affinity for instrumental jazz guitar fusion music is a world wide
phenomenon and case in point is a 2010 recording from Australian guitarist
Jack Pantazis entitled With The Little We Have. At the start
of the CD, Pantazis gives up some of his key influencesthe Latin
feel and Spaghetti Western swing of the opening The Stand Off
and the solid jazz vibe of his self-styled tribute to jazz icon Thelonious
Monk entitled Monk Me. The John McLaughlin influence on
Pantazis comes across here on The Winds Have Changed,
while two of the three cover songs on the CDa version of If
I Were A Bell, by Frank Loesser (first featured in the musical
Guys And Dolls) and the jazz chestnut On Green Dolphin
Streetboth feature guitar duets with acclaimed NYC jazz
guitarist Mike Stern. On Heartsong, Pantazis and
company renew a composition written by keyboardist Fred Hersch while
the CD closes out in style with a super energized jazz-rock track
that sounds a little like Bill Connors era Return To Forever, entitled
Im Outta Here. Excellent players appear backing
With The Little We Have, which also roundly benefits from superb
studio sound, CD packaging and cover art. www.CDbaby.com
MWE3.com presents an interview with JACK PANTAZIS
What was the inspiration behind the making of With The Little We
Have and how would you say the album defines your guitar playing?
JACK PANTAZIS: Inspiration was part of the reason to make this album
but I probably have to say there was more a need to do
it. I had made an album a few years earlier called What? and
whilst I was happy enough with that recording I knew that in the years
leading to the next recording, I was gaining some ground in the area
of composition. Not monumental leaps but small ones that gave me enough
courage to try for another album. I needed to get these tunes played,
heard and recorded. And I was getting plenty of people around me pushing
me into the right direction and encouraging me. Im not, what
.a prolific composer but one who tinkers with the process
when I have the time and the inspiration. And now this gets me to
the next point
I think any honest musician is and always has been influenced by what
they listen to, who they have played for and even seen in live performances
and also what good and bad experiences theyve had in life that
determines the direction that person will take musically. Its
not very easy I think to suggest its one thing that inspires
us or me, for that matter, in doing this album. Its always the
sum of many inspirations.
Because I have always been opened minded to music and especially to
different types of styles, the album, I think, shows how I can move
between genres. I am predominantly an improvising musician and I love
to play in a variety of musical settings and styles....it keeps me
challenged and entertained and it helps me to focus on material I
need to work on, harmony, melody, concepts etc, etc. My practice routine
is always being updated with new things to look at.
mwe3: Can you compare With The Little We Have to your other
JP: As far as comparing this album to my last one, I have to say that
the material is stronger. Stronger in the sense that the tunes go
somewhere for me, set a mood, go to a natural conclusion. And I also
think my playing is stronger and more defined on this album. The other
comparison I have to make is that while the last recording only had
one group of musicians playing on the album, With The Little
employed many musicians who I always wanted to record with. And I
mixed them up into different combos ranging from quartet to octet.
I also, for the first time, took a stab at arranging a horn quartet
for the title track.
mwe3: Can you say something about the musicians who play and record
with you on the CD?
Yeah okay... Some of the musicians Ive known my entire life
and some Ive known for a little less. Firstly my brother Gerry,
who plays drums on the album, has always been a very important person
in my life because he inspires me to keep working hard at what I do.
Gerry has been and continues to be on a lot of peoples A
lists when they want it done right and with great care and musicality.
I think hes currently finishing an album for guitarist Brett
Garsed, who I hope a lot of your readers will know about. The keyboard
player is Phil Turcio. Phil is one of Australias marvels and
most exciting players to watch. Phil is another of those A list players
who has released a few albums recently and who has collaborated and
recorded with people like Dave Weckl, Ric Fierabracci, Frank Gambale
to name a few. You should check out his albums, absolutely stunning.
Adam Spiegl, bass player, has been with me since the first album and
has worked many live gigs with me too. As a young player this guy
has it all, great time, tone, attitude
and a great guy who is
just all smiles when hes playing. A joy to listen to and watch.
To round out the core group of musicians on the album we have Lachlan
Davidson playing alto sax and flute. Lachlan is an amazing composer,
educator, performer, arranger
oh and he juggles too
My first association with Lok was, and still is, through us playing
together in The Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra. He composes and arranges
many of his pieces for that group to the point we now have 3 CDs
of totally original Australian big band music all available on iTunes.
I also needed a tabla player for the track Hot Tin Roof,
so I contacted an ex-student of mine who I had heard on the grapevine
was seriously devoted to the instrument. We got together, played through
the piece and immediately thought wow, this is the guy. Glen Kneibess.
mwe3: What guitars do you feature on the With The Little We Have
CD? What are you favorite electric and acoustic guitars, strings,
amps and effects?
JP: Well, my main guitar for the past 6-7 years and on a lot of tracks
on the album, has been my Godin Montreal. Its had a few modifications
done to it, namely an installed custom built pre-amp that has given
me independent control of trebles/bass tones and an improved output
from the pickups too. For the acoustic pieces I used my Godin Grand
Concert classical guitar and Martin Custom for the acoustic pieces.
Also, on Im Outta Here I used my old
1980 LR-10 Ibanez.
As far as amps go I havent changed my set up for almost 30 years!
I use 2 amps in stereo, or quasi-stereo as I call it depending if
I hit the chorus pedal or not. Im still using my first amplifier
my dad bought for me when I was 15
.its called an Elfa.
Stands for Electric Factory. Its an Australian amp that was
made here in Melbourne some time ago. Its basically a 60 watt
combo with a 12 inch speaker, transistor amp. Small and compact. And
the other amp I use is a Polytone Mini Brute IV, 100 watt with a 15
inch speaker, which Ive had for at least 15-20 years.
Sitting on top of the Polytone I employ an Alessis Nanoverb which
is set to Hall Reverb 3 and its from this juncture that one
signal goes straight to the Polytone and the other to the ElFa.
With effects, my pedal board has on it the following: Boss Tuner TU-2,
Boss DD-3, Eventide Modfactor, Exotic AC+ Plus, Boss CH-1 and a custom
built power supply. Not a great deal Im afraid but it works
for me. I also use an Ernie Ball VP-JR Volume Pedal.
string choice on electric, for a long time, has always been a flat
wound set made by an Italian company called Dogal. Gauge being .012-.046.
They even have a wound 2nd! Heavy tops, light bottoms but a very even,
consistent sounding and feeling set of strings, very responsive, even
for a set of flat wounds that have been on for at least 5-6 months!
Classical strings, I use Saverez set 520 PI, nylon wound treble strings
and normal nylon wound bass strings
.great set and for the acoustic,
mwe3: What is your musical background and how did you become introduced
to the guitar and become a recording artist?
JP: My father is now a retired musician with over 40 years of experience
playing piano in restaurants, bars, cabaret, etc, so I was always
exposed to music from an early age. All kinds of music ranging from
jazz, classical, latin, Hungarian gypsy, you name it, was always being
played on records at home. We also had some kind of string instrument
around to play on at home, like a violin, a uke or some kind of guitar.
My brother and I began piano lessons with Dad but that only lasted
a year before I asked if I could have guitar lessons, at age 11. My
Grandfather played some guitar and sang a little so I think that may
have triggered the decision.
My guitar teacher was Lou Dalla-Riva who was my only guitar teacher
and with whom I had 6-7 years of weekly lessons. He is still my mentor
and a strong driving force in my life. He was the one who introduced
me to guitarists like Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Joe
Pass, Tal Farlow, Jim Hall, and other players like, Oscar Peterson,
Errol Gardner, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald
the list goes
on and on. It was an immediate reaction when I heard these players
that this is what I wanted to do
.to learn to improvise and play
great tunes and melodies.
It was through the study and listening to these players that I eventually
moved on to other players such as John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Mike
Stern, Scott Henderson, John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Keith Jarret,
Ralph Towner, Michael Brecker, Michel Camillo, Chick Corea, Miles
..etc, etc. And then I got serious about classical guitar
playing and classical music in general too. Studied and worked through
the Sor, Aguado studies/ pieces and then finally finding Bachs
Lute Suites, Violin Sonatas and Partitas, some Dowland lute pieces,
Tarrega and Barrios to name a few. Im not great at classical
guitar playing but I work at it and I enjoy the repertoire very, very
much. And, I have really begun, over the last few years, to listen
to more and more classical recordings of anything I can get
symphonies/piano sonatas, Mozart, Bartok, Shostakovich, Holst, Mahler.
mwe3: Describe working with great great Mike Stern on the two album
covers of If I Were A Bell and On Green Dolphin
Street. What about those songs are special to you?
JP Well, first and foremost what a pleasure it was, and an honor,
to have Mike play on this album. In fact, truth be told, the tracks
were almost used on the first album but they got done a little late
so I just held on to them for this project. As I said previously,
I had began listening to Mikes music quite a while ago and even
seen him play live a few times here in Melbourne with some great groups.
The guy is always on and loving every minute of it
he?! Anyway, I got to meet him in 2000 when I had to talk to him about
his upcoming workshop at where I teach. We spoke, told him the specifics,
times, etc, etc..and left it at that. Well, a couple of days later
he calls me and says
You wanna come around and have a play?
immediately said and foolishly..Yes, loved to. So it was
from this and another subsequent play together that he said he would
be available and love to record a couple of tunes with me. Couple?!,
.man, one would be amazing! So to cut a long story short,
8-9 years later I called him up in New York and reminded him of his
ask and to my surprise he said he would be delighted.
the only problem was that a tour he was coming out to Australia got
canceled so we had to do our recordings on opposite sides of the world.
I spoke to him about my intentions and arrangements of the tunes and
got them recorded and then they were sent to Jim Beard, Mikes
long time producer and great keyboard player, in New York so that
he could record Mike. I think the end results speak for themselves
because had I not told you this story I think most people would think
we played opposite each other in the same room. I think the playing
between us sounds very interactive and respectful of one another considering
actually playing along side a monster like Mike Stern, when we did
sit side by side, I have to say it was a great experience. He is very
giving as a musician and as a human being, very humble. I had a ball
playing with him, I just hope he enjoyed it as well.
The reason I chose those two tunes are simple...they are great tunes!
And they are tunes that Ive played through, butchered
through, sang through, pulled apart etc, etc, for many years. I was
especially happy with the way Green Dolphin Street came
out, its feel, and use of some altered harmony in the A sections.
I hope people like it when they hear it.
mwe3: Can you say something about where you live now and where you
grew up in Australia and can you tell the international audience something
about the Australian jazz-rock music scene?
JP: Well, I live in a suburb called Reservoir in Melbourne, Australia.
I pretty much grew up around this side of town too. Its north
of the city and its pretty much a blue collar, factory based
area. Its only a 20 minute drive into the city and nearby suburbs
where plenty of music can be heard. It seems when I was much younger
there were more venues that had a variety of jazz styles of music
being played regularly, people seem to be more open to the different
jazz styles. Unfortunately today things have changed. There may be
lots of music but not a great deal of variety I feel. Especially when
it comes to jazz. We dont have a venue or venues that cater
for all sorts of styles of jazz. If youre not playing standards
in your sets then good luck getting to play original, jazz/fusion/rock
type gigs. Even the Melbourne International Jazz Festival doesnt
cater to a great number of amazing, local, musicians who fall into
this category who could offer something different to this fantastic
festival. And this goes for Latin Jazz too. Sounds like Im having
a gripe but hey, if I dont who will? So to answer your question,
tell the international audience something about the Australian
..Im afraid it really doesnt
have a forum. We only have two local radio stations in Melbourne that
will play music like mine and of my colleagues and even then its
very difficult to get ongoing airplay of a new CD after it gets released.
mwe3: How do you balance your guitar career with your teaching career?
JP: Because Ive been teaching for 20 years, 5 full days a week,
the art of balancing between the two is something that comes very
easy to me. I know that I have to practice every day, so I find the
time, whether its in the morning before I go to work or when
I get home. Of course there are gigs to do, rehearsals to attend etc.
But I find that all this activity is crucial to being a good teacher
and a player. You have to be immersed in it every day, hour, minute...And
of course I love every minute of it and I see playing and teaching
music as a privilege and sometimes as one. I get lots
of satisfaction out of both careers. You have to be organized and
plan everything in advance so nothing gets in the way, if you can
mwe3: What do you want people to come away with after listening to
your CD and what are your future plans?
I would like to think that people, after hearing my CD, have heard
something a little different and something that they can relate to
and identify with. And of course the compliment...I feel good
after listening to your music would be the best compliment I
could possibly hope for.
As far as the future is concerned, write more tunes, keep working
on things musically and possibly attempt a solo/duets type of project
and maybe even record some classical type pieces. Anythings
possible! And definitely try getting more gigs to expose my music
to more people around Australia and maybe one day taking it overseas.
Who knows? Have to wait and see...
Thanks to Jack Pantazis @ www.myspace.com