guitarist Carl Filipiak returned in 2013 with a solid live
album of instrumental jazz-rock fusion entitled Live At The
Cats Eye. A group effort featuring Carl Filipiak
And The Jimi Jazz Band, the seven track album was recorded in
2011 and 2012 and features a number of Filipiak originals as well
as covers of the Beatles I Want You (Shes So Heavy)
and Billy Cobhams Stratus. Earlier, Carl recorded
the Beatles Sgt. Pepper classic A Day In The Life
in the spirit of Jeff Beck and likewise, his take of I Want
You (Shes So Heavy) is a real treat for jazz guitar fans.
Featuring Carl backed up by his band, the Jimi Jazz Band,
the sound is very much straight ahead jazz-rock with nods to greats
like Jeff Beck, John Scofield and even from a rock guitar standpoint,
Peter Frampton. Carl gets excellent support from his trio band members
including, three different bass playersMike Pope, Steve
Zerlin and Matt Everhartas well as Paul Hannah
(sax) and Frank Young (drums). The songs range in style
from near progressive fusion to a funkier brand of jazz-rock. Filipiak
is a huge Beatles fan and his cover of I Want You (Shes
So Heavy) is one of the best instrumental versions of the track
to date. Even with his leanings as a fusion guitar interpreter of
classic rock, Carl readily admits, When I was a teenager, I
loved both The Beatles and Miles Davis, but I couldnt figure
out how to put them together. Then Hendrix came along and showed the
way. Fans of Hendrix, Miles and The Beatles will find something
unique and interesting about Carl Filipiaks brand of jazz-fusion.
In the CD liner notes, Geoffrey Himes discusses Carls
affinity for Jimi Hendrix and how much the album follows in the wildly
innovative Hendrix guitar style. Having released eight solo albums,
with the 2014 CD release of Live At The Cats Eye, Carl
Filipiak brings his brand of guitar centric fusion alive and well
into the 21st century. www.CarlFilipiak.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Tell us something
about where you live now.
Carl Filipiak: Im from Baltimore, Maryland and currently
live in Timonium, Maryland. I have my teaching studio at my home and
Im minutes away from the city and I-95 if I have to travel.
mwe3: Your new CD is called Live At The Cats Eye.
Can you tell us what inspired the CD and who plays with you on
Carl Filipiak: In addition to jazz and blues, Ive always
loved Hendrix, The Beatles, and many other 60s rock bands. Since
Ive already done a few fusion and jazz albums, I wanted to shine
the light on the rock side of my playing and writing. And it was nice
to add a live recording to my catalog.
I feel like this is a continuation of my 2007 studio release, I
Got Your Mantra. A few songs from that CD are on Live At The
Cats Eye and of course, youre hearing them played
live and stretched out a little. Frank Young on drums, Paul Hannah
on sax, and Mike Pope on bass. Steve Zerlin and Matthew Everhart also
play bass on one or two tracks.
mwe3: The Beatles arent really thought of as being a
guitar-centric band yet their innovations for rock guitar are still
being felt today. Tell us what inspired your Live At The Cats
Eye version of I Want You (Shes So Heavy) as
well as your great instrumental version of A Day In The Life
which you released as the lead off track on your 2007 CD I Got
Your Mantra. Its just amazing that I Want You (Shes
So Heavy) and especially George Harrisons While
My Guitar Gently Weeps have been covered several times as instrumentals.
The bottom line for me is that I have to love the music. And in this
case its not hard to love Beatles songs! Not only from a nostalgic
point of view, but each of those songs lent themselves perfectly for
how I wanted to interpret them. I Want You is a minor
blues based song that is easy and fun to stretch out on, and fits
in great with how we play each month at the Cats Eye. And what
other rock tune has a dominant 7 flat 9 chord?!
A Day In The Life is probably one of my favorite songs
of all time, and I love that it didnt need anything more than
me playing the melody to make it work, in my opinion, of course. Trying
to channel George Harrison and Jeff Beck on the melody was the hard
part! And doing a version of one of their orchestral songs with only
guitar, bass, drums and keys wasnt easy either. Ive been
around long enough to know that what you do will never be as cool
as the original. And thats okay with me, Im doing them
simply because I love those songs.
Your band is called Carl Filipiak And The Jimi Jazz Band. In what
ways do you feel Hendrix defined the art of rock guitar and how do
you try to channel (for lack of a better word, lol) Jimis
energy and vision and bring it through your music? What Hendrix songs
do you find the best to perform and are there other covers planned
in the future?
Carl Filipiak: Around 2007 I got the idea to pay homage to
the 1960's by recording I Got Your Mantra. I wrote some songs
that reflected that time period, but still had some connection with
the 21st century. Obviously, Hendrix was a big part of that time period,
and I think calling the group The Jimi jazz Band reflected
those intentions. Its also just another way to describe what
we already do which is jazz-rock or fusion. Pretty much anything I
do falls under that description, and also I just like the way it sounds.
The bottom line is the music of course and that usually transcends
defined of the art of rock guitar with his unique sound, use of noise
and feedback, writing, and lyrics that still seem otherworldly today.
And were talking almost 50 years ago! While most musicians are
aware of his contributions to music, not many of us can answer how
he turned the blues around in such a creative way. It is simply beyond
description. I was lucky to have seen him perform twice when I was
young and it was truly a life changing experience.
I was very influenced by Hendrix and other artists from the '60s,
and their energy and vision have been effortlessly channeled into
my music. They will always be a part of my musical DNA. Hopefully,
one can get a glimpse of what Im trying to say musically even
though I owe my knowledge of music to all those greats that came before
me. The '60s for me was an incredible time for music and glad I was
there. I can only hope it is reflected in my music.
I still pull out Little Wing once in a while and use it
for its basic changes. I no longer play it like the original
since I have done that countless times. Its fun to improvise
an intro and take it somewhere else, and is one of the only Hendrix
songs that we currently are doing.
Lately weve been doing an instrumental version of Strawberry
Fields, much in the same way as my version of A Day In
The Life. Also a 6/8 arrangement of Help that I
re-harmonized and Im not sure whether or not John Lennon would
like if he heard it! One of those will probably make the next album
along with the rest of the songs being originals. And of course we
cant wait to start recording them.
What do you think of the current jazz-rock fusion scene? What guitarists
and styles of music today interest you the most, both legends and
new and rising guitarists and bands?
Carl Filipiak: Not quite like what it was in the late 1980s
let alone the 70s, but if you look around hard enough, youll
find it although it has changed with the times. I still follow Metheny,
Martino, Scofield, Holdsworth, McLaughlin as well as Robben Ford and
Matt Scofield. Guthrie Govans is keeping it alive and bands like Snarky
Puppy have an interesting take on things and are a fantastic band.
mwe3: What guitars are you featuring on Live At The Cats
Eye and what is your live set up like when you perform at the
Cats Eye which youve been doing every month for the past
twelve years? How has your choice of guitars changed over the years?
Carl Filipiak: A 1966 Fender Strat and a Strat with some personal
tweaks done by luthier Phil Jacoby. I used a Fender Bassman reissue
and a Vibroverb reissue on the live recording. Ive moved over
to a PRS McCarty solid body and/or McCarty archtop lately because
Ive been playing jazz with some other groups. And Ive
been getting back into the sound of humbuckers again after playing
Strats for the past 10 to 15 years.
mwe3: What did producer John Grant bring to the Live At
The Cats Eye album and who else was key in getting the sound
right and the CD out? Also the artwork is great, can you tell us about
the CD cover art?
Filipiak: Ive been recording with John Grant at Secret Sound
Studio since the 1980s and not only does he bring decades of
experience with him, we have a great friendship... that really goes
a long way. Hes also a great guitarist and one of my former
students. Hes a huge part of my records and I couldnt
do it without him.
My drummer, Frank Young is also responsible for listening through
hours of tape and convincing me that we had an album worth putting
out. He also played a big part in the studio and is given production
credits. I couldnt have done it without him either! Which goes
to show you how small a part I play in all of this. I have, finally,
learned to surround myself with the best players and simply stand
out of the way. Works every time!
did the artwork. He takes a digital photograph and paints over top
of it. He has some really awesome artwork and a gallery in located
in downtown Baltimore.
mwe3: You released the new album on Art Of Life Records.
Youve recorded eight albums on that label. How did you come
to work with Art Of Life and can you tell us something about your
albums and relationship with the label?
Carl Filipiak: Ive known Paul Kohler from Art of Life
Records since 1987 when my first album Electric Thoughts was
released... on vinyl back then. We were both friends and fans of the
same music and who would have known that he would eventually get into
the business and the artistic side of music. He does a great job remastering
CDs that were previously unavailable and fans of jazz guitar
should check out his catalog: Lenny Breau, Joe Diorio, Ted Green,
and even some obscure Holdsworth and McLaughlin CDs are now
available. All of my albums from my record label Geometric Records
are available on Art of Life Records and can also be found on iTunes,
Amazon, and many other sites.
fusion recordings feature Dennis Chambers, Will Calhoun, and Greg
Grainger on drums, Gary Grainger on bass, Bob Berg on sax and many
others. I Got Your Mantra and Live At The Cats Eye
are with the Jimi Jazz Band and I did one more straight-ahead record
with an incredible guitarist, Randy Runyon when he was still in high
school called Arrival. I have a great relationship both business-wise
and artistic with Paul Kohler. Whether I record a jazz album, a rock
record or anything in between, I know I have Paul Kohler's support,
one hundred percent. And it doesnt get much better than that!
mwe3: What have you planned for 2014 including new writing,
recording, studio work and performing?
Carl Filipiak: This May of 2014 Geometric Records will be releasing
I Got Your Mantra on 180 gram vinyl. Were really looking
forward to this since the last album I did on vinyl was our first
one, Electric Thoughts. Bassist, Mike Pope, who has worked
with Chick Corea, Al DiMeola and David Sanborn, is transcribing this
record for a possible artist transcriptions book that I hope Mel Bay
Publications will be interested in. Check out my first book Rock-Fusion
Improvising also available from Mel Bay Publications.
Ive been teaching for decades now, but in May I will also start
videotaping online lessons for E-line Productions. Most
of the material for a third Jimi Jazz Band album is complete but will
probably be released in 2015 with so much else going on this year.
I also play with an incredible pianist and composer, Lafayette Gilchrist
and his group, The New Volcanoes. I will be performing on the East
Coast with his group this year as well as mine. Check out his music
online and I play on his live record It Came From Baltimore. www.carlfilipiak.com