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September 2002






A Shot At Glory
(Warner Bros.)

U.K. guitarist Mark Knopfler is well known for his excellent soundtrack recordings (Local Hero and Cal) and his trendsetting late ‘70s and ‘80s albums with Dire Straits. In early 2002, Warner Bros. released the Knopfler soundtrack to the movie A Shot At Glory. Unlike so many soundtracks, this one shouts originality. Anthemic instrumentals, Dire Straits inspired rock (like the cool track “He’s The Man”) all featuring a fine band, paired with Knopfler’s knack for composing magical old English and Scottish sounding soundtrack music, make A Shot At Glory a cool solo album in the guise of a cool soundtrack.

Lost In Paradise
(Paras / Bolero)

At age seven he pawned his watch for a classical guitar and by the age of twelve, guitarist Armik was already a professional recording musician. For the next ten years of his life he played jazz although early in his life, as he explains, “When I first touched a flamenco guitar and heard the sound, I realized I could talk through my instrument.” Following his move to L.A. in 1981, Armik started releasing a number of solo guitar albums which—since his 94’ debut Rain Dancer—have gone on to define what he calls “Latin-gypsy-jazz”, also known as the nouveau flamenco guitar sound. Drawing on both jazz and flamenco guitar styles, Armik continues mixing a variety of rumba, cha-cha, bolero, jazz and bossa nova sounds on his latest CD and first for the L.A.-based Bolero / Paras Group. Much like the serene, sunny cover artwork for Lost In Paradise, the music is elegantly recorded and the overall uplifting spirit of the album makes it the perfect showcase for Armik’s guitar virtuosity. / 


He’s performed with music greats like Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Big Youth, Burning Spear and The Wailers and now Jamaica-born / South Florida-based guitarist Eugene Grey returns with his third solo album, Timeless. Grey’s background as an electric guitar ace is pretty extensive and on his 2002 instrumental CD, Timeless, he also plays bass, keyboards and drums. He’s been compared to guitar legends such as Wes Montgomery and Ernest Ranglin and on Timeless Grey combines his love of tropical-flavored Reggae and smooth jazz with a fondness for melodic pop music. Supported by a number of gifted players, Grey’s breezy guitar floats along on a wave of graceful instrumental stylings, some featuring effectively placed female back-up vocals. Grey’s choice of covers—including the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic “Spinning Wheel”, “Everything I Own” and “Wichita Lineman”—are also tastefully performed. Filled with good vibes and light-hearted musical fun, Timeless is a great album to kick back and relax with.

The Power Of 3
(Pure Music)

NYC jazz guitarist Sheryl Bailey continues to rock the Big Apple with the release of her 2002 CD The Power Of 3 released on Pure Music Records Like her last group outing, Reunion Of Souls, The Power Of 3 is a hot jazz date with Bailey superbly backed up by Gary Versace (Hammond B3) and Ian Froman (drums). Bailey proves she has her guitar skills down and—attesting to the white hot interplay between her electric guitar and Versace’s B-3 organ—in the liner notes she cites numerous jazz-based guitar-organ influences—such as Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery and John Abercrombie and Jan Hammer. Recorded in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy The Power Of 3 is Bailey’s best studio jazz album yet.

Being In Dreaming
(Dharma Moon)

One of the inspiring alternative/New Age jazz artists on the NYC-based Dharma Moon label, the latest CD from NYC guitarist Michael Hewett blends the alternative cool of progressive acoustic jazz with the headphone aura of say a Pink Floyd album. Hewett makes his music as an outgrowth of his love of guitar and yoga. The two combined make for a divine listening experience that’s as diverse as it is rewarding. Hewett sounds influenced by both the American fusion sound of Pat Metheny and Leo Kottke with the progressive neoclassical stylings of Steve Hackett. With Being In Dreaming Hewett carves a fine new niche for modern acoustic/electric instrumental guitar performance.

Electro Ave.

Guitarist Brian Tarquin has his fingers right on the pulse of the current music scene. Kicking off his career in a big way back in his native NYC during the early ‘90s, Tarquin began composing music for jingles and commercials. Moving to L.A. back in ‘92, Tarquin expanded his career in the music biz—which by now encompassed the roles of recording artist, session guitarist, jingle writer and recording engineer. Between 1996 and 2001 the guitarist recorded four solo albums of smooth-as-silk, guitar-based instrumental acid jazz for MCA and NYC-based Instinct Records. By 2001 Tarquin needed to flex his musical muscles and—joining together with his creative partner / keyboardist and programmer Chris Ingram—the end result is his 2002 CD Electro Ave. featuring his latest outfit, Asphalt Jungle. Described as ‘a groundbreaking album where techno meets rock head on’, Electro Ave.—released on the NYC-based ROIR imprint—blends the best elements of Tarquin’s guitar-jazz prowess and really revs things up with a round of ultra heavy drum and bass tracks, freaky loops and electronic samples. Inspired by the early ‘90s London acid jazz scene and British electronica revolution, Electro Ave. is one of the heaviest, most sonically intense, guitar-based instrumental albums of the past few years. Drawing on Tarquin’s flair for composing film and TV music, Electro Ave. simmers in a stew of vivid dance and electronica grooves, with the guitar smack dab in the center of the sonic storm. Inventing a high-tech guitar sound for the new century is no mean feat, but clearly Brian Tarquin has the guts and determination to give it his best shot. In this interview Brian Tarquin discusses Electro Ave., his career as a soundtrack and TV music composer, his extensive guitar collection and his musical influences. The following interview took place over the internet and by phone August 20 & 21, 2002.

Brian Tarquin: BT
Robert Silverstein: TCG

TCG: Brian, I was amazed at just how many sounds you were able conjure up throughout the Electro Avenue album. The CD features a really high tech production yet it also seems to evoke the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower and Jeff Beck. I think Hendrix would have loved the album. What kind of vibe were you going for on Electro Avenue?

BT: Both my partner, Chris Ingram and I wanted to bring live performances, especially guitar, into the Funky Big Beat Dance grooves. I really wanted to getaway from the stereotype genres and bring a whole new element to guitar instrumental music. So the approach was to record the guitars live and then sample them over Chemical Brothers electronica grooves. I felt that no one had really done this with guitar, except Jeff Beck on the album, Who Else, which funny enough, we had recorded some of these tracks before Jeff Beck's album was released. Having a variation of tone played a large part in making this album. For example, on some of the tracks, there are different guitar parts that were sampled, twisted and used as textures. This deceives the listener, because some things which they are hearing may not be traditional guitar tones. We were also intent to introduce the guitar as a viable instrument in Electronica. We were very determined not to follow any kind of genre or format. We just wanted to make an album from the ground up that we really believed in and most importantly, not sound like any other album out there. After having spent six years producing commercial jazz albums, I fully wanted to reject all known commercial formats. It got very tiring trying to cater to a specific narrow minded format, like NAC. Asphalt Jungle has been Chris’ and my project since 1997 and we were eager to finally see it materialize. Another reason for the album, was our association with MTV's Road Rules. Back in 1998 and 1999 we had produced the theme music for the reality show, Road Rules. We had ended up doing so much music for MTV that we decided to make an album and feature the remix of the theme song, "Witchcraft" co-produced with the music producer of the show.

TCG: Where was the Asphalt Jungle album made?

BT: The album was recorded at Chris' studio, "The Farm" in New York and my studio, "Jungle Room" in L.A.

TCG: Among the originals on your three recent solo albums on Instinct Records are some cool guitar instrumentals of songs written by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and The Doors. How would you compare the instrumental guitar jazz sounds of your solo albums with the hard hitting drum and bass grooves of the Asphalt Jungle album?

A: They are like day and night. The albums I recorded for Instinct was a cross between Acid Jazz and old school Fusion. Unfortunately the albums were plagued with Instinct's obsession to please the commercial jazz market. To tell you the truth, it was a bit of a drag, the whole scene, which actually helped me to develop as an artist and pursue other formats. I always try to bring some of the cool instrumental music I grew up with to the Instinct albums, so I took the classic Jeff Beck song (“Freeway Jam”) and Jimi Hendrix’ "Third Stone from the Sun" and jazzed them up a bit. However, Chris and I were so influenced by the Electronica bands of the 90's, like Prodigy, Orbital, Fatboy Slim & The Chemical Brothers that we naturally gravitated to that arena. The wonderful thing about recording the Asphalt Jungle was that Chris & I were able to compose, produce, record and mix the whole album ourselves with no outside intervention. You have to understand that with doing the Instinct Records, my hands were constantly tied in regards to guitar performances, due to the fact that the format was very sax driven. I was tired of getting my guitar solos getting cut out of the singles and being replaced with some sort of blow hard on the sax. After a while, I felt like a side man on my own albums. So, I put it all behind me and came up with some kick ass riffs on my Marshall stack and Les Paul Goldtop Deluxe to lay down the tracks to Asphalt Jungle's "Red Dragon" and "Last Crusader."

TCG: What guitars are primarily featured on Electro Avenue?

BT: Asphalt Jungle guitars:

78’ Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Gold Top with 2 custom wound Seymour Duncan mini Humbuckers.

69’ Fender Telecaster Paisley with 2 custom wound Seymour Duncan pickups and Roland GK-2A guitar synth pickups.

ESP Cherry Custom Strat with Seymour Duncan pick-ups, pearly gates at bridge and alnico II single coil at neck position. Topped off with the original Floyd Rose Whammy Bar.

Fender black precision deluxe bass with Seymour Duncan bassline quarter pounder P-Bass pickup and quarter pounder jazz bass pickup at bridge with vintage custom shop maple neck

TCG: Could you mention some of the guitars featured on your other solo albums?

BT: Guild Acoustic DCE 1 guitar with custom L.R. Baggs Dual Source Microphone pick-ups.

1959 Gibson Reissue Sunburst ES-335 with mahogany fretboard and two Seth Lover humbucker pick-ups at bridge and neck positions.

Fender Custom Shop Strat with Robbie Robertson neck with locking tuners and Seymour Duncan JB at bridge position and Texas Hots at middle end neck.

TCG: Do you remember your first guitar and do you play acoustic guitars?

BT: 1979 Ibanez Artist with Seymour Duncan custom bridge position and Duncan Distortion at neck position. This was my first pro guitar. I recently fixed the guitar with Seymour Duncan pickups, which gives it a phat Les Paul tone. Yes, I use the Guild Acoustic DCE 1 guitar with custom L.R. Baggs Dual Source Microphone pick-ups and the Washburn acoustic EA-20N single cut away natural color with rosewood fingerboard. As for blending acoustic guitars with electrics, you can hear this off the jazz track, "Messiah" from the (2001 Instinct Records) album High Life. That's actually me playing acoustic guitar on the rhythm track while I'm playing the main melody on my Les Paul. Plus, using the TalkBox for added effects.

TCG: What was it like making the move from the media capitol of the world in NYC to the entertainment capital of the world, L.A.?

A: It was a culture shock when I first arrived in L.A. back in 1992. I feel fortunate to have grown up in Manhattan with all of it's diversity, art and culture. The one big thing I miss is the pizza! Advantage of living in L.A. is the exposure to so much musical opportunity in TV and Film. Funny enough as it is, I live in L.A., but my record label is in New York. I also compose for ABC TV's "All My Children" who happen to be based in NYC as well. Just another reason to visit my home town as much as possible.

TCG: How does the music you compose for TV and film relate to the acid jazz solo albums and Asphalt Jungle recordings?

A: Asphalt Jungle has a direct relationship to MTV, because of the theme music we produced for Road Rules “Witchcraft”. Before the album was released, tracks off the CD were featured on such shows and films as: Felicity, Tough Enough, Making the Band, Love Cruise, The ABC TV Movie, SuperFire and the feature film, Repli-Kate. The acid jazz solo albums receive a lot of TV airplay on the soaps, such as: All My Children, Guiding Light, General Hospital and the Young and The Restless.

TCG: As a guitarist, who influenced you and what kind of guitar influences do you think can be attributed to the acid jazz movement?

BT: I feel that Ronnie Jordan was a very influential guitarist in the acid jazz movement. Unfortunately, acid jazz never really took off in the States, being primarily a European dance fad. My biggest rock influences are: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. For my jazz influences: Pat Metheny and early George Benson. A great acid album was the compilation, Rebirth of Cool which featured Ronnie Jordan and the Brand New Heavies.

TCG: Who are your favorite current composers and guitarists and what about current and past favorite guitar albums?

A: For composers, I think one of the most cutting edge teams is The Dust Brothers. If you're familiar with the soundtrack to the Fight Club, it combines electronica with rock and drama score. Even if you didn't watch the movie, you should pick up the soundtrack because it's brilliantly produced. For guitarist and albums you can't beat Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow and Wired. Another classic is Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien and Steve Vai's Flexible. Another big influence is John Scofield's, Blue Matter, Loud Jazz, Pat Metheny's Off Ramp, John Paul Jones, Zoooma, King Crimson's Discipline. Currently the Crystal Method album Tweekend, featuring guitar work by Tom Morella, is a real good use of guitar & electronica.

TCG: You’re from New York. With all those heady dance grooves and techno rhythms it sounds like the Asphalt Jungle CD could have been made in the Bronx or Brooklyn!

BT: I defiantly fell back on my upbringing in NYC to help influence the motif of the album. I wanted the perfect soundtrack for that surreal subway ride you take at 3am on the 6 train coming from the village heading uptown. Or perhaps the insomnia walk in Central Park & down 5th Avenue! Maybe the 7 train back from Shea after the Mets lose once again.

TCG: You say you want to keep the guitar current. Could you elaborate and where would you like to see the guitar and your guitar playing heading in the 2000’s?

BT: In recent years, it seems that the guitar has lost some steam. Probably due to the fact that it is not used in pop music as much as it once was back in the 60's, 70's & 80's. I guess in part due to the fact that we are in the new electronic-computer age. My whole idea was to keep the guitar current, and what better place to do it in is the phunky-aggressive beats of dance, which lays a great foundation to the guitar’s both hard and tender sides. Ideally, I'd like to see the guitar come back in the forefront, but using more interesting tones and to move away from the safe sounds and performances. As far as playing, I would like to see the guitar really busting out of it's pigeon hole and help define electronica. I want to be able to bridge the gap between rock & electronica. Trying not to use the typical sounds of the guitar and really pushing the envelope of tone & performance. Groove is always the most important thing!!

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