Take Five With Bill Hart

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Bill Hart:

Born and raised in Canada, Hart started playing guitar at nine years old. He moved to the United States at the age of thirteen and was playing professionally by sixteen years old. His first professional experience was playing with his rock band in a pit for theater shows, featuring shows like Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop Of Horrors. Influenced by rock and blues and fascinated by jazz he went to study at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA where he graduated with honors. Hart then moved to Atlanta, GA where he is currently the head of the guitar department of the Atlanta Institute of Music. He has been featured on twelve CDs and released four under his own name, the latest, This Is Why, on Blue Canoe Records.



Teachers and/or influences?

Studied with Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Wayne Krantz and influenced by Steve Khan, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I knew I wanted to be a musician when I was about 12 years old. I listened to a wide range of music from the '50s and '60s with my parents. I was convinced that this was what I wanted to do.

Your sound and approach to music:

My sound and approach to music is forever changing. Sometimes I wish it was as easy as one sound and approach but that would create boredom. Part of the challenge for me is the unknown. It is trial and a lot of error before I get to a point of knowing this is it. I guess a whole book could be written on this subject alone.

Your teaching approach:

The philosophy I adapt to is the idea of music being a language. When we learn a language, we learn to speak before understanding nouns and verbs. Nouns and verbs help us to understand the language better. In music we use theory to help understand music. Just because you play a certain note on a certain chord dose not mean it will sound good, in theory it may be right but if you don't feel it, it may not be convincing.

Your dream band:

My dream band would be Dennis Chambers or Peter Erskine on drums, Marcus Miller on bass, Randy Hoexter on keys, Sam Skelton on sax, Ahsa Ahla on percussion. But there are so many great players I would love to play with. Off the top of my head, this would be my band today.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

In the mid-'80's I got the chance to play with The Platters. The four members were black with beautiful matching red outfits and me, white with a big hair perm and neon parachute pants. The only thing I had going for me was I knew the music. There is a picture somewhere out there and I definitely look like the clown.

Favorite venue:

As Mike Stern said to me, "Any gig is a good gig." Chastain Park was one of my best experiences performing outside. Getting a good sound outside is a challenge and they did a great job all the way around.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

This is tough, I have so many that are close to my heart. The tune "This Is Why" is a very special recording for me. Being in the studio playing side-by-side with Mike Stern was magical. Something special was going on. I don't know how to explain, but it is why I play music.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

The first two records I got about the same time were Pat Martino - Joyous Lake and Jean-Luc Ponty cassette tapes, can't remember the title. This got me into exploring more straight-ahead jazz.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Helping younger players to have hope in their dreams and not giving up. Being successful in music is deeper than how much money you make. This can be a discouraging setback if your goal in music is money. We all need it to continue. I think faith and perseverance holds a lot of weight in this field.

Did you know...

The first trade I learned to do was high rise window cleaning. Did it for years and worked my way through music college in Los Angeles.

CDs you are listening to now:

Mike Stern, Big Neighborhood;

Wayne Krantz, Holy Joe;

Miles Davis, Tutu;

Pat Metheny Group, Imaginary Day;

John McLaughlin, Live at the Royal Festival Hall.

Desert Island picks:

Mike Stern, Upside Downside;

Steve Khan, Eye Witness;

John Scofield, Blue Matter;

Pat Martino, Joyous Lakes;

Pat Metheny, The Road to You.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I think jazz is just as strong today as ever, if we can accept the evolution of music. Meaning an E7b9#5 chord resolving to an A Maj7 is accepted as jazz today and easy to hear. This was not as common to hear these tensions in the '30s. As long as we except change and growth we will be okay.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Jazz will never die, it will change but I don't think it will die. My favorite musician is Miles Davis. His career went through four generations of music and had a major influence on the changes that took place.

What is in the near future?

My bassist who lives with me will be moving back to his home in Italy next month. Then we will bring my music to test the grounds in Europe with some touring.

By Day:

Fortunately I've been able to survive playing music for almost 20 years, without having to do something outside of music. Meaning performing, teaching lessons, clinics, published a book through Hal Leonard, gigs of all sorts, recording CDs, producing, and so on. This has taught me to appreciate all forms of music, but jazz is where my heart is.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

I think I would explore the art of working with wood. Yes, carpentry. I have a passion for creating with quality and exotic wood as well as commonly used wood working, cabinets, framing. I think I'm fascinated with the math and angles involve in this type of mastery.

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