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John Scofield: “A good sound engineer must be a very musical person himself”

John Scofield is coming to Russia soon. And that, perhaps, says it all. We run for tickets. You can’t explain anything. But still, I will explain why and why it is worth doing.

John Scofield has long been called a living legend of jazz. Suffice it to say that he played and recorded with Miles Davis himself, which already provides a place in history. Although Mr. Scofield is not at all like a legend and a mythical hero: a smiling bald man in colorful shirts. But what he does on stage is magic. He performed in Moscow only two times (the last – already 9 years ago!), But with such different programs that we realized that this musician can do anything. Indeed, his many albums are a real museum of jazz and near-jazz styles. From mainstream to acid jazz, from psychedelic rock covers to jam bands. We were fortunate enough to speak with John Scofield before his concerts in Moscow, which are scheduled for March 14 and 15.

– You will be performing in Moscow for the third time. What are your feelings in this regard, and how do we Muscovites like you as an audience? – It seems to me that the Moscow audience is quite special! I feel that she understands jazz and is seriously interested in it. In general, this is understandable: Moscow has always worshiped music and art. I always played with you for a wonderful audience: attentive, immersed in music. “Have you made any friends among Russian musicians?” “There are two absolutely excellent trumpeters of Russian origin — these are Valery Ponomarev and Alex Sipyagin. I heard both of them a hundred times in New York. And, of course, I also really like Igor Butman!
– Do you know that this year the Russian guy – Evgeny Pobozhiy won the guitar contest at the Herbie Hancock Institute? – But what about! Well, I myself was in the jury of the contest! Of course, I carefully listened to his performance, and he impressed me greatly. I am sure he has a very great future.
– You always try to go into non-jazz styles: from modern classics to country, folk, psychedelia of the 60s … The result is always impressive, but how does this happen, where do these ideas come from? – Yes, I have one leg in rock’n’t in life -roll, blues, country, music of the peoples of the world … I have many legs, yes! This is partly due to the fact that I am a guitarist, and the guitar is a fateful instrument of all time. Jim Hall, himself a jazz guitarist, said the guitar plays the blues on its own, haha! But I don’t think that you can just force yourself to make hybrid music. Everything itself should work, grow together. I hope that with my fusion of different styles this is how it turns out. “And the next stage, what?” “Right now I am starting a project like this: a jazz quartet plays jazz versions of“ American ”. Looks like what I already did. Let’s record country melodies, something from the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, that’s all. We improvise on the basis of these melodies.
– The last time you performed with the legendary double bass player Dave Holland. How did you get to know each other and why did you start a duet just now, having worked together for so many decades in different projects? Yes, Dave and I recorded a lot with different casts. We worked with Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Chris Potter, Roy Haines … Honestly, I can’t remember when we met and under what circumstances. But it certainly was a lot of years ago. I remember the first time I played with him at the rehearsal of Charles Mingus’s Music in 1977, but Dave doesn’t remember that. I think I’m wrong here! I was lucky to play with Dave in different rosters, yes. When we started this joint project, we simply decided that a duet, just the two of us, is very interesting, worthwhile. “But a duet is difficult, it is a challenge!” “Of course, any duet is a challenge. But in this particular case, I can say that playing with Dave is like with a whole group! He has such a crazy rhythmic drive! And, of course, he’s the perfect bass player.
– Speaking of the process of recording your albums, does it change over the years or remains more or less the same? – More or less the same, yes. I like to grab the live sound of the band and not make a lot of overlays.
“A good studio for you — what is it?” “It’s a good recording room, it’s great equipment, instruments, especially a piano. If there is a good coffee shop nearby, then this is a nice bonus.
“How do you usually record your guitar?” “I just take the guitar and amplifier, the sound I like. Responsibility for the record itself is with the engineer. I was lucky, I worked with two outstanding engineers here in New York. This is Joe Ferla – he is retired now – and James Farber. I don’t know what they are doing and how they do it, but their guitar sounds simply grandiose. Like, by the way, all the other instruments. – And how do you write: film, then Protools? .. – Just Protools through the Neve console, plus great microphones and a room with good sound.
“Do you have any secrets that no one knows?” “No, I think not!
“And what is a good engineer / producer?” “I think a good engineer is one who is a very musical person. Not just a super techie!

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