/ composer Bill Hart has released several critically acclaimed
instrumental jazz-fusion albums and on his 2018 Blujazz CD, Live
At Red Clay Theatre the sound is authentic and compelling.
Recorded live at the Atlanta concert venue, Bills sixth solo
album, Live At Red Clay Theatre features a solid six piece
band, including Pat Strawser (keys), Alex McGinnis (sax),
Dwayne Wallace (bass), Steven Walker (drums) and Emrah
Kotan (percussion), while the live stereo mix by Shalom Aberle
captures the live in concert ambiance in all its glory. Speaking
to mwe3.com about Live At Red Clay Theatre, Bill explains,
"This live CD will be number six. All the tracks are original
but none of them are new, although you could say they are new versions
that somehow have taken on a beautiful life of their own. Anytime
I record a CD I have to have some kind of a concept. Otherwise it
really makes it hard for me to compose. I look at a concept like planting
a seed and then I try to let it take on a life of its own."
With so many jazz-rock fusion guitar moves under the spotlight, its
clear that guitar heroes like Metheny and Beck were influences in
Bills playing while his early studies and seminar clinics with
contemporary guitar heroes Mike Stern and Scott Henderson are also
reflected in Bill's tasty guitar techniques. Although he's busy these
days recording his music and performing live concerts, Bill also dedicated
part of his career with the Atlanta Institute Of Music & Media,
where he taught and inspired younger musicians for over 25 years.
With ten tracks clocking at 70+ minutes, and most tracks at seven
+ minutes, Live At Red Clay Theatre makes for an electrifying
CD of expertly performed, totally easy on the ears, guitar-centric
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now and what you like best about it? What cities and countries do
you like to visit and also perform in?
Bill Hart: I was born and raised in Canada, love Toronto, Montreal
and Halifax then moved to Jacksonville, Florida in my mid teenage
years. I then traveled, living in different parts of the US. I would
say living in Los Angeles was one of my favorite places. I love NYC
but for the most part Ive lived in Atlanta Georgia for most
of my career. The cities that Ive traveled to playing my original
compositions were Guadalajara, Mexico, a beautiful city thats
fairly cosmopolitan. As I was there we played in Tala Mexico, a fairly
large town where the streets were dirt and houses and buildings were
one story high. Felt like it brought you back a couple hundred years
and was hard that people actually adapted to a life style as such.
But the thing that was more impressive was the people, they were very
open, loving, warm caring people. And they were happier than most
people Ive ever met. Venezuela was the same experience somewhat
and I can go on and on. My absolute favorite cities are Rome and Bologna,
Italy and Paris, France. Im seriously considering relocating
mwe3: What were some of the key events that led to the release
of your 2018 CD, Live At Red Clay Theatre and when did you
start to work with the Blujazz Productions record label?
Hart: Yes, there was a thought-out plan for releasing Live
At Red Clay Theater. I have written several tunes over the years
and recorded 5 CDs. Before recording them, I played them with
some of my heroes. Just a handful of great players and composers that
Ive become very good friends with, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz
and Steve Khan, were the three that really helped me have the courage
to record my music. My tunes took on their own life over the years.
I really come from the school of Miles when it comes to music. So,
we did the live recording basically unrehearsed with come as you are
and play. To me that is where the magic really happens. It doesnt
always come through but when it dose there is nothing like it in the
world, pure music. Ive been with Blujazz a few years now and
Greg is also a great player and understands the musicians. He has
been a great help for me as far as encouragement and persevering.
I think my job is a handful until I see Greg and the passion he has
for music. Because this business in a tough life but I wouldnt
trade it for anything.
mwe3: Who is in your band on the Live At Red Clay recording
and what is the chemistry like between you and the other musicians
on the album? The sound of the CD is great and the mix by Shalom Aberle
Bill Hart: A very interesting mix of players on this CD. On
keys is Pat Strawser, percussion is Emrah Kotan, drums Steven Walker,
saxophone Alex McGinnis. The interesting thing about this CD is a
few of the players never really played together. Ive played
with each on separate occasions. For me it just brings out the magic,
although this is not the safest thing to do. (lol) But I do know if
I get caught up thinking too much the music will suffer, of course
one would have to do their practicing and wood-shedding on their own.
There is another side to music that if we get in the way it somehow
doesnt allow the music to breath. Shalom is one of the best
engineers there is. He has recorded everyone, Chick Corea, Bill Frisell
and the list goes on. He is one of the best there is when it comes
to live recording.
mwe3: How many albums or recordings have you made over the
years and how would you compare Live At Red Clay Theatre with
say your last album Touch Of Blue or other albums youve
done? Are the tracks on the new live album originals and are they
Bill Hart: This live CD will be number six. All the tracks
are original but none of them are new, although you could say they
are new versions that somehow have taken on a beautiful life of their
own. Anytime I record a CD Ive have to have some kind of a concept.
Otherwise it really makes it hard for me to compose. I look at a concept
like planting a seed and then I try to let it take on a life of its
own. The hard part for me is having a seed to plant (lol). I try to
work with the music and not against it. I know it may sound strange,
or somewhat convoluted but I experimented with or played music for
over 40 plus years.
I see you play a Strat. Tell us about your Strat. Im thinking
you must have other guitars in your collection. What guitar or guitars
do you play on the Red Clay Theatre album and what amps, strings
and pedals do you use on the new album? On the new CD art I see youre
playing an acoustic electric guitar too? Is that a Godin?
Bill Hart: I do have several guitars, and I do believe Stratocasters
are my favorite. No matter what, I seem always come back to them.
I use the Dimarzio pick-ups in all 16 guitars. Dimarzio for me makes
the best pickup hands down. I set my pick-ups a little on the lower
side to get more tone from the strings vibration. I adjust my whammy
bar to pull up to a major third. I use nothing but the D Addario
strings on all my guitars.
On my Strats I use a hybrid set of strings. The higher strings E,
B, G come from a 09-gauge set the low strings D, A, E, are from a
10-gauge set. On my 335, my high strings are from a 10-gauge and my
low strings are from a 11-gauge. My jazz guitar from Benedetto I use
11-gauge flat wound strings. And yes, it is a Godin Nylon string guitar.
I have two Godins; one fretless and one fretted using DAddario
Hard Tension. I also have a Brian Moore Custom Guitar that I use with
a strictly 09-gauge set.
For my guitar rig set-up, I use two of the Budda Custom amps SD30s
one amp is dry and the other amp is wet. I midi the Mobius, Time Line
and Big Sky together and run it through the effects loop of my wet
amp, then a Maxon and a Budda channel switcher for the dry amp for
lead tone. When I play nylon or jazz, I use the Jazz Kat amp for a
nice warm creamy clean sound.
mwe3: Someone said your style is smooth jazz but I find your
guitar sound is more progressive jazz-rock in a way, so do you feel
youre transcending musical genres and/or paving new guitar roads
with your style and sound? Do you enjoy breaking down musical boundaries?
Hart: I think youre right, I dont think smooth jazz
would be the style Im in. I think people would interpret that
from my music having a strong backbeat. I do like mixing styles together.
I believe thats the true definition of a fusion player. I grew
up playing rock and during my era funk was real strong and I gravitated
towards jazz. Influenced by players like Jeff Beck and Al DiMeola
and even Jimmy page studied jazz, so I got into a pretty heavy bebop.
And when youre a big Jimi Hendrix fan and youre playing
bebop theres no telling what will happen! (lol). Although it
may not come through my playing yet, but I have a strong influence
and love for Afro-Cuban music and Middle Eastern music.
mwe3: I saw a short video clip of you and Galen Weston on you
tube. You guys are two of the best current jazz-fusion guitarists
recording today. Whats your opinion of Galens albums and
guitar sound and how long before you guys cut a guitar summit album
together? Are there other guitarists you would like to record with
Bill Hart: Galen and I both share a lot of the same influences
on guitar. And thank you so much for your kind words of us being accomplished
jazz-fusion guitarists. That right there is what keeps me going
when I feel like I reached someone with my music, the rest is really
secondary. I would love to do a CD with Galen at some point. Mike
Stern recorded on my CD titled Subject To Change and being
in the studio with Stern recording side by side with you, play your
own music is the best thing in the world for me. Seeing how he works
and knowing he digs your music. That is one of the greatest experiences
I have ever had in this music business.
mwe3: Youre involved in music education. You attended
the Guitar Institute in Hollywood and you also teach at the Atlanta
Institute of Music & Media. What is the Atlanta Institute music
department like and how did you become involved with the institute
and music education? What are your favorite music and guitar institutes?
Hart: Well Im a self-taught musician I played for 10 years
before attending any music college. In the mid 1980s guitar playing
was at its peak and Hollywood was the place to be. After attending
musicians Institute in Hollywood, I was on my way to New York to live
with my roommates. Hollywood had just moved a school to Atlanta as
a satellite version of G.I.T (Guitar Institute of Technology) and
while living in Los Angeles I was offered a position teaching in Atlanta.
Over the years I wrote the guitar curriculum as a contribution to
help the school get accredited for financial aid. I love the educational
side of music but I really dont care much for the politics involved
in music. In my opinion that sucks the life out of the music but due
to the survival of the school, the majority of the players that were
there at the Atlanta Institute of Music had left to pursue their careers,
including myself. In my opinion I still believe Musicians Institute
in Hollywood is one of the best places to go for an education in music.
Berklee College of music is also very good college. If I was a musician
today I would probably attend one of those two schools.
Although times are a lot different today than they were back in the
80s, I think school is good for making connections, but I have
yet to use my diploma to get any kind of gig. One of the biggest things
about a music college that I got the most of was the interaction with
professional players. Although I think the Atlanta Institute of Music
would be good school for recording, math and English, they no longer
have professional clinicians come in to do clinics.
mwe3: What guitarists had and still have the biggest influence
on your playing, writing and musical style? Were the rock legends
a big influence or were you more into jazz at an early age? Who are
some of your favorite guitarists and recording artists these days?
I see youve also worked with Shane Theriot and Jimmy Herring
as well. Shane has made some great albums too.
Hart: Shane and Jimmy both are two of my dearest friends and we
still keep in touch today. There was a time when all three of us work
at the Atlanta Institute of Music making about 60 bucks a week. (lol)
Now we have all moved on. Wow, there are so many great players. I
would say Pat Metheny for his compositions, Mike Stern for his strong
back-beat and improvising. Steve Khan has that tone with those beautiful
chords that I believe he borrowed from McCoy Tyner (lol). Wayne Krantz
for his dissonance in his guitar voicings.
I really listen to non-guitar players nowadays. Wayne shorter has
these compositions that are amazing. Im also love playing ballads.
I believe ballads really helps you know the music and your instrument
better. You have to really feel time and cannot depend on a strict
metronome so much
the music has to breath. Over the past few
years I tend to listen to more Afro Cuban music and Turkish music.
I do believe when I dont know the name of who Im listening
to I lose my expectations on what I think might happen.
mwe3: Whats been the reaction to Live At Red Clay
Theatre from the jazz community and the guitar world? What other
plans do you have for 2018 as far as writing new music, recording,
producing and doing live shows in Canada? Are you considering a new
studio album at some point?
Hart: So far, we have had positive reaction from the both the
jazz and the guitar community. With the guitar playing and Alex on
saxophone it has crossed over very nicely. Im in the studio
now writing for a new CD that I am hoping to release this by fall
of 2018. Right now, Im setting up for a US tour and a European
tour in early fall, September. I do hope to tour Canada this year
as well. Im in this for the long haul and I will just keep picking
away. Thank you so much for your time and effort and the things that
you do. It does make a huge difference
to Greg Pasenko at Blujazz Productions