way up north in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, guitarist / composer Strat
Andriotis returned in 2018 with another album of unique guitar magic
called Night Manager. Featuring Strat's guitar backed up by
memorable contributions from legendary violinist Jerry Goodmanappearing
on seven of the eight tracksand South Floridas
Cuban piano icon Gonzalo Rubalcaba, on one track, Night
Manager also spotlights Canadian pianist Adrean Farrugia on
a pair of tracks. According to Strat, Gonzalo and Jerry overdubbed
their parts in their studios. The chemistry is pretty amazing. It
sounds that we are playing in the same room." Commenting
further about Night Manager contributions from violin legend
Jerry Goodman, Strat explains, Jerry's playing sometimes
reminds me of Grappelli. You get to hear Jerry play differently than
he did with Mahavishnu. But he still lays out those lightning fast
runs heard on the early Mahavishnu recordings! The Arrival
is a song that Jerry's melody became the hook. A perfect
example of smart musicianship and recording in an age where musicians,
with the help of untold futuristic technology, can record an album
with other musicians thousands of miles apart, Night Manager perfects
this releatively recent recording art form and makes it a fantastic
reality. The sound of the eight cut album is so perfectly designed
so you can almost hear the rosin flying off of Jerrys violin
bow, while the elegant piano work of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Adrean
Farrugia tastefully adds to the excitement of Strats guitar
wizardry. Although Strat is also a gifted pianist, its really
his guitar work that is central to the overall success of the Night
Manager sound. The intense swing of the recording may seem overwhelming
to music lovers at times, but the beauty of Night Manager comes
with repeated listening. With sheet music and expert musicians on
hand to expedite the realization and recording process, Night Manager
stays up after hours but Strat's late night guitar action is well
worth it. www.stratmusic.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Sounds like youre happy with the way the Night Manager
album turned out. And Jerry told me he was happy to be part of the
album. You mentioned your manager helped arrange to bring Jerry Goodman
into the recording, so can you tell the readers how Night Manager
all started to come together?
Strat Andriotis: I recorded my tracks first. Jerry Goodman
was my first choice to use as the violinist. I loved his playing on
John McLaughlins New York On My Mind from the Electric
Guitarist album and the Mahavishnu Orchestra Live In Central
Park album. We kept in contact with Jerry for a couple of months
before he decided to record. I thought at the time if we can get Jerry
to play on a couple of songs that would be great. He ended up playing
on basically the whole album. I think he enjoyed himself.
mwe3: For an album that was mostly recorded in three separate
locales, the Night Manager tracks link up perfectly and it
sounds like the musicians are all recording together in the same room.
Who did the final mix on the album and who else do you credit with
shaping the Night Manager sound you wanted even to the final
mastering which you had done at Abbey Road studios in England.
Strat Andriotis: A click track was recorded before the actual
recording to keep time. The rest are the performances of the musicians.
There were minimal edits. I had sheet music as well for a guide. The
final mix was done by Wayne Cochrane, an excellent engineer. My good
friend David King helped as well with some suggestions. My tracks
and Adreans tracks were recorded at Davids studio 51 Sounds.
Sean Magee did the mastering.
mwe3: When did you know that you wanted to have Jerry Goodman
play on the album? You featured violinist Adriana Lee on the 2016
album Less Off Patient, as well as on Liars Incorporated.
I think Jerrys performance and playing on Night Manager
will be of major interest to fans of his early works with John McLaughlin.
Strat Andriotis: I had Jerry in mind when writing most of the
compositions. Where on Liars Incorporated and Less Off Patient
I wrote out the solos for Adrianna; this album I didnt have
to. Jerry is an exceptional improviser when it comes to solos. His
tone and performances are overwhelming. Fans of Jerry will be happy
to hear him play some amazing passages. He goes through jazz, rock,
blues, bluegrass and classical with so much passion. He is spotlighted
quite a bit on Night Manager.
How much of the music on Night Manager is based around constructed
/ written melodic lines and how much is based around improvisations?
You have said earlier, the song melody is the most important aspect
of your music, but you wrote all the chord charts too.
Strat Andriotis: I write the chords and melodies and leave
the solos to the musicians discretions. Most of the album was
written on guitar with the exception of Chilis Blues.
That was all piano. Usually the chords comes first then the melody.
mwe3: The guitars you feature on Night Manager are the
Gibson J-200 for your rhythm tracks. What do you like best about the
J-200 and how does that guitar compare with the other guitars you
play on the album, including, the Gibson Super 200 and the 1964 Gibson
Johnny Smith guitar? Which strings do you prefer and how often do
you restring your guitars? On Night Manager did you mostly
use a pick or are you playing some finger style too and how do you
keep your fretboard skills in shape?
Strat Andriotis: The J200 is a versatile acoustic guitar with
rich bottom tones that resonate. The Super 200 is a beauty with a
cutaway for extended up the fretboard access. Gibson discontinued
the Super 200 a few years ago. It has an ebony fretboard that responds
well to my style of playing. I mostly use a pick especially when soloing
and tend to use my fingers for chord playing. You have to practice
intensely to keep yourself in guitar shape when you are moving around
a lot of chord changes and different keys. I tend to go through strings
pretty rapidly. The Johnny Smith is an incredible instrument. Beautiful
jazz tones out of that guitar. I have been playing that guitar the
most lately. 12 to 52 gauge strings.
Avid is the first track I heard from the album. Avid is
a good word for this song, as you cater to avid listeners! The track
is a duet between you and Jerry Goodman. The vibe on Avid
is very Django-esque. What was your frame of mind and were there any
other compositional references on Avid?
Strat Andriotis: That is probably one of my favorite songs
on the album. Basically, some jazz chords with some classical reference
and a couple of diminished chords that I guess give it a little Django
flavor. Jerrys violin playing is exquisite on this song. He
plays so passionate. Sounds like he is making the violin cry. Quite
mwe3: Cant Wait is another Gypsy Jazz sounding
classic. Is that one of the more upbeat Night Manager tracks?
Just curious, did Jerry gave you any feedback on any of the songs
before or after he added his violin parts? Sounds like Jerry is having
a great time recording his Cant Wait part.
Strat Andriotis: This tune really reminds me of movie music
from the 1930s and 40s. A strong bluegrass feel with some
humor. Jerry shows a little Grappelli influence on this one. Fun song.
Jerry seemed to like this one.
mwe3: Chilis Blues features Jerry and Adrean
Farrugia. Tell us about recording with Adrean as you said you did
the tracks with him live in the studio. Jerrys violin is truly
superb sounding on this track. Overall, did you set out to make some
very dramatic sounding music on Night Manager?
Strat Andriotis: Adrean recorded his piano parts separate
from my guitar. I had recorded the original piano parts and Adrean
replaced them with his awesome performance. I dedicated that tune
to my friend Neil Brown. It has a little Thelonious Monk feel to it.
Jazzy blues tune. Yeah, I guess it is a little dramatic sounding.
Tell us about Fever Pitch. The guitars are quite active
and then the violin comes in to calm things down but then things really
take off with the guitar / violin interplay.
Strat Andriotis: There are few key changes that adhere for
some nice moving solos from the violin and guitar. The pace has a
nice feel to the song kind of a gallup or trot. The ending is slow
and dramatic for the finale.
mwe3: When did you decide to record the 1941 hit song I
Hear A Rhapsody and what about playing the 1964 Johnny Smith
guitar on that track? Can you tell us about that song and do you have
a favorite recorded version of it? Were there any challenges in recording
a completely solo version of the track?
Strat Andriotis: I decided to record the song in early 2018.
The Johnny Smith has that classic jazz guitar sound of the 1960s,
which I love and I think works with mood of the song. My favorite
version is by Bill Evans and Jim Hall from the album Undercurrent.
I recorded the rhythm track with no pick. The lead was done with a
pick. I like the two track approach on this. Its a little different
but I think the feel is basically there.
mwe3: Secrets the most dramatic sounding track
on Night Manager. Sounds like you, Jerry and Adrean strike
a sympathetic chord on that track. What is the secret between writing
effective memorable track like Secrets? Did Jerry or Adrean
mention anything about the Secrets track?
Strat Andriotis: There really wasnt any formula for writing
that tune. You come up with progressions that you think sound satisfying
and you hope people like it. I think Jerry and Adrean like that song.
Adrean does some nice comps over Jerrys and my solo sections.
mwe3: The track that features Jerry and Gonzalo Rubalcaba is
amazing sounding. How did Song 21 end up with both Jerry
and Gonzalo and how did you come up with the song title? How would
you describe the chord charts and melodic style on Song 21?
Andriotis: That song was a pleasure. Having Gonzalo and Jerry
on the same tune was a big treat for me. Two icons playing some amazing
performances. Originally I was going to have Gonzalo and myself play
the track because I didnt know at the time how many songs Jerry
wanted to do. It worked great that both played on the song. Title
came up on my 1680 Roland as the demo version. When you create a new
song on that machine it comes up with a number first. That happened
to be the next random number. The song has a little Latin jazz feel
to it especially with the syncopated rhythm.
mwe3: Is The Arrival is pure genius. How did that
come about and does the title signify something special? You overdubbed
two guitar parts that sounds like double counter point to Jerrys
violin. How did the track evolve into its final version?
Strat Andriotis: I named that song after the birth of my nephew
Nicholas. Jerry wrote that cool melody that is played a few bars into
the song and also at the end. The song evolved when Jerry came up
with that hook. Beautiful tones from Jerry on this one.
mwe3: In some ways, musicians are night managers. Also can
you say something about the CD cover art and how did the ominous looking
Strat Andriotis: The cover was shot by Richard Hind at a location
pretty close to my house. I love cool covers on albums. Liars Incorporated
and Less Off Patient are in the same category. My picture at
the end of that tunnel is ominous for sure and that was the feel we
were going for.
What other plans do you have for Night Manager for the rest
of 2018? How about videos, live performances and live radio performances
with Jerry in Oregon and Gonzalo in South Florida.
Strat Andriotis: We will promote the album in the next few
months and see. If we can give the project some legs I will try for
some shows in Canada in the fall. If things pan out maybe a more elaborate
tour next summer. I would have to see what the schedule would be for
Jerry, Gonzalo and Adrean or if they would be interested in playing
some live shows.
Strat Andriotis on Bandcamp