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Take Five with Dion Kerr

Dion Kerr By

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Meet Dion Kerr:

Dion Kerr is a multi-dimensional artist (multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, songwriter, photographer, and videographer) born and raised in South Florida. Kerr's work reflects a broad range of influences and mediums. He has toured and recorded all around the world as both a leader and a sideman to a wide variety of groups spanning across multiple genres. He is a recording artist for the Grammy-nominated record label CAM Jazz, BACE Records, Hologram Label, Concerned Relatives and continues to release music at an astonishingly prolific rate.

Currently Dion can be seen at some of the most renowned festivals, venues, studios and galleries with many great young and upcoming artists of all art-forms. Kerr has recently been a performing member of the Ignacio Berroa Trio, Godwin Louis Global, Shelly Berg Trio with Veronica Swift, Emmet Cohen Trio, Jean Caze Amédé, Tal Cohen Trio and the Tim Jago Quintet. His career began at the young age of 17 sharing stages with Troy Roberts, Jean Caze and billed with the Dave Liebman quartet while still in High School. Dion is the cofounder of the band The Smoogies who will be releasing their debut album this year featuring Nicholas Payton. Dion is credited as a songwriter and arranger for Jessica Tonder's A Rise Of Peace and is producing a number of projects with the countless acts he is a part of.

Dion Kerr's new solo record Ivy via BACE Records follows up his latest albums Echoes of Lost Time, Reptile Ground and Ruby. His new record features an all star cast including Jeff Parker, Adam O'Farrill, Bubby Lewis plus many other guest appearances. Ivy showcases his expansive musical knowledge and arranging abilities-featuring himself on the upright and electric basses, drums, electric and nylon guitars, keys, production and mixing.

Instruments:

Upright Bass, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Nylon Acoustic Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Keys, Producer.

Teachers and/or influences?

Midori Takada, Paul Chambers, Scott LaFaro, Ron Carter, Jaco Pastorius, Bubby Lewis, Jeff Parker, Charles Mingus, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Pedro Martins, Mark Turner, Olivier Messiaen, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Alexander Scriabin.

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

We always had music playing in our house growing up. I have a musical family and grew up around instruments and jam sessions locally. It was in middle school when I got my first electric bass and immediately fell in love with Jaco Pastorius. I pulled the frets off my bass and learned "Portrait of Tracy." From that moment on I was hooked. Later in high school I was told by local jam sessions I should take up the contrabass because there was more work, so I did that and got my early start playing with Troy Roberts and Jean Caze at a local bar. I was too young the bartender told me I had to say I was older than I really was if anyone asked.

Your sound and approach to music:

I try to draw influence from any and everything I have ever heard. I believe that you can be influenced by everyone since every person has their own special gift. Music is life and life is music to me, its all interrelated. I approach music with and open mind always. Every moment is a blank canvas that can go in any direction. The thrill to music is just the unknown, the further in I go the more I want to stay there and explore those spaces.

Your teaching approach:

I love seeing young musicians excited about learning music, it is so inspiring. I definitely try to keep that drive and excitement about the music but also focusing on the basic foundations that will set them up for the long term. No one student is alike, I always try to teach the student and not just the material. Providing students with tools and abilities that allows their own self expression and techniques that lend to their approach to the music. I believe everything you practice should be done in a musical way.

Your dream band:

I am grateful to have worked with so many inspiring artists and people who I look up to and admire. I guess if I had to name some people who I haven't had the chance to play with yet, I would love to make music with Ambrose Akinmusire, Beka Gochiashvili, Esperanza Spalding, Tigran Hamasyan, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Taylor Gordon, Thaddaeus Tribbett, Domi Degalle, Hadrian Faraud. I just love all these players so much and their approach to their music, they all have such a strong voice its completely unforgettable.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I went to play the Guatemala Jazz Festival with the Tal Cohen Trio, myself on bass and Kyle Swan on drums. The first night they convinced me to go to the small casino in our hotel, I had never gambled before. I ended up winning $800 on the roulette table, I couldn't lose to where the manager had to come watch me and tell me I was the high winner for the night. The weekend trip was off to a great start but that was all about to change.... I had eaten or drank something that didn't sit right with me. I broke into a heavy fever sweating throughout the night, had to play the outdoor festival stage at 100 degrees with the sum beaming on me. I was in a fever dream I barely remember what happened aside from me being hunched over the table on every break we could take chugging water. At the end of the trip I was anxious to get home and after boarding the plane, we realized Kyle had left his luggage at the last check point. We almost didn't make it back. Luckily it all worked out in the end, the plane took off, we even got moved up to the extra leg room seats.

Favorite venue:

There are so many amazing clubs and venues out there. I tend to like venues that are smaller, have a stronger vibe or dim lighting. The audience and the feel of the place outweighs all the other elements of the venue.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

It is hard for me to name one record, but Echoes of Lost Time and Reptile Ground were probably my two favorite sessions. I don't even know how to explain it but just the mood was right in those sessions. We didn't really have to discuss anything, just went in the room and hit record that those records are just what came out of those moments. They felt like they were really a snapshot of that moment in time.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I was gifted Juju by Wayne Shorter on vinyl. This was my first vinyl record I got and around the time I had first started playing the contrabass. I played along to the record until it wore out. That still is a favorite record of mine just because it was so instrumental in my development in the contrabass.

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

The older I get the more I just want to help inspire the youth into not giving up their dreams and to help them achieve their goals in any way I can.

Did you know...

I played on the drum line in high school with my brother. Go ATL!

CDs you are listening to now:

I honestly listen to everything, all genres, all artists. I really try to love everyone and everything—there is too much music out there I wish I could hear it all.

What is in the near future?

My new album Ivy comes out on September 25 on BACE Records.

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