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David Wilkes interview page 3

dave and sophie milmanSmitty:  Absolutely, yeah.

DW:  So I’d like to see more of that.

Smitty:  Yes indeed. She’s hot, she’s a great talent.

DW:  She has a lotta potential, that’s for sure. That’s exciting.

Smitty:  Yeah, I really enjoyed conversing with her. She’s very cool.

DW:  You know, the thing about the jazz musicians today and then is that they’re all so skilled with their instruments, and that’s really such a nice thing to work with somebody who really knows their tool.  Probably should say that like studio musicians….and a lotta these jazz guys could be studio musicians….they and brain surgeons are like the highest level.  You know, like you don’t wanna go into an operation finding that your brain surgeon doesn’t know what he’s doing.  You take it for granted that they’re gonna do what has to be done. Same thing when you hire these guys to go in the studio and they make a record.  They know what they have to do and they do it, and it’s so simple when they do it and yet it’s such a skill that they’ve attained over so many years.

Smitty:  Absolutely. So now you’re at Koch and you’re comfortable in the VP A&R chair. You know, how are you liking it over there?

DW:  Well, I like it because everybody is friendly, they wanna do this kind of music so they’re supporting this kind of music, which is unusual today, you know, because there’s not that many….first of all, one of the ways that I’m getting all these acts is the big companies aren’t supporting this kind of music, so I would say three or four of the acts that I have….Bob James, Earl Klugh, and Michael Franks ….were on Warner Bros., and Warner Bros. gave up the jazz side. Columbia and Sony are kinda giving up the jazz side, or RCA’s kinda, you know, they’re combining and cutting back, GRP is doing the same thing. So Koch wants to build this area and I can build it.  I am building it and they’re letting me build it, so that’s pretty cool.

Smitty:  Yes, that’s a very cool thing.

DW:  Yeah, they’re not saying I gotta go out and find the next “Disco Duck,” though I wouldn’t put that song down. I’d be happy to find it.  (Both laughing.)

Smitty:  Absolutely.  Well, there are some amazing people at Koch.  I’ve worked with just about every level of individuals over there and I must say it’s just been a delight and a pleasure to work with everybody from distribution to A&R.  (Laughs.)

DW:  It’s like a throwback label.  Everybody there loves working in the music business.  They’re all highly trained people in their area.  Some of them are very young, but they’re all trained.  Some come from independent labels, some come from Epic or from major labels.  You know, Joe Mozian comes from RCA; John Frank, the head of marketing, comes from Epic; Bob Frank, who is the President, comes from Universal Polygram, as did I.  And then a lotta people had their own business, so everybody knows their business really well.

Smitty:  Yeah, and it shows.

DW:  Yeah.

Smitty:  I’ve always had that impression each time I’ve talked with anyone over there on any level, a great bunch of people. People like you, David Bosch, Gio, and Paul Dougherty

DW:  And they’re willing to work hard.  It’s not like it’s a 9 to 5 gig, you know, and these people also go out at night and see acts on weekends. That is a job, but it’s what they see themselves as being a part of.

Smitty:  Yeah, and I certainly appreciate and applaud everyone there at Koch.

DW:  I’m sure they’re happy to hear that and I’ll thank them for you.

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  Please pass on my thanks to everyone.  It’s been a pleasure working with everyone there at Koch.

DW:  You know, when people come up to visit me and they see the office and we walk them around the little nooks and crannies and they see three people sitting where one person should sit and people sharing offices, they say this is like what the record business used to be when they first got in, you know, the exciting activity at a record company. And music is playing from all different rooms.  There’s no sterile atmosphere, you know.

Smitty:  That’s so cool. I’m gonna throw a couple of names at you and if you would, just talk about them.

DW:  Okay.

Smitty:  Marcus Miller.

DW:  Okay, he’s one of the most extraordinary musicians, you know, hard to even put him into a genre, and a super nice guy, very modest and very considerate, and he’s one of the geniuses in the business…. As a producer, as a writer or as a musician or performer, he’s an amazing, amazing talent and he’s one that goes into the books, the Who’s Who of Great Musicians, not just bass players.

Smitty:  Yeah.  Yeah, and he plays a mean saxophone too.

DW:  Well, I’ve heard him play a bass clarinet on stage.

Smitty:  Yeah.

DW:  You know, when you have it, you have it, right?

Smitty:  Absolutely, man.

DW:  These guys understand music and understand what an instrument does.

Smitty:  Yeah, let’s see, let me throw another name at you:  Nelson Rangell.

DW:  One of the most interesting guys and one of the brightest,….and an amazing virtuoso. He just plays almost any instrument. I was kidding him one time and I said “Hey, don’t tell me you play an accordion.”  He says “I do” and I believe him. (Both laughing.)  You know, he whistles better than anybody.

Smitty:  Oh man, I tell ya. I’ve witnessed that first-hand when he whistles a song. Incredible.  In fact, I don’t shed tears very often, but I was just about ready, I was almost there.

DW:  Well, Nelson’s the type of guy who if you see him, you gotta love him because he’s that good.  I mean, sax…I mean, there’s a lotta great sax players and he’s one of them.

Smitty:  Yes indeed.

DW:  Yeah, but the flute and piccolo and whistling just adds so much energy. It’s almost overpowering at times. We did a nice concert in Colorado Springs, Colorado at Earl Klugh’s….he has this lovely annual festival at The Broadmoor. And Earl became good friends with Nelson, and that’s great for Nelson because Earl’s such a quality guy as well. They did some shows and the audience just loved it, it was standing ovations just about every time.

Smitty:  Rightly so, Yeah. Talk to me about Earl Klugh.

DW:  Well, there’s nobody better. You know, if Earl didn’t play guitar and he sold encyclopedias, you know, everybody would have a house full of encyclopedias.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

DW:  He’s just such a warm nice guy.  You just feel good being around him. And, of course, he’s one of the fathers of the Smooth Jazz era.

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  He’s a an incredibly talented artist.

DW:  He just has a lot going for himself in every area.

Smitty:  Yeah, I think he could play whatever he wants on a guitar.

DW:  Yep, yep, and people just like to see him on stage because he makes everybody feel good.  He’s such a lovely person.

Smitty:  I totally agree.  Bob James.

DW:  Oh, Bob, again, he’s the icon of the business, I guess, right?

Smitty:  Oh yes, he’s the crème de la crème.

DW:  You know, since Koch is a very big hip hop label….and that’s where the biggest money is made and then, I guess, in children’s records….all the hip hop artists know Bob James. They will sample his music in their music, so he makes a lotta money just by hip hop artists sampling it.  It’s very nice that I have an artist who’s a jazz artist that everybody knows about and, you know, it’s a prestige item, that’s for sure.

Smitty: One more, my good friend, Steve Oliver.

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