Scott Dubois is one of the top modern jazz guitarists in the New York scene today. Having just released his new CD Tempest (Soul Note, 2006), he will be performing live in Madrid’s 23rd Jazz Festival. Arturo Mora had the chance to interview him before his Spanish appearance.
ARTURO MORA: Tell us about your new record, Tempest.
SCOTT DUBOIS: This is my second release for the Soul Note record label and the same group with whom I recorded my debut CD Monsoon and with whom I have been touring for the past six years. My compositions have taken somewhat of a new direction from when the last record was recorded in 2002. I’m going for different textures in my writing, composition forms, rhythms, harmonies.
ARTURO MORA: There are two wind players (among Dave Liebman, Jason Rigby and Loren Stillman) in each tune. How did you decide who were the appropriate ones for each song?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I tried to hear who would be most appropriate for each piece, after considering the composition. There were a few pieces that just shouted Liebman and Loren and a few pieces that said Loren and Jason, eventually using all combinations of the three players.
ARTURO MORA: There’s an almost ethnic motive in some parts of Tempest, strengthened by Dave Liebman’s Indian flute sound. In other parts your guitar strumming reminds of a folk environment, and elements of rock and drum’n’bass can also be found throughout the recording. Do you think crossover is, today, a central element of jazz?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Absolutely. The music people are writing today in the modern jazz/improvised music scene has influences from every type of music you can imagine. This has been in jazz since the beginning when it began as a blend of European harmony and African rhythm coming together in America. I listen to almost every type of music that is out there and it just naturally flows through my pencil when I’m composing.
ARTURO MORA: On November 16th and 17th you will perform live at Bogui Jazz in Madrid. What will your repertoire consist of?
SCOTT DUBOIS: It will consist of pieces from my debut CD Monsoon, pieces from my latest CD Tempest, and very recent compositions.
ARTURO MORA: What can you tell as about the band you’ll bring to Madrid?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I’m excited to have this group in Madrid. It’ll be with the great Gebhard Ullmann on Tenor and Soprano Saxophone and Bass Clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Jeff Davis on drums. Gebhard is one of my favorite sax players around today. Jeff and Eivind work together as a rhythm section with many people in New York, so they have an amazing connection and are constantly communicating and interacting at the highest level.
ARTURO MORA: How would you describe your music?
SCOTT DUBOIS: It is always hard to do that and difficult to put labels. I will leave that for the listener’s ears.
ARTURO MORA: Which is your goal when writing new music?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I’ll wake up in the morning with a melody in my head, or will be riding the subway in New York and hear a rhythm from the city that I will have to write down immediately. I just write what I hear and I go from there.
ARTURO MORA: When composing, are you aware of the time signature you are using beforehand, or does it develop from the melody?
SCOTT DUBOIS: It really develops from the initial melodic or harmonic idea that creates the piece. I generally hear a basic idea in my head and then it grows after working through it for hours, days, weeks.
ARTURO MORA: How do you decide if playing acoustic or electric guitar on a specific tune?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I usually hear the sound of either acoustic or electric over the composition and that makes the decision.
ARTURO MORA: In the recent years you’re performing a lot in Europe. What would you highlight from your European experience?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I love playing in Europe. Europeans make great audiences. The highlight has been the great reception we have received from the people at the clubs and festivals. The people really have open ears and minds in Europe for modern jazz/creative improvised music and for risk-taking music.
ARTURO MORA: What music are you listening to at the moment?
SCOTT DUBOIS: Where do I start? I have been checking out a lot of 20th Century Classical composers recently such as Charles Ives, Gyorgy Ligeti, and Bela Bartok. Jazz-wise, I have been listening to the Cecil Taylor/Buell Neidlinger Mosaic boxset, the Miles Davis In a Silent Way boxset, a lot of Paul Bley, an Anthony Braxton’s quartet record he did live at the Willisau Jazz Festival, Ornette Coleman, and a lot of my peers who are releasing great CDs. I’ve been also listening to a great Norwegian vocalist named Hanne Hukkelberg.
ARTURO MORA: Which current musicians do you admire the most?
SCOTT DUBOIS: I admire my peers around me doing what I am doing. There is a great scene where I live in New York and I am constantly impressed with what I hear from my peers who perform regularly at the clubs where I also play. We all feed off of each other.
ARTURO MORA: Next projects: what’s to come?
SCOTT DUBOIS: My group is going to tour Germany and Switzerland and then will record our third CD for the Between the Lines record label. We also have a tour in Italy coming up. You can always visit my website at www.scottdubois.com for more information on future projects, recordings, and tours.
© 2006 Arturo Mora Rioja , Tomajazz