Scott Kinsey: Sampling Keys


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I am really lucky because my first real experience playing was with [Scott] Henderson and I was able to do my thing while playing his music ...
Keyboardist Scott Kinsey is most noted for his free-fusion style playing in the first band he joined straight out of college, Tribal Tech, featuring guitarist Scott Henderson bassist Gary Willis and drummer Kirk Covington. He has performed live and on record with numerous top jazz performers including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Philip Bailey, WDR Big Band, Tim Hagans, and Bob Belden.

More recently, Kinsey has worked as the primary keyboardist on film scores to Ocean's Eleven and Analyze That. Both scores were composed by Irish DJ/Composer David Holmes.

Kinsey is currently working on his debut solo album, featuring Steve Tavaglione, Vinnie Colaiuta, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Robert Hurst, Cyril Atef, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and live recordings from clubs around the Los Angeles area.

AAJ had a chance to sit down with him to talk about his style and influences.

All About Jazz: What type of equipment do you use?

Scott Kinsey: I use M-Audio equipment. The keyboard is an 88-note semi- weighted M-Audio keyboard called a Keystation 88 ES, which is just a controller for my computer that is a [MAC] G5 that runs all my virtual synthesizers. The bottom keyboard is strictly a synthesizer for the computer and the top keyboard is a Nord lead from Clavia. They're from Sweden and I play all their instruments too. I also use M-Audio Software Synths, that has really cool Minimoog emulation, and they have a TimewARP, as in ARP synthesizer, like the old ARP 2600, which is amazing. It sounds just like a 2600.

AAJ: What are your biggest musical influences?

SK: I listen to anything really. I listen to a lot of bebop and jazz in general. I listen to a lot of pianists and saxophone players, and rock stuff, world music, African—no matter what it is. Because I play keyboards I can hint at the music and add it into my own style of playing. I just went to Armenia and played with some great musicians there, like guests from other countries including Ganowan musicians from Africa, which was really fun.

I also want to mention some great jazz piano players, because many people think that if you listen to jazz piano you only listen to Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock. But I like a lot of other players too like Ahmad Jamal who is not as well-known by younger musicians.

AAJ: Who has been the biggest influence that you have played with?

SK: Playing with Scott Henderson. Most bandleaders just want you to fill a hole left in their music. I am really lucky because my first real experience playing was with Henderson. I was able to do my thing while playing his music— whatever that was—and that is what they dug about having me around. It's what I dug about being there, because I got to be myself and interject whatever I wanted to into the sound. That was really unusual. After that, I have played with Robben Ford and Bill Evans, and did not have the same freedom as playing with Tribal Tech. Those gigs are great, but they want you to be in this bag or that bag, not play your own style.

AAJ: Which teacher influenced or taught you the most that comes out in your music today?

SK: I went to Berkelee College of Music in Boston, so I had a lot of really good teachers. I feel like I learned from everybody I played with. My father who was also a good pianist. The only place you are really going to learn is by listening to the music you like to hear because it is all there.

AAJ: How much effort do you put into your sound or tone being different or unique?

SK: I do work on my sounds that are programmed into the keyboard, but I also like to improvise a lot while I am playing. My Nord Lead is interesting because it does not have names for sounds, like other keyboards do—it just has numbers, and there are around 300 numbers. So, I do not remember what all of them are, and sometimes I will just pick one and hope for the best. I programmed them all but I forget what they are except for a few favorites. It keeps a jazz spirit, but with more freedom when you are playing as a group.

Scott Kinsey plays with his quartet in Los Angeles, California at The Baked Potato, www.thebakedpotato.com and La Ve Lee, www.lavelee.com.

Selected Discography:

James Moody, Homage (Savoy Jazz, 2004)
David Holmes, Presents the Free Association (13 Amp Recordings, 2002)
Philip Bailey, Soul on Jazz (Heads Up, 2002)
Brett Garsed/T.J.Helmerich/Gary Willis/Dennis Chambers/Scott Kinsey, Uncle Moe's Space Ranch (Tone Center, 2001)
Bob Belden, Black Dahlia (Blue Note, 2001)
Tribal Tech, Rocket Science (ESC RECORDS, 2000)
Kurt Rosenwinkel, Enemies of Energy (Verve, 2000)
Tim Hagans/Bob Belden, Re-Animation: Live in Montreal (Blue Note, 1999)
Tim Hagans, Animation/Imagination (Blue Note, 1999)
Tribal Tech, Thick (ZEBRA RECORDS ZD, 1999)
Gary Willis, Bent (Alchemy, 1998)

Scott Henderson, Tore Down House (Mesa, 1997)
Bob Belden, Tapestry (Blue Note, 1997)
Tribal Tech, Reality Check (Bluemoon, 1995)
Bob Belden, Shades of Blue (Blue Note, 1994)
Tribal Tech, Primal Tracks (Mesa/Bluemoon, 1994)
Tribal Tech, Face First (Bluemoon, 1993)
Tribal Tech, Illicit (Bluemoon, 1992)

Photo Credit: Cheryl Graul

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