Oz Noy is a guitar player that blends rock, jazz, blues, and funk into his own unique style that stands out from the fusion world. A staple at the Bitter End in New York City, Oz has five solo releases to his name. The lastest of which is titled “Twisted Blues Vol. 1”. The album displays his ability to take the blues and jazz, and create something distinctive and fresh, but preserve the familiarity of the styles he blends together. While promoting “Twisted Blues”, Oz took some time to answer a few questions for Abstract Logix readers.
Abstract Logix: Your newest record is called “Twisted Blues Vol. 1”, and the opening track is titled “Twisted Blues”. Was this title a nod at Wes Montgomery’s song of the same name?
Oz Noy: I actually wrote this song on Wes’s Twisted Blues chord and form more or less. It’s my favorite Wes song and it’s kind of an abstract version of it.
AL: On your new record you have arrangements of Thelonious Monk’s “Light Blue”, “Trinkle Tinkle” and in the past have covered several Monk tunes. How would you describe Monk’s influence in the development of your playing?
ON: I really like his music, BUT the main thing for me is what he writes fits the guitar really well and can be interpreted in many different ways. His writing doesn’t limit you to play a specific way. It’s much more free to put your own character in it… at least for my playing.
AL: Is it difficult to record a Monk tune with your own style and still stay true to the original Monk recordings?
ON: I think its difficult to put your own stamp in general on someone else’s composition, BUT as I said before, Monk’s music has something very free to interpretation and for some reason I get most success playing his songs than any other jazz composers. I play a lot of his music and just find my way to be comfortable with it.
AL: You list under instrumentation that you preform loops. What exactly does that mean, and how did it contribute to the atmosphere of the record?
ON: I’ve been using a LINE6 Looper for many years and developed a way to loop in real time when I play and make it a part of the music. Its another texture that in an improvisation situation can be very weird, unexpected and exciting. I’ve developed it over the years through doing all my solo records. I really like it, especially the challenge of it being unexpected on each night or each recording session. Its a part of my guitar vocabulary.
AL: What gear did you use on Twisted Blues?
ON: My 67 Fender band Master, 73 50W Marshall, and a pedal board (You can go to the gear page on my website and see the board and amps, the board is called -The Blues Board. http://oznoy.com/gear/ ). I used Tele & Strat guitars. (also on my website.)
AL: Did you have a primary set-up, or was there a lot of experimentation with sounds?
ON: No experimentation, just the gear I use live all the time. There is enough experimentation in the music itself.
AL: How pivotal are guitar pedals to obtaining the unique sounds on your recordings and were they used during composing the songs or afterwards?
ON: All though I’m using a lot of effects my sound is actually very simple and basic. Just a booster into a cranked up [amp] with a bit of Delay. The pedals for me are for orchestrating the songs and giving then a dimension.
I usually write without effects, BUT sometime effects and sounds inspired me to write tunes.
AL: In some tunes I think I hear a ring modulator. Do you have a favorite pedal, or a pedal you turn to because you know it will deliver a far out sound?
ON: I don’t have a ring modulator, what you’re hearing is my Octavia. If you play it a specific way it will sound like a ring modulater. I can do a lot of different weird sounds when I have my pedal board in front of me. There is a lot of options there, but I need to have it all in order to really take it out.
AL: You have a song called “Whole Tone Blues” on the record. Besides the whole tone scale, what scales did you use to infuse a new sound and groove to the blues?
ON: The main sound is a whole tone scale but I use other scales to color it in different ways.
AL: What made you initially pick up the guitar, and did you ever think it would bring you to where it has today?
ON: I wanted to be a drummer but a friend of mine took me to see his guitar lesson and that was it. I don’t know way I keep playing guitar , I just do. I don’t really know where it has brought me today. I just keep on going, only thinking about what the next thing to do is.
AL: When you’re not touring, you play a weekly show at The Bitter End in New York City. Did you use these shows as a way to road test new songs before heading into the studio?
ON: Absolutely, this is my rehearsal room in a way, but I love playing the club and people seem to enjoy it also.
AL: As such a strong live musician is it difficult to go into the studio and capture that feeling on record?
ON: Yes, as hard as we try it always takes a while, and you never get it the same as it is live, But the studio recordings got its thing.
AL: You’ve played and recorded with several outstanding artist like Mike Stern, Eric Johnson, and James Genus, to name a few. Is there anybody that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
ON: Oh man, the list is very very long! I don’t even know where to start… I’ll say one thing though, I would have loved to play with Miles, but too late for that.
AL: Is there a message that you try to convey to the audience through your records and live performances?
ON: Not really, just enjoy the music and have fun Isn’t that what its all about?
AL: With such an established and prominent career in Israel, what motivated you to move to New York City and start all over?
ON: Israel is a small and very limited place in terms of the music scene there. The music scene in NYC always attracted me. The level is much higher and the music I liked best was happening in NYC at the time when I left Israel, so it was a pretty easy decision to make.
AL: Are there any up-and-coming artists you would recommend readers to check out?
ON: A lot of good stuff out there, its just a bit harder to find now when there is so much other bullshit out there… You have to really work harder to find the good stuff, but its there!
AL: What does the rest of 2012 look like for you?
ON: Just a bunch of touring, writing and practicing (hopefully).
AL: Can we expect a “Twisted Blues Vol. 2” any time soon?
ON: Absolutely, I’m pretty close to being finished writing it so … I’m really excited about it. I think it will be the next step up.