in NYC, Zoho Music remains on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz-fusion
with the 2013 CD release of Throwback by guitar prodigy
Jake Hertzog. On Throwback Jake puts it all together
thanks in part to an excellent backing band including top jazzers
such as Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn), Harvie S (acoustic
/ electric bass) and Victor Jones (acoustic / electric drums).
Commenting on his approach in the recording studio for Throwback,
Jake adds, On Throwback I wanted us to make a record
using a vintage method, but have the music be this contemporary blend
of jazz and rock that has always been our vibe. For me personally,
as a guitar player, I enjoyed the challenge of making this album in
a "live" way. In addition to his critically acclaimed
album releases, theres another significant reason why Hertzog
has gained such acclaim in the international guitar community and
thats simply because he can play. Equally influenced by both
rock and jazz guitar styles, Jake Hertzog combines the best of both
worlds on the superbly recorded, all instrumental guitar driven fusion
sound of Throwback. www.JakeHertzog.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
In the CD liner notes for your 2013 album Throwback you speak
about your music having a dual personality. How does the Throwback
CD showcase the varying sides of your guitar personality and overall,
how would you say your music and guitar styles has grown and changed
over the past four years? Is there a way you can draw a comparison
between your other CDs?
JAKE HERTZOG: I think the duality of this music refers to drawing
both from the jazz language and from the rock language. In order to
do that the players have to "speak" in both genres equally
well and I feel very fortunate to have a band that is so talented.
One concept that I have always tried to use with my group is the idea
that, in the same way that melody, tempo, form and harmony can be
bent and twisted, the style of the music can be as well. On
Throwback I wanted us to make a record using a vintage method,
but have the music be this contemporary blend of jazz and rock that
has always been our vibe.
For me personally, as a guitar player, I enjoyed the challenge of
making this album in a "live" way. On my previous records,
we had many sound changes and experimented with some cool studio stuff,
but to do that required some overdubs here and there of the guitar.
On Throwback, everything was the first or second take, live
performance. We just focused on the vibe of the band and let the studio
be the audience. This is the way many classic jazz records were made,
in contrast to contemporary rock records that most often include many
overdubs and edits. The challenge then was to be completely raw and
try to get a great performance on the first shot, knowing we couldn't
use any studio tricks to change it later. I like to think I am slowly
inching closer to being able to play the guitar the way I hear it
in my head, and there are certainly things on this album I haven't
been able to do before. I hope to keep pushing further in that direction.
mwe3: What is the musical chemistry like between you Randy
Brecker, Victor Jones and Harvie S on the Throwback CD? Randys
trumpet sounds great with your guitar sounds. How did you come up
with the idea to feature your trio with Randys trumpet and flugelhorn?
Its unique sounding and a stroke of genius...
JAKE HERTZOG: Thank You! I have always loved the trumpet, and
something about it I think contrasts so beautifully with an electric
guitar. So when I was writing all this quartet music, I asked Harvie
if he thought we could get Randy Brecker to play on this. So Harvie
and I went to one of Randy's shows in New York and we gave him our
previous CD Evolution that Harvie actually produced. Then later
Randy and I talked and he said he like that record and would agree
to do what became Throwback with us. I feel so fortunate that
we were able to make that all happen. One of the most wonderful things
I think about Randy is the way he played melodies. His tone is so
beautiful and he really knows how to get an emotional performance
from a melody. Everything he plays when he solos sounds like its own
theme too, he's just so gifted and he really seemed to understand
this music intuitively. As for Harvie and Victor, we have played a
lot together by now and I really think some special has developed.
I feel like they read my mind sometimes and they both have really
defined the bass and drums for my sound. I can't even express how
grateful I feel to have such a talented band.
Even with your extensive jazz training and guitar techniques you still
cite rock guitarists like The Edge of U2 for example, as being important
to your overall style. How does rock guitar come into play during
your writing and recording these days and what excites you about rock
guitar playing and recording these days?
JAKE HERTZOG: I love that question because although I consider
myself a jazz musician, the rock mentality has always been a part
of me. The aspect of most rock guitarists that I admire most is they
are often so creative with sounds and with the using the guitar in
new ways. Often jazz guitarists are so concerned with what notes they
can play and becoming musically clever that they forget how incredible
of an instrument the electric guitar can be. Tom Morello (from Range
Against The Machine) for example is such a sonic genius, it leads
me to believe that he spent lots of time working on guitar sounds
as opposed to just shedding Giant Steps 1000 times! So
yes I think there's a lot of rock guitarists pushing the sound envelope
these days and that really inspires me. On my previous albums there
are many sound changes and subtle studio tricks where I drew lots
of inspiration from those type of players. Oddly enough on Throwback,
the guitar is relatively naked and the music is what bears the rock
influence, as opposed to the studio magic.
mwe3: What is new in the guitar world for you in
2013 and are you still using the Artinger Custom guitar on the Throwback
CD? Have there been any changes to your guitar setups over the
past four years and how about new amps, effects and nowadays computer
programs or other computer based sonics that youre interested
in and whats your involvement with Pigtronix?
JAKE HERTZOG: I have to say I still love my Artinger and use
it all the time. I have been adding acoustic mini-sets to my trio
shows lately and it's a lovely contrast to our bombastic electric
music. Harvie plays an upright bass, of which he is an undisputed
master, and I have been playing a Taylor GS-Mini tricked out with
some nice pickups. It's funny, I used to have a nice Taylor acoustic,
and though I loved the sound it was always harder for me to play physically
than my electric guitar. So I got a GS Mini a while back which is
7/8 scale and it seems to fit my hands perfectly! So I have a great
tech here in New York who put in some magic electronics and that's
the acoustic I've been using live for the last year or so.
I'm very excited to be endorsing Pigtronix and I think they make such
great sounding gear. Their newest pedal, the Quantum Time Modulator
almost reminds me of the guitar through a Leslie effect that I love
so much. And I have a ton of different analogue overdrives because
that aspect of my sound is so key. I like the subtle differences between
the Fulltone drives and the Pigtronix. I'm also endorsing a brand
new Norwegian effects company called Aalberg Audio. They have developed
some cutting edge technology that I will be debuting for them at the
winter NAMM show, so also very excited about that.
mwe3: What was the recording process like for the Throwback
CD? In an age where people are pinging computer sound files half
way around the world in order to build a track, whats your optimum
recording approach like? Were all the musicians in the same room during
the recording of Throwback and can you say something about
the contributions by Rob Fraboni and Ben Elliott? Are you hands on
when it comes to the mixing and mastering of the CD too? Who else
was involved in the making of Throwback?
HERTZOG: I strongly believe that to make a great record, all the
musicians have to at least be in the same building! On my previous
records we had relative isolation on each instrument to facilitate
later overdubs and sound effects. On this record we really went all-out
1960s style, using live recording techniques and we had everyone
stand in the same room, as if it were a concert. I think that doing
it like this gives the musicians the most authentic performing experience.
Every time you add a layer of headphones, isolation, overdubs, and
even different locations at different times, you get further and further
removed from a performance experience. This can be done successfully
in some styles of music that are based on production like hip-hop
and dance music, but for jazz and improvised music it won't yield
as authentic of a performance to record so separately.
That said, Rob Fraboni is a genius at the live style recording. He's
such a scientist, he knows exactly where to put microphones, how to
get the room sound, the "breath" on every track. And I think
he is a very good judge of how connected and emotional a performance
is, so it was a wonderful experience working with him on this project.
I was very lucky to have met him while working with my rock group
The Young Presidents, so by the time we made Throwback, we
had spent a great deal of time in the studio together working on that
other project, so it made the collaboration seem effortless. Rob is
a brilliant mastering engineer so I really didn't have to do anything
for that, and because of the "Au natural" recording style
the mixing was easy. I like to float in and out of the mixing sessions
to keep my ears fresh. Because of The Young Presidents album we made,
I knew very well how Rob mixes and that made it all go so smoothly.
mwe3: What guitarists do you feel are making waves in the music
world these days in both the jazz and rock worlds? Do you think theres
another guitarist out there who will eventually attain the status
of a Hendrix or Clapton and change the music world? It seems like
so much music is much more neatly categorized these days, is it possible
to break the mold again?
JAKE HERTZOG: For better or worse I think the success of Hendrix
and Clapton and the baby-boomer musicians in general was also a product
of the culture and music business at the time. I think a greater majority
of people back then were very in tune with a common music culture
of innovation than they are now. So it's a tricky comparison. I'm
not sure if great instrumentalists can have the same cultural impact
today as they once did, but I'd like to believe it is still possible.
As to who will have that impact, well, there are a lot of very talented
artists and bands out there and I believe we are all trying to find
our place in the new landscape of the music business. I am sure the
great talent will rise to the top.
mwe3: In addition to your solo career, are there any other
projects, rock and/or jazz that youre involved with these days
either as a player or producer and whats your involvement in
The Naked Brothers Band and The Young Presidents? Would you like to
get more into production in either jazz or rock in the coming years?
HERTZOG: My rock group, The Young Presidents (www.theyoungpresidents.com)
has spent almost two years working on a very special guest vocalist
project that will be released early 2014. It is all music that I wrote
with my partner and bassist Mitch Kaneff, and we got four very different
incredible singers to sing our tunes - Blondie Chaplin (Beach Boys),
Corey Glover (Living Colour), Ivan Neville (Dumstafunk) and Adam Ezra.
Rob Fraboni also produced this project and I am very excited about
its impending release. We recently performed with this entire cast
and a 14 piece band at a sold out charity show in New York at the
newly opened Cutting Room that we as a band hosted. I'm am very proud
that we raised over 140 thousand dollars for Alzheimer's research
at this event and we will most likely replicate the event next year.
Actually, I have begun my foray into production, and am working with
several artists right now, most of which will have 2014 releases.
I find it very enjoyable to play a producers role, working on arranging,
songwriting and production with talented artists and I hope to continue
to go further down this path.
mwe3: What are your live concerts like and whos in your
touring band these days? Where have you played live outside the US,
and what are some of your favorite places to play live? Can you compare
performing concerts in the US with playing Europe and Asia and elsewhere?
JAKE HERTZOG: I am lucky to have my usual trio as a touring
group, Victor Jones and Harvie S. I like to think we give intense
and emotional performances that span a large stylistic range from
modern jazz to hard rock to acoustic folk. We have several European
tour options taking shape for next year and I always love performing
in Europe because the audiences are so appreciative of the music.
I'm excited to play some of the new music and there will be some very
special shows coming next year that Randy Brecker will be able to
join us, so I'm greatly looking forward to that. Earlier this year
I was teaching at a music college in India for two months and it was
a wonderful experience to get to perform in different parts of India.
There's a great love of western music there and it is exhilarating
to perform for those crowds. I'm really looking forward to trying
to make another tour happen in India soon.
mwe3: Can you say something about your Hey Jazz Guy column
in Guitar Player magazine and how else are you involved guitar and
music education and helping guitar players perfect their craft?
HERTZOG: I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked
with GP the last few years. They are wonderful folks and really love
all aspects of music. There is a Hey Jazz Guy website (www.heyjazzguy.com)
and I recently wrote an official Hey Jazz Guy Guide To Improvisation
book, that I hope will come out in the near future. I'm also excited
about adding more teaching to our tour schedule. I love giving workshops
and I am trying to get more and more of that going on for the band
mwe3: What are your plans for the rest of 2013 and into 2014
and are there plans underway for new music, recording from you as
well as concerts for this year and 2014?
JAKE HERTZOG: We have several shows lined up to support the
new CD and next year will start with a bang for us, showcasing at
NAMM, and then working on other European dates. I've got several records
I'm producing and the new project from The Young Presidents so I am
really looking forward to 2014! I'm always writing new music so my
hope would be to hit the studio again middle of next year for the
next Jake Hertzog album! Thank you so much for all your support!
Thanks To Jake Hertzog @ www.JakeHertzog.com