Chris Taylor: Never Make Your Move Too Soon
AAJ: That's interesting; the technology has given this freedom to every would-be musician but maybe a record label is the best place to be after all.
CT: It is, for fringe music. What used to be Indie music now needs the label to get noticed. In an independent market it's harder to get noticed now. I think it's true in all the art forms, like publishing and writing; now, everyone's got a blog. Everyone who can type assumes they're a writer now.
AAJ: In another 10 years the only jobs people will be doing will be writing, making music or doing photography. It could mean the extinction of the human race.
CT: [laughs] Exactly. My wife's a photographer and it's the same deal with that. Now everyone's a photographer.
AAJ: You mentioned Scott Kinsey, and there's a whole raft of tremendous musicians on Nocturnal, quite a few of whom are Abstract Logix recording artists; did you know these guys before starting to make the record?
CT: Some of them, I did. It wasn't a conscious plan to use these people. Ric Fierabracci , who plays bass on most of the tracks, I had worked with on another project where I was writing and producing a guitarist by the name of Ed Degenaro. I was writing really complex stuff for that and Ric's playing was just incredible. We'd never met before but we had a similar work ethic and he was one of the first people I wanted to go to when I started recording this. He had done a record with Steve Tavglione who I've admired for a long time. He gave me Steve's number and I called him and through him Scott Kinsey, and through both of them Gary Novak got involved. Then Kirk Covington got involved because Scott Kinsey said: "You really want him for this track ["Odd Hours"]. He was absolutely right.
George Whitty, I've known for 30 years, and I know Dave Weckl through him. I didn't plan to make this an all-star record, and sometimes those things can really be a mistake. I was conscious of not putting everybody's name on the record cover because I didn't want to market it as "look who I've got playing with me." The truth of the matter is they're all amazing musicians and they all played incredibly for the record, so I was very fortunate.
AAJ: They really play fantastically well. What do you like about Fierabracci's bass playing?
CT: Ric plays bass in a way that I love. He's got incredible technique, great chops, great soloist, but he plays in the rhythm section as a bassist first and foremost. A lot of this music I had originally written for upright bass and he plays fretless in a way that kind of gets that quality. He's got an organic way to his playing that I really love. He wants the music to be right.
AAJ: Whitty only plays on three tracks but he leaves a large impression on the disc.
CT: I knew George back in Berklee and he's just one of the best musicians I've ever met. I have complete trust in his ears and his playing. He was also involved in the mixing of the record. It's great to have that trust. If he says: "I don't think this is quite working" I would really listen. Or if he says "I think this is great," again, I totally trust him.
AAJ: Tavaglione plays out of his skin on this album.
CT: He's amazing. As a matter of fact we're in the process of gearing up to do a record together as co-leaders because we enjoyed working together so much. He's got great lyricism and a melodic quality I just love. He's really dedicated to doing a great job and he just has such personality and vibe that he brings into the music. Plus he plays EWI along with bass clarinet and all the saxophones; he's a consummate professional.
AAJ: His EWI playing on the composition "Here to There" sounds like a harmonica. It could almost be Toots Thielemans; he brings out quite a unique tone from that instrument.
CT: Yeah, he's got an incredible touch on the EWI. I think I first heard him use that on a ballad on a [bassist] Gary Willis record. I thought it was real harmonica because it's a breath-controlled instrument it has that same kind of attack. His lyricism really shines through.
AAJ: There are quite a lot of programmed voices on Nocturnal; what were you after?
CT: There's some African voices, some Indian, some Tibetan voices.; it's something I kind of hear and I like to add in as a texture. [keyboardist/composer] Joe Zawinul was a big influence in this direction. It's something I try not to use in a gratuitous way. There is also a lot of spoken voice in there from old TV shows and old movies and radio broadcasts. It's just something I hear. I collect different samples and I kind of hear a spot for it, most often as texture. When it's a melodic piece it's something to orchestrate around, something to push the music in a different direction.
AAJ: You talked before about being a musician first and a guitarist second, and that seems to be the order overall on Nocturnal; the solos are generally quite succinct. What dictated the degree of improvisation?
CT: I kept the solos short to a degree, mainly for myself, because I'm composing and I don't want to have five minutes of soloing surrounded by 30 seconds of writing on either side. I wanted the improvisation to seep into the composed part so you don't really notice the transition.