What do Sting, Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Hiroshima, Government Mule, and Pink Floyd all have in common? In addition to the obvious fact that each has enjoyed massive commercial success, all of those artists are fortunate enough to have availed themselves of the vocal talents of singer/songwriter and guitarist Machan. Now, with the release of Motion of Love on Nu Groove Records, Machan is truly stepping out from the background with a CD that showcases the many facets of her exotic adult-pop-meets-jazz sound.
Machanís reputation as an accomplished professional has earned her the respect of her musical peers, some of the most illustrious of which join her on Motion of Love. The CD features guest appearances by jazz greats John Medeski, John Scofield, and Randy Brecker, and Brazilian percussionist Portinho, as well as strong musical contributions from Government Muleís Danny Louis (who also just happens to be Machanís husband!) Not to be overlooked is Machanís first-class guitar playing that sets the table for this feast of talent.
Motion of Love is Machanís second CD, following her eponymous debut of a few years back (released on A440 Records.) Machan says that the new CD is evidence of a new confidence and maturity. ďI think my first record was a great introduction to my abilities, but with 'Motion of Love,' I really tried to be thoughtful about including songs with different grooves and diverse subject matter to give my audience a broader sense of what Iím about, both musically and personally.Ē
Being the daughter of a Japanese jazz vocalist and a G.I. must have made life for you growing up rather interesting. How and when though did you yourself first become jazz inspired? "My father was stationed in Yokohama on a big military base there, which is just outside of Tokyo, so it was a really vibrant area. Dad was the head of the MP division, so was a tough character, but he had a really soft spot for music and musicians. So at night, he ran the officer's club on base. He was a real party kind of guy and loved the night life."
"My mother, who learned how to sing Amercian Jazz songs phonetically through records and American movies, sang with different groups and played around Tokyo in different clubs and the officer's club that my father ran. That's how they met. By the way, One of the first jazz groups my mother was in, included the then young and up and coming Toshiko Akioshi. Amazing, isn't it? I have some great pictures of my mom from back then."
"Anyway, to be more specific, I grew up with the love of jazz from my mother and father both. My mother actually singing professionally and having grown up in a musical family. And my father being a big fan. Also, I think my father had natural talent and a secret desire to have been a musician. He used to mess around with the trumpet and had a pretty good voice too. More than anything though, my dad loved being a ham."
Why 'Motion Of Love' for the new album title and does it have a more personal meaning to you, perhaps? "I think the emotion of that song really reflects much of what I've been thinking about in life recently. Just the cyclical nature of life and death, nature, love, relationships etc... Life feels like riding on a carousel a lot of the time to me. The ups and downs, highs and lows and rhythms of happiness, sadness and everything in between. It's what I see now as the nature of things, simply. The ever changing and fleeting moments. One not better or worse. I'm trying to learn to observe with eyes wide open enjoy the ride."
Please tell us more about the host of guest musicians on this new CD and who you'll remember most from the recording session "That's so difficult, because each musician is so great. They are all such consumate players with such interesting personalities."
"Randy Brecker is an old friend and I'm just so grateful that he's been so supportive over the years. Needless to say, he's one of the greatest trumpet players in the world. I love him. John Medeski, who's a new friend since moving upstate NY and just such a great musician and a great guy, was so generous to take the time to travel to NYC to play on the record. He tore it up!"
"My husband of course, Danny Louis, who is my greatest supporter and one of the most musical people I've ever met in my life, is so creative and he added his unique, wacky keyboard magic to the record in ways that you may not even know it's keyboard stuff happening when you listen. You know he has a great way of using effects with Clavinets and Wurlitzers that are uniquely him. I know some of the secrets, but I'll never tell.
It would take too long to talk about everyone's greatness, but I have to say that what really stood out for me was working with John Scofield."
"I had never met him in person before and because of my friendship with Andy Hess, the bass player of Gov't Mule, and his friendship and playing history with John, I was able to ask John to play on the record.
Oddly, John played on my version of "Beautifully Broken" that Warren Haynes and Danny Louis wrote for Mule. If you've heard the original version of the song, I think you'd be shocked to hear what I did with it."
"Anyway, John Scofield was the sweetest man to work with and his musical vocabulary is so deep, he made it very difficult for us to choose what would end up on the final version of the song. We had several great takes of him. And since I'm a guitar player and love guitar players, I was really impressed and honored to work with him."
Which track is now your go-to tune for having people listen to it first? "I think "Extraordinary Thing" is a favorite song of mine. Also, certainly, Beautifully Broken, and I'm really happy with how More, Motion of love and Vulnerable turned out.
LOL... I guess I'm pretty happy with this record. :)"
Do you have any wild touring stories to tell of your time spent on the road with Sting, Pat Benetar or Pink Floyd? "I do, but most of them have to be told in secrecy, late at night and with a glass of wine. Generally I just say, "I don't recall". I was having too much fun!"
Lastly, in the 6th Century, Machan was also the name of a Scottish disciple of Cadoc ... any relation, perhaps? "I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. All I know is that when you do a Google search for my name, Tibor Machan comes up all over the place.
I really need to read his works."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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