like I listened to Wes and then decided to use my thumb. That’s why I
always felt weird about being labeled a jazz guitar player—I just didn’t
come up that way. My main influence for probably the first five years
I played guitar was Terry Kath from Chicago. Not until I was thinking
about going to college did I start to really get into jazz. My brother,
being a horn player, was getting more and more into jazz, so I thought
it would be a good way to study music in college.
One of the bluesier tunes on the record is “The Dirty Monk.” The rootsy
vibe goes great with some of the composed sections. Was that a conscious
decision when you wrote the tune, or did it evolve into that?
I’m open to having the composition change as long as it keeps the personality. We play it and it gets interpreted and when everyone digests
it, it comes out a little bit different. It turned into this bluesy kind
of thing. I look at the compositions as a starting point and they get
changed slightly here and there over time. But that’s all part of composition for me, watching all these changes happen and seeing more of
the personality of the song come out. It gets better as we play because
we have lived it and played it on a couple tours, or even just a few gigs.
Once you play it enough, it’s like “Oh, there’s ‘The Dirty Monk,’ right
there.” It’s hard to get the first time.
Has composing been a big part of your musical development?
Always. Composition has been a natural thing since I started to play
music. I never really thought about it. It was fun to practice how to
solo and fun to write music, so it all just seemed like the same thing. I
never differentiated between writing and playing the guitar or being a
musician. It’s another presence of music.
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