't a sure thing. But I wound up playing with him a couple of years ("Bad Habits Die Hard , "Believe ). That was during Lost Tribe, too. Like '89.

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