Scott DuBois: committed and risky music for hard times, by Enrique Farelo
With Banshees (Sunnyside Records 2008), Scott DuBois takes a new direction merging free jazz, rock and avant-garde bop with modesty and authenticity. He is a self-confident musician and a grey-matter filled brain whose music rewards with its creative richness the full attention it demands from audiences.
ENRIQUE FARELO: Do you consider yourself an up and coming guitarist in the jazz scene today?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I constantly try to evolve as an improvising musician and composer. The audience seems to respond well to the new music.
ENRIQUE FARELO: What other musicians do you consider rising talents in Europe and the rest of the world today?
SCOTT DUBOIS: There are so many, but I would mention the guys in my band, Gebhard Ullmann from Berlin, Thomas Morgan from New York, and Kresten Osgood from Copenhagen, since I work with them the most and have seen their evolution for a few years now. I try to have my favorite players from around the world work with me. These guys inspire me while I am improvising and always take me in new and different directions each night, when we are on the bandstand. I am writing music specifically designed for them.
ENRIQUE FARELO: What side of your music is more important to you, the emotional side or the intellectual side?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Emotional. But many times through the intellect, you can find ways to express new emotions.
ENRIQUE FARELO: And which way do you think your audience perceives that?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Probably emotional. That’s usually the feedback I receive.
ENRIQUE FARELO: How long did it take to record Banshees and what happened along the way? Any anecdotes you can tell us about?
SCOTT DUBOIS: We recorded the entire record in about two-three hours in Switzerland. The recording session just flowed. We only did one take of each piece, with the exception of one which we recorded twice, but we still ended up using the first take. We were all in the same room and it was just like a live performance. That’s how a recording should go after performing together every night for a couple of weeks.
ENRIQUE FARELO: About the title itself, does it have something to do with Irish folk tradition [in Gaelic, “Banshee” means “tumulus woman”]?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I thought of it more as intense spirits, not about the gender of the ghost. I felt it was appropriate for the music.
ENRIQUE FARELO: In all your recordings you have relied on Thomas Morgan for playing bass. What’s his contribution to your band all these years for not to change him for anybody else?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Thomas brings a sensitivity and a subtle side to a very intense band. He brings a delicate balance to my music.
ENRIQUE FARELO: In Monsoon (Soul Note, 2002) and Tempest (Soul Note, 2007) Dave Liebman was your sax man, what have you found in Gebhard Ullmann for the new project?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Gebhard and I have been playing together since 2005, and since the first time I’ve played with him, I thought he was perfect for my music. I was also looking for a great bass clarinetist, and I definitely found one.
ENRIQUE FARELO: From Monsoon to Tempest and Banshees, what evolution do you see in yourself as a musician and composer along the way?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I have been working to create more and more group communication, spontaneity, dynamics and general unpredictability in my music. The way I composed on Banshees and the musicians whom I chose, made each piece totally different every time we play and the music is a living and constantly changing work.
ENRIQUE FARELO: What’s the reason for releasing the new album with Sunnyside? How did you get to this label and what’s your experience with them?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Sunnyside has been great. I wanted to have a record label here in New York. I was a big fan of some of their releases and I contacted them to see if they were interested. It has worked out very well!
ENRIQUE FARELO: Talking about records and image, who’s responsible for your cover design, how important is this issue for you?
SCOTT DUBOIS: The photo was taken by a photographer in Madrid named Jose Manuel Holguín Pérez and the art for the CD cover was done by the New York graphic designer, Christopher Drukker. After recording the record and coming up with the title, I saw the photo and immediately said: “This is the Banshees cover.” I like to have the cover reflect the music, if possible.
ENRIQUE FARELO: Changing the subject, changing Bush for Obama has been quite influential for the whole world, how has this affected your life? Is there a reflection of this in your music?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I think art transcends politics, borders, and everything else that divides the human race.
ENRIQUE FARELO: What stages and cities would you like to play in? With what musicians?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I want to keep coming to Europe! We’ve been touring there for almost four years now, and we’ve had a wonderful reception. The Spanish audiences have been great and your food and wine are a very nice bonus. We will focus on Europe and North America in the next few years and hope to head to South America as well. I would love to perform in Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
ENRIQUE FARELO: Where have you felt your music got better response? What gigs do you remember as special?
SCOTT DUBOIS: We’ve received a great response in the United States and in Europe. With half the band living in Europe, we’ve focused much of our attention over there. The audiences have been great and keeps getting better and better so we will keep on coming back!
ENRIQUE FARELO: To finish, how do you see yourself inside the jazz scene and your future recordings, collaborations and upcoming tours?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I want to keep working with this band and continue touring, recording and discovering new ideas and directions in my writing and improvisation. Last Spring, I recorded my fourth album, Blackhawk Dance, which will be released sometime in the first half of 2010. It has the same musicians as Banshees but a totally new direction. I’ll keep you posted.
Text: © Enrique Farelo, 2009.
Translation and photography: © Sergio Cabanillas, 2009.