Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

18

Steely Dan's Jon Herington and Jim Beard

Mike Jacobs By

Sign in to view read count
While keyboardist / producer Jim Beard and guitarist Jon Herington are both solo recording artists with long and varied careers that straddle jazz, rock and beyond, they may be best known these days for being longtime members of Steely Dan's current touring band. They have also been close friends for nearly 40 years. They sat down for a conversation as they were preparing for their first-ever duo tour to start in June 2017.

All About Jazz: What was the genesis of the duo tour?

Jon Herington: Well, we had talked about doing something a few years ago. We floated the idea and it never got anywhere. I had been pushing to work with my guitar / bass / drums trio [The Jon Herington Band] for many years and that sort of exhausted itself. I felt like I had done it for long enough and needed a break from it. There were some holes in the calendar this year because Steely Dan hasn't been working quite as much as in past years and so I thought it might be a good time to revive the idea.We had some time coming up in June. We got together once for a couple hours and played just to make sure something might be possible and I guess we were convinced enough to gamble and book the gigs. We have six gigs to try this whole concept out.

AAJ: What kind of material are you planning to do?

Jim Beard: We had a good couple of days where we went through a lot of stuff. I think getting up to this first run of gigs, we're going to prepare a little too much material. I have a feeling that we're going to realize certain things aren't working and will want to drop them right away.

JH: So far it's a pretty wide variety. We spent quite a bit of time trying to find a way to play some of the songs on Jim's records and some of the songs on an older instrumental record of mine [The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, reissued and re-titled in 2009 as Pulse and Cadence]. Looks like we'll be able to do a couple from that record and three or four from Jim's many records. Some of those are pretty tricky to learn—there's a lot of music there.

JB: Some of the songs are more reliant on the rhythmic aspect of how the songs were realized in the beginning and just don't seem to work...

JH: ...and others were pleasant surprises. We're just learning how to do it so it's kind of an adventure in that way. We're also going to do some pop tunes and some jazz tunes where we'll do some soloing. So there's going to be a variety but we're still working it out.

AAJ: Some duos these days will supplement with multiple keyboards, loopers, drum tracks and the like. What instrumentation are you planning on?

JB: Piano. A little bit earlier we were trying out melodica too but mainly piano I think.

JH: ...and guitar. That's as adventurous as it's going to get.

JB: We talked about a drum machine but then we decided no.

JH: That takes away from that sort of riskier, intimate and direct thing we can make happen with just a piano and guitar. We're trying to keep it pretty pure that way.

AAJ: Are you playing electric, Jon?

JH: Yes. I want to play a guitar I'm comfortable with and the one I typically play is a semi- hollow that wouldn't sound like anything if it wasn't plugged in.

AAJ: Is a recording planned to come out of this?

JH: We talked about it. I think once we have a sense of what's working and most effective, we thought it would be nice to do a quick little recording. It will be easier to do once we've been playing for a while.

JB: After we get through this initial run, I think we'll consider that.

AAJ: So this is your first duo tour together but you've played together in Steely Dan now for how long?

JB: This is my 9th year. Jon's been in the band a lot longer.

JH: It's been 17 years for me.

AAJ: How has that gig evolved for you both?

(laughs)

JH: You first. (laughs)

JB: It's a great band. The core band, the rhythm section just keeps getting better and better. That never gets old for me at all.

JH: That's the big thrill for me too, just to get to play with a rhythm section that is world class. And it has gotten better being out on the road over the years, you get to that beautiful, sweet spot sooner. That's the biggest evolutionary element to the band, it seems to me. That's the great pleasure of it.

JB: Also, there are a few of us in the band that are always looking to find the best oyster place in every town. (laughs) That's an evolving thing...

JH: ...and that's been getting better because of GPS and smartphones (laughs)...so we've become a culinary tour as much as a musical tour (laughs)...

AAJ: When you both came up in the '80s and through the early '90s, the dynamics of jazz was a bit different than today. Do you have any thoughts on shifts in the dynamics of late?

JB: Well, one thing is, back in the '80s, '90s, and early 2000's; you used to be able to go to Japan with your normal band and do the Blue Note circuit. Now they pretty much tell you who they want in your band.

AAJ: Really? This is currently?

JB: They are doing it now. The promoters can tell who you should have in your band. They tell you, "We want you to have "So and So." That's become a very strange thing.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout Catching Up With
Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: December 4, 2018
Read Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger Catching Up With
Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger
by Rob Wood
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues Catching Up With
Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues
by Scott Mitchell
Published: November 4, 2018
Read Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today Catching Up With
Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today
by Corey Hall
Published: October 26, 2018
Read Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz Catching Up With
Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz
by Kevin Press
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic Catching Up With
Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic
by Rob Wood
Published: October 5, 2018
Read "Linda May Han Oh: Talent and Dedication" Catching Up With Linda May Han Oh: Talent and Dedication
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: September 11, 2018
Read "Elio Villafranca: Five Islands & A Revolt" Catching Up With Elio Villafranca: Five Islands & A Revolt
by John Ephland
Published: July 21, 2018
Read "Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis" Catching Up With Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis
by Fernando Rodriguez
Published: September 2, 2018
Read "Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz" Catching Up With Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz
by Kevin Press
Published: October 16, 2018
Read "Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues" Catching Up With Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues
by Scott Mitchell
Published: November 4, 2018
Read "Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart" Catching Up With Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart
by Mark Youll
Published: February 27, 2018