JAKE HERTZOG
Throwback
(Zoho Music)

 

Based 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, there’s another significant reason why Hertzog has gained such acclaim in the international guitar community and that’s 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
JAKE HERTZOG



mwe3
: 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? Randy’s trumpet sounds great with your guitar sounds. How did you come up with the idea to feature your trio with Randy’s trumpet and flugelhorn? It’s 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.

mwe3: 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 you’re interested in and what’s 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, what’s 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?

JAKE 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 1960’s 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 there’s 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 you’re involved with these days either as a player or producer and what’s 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?

JAKE 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 who’s 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?

JAKE 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 moving forward.

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



 

 
   
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