BILL HART BAND
Live At Red Clay Theatre
(Blujazz Productions)

 

Guitarist / 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, Bill’s 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, it’s clear that guitar heroes like Metheny and Beck were influences in Bill’s 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 jazz-fusion. www.billhartmusic.com / www.blujazz.com

 





mwe3.com presents an interview with
BILL HART


mwe3
: Can you tell us where you’re 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 I’ve lived in Atlanta Georgia for most of my career. The cities that I’ve traveled to playing my original compositions were Guadalajara, Mexico, a beautiful city that’s 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 I’ve 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. I’m seriously considering relocating there.

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?

Bill 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 CD’s. Before recording them, I played them with some of my heroes. Just a handful of great players and composers that I’ve 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 doesn’t always come through but when it dose there is nothing like it in the world, pure music. I’ve 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 wouldn’t 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 is excellent.

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. I’ve 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 doesn’t 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 you’ve done? Are the tracks on the new live album originals and are they new compositions?

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 I’ve 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.

mwe3: I see you play a Strat. Tell us about your Strat. I’m 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 you’re 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 Godin’s; one fretless and one fretted using D’Addario 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 SD30’s 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 you’re transcending musical genres and/or paving new guitar roads with your style and sound? Do you enjoy breaking down musical boundaries?

Bill Hart: I think you’re right, I don’t think smooth jazz would be the style I’m in. I think people would interpret that from my music having a strong backbeat. I do like mixing styles together. I believe that’s 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 you’re a big Jimi Hendrix fan and you’re playing bebop there’s 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. What’s your opinion of Galen’s 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 as well?

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: You’re 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?

Bill Hart: Well I’m 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 don’t 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 80’s, 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 you’ve also worked with Shane Theriot and Jimmy Herring as well. Shane has made some great albums too.

Bill 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.

But, I really listen to non-guitar players nowadays. Wayne shorter has these compositions that are amazing. I’m 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 don’t know the name of who I’m listening to I lose my expectations on what I think might happen.

mwe3: What’s 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?

Bill 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. I’m in the studio now writing for a new CD that I am hoping to release this by fall of 2018. Right now, I’m setting up for a US tour and a European tour in early fall, September. I do hope to tour Canada this year as well. I’m 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…

Thanks to Greg Pasenko at Blujazz Productions



 


 

 
   
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