DAN SIEGEL
Indigo
(Dan Siegel Music)

 

Based in Southern California, keyboardist Dan Siegel is breathing fresh energy into 21st century jazz with hs 2015 CD entitled Indigo. The CD cover art is excellent and likewise, the music maintains a cool, sophisticated approach to instrumental jazz music. For Indigo, Dan has chosen to work with some renowned backing musicians, including co-producer Brian Bromberg (bass), Lenny Castro (percussion), Allen Hinds (guitars), Bob Sheppard (sax), Will Kennedy (drums) and other fine players. Overall, the Indigo CD is quite upbeat, with Dan’s acoustic piano driving the sound. The lead off track, “To Be Continued” is highly atmospheric and the album soon settles into solid jazz groove. Recording and mixing by Tom McCauley is great while superb CD mastering by Bernie Grundman elevates the CD sound to a very high level. Speaking about Indigo in the following interview, Dan tells mwe3.com "The Indigo album was five years in the making. I’m very obsessive in the writing process, and I struggled to get together ten songs that I thought were good enough. The truth is that the tenth tune, “Spur Of The Moment”, was completed in the studio. Once the music was written, I thought about the concept and who would be the best players for the project." Over the years, Dan has worked with music legends like Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Patrick O’Hearn and Herbie Hancock to name just a few. Clearly, that same high level of jazz professionalism has carried over to Dan’s solo output. After releasing 20 albums, Dan Siegel hits a real sweet spot with the relaxing and deep jazz sounds of Indigo. www.DanSiegelMusic.com



mwe3.com presents an interview with
DAN SIEGEL



mwe3
: You’re originally from Oregon. Where do you live now and what do you like best about it and how does it influence your music?

Dan Siegel: I live in Orange County, California. When I moved down here from Oregon, I remember driving through LA and my wife said, “we are not going to live here – keep driving”. When there was finally some open space and some grazing cows (Quail Hill in Irvine) my wife said, “take the next exit”. Sometimes I actually do what my wife tells me to do. We’ve been here for 32 years. What I like about living down here, is that there is less congestion and grit. I am close enough to where the action is, but can escape when necessary. With the exception of one or two players, all my musician friends live in L.A. county.

mwe3: Tell us about the 2015 CD release of Indigo. Did you have a specific project in mind in making the Indigo album and who plays with you on the CD? I’m also a fan of Allen Hinds, the guitarist you often work with. What’s the chemistry between you and Allen and the rest of the band you work with on Indigo?

Dan Siegel: The Indigo album was five years in the making. I’m very obsessive in the writing process, and I struggled to get together ten songs that I thought were good enough. The truth is that the tenth tune “Spur Of The Moment”, was completed in the studio. Once the music was written, I thought about the concept and who would be the best players for the project. Will Kennedy and Brian Bromberg are the foundation that supports everything that followed.

My friend Allen Hinds made a huge contribution to this project. He is one of the most naturally musical people I’ve ever known. We spent many hours in the studio together and drank many shots of tequila while we were working. Bob Sheppard is also a wonderful player whose musicianship never ceases to amaze me. Hanging out in the studio and recording music with talented people is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my life.

mwe3: Interesting that you started off as a singer and guitarist in a rock band. When did the jazz influences start taking over your more rock based inclinations and who were your biggest musical influences growing up?

Dan Siegel: I started playing professionally when I was 12. I had played piano already for several years, but the guitar was way cooler. I think I fell into the lead singer role because no one else in the band could sing. I was a Doors fan, and progressed to playing the organ in a couple of other bands. On my 18th birthday, an immensely wise friend of mine gave me four albums to listen to: Chick Corea, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs; Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage; The self-titled Bill Evans album, and a Tony Williams Lifetime album. I gave him back the Tony Williams album, but kept the other three. On my 19th birthday, my friend let me keep the three albums forever. I have been a follower of those three piano player icons ever since.

mwe3: How has your approach to writing and recording changed over the past 30 years? How many albums have you recorded both as a solo artist and as a collaborator? I heard that you even have a followup album to Indigo already recorded and slated for release.

Dan Siegel: I have 20 solo albums, and haven’t thought about the next one yet. I have participated as an arranger, player and producer on hundreds of other projects. A couple of my early albums from the early 80’s have been recently rereleased.

mwe3: It’s been 30 years since you recorded Another Time, Another Place, the album you recorded with Patrick O’Hearn. What do you remember most about that album and working with Patrick? Someone described Another Time, Another Place as being the New Age equivalent of Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring”. Is that album out of print now? Do you go back and listen to your early albums sometimes?

Dan Siegel: Patrick and I were in a band together in 1966, called The Gents. He moved away when we were in high school and we didn’t see each for many years. When I moved down to the LA area in 1983, we got together and went out for dinner and drinks. We ended up at his apartment afterward, and while messing around with all his electronic gear, decided to make an album together. Another Time, Another Place was the result. The album was rereleased on Epic for a few years and then went out of print. I don’t usually go back and listen to earlier projects because it’s easy to be hypercritical of where you were at the time of production.

mwe3: Are all your albums still in print and ould you consider a best of box set to put your career into perspective? How about a DVD of your music?

Dan Siegel: I have tried to regain control of my older catalog, but I made some stupid business decisions because of a lack of good advice. It is extremely difficult to get permission to release old material even when you wrote it. Copyright termination now allows an artist to regain ownership of their work after 35 years, but there is some ambiguity as to how the law applies to recording artists. I just regained control of my first three albums that were released in 1980 and 1981.

mwe3: How about producers and the influence they have on your music? Does it very from producer to producer and who are your favorite music producers or producers?

Dan Siegel: A producer must understand the music as well as the artist and composer. A good producer will bring a different perspective to the music and always be aware of the big picture. I sometimes tend to get lost in the details. A few great producers are Brian Eno, Rick Rubin, and Daniel Lanois.

mwe3: When did you get into writing and recording soundtrack music and what are some of your favorite soundtracks that have come out on album?

Dan Siegel: I don't work in movies and TV that much anymore. There are so many excellent composers out there. I love Thomas Newman and Alexandre Desplat’s work. For something a little different check out the sound track to The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, by Theodore Shapiro and the score to the 2005 movie Heights.

mwe3: The first track on the Indigo CD is “To Be Continued”. It’s a great mood setter. what can you tell us about “To Be Continued”? It’s a highly atmospheric track. Could it be described as “chamber jazz”?

Dan Siegel: That's an interesting description of the tune. “To Be Continued” developed around the opening motif, which has sort of a folky renaissance feel because it is in 6/4 and uses a combination of jazz and traditional sonorities. When analyzed, it is a unique piece and everyone plays great on it.

mwe3: The title track “Indigo” is something else. Allen Hinds really cuts loose on this track. Is “Indigo” more of a slow burner? It’s almost rock in nature but the chords are jazz all the way.

Dan Siegel: “Indigo” started out as a Joe Sample type tune, but ended up in the world of “Southern Cajun Rock”. When Allen laid down all the dobro slide and blues guitar tracks, the tune took a left turn and the Tower of Power-type horns finished it off. As everything came together, it ended up in the domain of Little Feat. It was the song that got picked up by radio.

mwe3: After so many years making music do you still enjoy performing live? Can you tell us something about your live shows? Do you perform a cross section of music from your entire back catalog and do you prefer solo shows or shows with your band?

Dan Siegel: I love playing with a quintet, which allows me to generally capture the essence of the recordings. Playing live gives everyone the luxury of stretching out and expanding on the recorded versions of the songs. The live performance is more hard-hitting and a little funkier than the recorded versions of the material. I have a pretty big catalog of original work, but we typically focus on the newer material.

mwe3: What keyboards do you feature on the Indigo CD and how has your choice of pianos and keyboards changed over the years? What are your favorite pianos, Steinway or Yamaha?

Dan Siegel: As a Yamaha endorsee, I love playing C7’s live. As a pianist, when you record and play in different places, you are at the mercy of whatever piano lives at the venue. It can be a real challenge.

mwe3: Do you spend more time writing and recording or rehearsing and practicing? What types of exercises do you find improve your chops the most? Can rehearing in your mind help your playing?

Dan Siegel: I don’t get the time to practice like I did when I was young. There are many theories about what to practice and how much is necessary. You will ultimately end up pushing keys down with your fingers, that are suspended from your arms. The mechanism that accomplishes this must be kept working efficiently or one will develop a lot of bad habits. I know this from personal experience. I write whenever something manifests itself. It’s a very natural process that you can’t force.

mwe3: How about future plans for 2015? Tell us about what kind of directions you’d like to go in with your music next.

Dan Siegel: If everything comes together, I will play in Europe and Japan next year and I look forward to being able to complete some musical ideas I’ve been working on. As long as I can write, record and play, I will be happy.

 

Thanks to Dan Siegel @ www.DanSiegelMusic.com



 

 
   
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