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Take Five With Will Sellenraad

Will Sellenraad By

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Meet Will Sellenraad

Will Sellenraad has earned a fast growing reputation of being at the forefront of creative musicians working in New York City. Known for his brilliant improvisations and his compelling, melodic compositions, this New York City native melds the various styles, phrasings and concepts of the jazz idiom with the raw elements of soul, rock and funk, to create a singular sound that is nothing short of inspiring. Will has been active in New York since 1995 playing everywhere from Visiones and Sweet Basil to the 55 Bar and Mezzrow.

Instrument:

Guitar. I've been so fortunate to play this New Yorker guitar made by the amazing Bryant Trenier for the past five or so years. If you don't know him, please check him out, he is incredible.

Teachers and/or influences?

As far as jazz and the guitar go, there are four people who have had a profound impact on me: Jim Hall, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. Beyond them, influences are just too many to list. My main teacher has been Garry Dial.

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

I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn at the old Ritz in NYC.

Your sound and approach to music.

I've always been one to try to come at the music naturally. There is so much power in the notes you don't play. That being said, I really want to deliver the song first, then we can play with it.

Your teaching approach

I feel that everyone has their own path. Basically, a good teacher will help one find their path. Develop the individual. I think that holds true on all levels. As a teacher we need to teach how to learn. Every student of the music is going to have to put in the work. Make your weaknesses your strengths.

Your dream band

My dream band is on my current record. I'd really love to work with everyone though. I do have an affinity for great drummers, they have the magic. That being said... how about Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Roy Haynes?

Road story: Your best or worst experience

What happens on the road, stays on the road.

Favorite venue

55 Bar, Smalls, Mezzrow and the Village Vanguard.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My next one. I need to get to work.

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

All I can try and do is develop my sound. I do feel like I have always had my own thing. Going forward, I just want to push the music and myself forward.

The first jazz album I bought was:

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

Music you are listening to now:

Count Basie: String along with Basie
John Coltrane: Kulu Se Mama
Muddy Waters: Folk Singer
Kenny Burrell: Soulero

Desert Island picks:

Jimmy Smith: Standards
Cedar Walton: Trio Vol.3
Bob Marley: Survival
Count Basie: String along with Basie
Duke Ellington: Ellington Indigos
The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

There is a ton of great music, you just need to find it.

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

It's important to have the clubs where bands can develop, not just showcase. That is how the music really takes shape. Also, take it out of the classroom, it is a social music. Play for the people.

What is in the near future?

Im going to be releasing some solo guitar videos and also some videos with some friends. We are also working on Greene Street Vol.2. Please keep an eye out for it.

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

My greatest fear is being unprepared.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Goodbye.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

I don't really sing in the shower. I do like to sing though.

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

It's been too long since I've thought about that..

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Duke Ellington. Would love to be able to talk to him about life and music. I think there would be a lot to learn there.
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