Jazz Monthly How about Chieli?
PA: Chieli Minucci on guitar from “Special EFX.” He’s a special guest on “Block Party” where he takes a real nice solo! We have Bill Heller who’s the keyboard player from The Rippingtonss on “Light As Air” – which he co-produced. We worked on that at his studio for a bit and finished it up here. Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano. He’s on “Send Down An Angel” and “Funk It Up.” He’s got quite a few releases of his own out. A very well known and wonderful jazz pianist. Schuyler Deale co-produced a bunch of the tracks. He’s also on bass. Lionel Cordew on drums. He’s on a lot of the tracks. He also plays drums for “Special EFX,” Jeff Lorber and Mike Stern. Vinny Conigliaro’s also playing drums. Vinny is a regular member of my band. Lionel also does some gigs with me, but Vinny’s been in the band for years…
Jazz Monthly: Your band is “Interplay”, right Paula?
PA: Yes. Darin Brown also on keyboards, is one of the regular members of my band as is Steve Briody on guitar who also has a few of his own releases out, and Roy DeJesus on bass. Lou Gimenez produced most of the record and also played guitar on the recording.
There are a few percussionists… Emedin Rivera, who also plays with “Special EFX,” Fred Walcott, you’ve got Dave Delhomme on keyboards – who also plays with Eric Clapton and Marcus Miller. John Deley on keyboards, who had been playing with Dido. He’s doing some Broadway now. Wonderful backup singers: Deanna Carroll and LaRita Gaskins. Baron Raymonde playing on “JB” with Greg Adams and me. Baron played Tenor and Bari on that cut… I think… that might be it. (Laughing) Naomion also sang backup with me on “Say It Baby.” She was the only person I was not able to get a picture of. It wasn’t very easy to get everybody’s picture for the CD cover. (Laughing).
Jazz Monthly: Yes, yes… our readers have to check out the back of it, because Paula’s surrounded by these virtuosos.
You know it’s funny, Paula, because in a fun way… we are having a good time here chatting and I’m almost putting you on the spot here. Doesn’t your heart always go out to the person winning the Grammy Award or the Academy Award? He or she is up there and they have to thank everybody, and you don’t want to leave anybody out! Right?
PA: All I can say about that is, you better have it written out on a piece of paper because I’m so sure that it is so shocking that everything goes out of your mind. (both laughing)
I don’t know how they can remember anything. I wouldn’t be lucid… I would just be speechless.
Jazz Monthly: Well, (to our readers) if Paula and I left anybody out, just go out and buy the CD and read it off the credits.
PA: It was wonderful to have all these people. It was just absolutely amazing. I love to have the pictures to look at and remember all the experiences of having these people guest on the record, and of course having my regular members play on it too. This really was a lot of fun!
Jazz Monthly: Now you said it took about four years in the making, and your fans… and I know there are many Paula Atherton fans that were waiting for this CD… but it’s well worth the wait. You know Paula, It takes so much thought… and I could image you tweaking it and deciding: “should we leave this in, should we leave that in.” Every little subtle nuance to the CD takes a lot of thought – and we’re not even talking about the actual performances themselves.
PA: Not everything was written at the same time either. Probably the last few things that were written were “JB” and probably “Funk It Up.” And… how this whole project came together… if I may elaborate on it a little bit…
Jazz Monthly: Sure!
PA: People that had my first CD will notice that this is quite different…
Jazz Monthly: Your first CD was “Let Me Inside Your Love?”
PA: Yes, that’s right. It debuted on the Contemporary Jazz Charts in 04’…
Jazz Monthly: And received great reviews I might add…
PA: The way this particular CD came about… now with the concept in mind that I’m always writing and thinking about things, I had written “Whenever You Come Around” early on. I had an idea about the groove and what I wanted to do with it, and I brought it over to my friend Schuyler’s house – who co-produce a lot of the tracks and plays bass on here… and we were going to do a demo on it. We started to work on the groove and Schuyler said that it reminded him of Sly and the Family Stone. And after we got that track going, it kind of set the stage for the rest of the CD.
Jazz Monthly: Wow! Interesting. So in other words, that kind of laid the foundation and was the “entrée” so to speak to what you were trying to accomplish on this CD “Groove With Me.”
PA: Yeah… until I wrote and recorded “Whenever You Come Around” and listened I didn’t even realize what I was trying to accomplish. I just wrote that and I was like, “Oh… Yeah… this will be kind of cool to go in this Retro, Urban, Old School R&B direction, you know?
Jazz Monthly: Great point. Before we talk about the actual tracks themselves, I can tell that as a young performer, you had a veracious appetite to want to learn. I mean you studied with some incredible people here… your teachers alone! You studied with Bob Mintzer. And I guess our readers will know Bob Mintzer with the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius and The Yellowjackets. You studied with Alto Saxophonist Lee Konitz, who was a driving force of the “cool jazz” school. He comes out of the Lenny Tristano School. Lee Konitz is still around, right? He’s still playing?
PA: He’s still going! Still amazing!