Allan Holdsworth - an ingenious sound (Jazz Hot 1980)

From Allan Holdsworth Information Center
Jump to: navigation, search

Machine translated version of Allan Holdsworth - un ingénieux du son (Jazz Hot 1980)

Allan Holdsworth - an ingenious sound ...

Jazz Hot Magazine, 1980

(The date is set to January 1 in the article index, but this is only approximate.)

Interviewed by Marianne Rosenstiehl and Jean-Francis Zermati

(Machine translated from original French text. Some suggestions for words have been added in [brackets]. If you would like to help improve the translation, contact Allan Holdsworth Archives on Facebook.)

If Allan Holdsworth's music originates from 70's English rock, his improvisational style sets him apart. But it is above all its unusually diverse and fluid sound that seems to have the most interested jazz musicians like pianist Gordon Beck, with whom Holdsworth has embarked on a long tour across France; an excellent opportunity to discover the one that Larry Coryell recently designated as "the best European guitarist since Django." [Machine translated]

Jazz Hot. - Allan, it's especially for your work with Gordon Beck that the French public knows you well … [Machine translated]

Allan Holdsworth. - Yes, and it's quite curious, because I did a lot of things before; and on the other hand, when I started recording with Gordon, I felt quite uncomfortable with this music: I've always been pretty jazz-rock oriented and Gordon's music has given me a hard time. I'm not very happy with what I did in the quartet album ("Sunbird", see JH # 367), and I'm sorry we could not have rehearsed any longer before recording it. Our duet album satisfies me more. It is still somewhat paradoxical that the success came for me with a music that I like a lot, but that does not quite fit mine .... [Machine back translated]

JH - What has been your musical journey since your participation in the group "Soft Machine"? [Machine translated]

AH - I went to the United States for a few years. I lived in New York with Tony Williams, and this was for me the richest musical period so far. Tony is a fantastic guy. We recorded two albums together: "Believe It" and "Million Dollar Legs". Later, in England, I played with Gong, which was really a very good band, with a sound of its own; I play on their record "Gazeuse". Then I met Bill Bruford, with whom I recorded three albums. Meanwhile, there was also "Enigmatic Ocean", with Jean-Luc Ponty. But to be fair, it's with "Tempest", a heavy metal rock band, that I really started ... [Machine back translated]

JH - So you were rather a rock guitarist originally; how was your transition to jazz? [Machine translated]

AH - Actually, I never really played "jazz". My way of playing and my music are from rock. I started playing the guitar quite late, since I started at the age of seventeen playing pop. At the time, I had a fairly extensive musical culture: my father, who was an excellent pianist, owned hundreds of records. Thanks to him, I discovered a lot of things, whether Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney, or classical music. I was also interested in other instruments than the guitar, for example the piano or the saxophone, without ever playing it. As for the guitar, I am totally self-taught: I have never even worked the standards, which explains my difficulties to play with Gordon Beck ... In general, I am a loner. I work and I always compose alone, and I have never played with other guitarists, except once in the disc of Jean-Luc Ponty. [Machine back translated]

JH - Let's talk about some technique, because the material you're playing on seems to be very important to you, and you have a very special sound: what are your stuff [what is your gear]? [Machine translated]

AH - I am constantly looking for a better sound. I tried just about all the amps - Vox, Fender, etc .... I now play on a new tube amp English-made, the Harley Thomson. In terms of guitars, I am very attached to two models: my old Fender Stratocaster I played for a very long time, and the Gibson SG Custom I've been using for three or four years. I use various accessories, including several effects pedals in chorus [together?], for various effects. I also like playing in stereo by inserting between the two amps a "delay" very short. In agreement, it allows me to get sounds that are similar to that of the piano. For strings, I'm not crazy: I like soft strings because they sing more. I usually use Adario strings. [Machine back translated]

JH - You have a very personal way of using the guitar rhythmically. For you, is the guitar primarily a solo instrument? [Machine translated]

AH - We model an instrument according to its own temperament. For my part, I hate clichés, and I hate this mode of "funky" rhythms, that's all ... The guitarists are all set to this form of rhythmic playing, just as all bassists try to play as Pastorius. It's silly, and one wonders what they would have done if it had not existed. Everyone must find their own style. The types that copy Jaco Pastorius retain only the superficial aspect of his playing. And the sound does not mean anything without the personality. [Machine back translated]

JH - Your left hand playing is also very original … [Machine translated]

AH - Yes, I have always been embarrassed by the way many musicians sound their guitars. It probably comes from my love for the saxophone: I try to get my strings a modulated sound that is more like the voice or the timbre of a wind instrument. When you play sax, there are a thousand ways to attack the note, to make it last, to act on the pitch and the timbre. I tried to develop a left hand fingering that could give me similar results. It's my fingers that print a certain attack on the note, which prolongs it or not. This is also why I do not use picks. [This presumably refers to Allan’s legato style, as he did use a plectrum.] [Machine back translated]

JH - Parallel to your work with Gordon Beck, you also animate [lead] your own quartet, with which you played lately in Paris. Do you have projects with this group? [Machine translated]

AH - We have just started playing together. Only Gary Husband, the drummer, has been with me for a few months. I have recording projects in trio (guitar-bass-drums) and it is in this perspective that I currently compose. I envision something more elaborate than what is usually done in jazz: rather than alternating theme-chorus, I would like very written parts for all instruments, with a constant development of harmonization throughout the pieces ; which does not prevent improvisation. [Machine back translated]

AH - I really like what pianist Benoit Widemann does. I will also give a series of concerts with Didier Lockwood in Gordon Beck's band. I think there are many good musicians in France. There are many who come to jam at Riverbop. In London there are quite a few places like this: pubs close very early and the atmosphere is usually pretty stuffy, at least in jazz circles. It's a bit why I prefer to work in my area with my trio. I hope to record very soon. It remains to find a producer ... [Machine back translated]