Jamie Saft: Experience Transcending the Speakers
My two solo records for the RJC series, Sovlanut (Tzadik, 2000) and Breadcrumb Sins (Tzadik, 2002), are the purest expressions of my connection to Judaism and Jewish Music that I could articulate. They are made of my experience as a Jew in the modern worldraised as much on dub reggae and metal as on Torah and Jewish Musicthese musics are all one to me.
New York is the place where all these cultures smash up against each other. I've tried to reflect that experience in those records. I have no interest in retreading on old Jewish Music or Klezmer. Leave that to the scholars and my 78s. The records on the Radical Jewish Culture series, at their best, truly reflect a new Jewish Music.
I've always tried to play as many different instruments as I could. Drums, bass, guitar... I even played French horn as a youth... So all styles and types of music were relevant for me. Good music is good music, period. It is neither a conscious choice nor a necessity. It is the reality of music. Dividing music by genres only trivializes the music. Great art speaks for itself and doesn't need these divisions.
For me these instruments have never gone out of style. I got my first synth for my Bar Mitzvah and was interested in electric music from a very early age, so the sound of the Fender Rhodes, mellotron, clavinet,Hhammond, Moog...those were the sounds I was raised on.
Since I fed on rock/produced music, not the purer folk styles of my parents, to me music always had loud guitars, squealing synths, weazing mellotrons, bashing drums. So that is my point of reference for all my music. Whether as a composer, engineer, or producer. I embrace all sorts of studio soundscapturing natural sounding field recordings should be for purely acoustic music, be it jazz, folk, or music of the world. I'm interested in creating something the listener can experience that transcends the speakers.
Think Pink Floyd.
Working with Bobby Previte
Bobby Previte hired me for some of my first tours as a sideman when I first moved to New York. We've been through the trenches and back, and after so many years of playing together we are still changing and developing. I played on a number of his records including Latin For Travelers' Dangerous Rip (Enja, 1998), Weather Clear, Track Fast's Too Close to the Pole (Enja, 1996) and his Miro record, The 23 Constellations of Joan Miro (Tzadik, 2002). As a sideman I've been learning from Bobby since day one. Bobby Previte truly loves to make music, whatever it is.
We just finished his newest record Coalition of the Willing (Ropeadope, 2005), which I co-produced and engineered for him. It's the culmination of years of playing Bobby's large book of tunes and Bobby's desire to do studio versions of these tunes. The album is very seriously ass-kicking and features the virtuoso guitar styling of Charlie Hunter as well as other great musicians.
Bobby is also playing in my new project called The Jamie Saft Blues Explosion. We've been playing around town working out a bunch of new music of mine that is steeped in Texas Blues meets Black Sabbath. I switch between organ and guitar and Jonathan Maron of the Groove Collective is playing bass with us. Look for a new release from this project by the summer as well as a fall tour in Europe and more U.S. dates.
Bobby and I also have a new Doom project called the Beta Popes with notable lunatic and metal maniac Skerik on vocals. Beta Popes has a live release in the can coming out soon and a studio record almost done too.
More Future Plans
I've recently completed a Doom Dub record I did with Merzbow, coming out in the next few months on Caminante. I've also been doing a bunch of film scores and TV score work, including original scores for Murderball, an award winning film about the quadriplegic Olympic rugby team, and God Grew Tired Of Us, a documentary about the lost boys of the Sudan, currently showing at Sundance. I have a number of other film scores coming out soon too.
And I'm also working on a record for Tzadik called The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan, which will have a number of special guest vocalists on it. This is a very important record for me; just as with Zorn's Masada Book II music, I have a deep connection to Dylan's music. I'm very excited about doing this. It's been in my mind for many years.