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Take Five with Luc Herrmann

Luc Herrmann By

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About Luc Herrmann
Luc Herrmann is a Montreal-based guitarist and a strong voice in the next generation of great jazz musicians the city has developed a reputation for. Having heavily studied the jazz guitar tradition, all the while appreciating current composers and improvisers, Luc's sound is a natural blend of the old and the new. As a recent McGill graduate, Luc was able to study and perform with some of the best jazz musicians Canada has to offer.

"The Luc Herrmann Group" is a modern Jazz quartet dedicated to playing the guitarist's music and achieving his artistic vision. Featuring Luc's favorite Montreal musicians: Jules Payette (Alto Saxophone) Louis-Vincent Hamel (Drums) and Levi Dover (Bass) The band always brings a high level of energy and great camaraderie to each performance having played together a number of years. The Quartet's Debut album released October 10th 2017.

Instrument(s):
Electric Guitar. I play a D'Angelico EXL-1 and a Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II

Teachers and/or influences?
I had a number of great teachers here in Montreal who may not be as well known world-wide, though they should be! Among them I'll mention my prominent guitar teachers Nick Ditomaso, Greg Clayton who is an incredibly strong figure in the Montreal Jazz scene, and finally Carlos Jimenez who is definitely one of the city's top names on the scene today.

I've also picked up a lot from everyone I've listened to over the years from guys like Wes Montgomery, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Raney or Gilad Hekselman and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Compositionally, I've been influenced by the music of Ari Hoenig, the Brian Blade Fellowship (A lot of it also written by John Cowherd) and David Binney.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
For as long as I can remember! As a kid I was always listening to music and even writing songs in my head before I ever had an instrument. I started guitar lessons at about age 10 and it's always been my primary focus, and I was always writing songs and music, even when I didn't know anything about my instrument or composition itself.

Your sound and approach to music.
I've always listened to a variety of music and players from different generations, and my sound, for me, is a natural mixing pot of all those influences. I like the clear, thick sound of an archtop guitar adorned by subtle digital effects. And my approach to music is to make it happen as organically as possible, I've never sat down with the intention of writing a song or melody, they always just come to me and I find they sound better because of it. Same goes for playing live, I like to see where the music will take us each night, and try not to force anything upon it, which is why I tend to work with like minded musicians, permitting the music to go there.

Your teaching approach
I like to spend a lot of time on the technical side of the instrument, I find most students really need to catch up in that department, and know where everything is on the neck. Once they have a better foundation there, we learn a lot of music, things they want to learn or I think they should learn, and every piece provides a new harmonic movement or rhythmic element that needs to be studied. What I like about this approach is that every lesson is different and I get to know the students a lot better.

Your dream band
I already feel like I play with a dream band because of how fortunate I am to play with such talented musicians. But there are definitely some players out there that I would love to play with if the stars miraculously aligned.

In our modern day: Brian Blade on drums, Mark Turner on saxophone and Joe Martin on bass, these three players are on so many different records that I listen to and I've been lucky enough to see them live. They always express the highest level of musicality I've heard, generating these great, spontaneous ideas and fitting right into the situation.

From the past: It would be a dream to sit in Herb Ellis' chair for the Oscar Peterson Trio, I listen to their discography all the time!

Road story: Your best or worst experience
In late summer 2017 I was touring eastern Canada with my girlfriend and singer/songwriter Geneviève Racette. It was a great tour, and a beautiful part of the world to see. The venues we were playing had a strong turnout of people who were really interested in hearing new music. But on the last day of the tour, we were walking in a national park, and I ended up walking straight into a tree branch, that cut me right on top of my eye, it was a really deep cut and I had to go to the emergency room in a small town. Long story short, it took a long time and I ended up getting my eyelid glued back together and we made it to the venue just on time to line check and play the gig, I'll always remember that one!

Favorite venue
My favorite venue that I've played so far is Resonance Café in Montreal. This place has such a strong sense of community, and there is always beautiful and creative music being played there. On top of that it is really a place where the music comes first, they'll book music even if the band is very loud, quiet or free as long as it's good.

Desert Island picks:
This is always a very hard question, because there are so many, but these are the five that I would take today:

Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio: Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve)
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: Ella and Louis (Verve)
Brian Blade Fellowship: Perceptual (Blue Note)
Stan Getz and Jimmy Raney: Live at Storyville (Roost)
Kurt Rosenwinkel: The Remedy (WOMMUSIC)

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I am really happy and proud to be a jazz musician today, to be able to consider myself a part of this original and creative world. In Montreal there is a very strong jazz scene, we have some great clubs that are always busy, where you are sure to hear some solid music as well. Also with the technology we have today, you're able to keep up to date with what other truly inspiring musician's are doing across the world.

What is in the near future?
We just released our debut album in October 2017, so we are currently playing at local venues. Hopefully there will be more gigs and festivals out of town as well. On another note, there will definitely be more music/recordings in the near future. And I'm really looking forward to finding the time to sit down with my guitar and write.
About Luc Herrmann
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