14th November 2019

Photo Credits

Above: Rachel Laukat

Catwalk album cover: John Sterling Ruth


Q: Good to talk to you Andrew; what are you up to right now?


AN: I’m writing some music and I’ve just got back from Los Angeles. Making a living as a musician is always a combination of performing, writing/composing and teaching.


Q: I have a more Rock/Pop than Jazz background so if a couple of my questions sound a bit naïve, please forgive me…


AN; (laughs) That’s ok and I grew up listening to Classic Rock anyway.


Q: As I mentioned to you at the gig, I was stunned by your solo at the Bobby Caldwell show. I’ve seen a lot of great sax solos over my years, some of the greats and yours was the best.


AN: Wow. Well thanks, we could end the interview right here and you would have made my day – my year! That’s high praise coming from Japan because there are so many great musicians that go through there. You have Billboard, Blue Note, Cotton Club…so many great venues that support great music.




Q: What was your catalyst to do this Big Band record?


AU: I think the reality is for a lot of young musicians, their introduction to playing Jazz was the school music program. I started playing in the Jazz band when I was in the 6th or 7th grade and I just fell in love with that music. Not just performing it and having that interaction with the other musicians but how it was all constructed and I found myself always wanting to look at how the music was written, looking at the scores and it’s something I’ve been doing since I started playing saxophone. I’ve been in Big Bands longer than any other kind of ensemble and was probably the most honest record that I’ve done. It takes me back to my roots as well as something I’ve been doing whilst I’ve been playing with Jazz and Pop and R&B acts. It was the right record at the right time for me.


Q: I really have no idea how to even think about doing an arrangement for a Big Band. How do you decide the instrumentation; how many saxes, how many trombones? Is there a sound in your head that you want?


AN: Well having grown up playing in those bands all the time, that sound is in my DNA now. Regarding the number of instruments, there’s a sort of a standard number of seventeen pieces although some bands will be flexible with that but typically, you’re going to have four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes (two Altos, two Tenors and a Baritione) and then a standard four piece rhythm section of drums, bass, guitar, piano and the on my record we added vibraphone and percussion.


Q: In the video clip on your website, Gordon Goodwin mentions that he thought you were trying to move the genre forward and make it relevant. Was that a conscious decision?


AU: That’s high praise again coming from Gordon who I have the utmost respect for and I think those very words could apply to him as someone who has really moved the genre forward. I don’t know if I was specifically going with that plan because I just wanted to write the music that was relevant to me and because my influences do come from playing in Pop, R&B, Rock, Latin and Afro-Cuban groups, I think all of that works its way into my writing. As a younger writer, we think about Big Band music as being for an older generation but the reality is, I’m working with High School and College age students and they play this music at extremely high levels. They are the ones that are informing me about what is happening in Jazz and Pop and how it can be connected.


Q: That leads me to my next question nicely. When I listen to the album, I hear something that is more modern and I can’t put my finger on what it is. Is it the way it’s recorded in a modern setting as compared to the old records or something?


AN: (laughs) We definitely tried to make that balance between making it sound like a record that was recorded today but still respect the people that are loyal to this genre and are used to hearing it in the way that it was when say Frank Sinatra was recording and actually we were in the very same studio where Frank recorded It Was A Very Good Year (1965), Michael Jackson did Thriller (1982) and The Beach Boys did Pet Sounds (1966). We tried to remain connected to the roots of Big Band but at the same time, we are using modern technology to record which captures the instruments as best they can so it sounds like you are sitting in the middle of the band. We were not trying to make something that was new and fresh though, it was more making it the best it could possibly be.


Q: Eleven tunes, eight of them yours. What’s your composing process?


AN: I would say being a saxophone player, I think in more melodic terms but sometimes definitely  - every musician plays the piano – I would bring in a harmonic content. With the Latin and more rhythmic tunes, I will think of them more from the groove or the beat or something as simple as the tempo. I’ve written tunes while I’ve been riding my bike (Zebrano) and I think a lot of runners do something similar in order to try and pace themselves. They start to hear a song in their head to keep them from speeding up and slowing down and in my case, I just decided to create my own song.


Q: Randy Brecker is on Zebrano; as well as him, you have a terrific line-up of musicians on that album.


AN: You can’t beat them. The band itself we had been rehearsing for about five years before we did the record so not only are they seasoned, veteran, L.A. musicians but musicians that knew this music really well. Their attitude was ‘We’ve been playing this music a long time, how can we make this really special?’ as opposed to someone who just comes in and plays it for the first time. Then on top of that we have the amazing soloists of Randy, Bob Mintzer, Gordon Goodwin, Eric Marienthal…Brian Bromberg who I go way back with, Wayne Bergeron who is probably the No. 1 lead trumpet player in the world right now – you’ll hear him on every movie soundtrack – yes, these are the best of the best.


Q: How many tunes did you have to start with and was anything recorded that didn’t make the album?


AN: No, we squeezed on everything we could. This album actually even pushes the limits of how many minutes you can have on a CD! We didn’t throw anything out but I did have a lot of music that I was choosing from and at this point I have had a lot of other pieces that I’ve written that have been recorded by other artists but these are the ones I was able to keep for myself. Also, I didn’t know if I was ever going to make another one of these records but now I’m kind of hooked and thinking about my next Big Band record. Next though, we are going to re-release Catwalk on vinyl  - a double album – and we are adding a bonus track.


Sax and saxophonists


Q: What’s the background to your playing? What made you want to go for a sax rather than say a trumpet or even a drum kit?


AN: It’s funny because as a little kid, my first instrument was drums. My older brother is a trumpet player And he used to put together all of these little concerts with my big sister, me and our cousins and stuff and I was the drummer. When it came time for me to choose an instrument, I wanted to play trumpet but my parents wouldn’t let me because my big brother was already playing trumpet so I ended up starting on clarinet and after that, after a couple of years I knew I wanted to play in a Jazz band so I started playing saxophone as well as clarinet. Then I learned flute, took piano lessons and I finally got to play trumpet a little bit. I do play professionally on clarinet, flute and piano but my focus as an adult and professional is saxophone.


Q: I know my way around guitars and drums pretty well and can tell good ones from bad ones; what do sax players look for when they are shopping?


AN: If you are in that situation, you need to get advice from a professional saxophonist. There are certain brands that are safe brands and you know they will be a quality instrument. I’ve played on a lot of different brands and right now I’m an endorser of Cannonball Saxophones which I love but before that I played on Selmer and Yamaha. There are so many great choices out there…Eastman Instruments, Merano, Yanagisawa but definitely look for a professional horn. A student horn is cheaper but they are not made as well and for a young person starting out, it might be frustrating because they are trying to play an instrument that isn’t very good. You get what you pay for.


Q: This may sound like a strange question but I think that East Coast and West coast players have a different approach/sound. Would that be right or am I hearing something that isn’t there?


AN: I think that’s definitely true. All musicians, depending on where they grew up, those influences are always going to be there. The big studios where they made all the big records were probably in Los Angeles and New York City and they each have their own sound but there’s a lot of great music that came out of Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville and even Miami. Chicago as well and I’m from Philadelphia and we had so many great musicians that came out of there…


Q: The Sound of Philadelphia

AN: …Yes, Coltrane, Stan Getz and these are the people that created that sound that everyone tries to imitate now. I think the people in L.A. tend to be a bit more clean and perfect in their playing, maybe a bit more rounded whereas the ones in New York are a bit more rough around the edges but then they are not going to be afraid to be super-creative to.


Q: Run a few great Jazz sax solos by me to listen to.


AN: One of the most definitive Jazz records is Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. That’s the place to start because not only do you have Miles on trumpet but John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on sax. They have solos that have a clear identity as an artist. Another one would be Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and you hear Paul Desmond on there who sounds like no one else. Charlie Parker With Strings, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, his Ballads record is beautiful, Cannonball has a record called Something Else but a lot of these guys did great Pop sessions as well. Phil Woods played on Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are and Billy Joel had a lot of great solos played by Richie Kannada. He did It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll Too Me, Only The Good Die Young, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant where he also plays clarinet in the Dixieland section; those are all great Rock ‘n’ Roll solos. Lots of these great Jazz players did Pop; Bowie’s Young Americans was David Sanborn. Then you have Michael Brecker of course who is one of the most iconic Jazz and saxpophone players ever in the history of the instrument. Clarence Clemons did the Springsteen records and he defined that husky Texas tenor sound.


Q: Andrew thank you and I very much appreciate your patience with a Jazz amateur. I’ll look forward to seeing you over here next year.


AN: You’re very welcome and stay in touch.

アンドリュー・ニュー インタビュー2019














AN: 若いミュージシャンに見せたいという思いからなんだ。ジャズを演奏する入り口は学校での音楽授業なんだ。僕がジャズバンドで演奏するようになったのは、6年生か7年生の頃だった。その頃に音楽というものにはまってしまったんだ。ただ演奏するだけじゃなくて、他のミュージシャンとの相互作用も経験したんだ。そこで音楽というものがどのように構成されていて、曲というものがどのように書かれているのかをいつも見つけたいと思っていた。楽譜を見たりしてね。サックスを始めた時からそれがずっと気になっていたんだ。ビッグバンドでの経歴が一番長いのは、たぶん自分の好みをストレートに出せるからだろうね。ジャズ、ポップス、R&Bを演奏してきた中で、この形態が僕のルーツに立ち返らせてくれるんだよ。僕にとっては最適な環境なんだ。









AN:(笑)僕たちはただ今風に聴こえるサウンドにしようとバランスを考えただけだよ。でもこのジャンルの偉大なる先輩には敬意を払って、フランク・シナトラがレコーディングした時のように聴こえるようにも意識したんだ。実際に僕たちはフランクが『It Was A Very Good Year』 (1965年)、マイケル・ジャクソンが『Thriller』 (1982年) 、ビーチボーイズが『Pet Sounds』 (1966年)をレコーディングしたのと同じスタジオを使ったからね。そしてビッグバンドのルーツにもこだわった。それと同時に楽器のサウンドを最高の状態で捉えることのできる現代のテクノロジーも採用したんだ。リスナーがバンドの真ん中で聴いているかのようなサウンドさ。 ことさら斬新にしようなんて思わなかった。ただ、可能な限り最高のサウンドにしたかっただけさ。









AN: いや、やった曲はすべて収録したよ。このアルバムはCDのキャパぎりぎりまで詰め込んであるんだ!アウトテイクはなくて、すべて収録規準をクリアする曲ばかりだった。その時点では他のアーティストにレコーディングされた僕の作品もたくさんあったけど、自分用にキープしていた曲もたくさんあったんだ。もう一枚作ろうかという気もなかったしね。でも今は次のビッグバンドのアルバム用にしようかと思っているよ。次には『Catwalk』をアナログ盤で出す予定だ。2枚組でね。ボーナストラックも収録して。 





AN: 面白いものだね。というのも、子供の頃に最初に演奏したのはドラムだったんだ。僕の兄がトランペットを吹いていて、年の離れた姉と僕と従兄弟やなんかと演奏会をしたこともあったよ。その時はドラムを叩いたんだ。それで楽器を選ぶという段になって、トランペットがやりたいと思ったんだけど、両親がさせてくれなかった。兄が既にトランペットをやってたからね。それで僕はクラリネットを始め、その2、3年後にジャズバンドでやりたいと思うようになって、クラリネットと並行してサックスをやり始めたんだ。それからフルートもピアノも勉強し、最終的にはトランペットも吹くようになった。クラリネット、フルート、ピアノもプロ級だよ。でも大人になって、プロでやっていくのに選んだのはサックスだったんだ。






AN: 当たっていると思うよ。すべてのミュージシャンは生まれ育った土地の影響を受けているものだからね。大きなスタジオでヒット作をたくさん生み出してきたと言えば、ロサンゼルスとニューヨークだけど、両者はそれぞれ独特なサウンドを持っている。でもまたメンフィス、ニューオーリンズ、ナッシュヴィル、マイアミといった所からも素晴らしい音楽が生まれてきたんだ。シカゴもね。僕はフィラデルフィア出身で、あそこからも偉大なプレイヤーがいっぱい輩出されているし・・・



AN: ・・・ああ。コルトレーン、スタン・ゲッツたちが、今でも誰もが真似をするようなあのサウンドを生み出したんだ。LAやその近辺の人はプレイをよりきれいに、完璧にしたいという傾向にあると思うけど、それに対してニューヨークの人はよりラフでエッジの立ったプレイをする傾向にある。創造性のためにはチャレンジすることを怖れないんだ。



AN:ジャズとしては断然マイルス・デイヴィスの『Kind Of Blue』だね。あれが原点だよ。何と言ってもマイルスがトランペットというだけではなくて、ジョン・コルトレーンとキャノンボール・アダレーがサックスなんだから。彼らが自身のアイデンティティを懸けたソロを披露している。それと、デイヴ・ブルーベックの『Time Out』だね。デイヴ・デズモンドが唯一無比のプレイをしている。チャーリー・パーカー・ウィズ・ストリングスとか、ジョン・コルトレーンの『Giant Steps』もいいね。彼のバラードはほんとに美しいよ。キャノンボールの『Something Else』もいいよ。でも彼らのような偉大なジャズメンはみんなポップスのセッションにも参加しているんだ。フィル・ウッズはビリー・ジョエルの「Just The Way You Are」に参加しているし、ビリー・ジョエルの曲にはリッチー・カンナタが素晴らしいソロをプレイしているものがたくさんある。彼は「It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll Too Me」や「Only The Good Die Young」、「Scenes From An Italian Restaurant」にも参加している。「Scenes From An Italian Restaurant」では、ディキシーランド・セクションでクラリネットも吹いているんだ。これらはロックンロール史上でも偉大な名演と言っていい。多くのジャズメンがポップスでもプレイしていて、ボウイの『Young Americans』にはデヴィッド・サンボーンが参加しているし、もちろんジャズ界でも、またサックス史上でもアイコンと言えるマイケル・ブレッカーもポップスに参加している。クラレンス・クレモンスはスプリングスティーンの作品に参加して、ハスキーなテキサス・テナーサウンドを決定づけるプレイをしていたよね。




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