Interviews

STILL LIGHTING FIRES - ELIANE ELIAS CHATS TO SJF

Friday, 26 August 2011 18:52 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

EL_1_-_Eliane_Elias_Photo_By_Bob_Wolfenson_depth1It's hard to comprehend that almost thirty years have elapsed since Eliane Elias first took to the world stage. A child piano prodigy hooked on playing jazz from an early age, she ventured from her native São Paulo in Brazil to the USA in 1983 at the age of 22 and immediately made a striking impression in the jazz world with her dextrous and passionate piano playing in the group, Steps Ahead, alongside luminaries Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine. Mike Manieri and Eddie Gomez. Inevitably, given her prodigious talent, a solo career followed soon afterwards. Initially Eliane's albums were mainly instrumental affairs and focused on her considerable keyboard skills in a musical context that married straight ahead bebop jazz with her Brazilian heritage. By the end of the 1990s, though, her delicate and haunting vocals were beginning to feature more strongly. After a long and fertile spell with the legendary jazz label, Blue Note, that began in the late-'80s, Eliane inked a deal with BMG's Bluebird imprint in 2002 and widened her artistic scope with the albums 'Kissed By Nature,' and 'Dreamer,' which spotlighted her sultry vocals as well as her jazz piano chops. Keen to broaden her stylistic palette and expand her audience, 2006's pop-inflected 'Around The City' was even more of a musical departure for Eliane and moved her closer to the mainstream with its club-oriented dance grooves and jazzed-up cover of Bob Marley's 'Jammin'.' Eliane returned to Blue Note in 2008 for the critically-acclaimed 'Bossa Nova Stories,' a lush homage to the classic songs of her homeland, and the 2009 Bill Evans' tribute album, 'Something For You.'

Today, in 2011, Eliane is as busy as ever in regard to touring, recording and writing music. She's still seeking new musical challenges and a freshly-inked deal with the Concord label has just yielded a brand new album, 'Light My Fire,' which has been hailed by some commentators as her best album yet. Eliane recently stopped off in London on her way back from a gig in Europe and took time out to speak to SJF's Charles Waring about her new project as well as discussing other aspects of her music and career...

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2011 17:28

 

SUN RA & ME: saxophonist Knoel Scott tells SJF about his time with the legendary bandleader.

Friday, 26 August 2011 17:53 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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There have been many great bandleaders in the world of jazz – think Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson and Quincy Jones to name but a few – but none as unique and indeed, controversial, as pianist/composer/arranger, SUN RA (1914-1993). Born Herman Blount in Birmingham, Alabama, he acquired the nickname Sonny as a child, and when he was in his twenties he reported that he had experienced a cosmic epiphany when he had a vision of being transported to the planet Saturn. That had a profound effect on his life and music and after working as a jobbing pianist in the 1940s and early '50s he legally changed his name to Le Sony'r Ra and began his own big band, the Arkestra, in Chicago. By the late '50s he was embodying black self-determinism by running his own independent record company and issuing a myriad of albums, including the recently reissued 'Jazz In Silhouette' (now acknowledged as a jazz classic). He was also beginning to wear outlandish, science-fiction style clothes with exotic head Egyptian-like headdresses which underscored his unique beliefs and philosophy about man's place in the cosmos. As well as this, Sun Ra pioneered the use of electronic instruments in jazz and his legendary Arkestra (which manifested itself in many different incarnations over the years) continued making records through the '60s, '70s, '80s and early '90s. The group has reconvened several times since Ra's death in 1993, their most recent concert being at the June 2011 Melbourne Jazz Festival (amazingly, they've some concerts pencilled in for the UK in December at a Butlin's holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset). 55-year-old Baltimore saxophonist, KNOEL SCOTT, played with Sun Ra's Arkestra in the late '70s and early '80s and tells SJF's John Wisniewski about his experiences with jazz's favourite space cadet....

 

 

EMPIRE BUILDING....part 2: the interview

Monday, 25 July 2011 11:41 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

empireLast month we brought to your attention the wonderful 'Baby Your Lovin'' by Australian trio ELECTRIC EMPIRE. Since then the band have wowed the crowds at Glastonbury and seen their debut album acclaimed throughout the soul press and by taste making DJs. The band - DENNIS DOWLUT (guitar), JASON HEERAH (drums) and AARON MENDOZA (keys) are delighted by the response and during their stay in the UK AARON spoke to us @ SJF to tell us more about how the band developed their unique soul style. But first we wanted to know how the group was born and where they got their name from....

It started in London in 2009. DENNIS and I decided to catch up again with each other (we were old friends) and as an exercise we decided to try and write old classic sounding songs....the way they used to be back in the 60s/70s ... you know .... strong melody/arrangements etc. We always had JASON in mind to be a part of the project too. Naturally, it all happened once we got back to Australia. We started jammin' and the 1st song written was 'Baby Your Lovin'. Our name came about from DENNIS' brother (DARREN) who sadly died only a year before me and DENNIS hooked up in London. He (DARREN) wrote a song based on heaven called 'Love Electric'. The word Empire came from the idea of Unity. Together: ELECTRIC EMPIRE.

 

 

GETTING DOWN TO IT...

Thursday, 30 June 2011 18:21 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

stuartDOWN TO THE BONE have been concocting their special brand of soul and jazz grooves since the mid 90s. The STUART WADE-led outfit have just released their ninth studio album, 'The Main Ingredients'... which is chock full of the band's signature sound... easy on the ear, heavy on the crisp beats and quite irresistible, but, surprisingly difficult to pin down in words. Who better, then, than DOWN TO THE BONE main man, STUART to define the DOWN TO THE BONE sound. Catching up with him between busy Transatlantic commuting (the band are big Stateside), we asked him to come up with a definition.....

Well I guess I would describe it as "good groove" or Jazz-funk. I draw on all the styles I like from Brazilian to funk to soul and Jazz and I have an extensive record collection of stuff I have collected over the years as I have always been listening to groovy music. I try to stick to tracks I like and at the end of the day I have to do the music for myself as I am my own worst critic , which I hope helps to personalise the sound more. Even if no one else likes it I have to be able to walk away from a track knowing I did the best I could and if others then do like it then I feel they like the music for me and not something I am trying to be by second guessing the type of sound I think others want to hear. I try to stay true to what I like which in turn should create the sound which is Down To The Bone. At the time I started DTTB the whole Acid Jazz scene was dying down and this whole smooth thing was coming in so I felt there was a lack of groovy/funky music out there. A lot of the guys I grew up listening to from the 70s were either not doing the music or were churning out the smoother stuff. I wanted to see if I could do the sort of stuff that influenced me and in turn, if it worked, I hoped I might encourage others to start making it again.

 

HANGING ON WITH DOWN TO US... OR SHOULD THAT BE JUDDERBASS?

Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:40 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

downOver the past few weeks a certain little modern soul tune has been working its way into the consciousness of discerning soul collectors. Tune in question is 'Hanging On' by a Liverpool-based outfit called DOWN TO US. The cut is sweet and summery with a rhythm pattern that recalls DRIZABONE and a vocal that evokes JAMIROQUAI. One of the brains behind the single is GEORGE McSHANE who also works with a band called JUDDERBASS. You may recall their excellent 'Everybody Knows' track which was a high spot on the second SOUL UNSIGNED compilation. Confused? Well, we were... so we hooked up with GEORGE to find out what was going on. We wanted to know where JUDDERBASS ends and DOWN TO US begins; we wanted to know how they manage to create such catchy soul songs... but first we wanted some personal details. You know, name and number and so on.....

My name is GEORGE MARTIN MCSHANE and I was born in Liverpool in 1968. My father died when I was 8 years old. I have 3 sisters and 1 brother and I was brought up on a councill estate on the Wirral (just over the Mersey from Liverpool). There was a lot of love and creativity in the family (my mother is a fantastic artist (of the painting kind) you know! My mother also made sure we all have good values and principles. I'm now happily married to my gorgeous wife from the Czech Republic - Andre, and we have a beautiful baby daughter Lucie. I live in liverpool and I am currently employed as a Mental Health Social Worker. I have in the past tried to combine my interests in music with my work as a means to engage with people with severe and enduring mental illness by setting up and running a music group ... this resulted in a CD being recorded; some of the other people involved are now in a band themselves .  

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 July 2011 12:02

 

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