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George Schuller: Like Before, But Fresh

R.J. DeLuke By

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As far as his producing career, it sort of rolls on organically. "There were people who trusted what I had to say behind the glass. I had some experience at that on my own projects. So I always enjoyed doing that as well. Especially with (singer) Luciana Souza, she's one of the great musicians out there. I had a ball working on her projects [To Answer Your Silence (NYC, 1999) and The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs (Sunnyside, 2000)]. It's not like producing records is on my resume. I haven't been asking for it.

"I'm kind of producing as we speak right now. I'm working on projects of my own, two trio recordings, independent from everything else. I've been working with Burton Greene on a trio recording that I played on. In a sense it's kind of like producing, behind the scenes editing and mixing. Another record with my buddy Joe Fonda and Carlo Morena. Then there's a new recording with Conference Call, another cooperative group I play in, with Michael Jefry Stevens, Gebhard Ullmann and Joe Fonda. That's coming out in October and I worked on those mixes. And I just worked with (pianist) Armen Donelian. So a few projects are in the works. Some have come out and some about to come out."

A CD release party for Like Before, Somewhat After was set for June 18, 2008 at the 55 Bar in New York City. He hopes to get Circle Wide out touring more, but notes that it is difficult in the United States "unless you're on a major label and they're carting you around to all the festivals."

George Schuller

But the band has been playing some of the Jarrett music for a few years in local clubs. "We did go to Portugal in March. The reaction was great. They went nuts, actually, for us. Which is unusual for me. The music I present can be edgy and free-based, not the straight and narrow. There are a lot of people who like that music and a lot of people who may not identify with it. But they loved what we were doing and the band played great at a concert at the Braga festival near Lisbon, Portugal. That was the first time I was able to get the band over to Europe. We're probably going to go again early next year.

Adds Schuller, "Touring in the U.S. is not like it is in Europe. In Europe, there's something about the way they treat you in little ways that makes all the difference. Plus you have to cover longer distances in the U.S. You've got to pile in two or three cars. You don't have the trains they have in Europe. If you play in Buffalo, you've got to spend a whole day to get there, and when you get there, it's either a door gig (musicians get a percentage of the tickets), or it's a small guarantee, plus you have to pay for your own hotels and the meals. In Europe, those things are taken care of. It's part of the etiquette over there."

With irons in plenty of fires, Schuller is sure to continue to bring fresh music to the terrain, with his bands and others that he has aligned himself with.

"I don't like sitting around and waiting for things to happen. In this business, you're forced to make sure you're not sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring."

Selected Discography

George Schuller's Circle Wide, Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape Recordings, 2008)
Michael Musillami, The Treatment (Playscape Recordings, 2007)
Free Range Rat, Nut Club (Clean Feed, 2006)
Burton Greene, Sign of the Times (CIMP, 2006)
Burton Greene, Ins And Outs (CIMP, 2006)
Michael Musillami, Dachau (Playscape Recordings, 2005)
George Schuller, Jigsaw (482 Music, 2004)
Conference Call, Spirals: The Berlin Concert (482 Music, 2004)
George Schuller, Round 'Bout Now (Playscape Recordings, 2003)
George Schuller's Schulldogs, Hellbent (Playscape Recordings, 2002)
Gunther Schuller/WDR Orchestra/Remembrance Band, The Music of Jim Pepper/Witchi-Tai-To (Tutu Records, 2002)
Michael Musillami/Mario Pavone, Pivot (Playscape Recordings, 2002)
Ran Blake, Sonic Temples (GM Recordings, 2002)
George Schuller's Schulldogs, Tenor Tantrums (New World, 1999)
Orange Then Blue, Hold the Elevator: Live in Europe and Other Haunts (GM Recordings, 1999)
Joe Lovano, Rush Hour, Blue Note, 1995. Orange Then Blue, While You Were Out... (GM Recordings, 1994)
George Schuller, Lookin' Up from Down Below (GM Recordings, 1990)
Orange Then Blue, Funkallero (GM Recordings, 1991)
Orange Then Blue, Where Were You? (GM Recordings, 1989)
Orange Then Blue, Music for Jazz Orchestra (GM Recordings, 1987)
Ran Blake, Film Noir (Arista Novus, 1980)

Photo Credits
Top Photo: Jos L. Knaepen

Center Photo: Courtesy of George Schuller
Bottom Photo: Paulo Nogueira


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