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Take Five With Mike Brannon

Mike Brannon By

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One last one: I got a call from Vintage Guitar to interview Eric Johnson for them. It was a really cold November day but we had to record outside due to the noise inside, so we're there shivering but having a good chat. I'd brought guitars up for a gig and Eric played my old '65 Es 175. We both had tickets to see Metheny's trio with Bill Stewart and Larry Grenadier, which was one of the best gigs I've ever heard by anyone. They did everything a guitar trio or power trio could do and then some. Transcendant.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Different aspects of various projects are memorable for me. Barcodes, our first CD was the first time we'd worked with musicians the caliber of Jeff Coffin or Trey Gunn, though I'd gone to the guitar conservatory with Trey, it was before he was with Robert Fripp/King Crimson. There were times when the group was really focused and in the moment and improvisation just clicked unexpectedly on a deeper level, as on the keys/guitar interplay on Tripod. It was strange the way the comping and soloing roles blurred. The best music/art is the hardest to label. If you can script moments like that I wouldn't begin to know how.

On Later, the Followup album to Barcodes, working with the likes of Bill Evans, Paul Wertico and Harvie S showed that the music I'd written could actually sound even better than l dreamed. It's really hard to go back to a level beneath that once you've heard what's really possible in the hands of astounding musicians like that. Thanks to them all.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Jazz Winds from a New Direction (Hank Garland) or Great Guitars (Joe Pass & Herb Ellis). Then Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar. Then I found Metheny's PMG/white album in a cutout bin for $3.95. That changed everything.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Like any musician, just being myself and bringing what I can. No one else can do what you do exactly the way you do it, for whatever that's worth. So, authenticity, I imagine. We're all a unique mix of our influences and perceptions.

Did you know...
I also design lighting and furniture and am really into architecture and design. I found it really cool that in one review of Barcodes from the UK the writer referred to the playing as having 'an impressive architectural sense even at high velocity.' I'd never heard music referred to that way and yet it made sense somehow. It was cool to hear someone remote pick up on that, Like an audio version of all the things I was into. Though it wasn't a conscious goal. so it's interesting synesthetically.

CDs you are listening to now:
Josh Redman— Freedom in the Groove
Pat Metheny -One Quiet Night

Desert Island picks:
Norah Jones -Come Away with Me
Keith Jarrett -Koln Concert
Joshua Redman -Wish
Michael Brecker -Wide Angles
Pat Metheny— 80/81
Weather Report -8:30
Jaco Pastorius— Word of Mouth

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Alive. Growing. Challenged. Ever more eclectic and inclusive, responding to its environment and serving a new generation.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Authenticity, integrity, creativity, personalization. Not repeating what's gone before as if its a museum piece, but learning from it and growing from there. Putting a personal spin on whatever you do.

What is in the near future?
Finishing Off the Map, a neo-flamenco influenced film-score like project with special guest, Don Alias.

Starting Guitarchitecture, a series of guitar solo & duo recordings, both original music and covers of specific music from the 60s-70s like: "Cant Find My Way Home," "Woodstock," "Grapevine," "Dock of the Bay," "Can't Stand the Rain" and Jaco's "Three Views of a Secret."

Also continuing work with NoNet, our spontaneous improvisation project, which will have a series of live recordings available starting next year.

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