Smitty: Well, once again, I am always delighted to invite my next guest to JazzMonthly.com. He is in my Top Five bass players in the world. He’s about to release his latest record. It is called Your Move and, trust me, you must hear this record. It has some fantastic tunes and you know him from Love Letters, Velvet and At The Jazz Base, but now he has created a great new record and it is fantastic! Please welcome the incredible and amazing Mr. Gerald Veasley. Gerald, how ya doing, my friend?
Gerald Veasley (GV): I’m doing great, man. Man, after that great intro, I was expecting to hear applause. I thought I was at a concert. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Hey, man.
GV: Thank you, Smitty. How you doing?
Smitty: Man, I tell ya, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist camp on a warm summer night. (Both laugh.)
GV: That’s great. Well, that’s pretty happy.
Smitty: Yes indeed. You know, it’s always great to talk with you, man. I was telling someone recently, I said “You know, I always enjoy talking with Gerald because he’s just got that whole intellect, not just about music but everything, and it always carries over to the music, you know, the sounds and the arrangements, everything.” And this new record is nothing less, man. This is just some fantastic music, you’ve got some great players on here with you, and you just know how to pick ‘em, man. I love this record.
GV: Well, I thank you a lot. I mean, the last recording that I did was a live record, which really showcased my band.
Smitty: Yeah, great record.
GV: For the first time at the club, The Jazz Base. But the last studio record that I recorded, man, was back in 2003. Can you believe that? Velvet.
Smitty: Wow, Velvet, I remember that.
GV: Yeah, so this record was kinda the best of both worlds in that I was able to showcase my great band again--
GV: --but doing a studio setting and bringing in the fantastic Chuck Loeb on the guitar--
GV: --as producer and guitarist, so it was just awesome. The spirit of collaboration is really what this record is about, you know, collaborating with great musicians and great producers.
Smitty: Yes indeed. Well, you know, I was very intrigued by the title of the record and seeing you looking so studious in front of that chessboard. I gotta ask you, do you like to play chess?
GV: You know (laughs), I do like to play. I don’t play as much as I like, but I do like games in general. I mean, I just like the challenge of putting your mind to the test, the challenge of the fact that there are so many different decisions you could make, and especially in chess there’s a whole array of choices you can make, and I think that’s part of it, that no two games are ever alike, and jazz is exactly the same way. Because, you’re presented with many, many choices every night. You get through the same song, but what’s special about jazz is that you always have the ability to make the song different.
Smitty: That’s so true.
GV: The great philosophers who once talked about how life is like a river in that you never step in the same river twice because it’s always flowing and it’s always changing, and that’s jazz too.
GV: It’s like that river that is always changing, and so that’s why the image of Your Move and the symbol of playing a chess game is such a powerful one to me, not so much in an intellectual way but more of just the excitement about the various choices you have in music and in life.
Smitty: Mm, yeah. I like that. So is this a chill time kind of thing for you, playing chess?
GV: Yeah, it is. It’s also something that I enjoy playing with my daughter and so it’s like one of our bonding activities. I have an 11-year-old daughter who’s just the sweetest girl and I have a couple of older kids too.
Smitty: Yeah, I met them.
GV: But the 11-year-old is the one that lives with me, Taylor, and we do that and we both love to play Sudoku, which is also an interesting game. And, you know, the other thing about these kinds of games is that not only are they great metaphors for other things that I do like music, but they also enable me to use another part of my brain.
Smitty: Yeah, I like that.
GV: You know, because the music, a lot of it is—the music making, rather, is in some ways very intuitive, it’s about emotion, and then doing some of the other things that I’m involved in like some chess or Sudoku….That involves more linear kind of thinking where you are just using logic, so I don’t know, it’s fascinating to me. I’m kinda restless, I’m always trying to learn something new, always trying to just better myself and do more and know more and enjoy life, and sometimes it doesn’t always have to be the biggest and greatest things.
For example, I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. That’s on my list. I know we just talked before this interview about a nice trip that you just had, and there’s always these things where you get to see the world and I’ve been blessed to see a lot of that, but sometimes you can also enjoy life in the small moments when you really can enjoy it in front of a chess board, or last week we had the lunar eclipse. I don’t know if you saw it where you are, but we saw it here on the East Coast. And just standing on my back porch with my daughter looking at this rare celestial event with my little girl. That was a special moment.
GV: It’s what it’s all about, man. Moments.
Smitty: Well, you know, I think you’re right and you talked about wanting to do more and learning more. You’ve done a lot of things. I mean, I’ve always admired your trips to South Africa and wanted to go! (Both laugh.)
GV: You gotta get there, man.
GV: It’s a wonderful place.
Smitty: Yeah, and you know those experiences you told me about, because I remember we’ve talked a couple of times about your trips there and meeting Nelson Mandela and going to the prison where he was and talking to people and reading books about it. I think that’s just a beautiful experience. But the other thing that I really wanna ask about too, and I think is just super, is the radio show.
Smitty: Yeah. Talk about that because now, as a musician, you’re trying to get to radio and then now you’re on radio and you’re talking about not just Gerald Veasley’s music but all kinds of great music, and what an experience that opens up for you, you know? Talk about that a little bit.
GV: Well, yeah, I think you’ve really hit it. It opens up some other opportunities to experience the music in a different way. When I’m presenting music as an on-air personality, it’s very different than when I’m sitting in my car or sitting in my home listening to music because I get the chance to be sort of a conduit between the music and the audience. I can talk about some of these music makers that I may play on the radio who happen to be friends of mine like the Chuck Loebs and the Najees and Pieces of a Dream.