JACK GATES
Bring The Flavors
(WhiteGates Music Publishing)

 

Jack Gates is a renowned guitarist / composer on the 21st century American instrumental guitar scene. In 2014, Jack released his solo album, Voyage Of The Troubadour and in 2017 he follows with a batch of all new studio tracks called Bring The Flavors. Featuring Jack performing on both nylon string guitars and electric guitars, sometimes in the same song, the fourteen track, 55 minute Bring The Flavors is filled with jazzy and meditative grooves that reflects Jack’s interest in World Music, especially Latin, Brazilian and South American music. Commenting on Bring The Flavors, Jack explains, ‘This album was written and recorded while I was living in a forest in the mountains above Santa Cruz, California, where I was studying Tibetan Buddhism. The music has a peaceful quality and is certainly an outgrowth of meditation and being close to nature." Recorded in the mountains of Northern California, Bring The Flavors features Jack in the recording studio backed up by a band of like-minded players, including the rhythm section of Steve Robertson (drums, percussion) and Stan Poplin (acoustic bass), along with Damien Masterson (harmonica) and Michal Palzewicz (cello). Jack Gates has released a number of critically acclaimed solo albums over the years, as well as playing and writing duo albums with sitar player Tim White, who serves as remix advisor on Bring The Flavors. Blending 14 tracks of contemporary instrumental jazz, on Bring The Flavors Jack Gates serves up a sublime mix of guitar-based sounds. www.jackgatesmusic.com





mwe3.com presents an interview with
JACK GATES

mwe3
: Your 2017 album, Bring The Flavors is one of the finest guitar albums of the year. You say it takes an approach like cooking, where you add in a range of spices to come up with something fresh. Also what spices are on the cover? You also mention Tibetan Buddhism as being an influence. How did both cooking and Buddhism add to your musical approach on Bring The Flavors?

Jack Gates: I feel that there is a relationship between flavors and sonic qualities. What I’m trying to convey is an almost palpable aroma or sensation through the music. I think that the acoustic guitar is particularly well-suited to this process.

The spices on the cover are from a region of India called Kerala. Buddhism provides a method for developing-self understanding. It also helps to focus the mind and transform negative thinking.

mwe3: How do you maintain such a peaceful sonic outlook on Bring The Flavors? With the world so stressful these days especially, do you align music in a way as to soothe the beast so to speak? New Age and Classical influenced jazz is very popular these days no doubt but people are looking to music as an aural form of meditation.

Jack Gates: The challenge for me is to tune out the world of technology, email and news. If I can get up in the morning with a fresh perspective, perhaps with a view of the forest, my mind is clear enough to allow the natural music inside of me to emerge.

The other aspect is choosing a recording environment that is free of distractions. I’ve been lucky to work with Justin Mayer at Bear Creek. He really has designed his studio to be transparent to the user and he also brings that approach to his recording technique.

mwe3: You studied guitar with classical legends David Tanenbaum and Julian Bream. What did you learn from your early guitar teachers and how did they influence your own music performance and writing?

Jack Gates: David was my main teacher, he aligned my hands for correct positioning and taught me how to read a score and the elements of creative interpretation within the historical context. The Bream master class, which I audited, was a revelation of sonic possibilities. Julian Bream could get more varied timbres out of the instrument than any guitarist of his time.

mwe3: You like to combine classical guitar with jazz and even some progresive influences. How do you approach and blend all those genres and styles that sit side by side on Bring The Flavors?

Jack Gates: It was a very gradual process over many decades of trial and error. I've been lucky in that my career as an on-call guitarist has pushed me into live performance and studio situations where I had to quickly adapt to many different styles of music.

I wouldn’t suggest that any guitarist try to emulate that approach. Really, I’ve used classical guitar as a tool for my own compositional purposes rather than as a career classical performer.

Electric guitar with overdrive is a very different animal than an unamplified nylon string instrument. It requires a completely different touch and attack of the note.

mwe3: On Bring The Flavors you’re supported by a different group of musicians than on 2014's Voyage of the Troubadour album. How would you compare both albums and did you take a different approach on Bring The Flavors this time around?

Jack Gates: I did consciously take a different approach. I have been fortunate to work with great musicians on both recordings. Steve Robertson brings special skills to the process, as he is expert on jazz trap set as well as Brazilian and Latin hand percussion. On this latest record he plays pandeiro (pan – dare – oo) and timba (chim – ba) , which are not often heard in the U.S. Pandeiro is becoming more well known through the growing interest in Choro music, a style of acoustic instrumental music that originally was heard in the U.S. in films by Carmen Miranda.

Some of the tracks use the Steely Dan approach of layering each track one at a time. On others, Steve and I played live together and improvised as well.

Stan Poplin is the bassist on this record and was a member of the famed Robben Ford / Jimmy Witherspoon Group. He brings great feel and presence to the recording.

mwe3: You recorded another album with Tim White called Impromptu. When was that album recorded and released? How would you compare the Impromptu album with Tim to your other recordings with Tim? Is Tim playing sitar on that album as well? It looks like you guys have a great musical community in California. What’s new with Tim?

Jack Gates: Impromptu was released in 2015. It was completely improvised in the studio. I’ve been recording and playing with Tim for several decades. We both studied with the great Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The music community in this part of California is still extremely active and diverse, although many of the players that I knew in the past have relocated to New York or other areas.

Tim has been working on recording projects with Alam Khan and many others. He’s a very active producer, recording engineer and teacher in Northern California and he has a classical sitar performance career as well.

mwe3: Has there been any new developments in the guitar world for you? You recorded Voyage Of The Troubadour with classical guitars made by Antonio Marin and John Mello and a Telecaster on the electric parts. What guitars are featured on Bring The Flavors and can you tell us what strings and amps you are currently using and if there’s any other tech news?

Jack Gates: I used the same Tele on many of the electric parts on these new songs. I also played a 1971 Guild Bluesbird guitar.

The amp is a modified Joe Morgan RV40 with 10 inch speakers in an open back cabinet by J Design. I used an OCD Fulltone pedal as well as a tc electronic delay.

The acoustic guitars are a John Mello classical with Honduran Rosewood, a Jesus Jimenez flamenco negra from Spain, and a blanca made by Miguel Malo. I also play a Glenn Canin flamenco double top in performance.

I typically use La Bella 2001 normal tension trebles and either composite or normal D’addario Pro Arte basses. The electric strings are Curt Mangan .11s.

The acoustics were recorded using combinations of Neumann KM 140s and an AKG 414 TLII.

mwe3: Did you overdub different guitars on different tracks? How many guitar tracks does a song need? A good example of that is on track five, called "Seraphic Journey". That track is just over eight minutes, the longest track on the CD, and you describe it as a combination of Renaissance music as well as Brazilian music and rock too. How did you overdub guitars on that track and then layer it with the other instruments?

Jack Gates: On “Seraphic Journey” I recorded the entire acoustic track in one take. Then I thought for a long time about how to overdub something that could create a conversation between the acoustic and electric guitar.

I decide to overdub a clean sound in the first section, then an overdrive sound in part 2. The first section is influenced by Dave Brubeck, Bach and Rennaisance guitar music. Part 2 is like bossa and samba music of the 1960s and 70s with some blues thrown in for good measure.

The only other instrument is the jazz trap set that Steve is playing, that he played after I laid down the acoustic guitar. So, two guitars and drums, that’s it.

mwe3: What other things like performing, writing, recording and producing are you planning for 2017?

Jack Gates: I’m working on a new album which will probably feature woodwind and brass instruments in arrangements with acoustic nylon string guitar. I’ve been performing with sitarists Tim White and Phillip Porter, two different ensembles with tabla accompaniment, and I’m working on several guitar books which will eventually be completed!




 

 
   
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