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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Brian Hughes

brian hughesSmitty:  Well, if you love fantastic guitar riffs and unique melodies and harmonies, you will fall in love my next guest.  He is one of the most prolific guitarists and he is one that you cannot put in any box.  His great “guitarship” is the hallmark of his one-of-a-kind career. He has garnered multiple awards around the world and recognized as one of the premier guitarists around the world.  He has a great new record out.  It is a live recording and I must say it is one of the most fantastic live recordings I have heard ever.  Please welcome the passionate and incredible Mr. Brian Hughes.  Brian, how are you, my friend?

Brian Hughes (BH):  I’m great, thank you.  Glad to be with you.

Smitty:  Yes, it’s great to sit down and talk with you as well, my friend and I am totally loving this new record.  What a live recording!  So talk to me about the live recording.  You’ve produced so much great music and you’re a fantastic live performer, and I know everyone that has seen your live performances will concur, but talk to me about how this whole idea of doing a live record finally came up.

BH:  Well, it kinda started with a concert that we did in Montreal at the La Maison de la culture Frontenac, which is about a 500-seat theater, and FRC, the French Radio Canada, was on hand to tape it, and it’s just one of those things that when I got the tapes I kinda thought, oh, wow, this sounds pretty good.  (Both laugh.)  And I kinda went hot and cold on it for a while and then at a point I decided, you know, I’m gonna put this out, so I talked to them and licensed it from them and we just put it out so, I mean, it’s just kinda one of those things that it kind of filtered around for a while in my mind and then I finally said “Yeah, this is a very cool record so let’s get it out there and see what happens with it.”

Smitty:  Yeah, and when I heard about the live record, I said to myself, “Yes!” because anyone that has seen you live will want this record because your live performances are so memorable that automatically, no matter where I was, if I was anywhere in the world, any corner of the world, and I’ve heard you live, I would say “Yes, I want that record.”

BH:  Right.

Smitty:  Because it’s like getting memorable keepsake concert, you know?  It’s fantastic.

BH:  Yeah, I think it came up too because a lot of the music is really quite different from the studio versions when we play it live because the band really stretches out, so it’s kind of a different experience than the studio recordings, so I was really happy with the way it turned out and the energy that was there so, yeah, that’s why we put it out.

Smitty:  Yeah, that’s a great segue too because, Brian, this band is totally hot.  Wow, these are some great players, man.  Do me a favor.  Introduce this band and talk about these great players for me, would ya?

BH:  Yeah, well, it is.  It’s just a fantastic band.  I’m just thrilled to be able to have them work with me.  For sure, we’ve got on the bass Tim Landers, who’s, I mean, just a fairly legendary bass player.  He’s played with Al DiMeola, he was on Al’s first two or three records, and Billy Cobham, he’s on several of Billy’s albums, and Vital Information he played with and he’s played with Gil Evans, people like that, so quite a history there.  And then on percussion, Ron Powell, who currently plays with Kenny G.  He’s Kenny G’s percussionist and he’s also played with Sergio Mendes for years and Madonna as well, so he’s a great percussionist and a great showman as well.

Smitty:  Yes he is.

BH:  And then on drums we have Tal Bergman and Tal’s just a real great, fiery player and he’s played with Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea, and then on the other spectrum of things, he’s played with Billy Idol (both laugh) as well, so he’s a real fiery drummer.  And then on the piano and keyboards we have Les Portelli.  Les has worked with me for years, since my Under One Sky album in like 1992, so we just have a real strong chemistry there, Les and I, and Les is a fantastic piano player.

Smitty:  Yes, these are bad boys, man, I tell ya, and you created such, like you mentioned, great chemistry with this live recording and it’s like you cats have been together for 30 years.  I mean, the chemistry and the synergy is just amazing with this live recording.

BH:  Yeah, it really turned out great and, yeah, it was just a great vibe and a great lock on it.

Smitty:  Yeah, absolutely, and when I think about your career, you’ve done it all and in my opinion, you’ve done it your way, and I think that’s a beautiful thing when you can do it your way and when your heart comes out of this and this live recording is just such a huge stamp on the fantastic guitarist that you really are.

BH:  Oh, well, thank you.  I appreciate that.

Smitty:  Yeah, and you’ve toured with Loreena McKennitt.

BH:  Yeah, yeah, I do a lotta work with Loreena, especially the last two or three years we’ve been very busy.  2007 was largely taken up by a world tour and then the kinda year and a half before that I was in the studio for most of that time working on her album, An Ancient Muse, so we released that album and then we also shot a DVD in Alhambra and Granada, Spain, at the Alhambra.

Smitty:  Yeah.


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