Q: Jeff thank you for such an inspirational and well written record , what influences your song writing ?
Jeff Richman: Everything that is around me influences me. I am always looking for something new to listen to whether it is on CD’s, streaming or live concerts. I hope for an inspirational moment which will get me started on a new song.
Q: Its quite apparent that you love Jimmy Haslip as a producer. I am sure you have a long relationship with him. Please tell me what he brings to the plate ?
JR: I’ve known Jimmy for many years. We met in the late 70’s auditioning and getting the gig to tour all over the US with Flora Purim and Airto. Jimmy is a kind hearted, extremely talented musician and one of the greatest bass players today. I think a good word for Jimmy in relation to him being my producer is “transparent”. I mean this in the most positive way. His number one goal is to make sure I am happy. He let’s me do exactly what I want and never gets in the way. By him just being there, it truly makes a difference. He always great input and suggestions which help shape the entire concept.
Q: You have been such a wonderful producer with some many record, not to forget some wonderful tribute releases to Miles Davis and John McLaughlin for Tone Center. Do you prefer not to produce your own records ?
JR: In a way I’m still producing my own records, the lines aren’t always that distinct. I have been fortunate to have Jimmy’s inspirational input by my side for the past three records. He gets the Producers credit and I get the artist credit. When it is my record, as in “Sizzle” the producer, Jimmy, does take a big weight off of my shoulders. His presence is always very positive and supportive, it is remarkable how smooth everything goes when he’s around.
Q: Lets talk about your song writing process ? How do you write, on guitar ? or any other instrument ?
JR: It usually begins when a musical idea enters my mind. It could be anything from a bass line, a melody, a chord progression or even a drum groove. I quickly go to my guitar and write out as much as I can remember. When I’m ready I’ll go onto my computer, put it into Sibelius and start working out all the details. I end up with pretty much a complete usable demo because I put it all into midi and record my guitar parts in audio.
Q:“Sizzle” features some wonderful musicians. Lets start with Vinnie Colaiuta, how long did it take for him to lay down his tracks ? Is it mostly on a few takes ?
JR: Vinnie as everyone who hears him knows, is a musical genius wunderkind. He has an equal amount of both heart and technique. When he plays on my music its as if he knows all my tunes better than I do. I feel like he “gets me” (I’m sure he probably “gets” everybody). It feels so good when he’s on those drums playing down one of my songs. I just sit there with my mouth wide open in disbelief wondering how anyone could be that great. I have known Vinnie for a long time, starting back from my college days in Boston. I have been fortunate and thankful to have him play on a lot of my music.
Q: Lets bring up the great new Hungarian drummer Gergo Borlai, You decided to use him on Jimmy Palm. What does he bring to the plate ?
JR: Gergo is incredible! He played on one song from my last CD “Hotwire” the song “Solar City”, he completely tore it up in his own individual way. I instantly became a huge fan. The ballad on “Sizzle” is Gergo’s composition “Say It Isn’t So”. I loved what Gary Willis did with it on his latest CD, so Gergo slightly re-arranged it and made a demo for me to practice with. One day I started recording my guitar to it, somehow all the knobs of my amp, pedals etc. were magiclly in sync. I got the most gorgeous guitar sound ever, and played it with all my heart. That solo ended up on “Sizzle”. Gergo later played real drums and programmed the synths while Jimmy played bass.
Q: I love the way you have used Bob Mintzer and Jeff Beal on horns. Are you trying to create a different vibe on the songs ?
JR: Not only did I get the amazing Bob Mintzer and Jeff Beal to play on two tunes each, I got the magnificent pianist Taylor Eigsti on two tunes as well. My good friend Mitchel Forman is featured on a song playing fender Rhodes plus I got the legendary bass man Will Lee to play on two songs. I have to mention the unsung hero guest of the album, George Whitty. I got him to program most of the songs. George is incredible! He makes this record sound expensive! His sounds, his ideas, his grooves, his keyboard playing, everything he does is superb, I am so privileged and honored to have George work on my stuff. The reason that I like to get additional players is that this is not a “guitar album”….It is a music collection featuring guitar. I wanted to round out the sound by having some guests.
Q: You have been a long time LA musician. How has the scene changed over the years, for better or for worse ?
JR: The music scene always does change here in LA. When I first came, the studio recording phenomena was popping. Unfortunately it kind of died out before I got really going here. Now there seems to be a young downtown scene with an abundance of new raw talent. Over the years I’ve done a variety of bands, sessions, shows, tours, producing and teaching. Since I have always been working on my music through the years, It has kept me busy and satisfied musically. So for me it has been a pretty positive and balanced experience living here.
Q: What’s more important for you , the guitar or the music ?
JR: I have to say both are equal. I’ve been in love with the guitar from when I was a kid, discovering the Ventures, Jeff Beck and the countless incredible guitarists throughout the years has influenced me deeply. I still am in total awe when I hear guitarists like Scofield, Frissel, Landau, Lukather, Ford, Krantz, Marino, Kreisburg, Morse and countless others. Equally fascination for me is the music. Composition, harmony and concepts. I loved Whether Report for their compositions, Miles Davis for his conceptual ideas and so many others. These days there are many innovative conceptualizers in the Jazz feels as well as popular, alternative, ethnic, blues and on and on. I’m always looking out and hungry for new music to get excited about.
Q: Does “Sizzle” take off where “Hotwire” left off for you ?
JR: I think “Sizzle” is the next logical step for me. This album is the most satisfying album I have done because each and every song is equally strong. What I heard in my head ended up coming out better than I had ever expected. I’m really proud of this work and I am grateful to everyone who has helped me to create this vision .