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Allan Holdsworth interview
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artlover



Joined: 13 Jul 2015
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:08 am    Post subject: Allan Holdsworth interview Reply with quote

Hey Scott, have you ever read this? I just found this interview that Allan did in 1992 where he talks about you. It's around the middle of the article. I find his comments very interesting and true.

http://www.fingerprintsweb.net/ah/press/jj0592.html
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Scott Henderson
The Man


Joined: 20 May 2004
Posts: 1296

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never seen this interview. Actually when people heard Allan's influence in my playing, they were correct. When I first heard him on Tony Williams Believe It, I'd never heard jazz played with a tone like that, and I knew that type of tone was what I'd been looking for. I was never interested in trying to learn the vocabulary, which I knew would be impossible for me to play anyway, but for awhile in the Tribal Tech days, I was using a humbucking pickup in a strat with high gain - the tone and legato technique was similar to Allan, even if the vocabulary and style wasn't. He's right that I'm coming more from bebop and blues.

I stopped listening to guitarists for a long time, but now that I'm older I feel like I can enjoy music without being so influenced by it. We all go through our young "I wanna do that too" phase.

Allan and I played the longest game of phone tag in history. We always left "love your new record" messages for each other, and he left a 10 minute message about Vibe Station - he sounded pretty wasted but I'm glad he liked it.

You can name just about any guitarist and hear their influences, except for Allan. Truly original and innovative - that's so extremely rare.
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James



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I listen to Allan I sometimes think of late 19th century classical music harmony .. and of course .. associations to the saxophone, guys like Coltrane & Brecker. But derived guitaristic cliches or influences were pretty much purged - his music was very undiluted. (kind-of reminds me of mid-late Webern).
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Scott Henderson
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Joined: 20 May 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone posted that he was the Mozart of the guitar - I didn't say anything but I was tempted to reply, dude, better go listen to some Mozart. Now Stravinsky - that I would buy. Especially when Allan played those amazing chord solos by himself - closer to 20th century classical music, both in voicings and harmonic content.

It used to piss me off when reviewers (sometimes the people who know the least about music) compared him to Coltrane. Any jazz sax player can blow a long breath into the horn and play a million legato notes, so I guess uneducated listeners were fooled into making that comparison, since Coltrane's name is synonymous with "jazz sax player". Two completely different improvising styles, Coltrane's much more rhythmic and deeply based in the jazz vocabulary, and Allan's - from somewhere else. And that was the great thing about Allan - he didn't sound like anyone.

It's a shame reviewers love to compare so much. I guess it's the only way they know to try to explain what something sounds like. One of my reviews said "sounds like BB King meets Steve Vai, with Charlie Parker.... and I'm like Jesus Christ, where are you getting that?? Anyway, I'm going to keep telling people to check out Allan's music and not expect it to be something they've heard before.
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James



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yea... he certainly has nothing in common with the pretty perfection of 18th century Mozart, or that harmony. I listen to classical music more than anything else. I was thinking more late 19th-century, very early 20th .. Elgar, Debussy & the French School, Strauss, Mahler, early Schoenberg, some Bartok, Stravinsky, Holst, Vaughan Williams etc ..

The comparison to sax players is just pure surface (horn legato) and based on comments he himself made in interviews I suppose - how during his formative years (and beyond) he was deeply influenced by the improvised soloing of Coltrane & Brecker more than any guitar guys, that sound, which may have had an impact on his technique? He wanted to be sax player more than a guitar player initially etc. Coupled with how his music is closer in conception to jazz .. group interplay, improvising, changes etc., but electric. But many jazz guitarists study horn players! So other than these thin associations, the content & execution of it all has little in common. He was his own man to be sure.
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Scott Henderson
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Joined: 20 May 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob Bradshaw and I were working on my gear and he said "well, you're really a horn player more than a guitar player." I think a lot of jazz guitarists are more influenced by horn players than each other. Allan and guys like me who play legato with high gain are even more likely to be compared to horn players because of the sound. Pat Kelly came to hear me play on guitar night with John Pisano - he said from the bathroom, he couldn't tell if it was me playing or a sax player sitting in. I told him the bathroom was the perfect place to hear my playing. Very Happy
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James



Joined: 17 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jazz horn players, pianists .. tend to have more advanced vocabularies to draw from? Regarding just the sound, and comparisons .. Allan perhaps more so than you? To me . . paramount to him was the pursuit/refinement of a tone/attack to achieve that horn like legato lyrical fluidity, something triggered by his love of the sax sound (as heard in his favorite players) .. honestly, when I listen to you .. i realize and hear a lot more going on musically behind the scenes than a blues or rock player, and you certainly have your own voice and thing going on .. but your sound (and attack) is firmly (and genuinely) rooted in the best of those traditions.
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countandduke



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 153

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the "Mozart" comment was mine. I'll admit it, definitely NOT for the musical style but more for the fact that Mozart died with not much money to his name. Most households across the country have at least someone that knows the name "Mozart", but not so with Holdsworth.

Best,
Chris
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Scott Henderson
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ha ha! Well Chris, you definitely got it right then! I think most jazz musicians can relate to Mozart when it comes to money. He had syphilis, and some believe that his death was due to overdosing on mercury to treat it, so let's hope the comparisons stop at money....
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Scott Henderson
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Joined: 20 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry James, I didn't see your last post. Yes, Allan picked very lightly and was legato all the way, and his tone focused on the mids and wasn't full range - definitely more like a horn. I'm too blues influenced to play like that all the time - I change my picking style and tone to fit the music I'm playing, which is much more diverse. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I have a good time trying to play different styles of music.

When I think of guys like Philip DeGruy and Ted Greene, I'm tempted to disagree that keyboard and horn players have a more advanced vocabulary than guitarists. But... they're the most advanced guitarists I know of. If you exclude them I'd agree with you.
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James



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Henderson wrote:
When I think of guys like Philip DeGruy and Ted Greene, I'm tempted to disagree that keyboard and horn players have a more advanced vocabulary than guitarists. But... they're the most advanced guitarists I know of. If you exclude them I'd agree with you.


Laughing

I've seen a few Ted Greene videos on YT discussing JS Bach (my favorite musician/composer) .. but he didn't seem to record much (1 recording?) and preferred to teach (I know about the Chord Chemistry book). I've never even heard of Philip DeGruy other than your advocacy here now and on the podcast you do. I'll have to look into him.
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Scott Henderson
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's weird and sad - the two heaviest guitarists on the planet and they remain under the radar....

Ted wasn't interested in a career, as in recording and touring, but he was THE genius of solo guitar. There are videos floating around from his students where he's playing such incredible music. I guess the closest I can come to describing it is that he could improvise modern classical music - and by modern I mean the voicings and harmonic movement were in the realm of Wayne Shorter, but add the voice leading of each individual note... you have to hear it to believe it.

I have no idea why Phil isn't more well known. He's the best kept secret in the universe in my opinion. I've seen him play live many times, and I've never seen anyone, including Ted, as advanced on so many levels. He's a freak of nature, or from another planet. He lives in New Orleans, and if he didn't come to LA sometimes, I'd be buying a ticket there to hear him play, just like going to Vegas to see "O" because you can't see it anywhere else. I can say without a doubt that anyone who sees Phil play live walks away knowing they've just seen the finest solo guitarist in the world.

Tommy Emmanuel is another incredible solo guitarist and I'm sure you've heard him, so when you think about Ted and Phil, imagine Tommy with the harmonic abilities of Keith Jarrett.
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peter_heijnen



Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know Phil Degruy because you mentioned him and looked him up. His playing goes far beyond what i could ever do but for some reason it doesn't appeal to me, i'm probably not ready yet. Ted Greene on the other hand goes 'beyond' as well and touches my heart. What totally amazes me is how he seemed to improvise genuine polyphony on the guitar.

A tremendous guitarplayer from Uruguay called Leonardo Amuedo lived in the Netherlands for some years. A piano player that often played with him told me that Leonardo plays amazing polyphony as well.
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countandduke



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 153

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember my first "Real" guitar teacher turning me onto Holdsworth and Shawn Lane. Shawn LOVED Allan and was a HUGE influence on Shawn. I think Shawn was another one of those people that had "something special". Anyways, my teacher said something along the lines that Allan would impose limits on himself like "no more than 2 notes in a row ascending or descending". Not sure if that was the correct quote or not but Allan just seemed light years ahead of where I was at that time and now still seems WAY OUT OF REACH even after almost 30 years of playing!!!

Scott, if you've done this already I apologize, but would you mind almond about when you first heard Allan's music? Did you "get it"? I'm still not sure I "Fully Get it"!!!

I remember seeing Allan with Chad W. on drums and Jimmy J. on bass playing this little club where they played one set and then a second set that we could attend for an extra like $15. The second set had maybe 30 people and the music was SOOOOOO good, I remember the song "Water on the Brain" sounded sooooooo good it was like the walls were alive!

Best,
Chris
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Scott Henderson
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of Allan's music sounds pretty inside to me, but a lot of it is harmonically challenging to listen to. That's on first listen - if you listen multiple times to anything, it becomes more inside every time you hear it.

I liked hearing Allan solo more when there was a keyboard player in the band, because I could hear the harmony better. Allan played in a very linear way, using scales more than chord tones - I still liked hearing all the shapes and creative ideas, but it was harder to "get it" when the chords were missing under the solos. Dave Carpenter used to play chords on the bass sometimes during Allan's solos and that was cool.

I'm a different kind of player than Allan but one of my biggest challenges when soloing in a trio is to help the audience hear the changes, so I use mostly chord tones and chromatic passing notes rather than scales, especially when it's original music and the chords are already weird and foreign sounding to the audience. It's not like there's a right or wrong approach - Allan had a lot of fans who dug his solos whether or not they could precisely hear the harmony under them.
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