'Prepare For Take-Off!'
In an age when recording artists often sell out their true artistic vision to the ever homogenized demands of the commercial marketplace, it’s refreshing to see a veteran performer like Dan Siegel — over 25 years into one of contemporary jazz’s most storied careers — take a full throttle approach to record the album of his dreams.
With Departure, an all-acoustic, live-in-the-studio date that marks his second release for Native Language Music, the composer and keyboardist brilliantly blends the melodic and rhythmic pop sensibilities he’s famous for with his traditional jazz roots.
In creating this ultimate “Siegel Unplugged” experience, he surrounds himself with longtime friends and colleagues whose careers have also been defined by a powerful blend of Jazz and pop, electric and acoustic music: Brian Bromberg (who plays acoustic bass and co-produces with Siegel), Bob Sheppard (sax), Lenny Castro (percussion) and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, who twenty years ago played the skins on Northern Nights, the seminal album that launched Siegel to instrumental stardom in the infancy of what became the smooth Jazz format.
Being that it is said in your press that this new album of yours is the
album of your dreams, I was wondering what was actually meant by that
statement? "I have always desired to make an acoustic contemporary jazz album, outside of the confines of the established radio norms. I made this album knowing it would fall between the rigid guidelines of jazz formats, but decided to make it, and let the music speak for itself."
And just how different/difficult a choice was it come its construction to record 'Departure,' shall we say 'Unplugged'? "The real difference in recording an album of all acoustic instruments is
primarily one of esthetics. The emphasis is more on performance and not
production, even though there are still production considerations that must
be made. A live piano trio or quartet has a lot of sonic space that is not
filled up with the usual endless overdubs of synthetic elements, but with
the interaction of the players to the music and to the other players as it's going down. The end result is a recording that makes up for the lack of the over-produced sheen of technology by capturing the energy and creativity of the moment. It's much more fun recording this way."
I'm sure putting four guys together in a room and plowing through some
awesome recording sessions was wonderful, but I'm also sure stories were
told along the way too! Can you please relate one told by someone in the
group that you think would be fun/interesting to our readers?! "When you assemble a group of players for a live recording, it can be
anything between anxiety and drudgery to blissful magic. The recording is a representation of not only harmony, melody and arrangement, but of the mood of the players and perhaps what position the moon and stars is in at the time. When co-producer Brian Bromberg and I discussed the ensemble, our main consideration was getting the best players for the music. Vinnie
Colaiuta, Bob Sheppard and Lenny Castro are all the best. For the most
part, all of these tunes are first or second takes. The tune that was the
most problematic was Street Talk, the single, which caused a bit of
confrontation on the stylistic approach. That's all I can say."
For those out there that wish to buy your new CD but have not heard of
you, how would you yourself describe your sound? "Lyrical, subtle and intelligent; hopefully memorable."
The new album title 'Departure' is interesting, but does it originate
from a more personal standpoint, perhaps? "The title is representative of a change in musical direction, and perhaps
bravery to go against what is considered commercial in todays homogenized
and stratified music market. I guess it is very personal when you realize
the formats that make up the present radio landscape won't play you, but you decide to make the album anyway."
Which track on this new album is your current favorite to play whilst
driving in your car?! "I like the track 'Mosaic,' or perhaps 'Across the Sea'."
Being that you have been in the business for over 25 years now, is there
anything within it you haven't musically attempted but would love to some
day soon? "I have started working on a suite of orchestral works that will probably take years to finish. There's nothing quite like standing in front of a big ensemble and being surrounded by the sound. Recording that work would be something I'd like to do someday."
If you could re-cover, in your own style, any (cheesy) '80s pop song
which would it be ... and why?! "I'll probably embarrass myself here, but there are so many. When I think of driving in my car and singing along with the radio, I think of Gino Vannelli songs. He is a great songwriter, and his production was always good. I always loved that tune, 'It Hurts Being In Love.' Some of those 80's tunes sound a little over the top now, but that's the way it was."
Exclusive Magazine like Penguins, do you?! "Some of my favorite relatives are penguins, so what can I say?!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Dan's new CD, just answer this easy question: The closing cut, “Alone,” is a soft-spoken piano ballad that includes light percussion textures and an irresistible tenderness from which saxophonist?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: DAN SIEGEL SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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