Sky Canyon is a well accomplished artist that isn’t defined by genres. From jazz to blues and world music, he can play them all. Also, he composes in them all. Bluesalicious is a single that comes from the smoothest parts of jazz to the classic blues, and yes it is delicious as mentioned in the title. Products do match the description provided. Follow the interesting conversation about the genre that I got from Sky Canyon as well.
Adding the xylophone as a layer really changes the approach of your songs. How do you think you differ from a traditional blues project otherwise?
Agreed, vibraphone – and see the following re vibraphone vs xylophone – does set the tone for these songs, as it is a rather unique instrument, relative to horns, guitar, etc. So, it is a vibraphone – the bars are metal, it has a sustain pedal and there are spinning “butterfly” flaps under each bar that create the vibrato. It’s funny, most everyone thinks it is a xylophone, which has wooden bars and no sustain.
Vibraphone players have been playing jazz blues for almost 100 years – think of Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs, Gary Burton, and many more – since the vibraphone was invented in the 1920s. But, to your question, most people think of a traditional blues project with guitar or saxophone or other horn. The form of Bluesalicious is classic jazz blues, meaning the chord changes include all the nuances of blues that you find in jazz, vs straight three-chord blues that are popular on the radio.
Layered pastry of notes
The bass line is prevalent, and correction, the vibraphone does take the cake. Though this instrumental has been pivotal in many classic songs, it acts as the lead here, completely changing the flavor. As the notes can’t bend like the guitar, each note is distinct and is allowed to ring out. This is something heard in the unique cover of Poinciana by Sky Canyon as well.
2) Your genres range from the blues to jazz and world indie also in the case of Poinciana. How do you still manage to keep it fresh?
I decided a while back that I would do tunes I love and or write my own as I feel inspired. For a tune that I’m going to cover, I “listen” internally for what I can do that is different; otherwise, it’s just one more guy covering a tune. Can I make it different? Poinciana is a great example: There are more than 100 versions of Poinciana that have been recorded, but I knew that the way I was hearing it had never been done; that’s what makes it fun, creative and definitely fresh.
Just the instrument changes the approach in so many ways, and the way its heard. It might be a cover, but the fingers on the medium have a brain operating on a different wavelength. The solos also might have the soul of jazz, but creates its own special sound because of the register of the instrument itself. The piano plays just beside it in moments, and you hear the stark difference. Refreshing and exciting this is a series of moments I haven’t heard. Brilliant solos from all musicians involved.
Another time, another place
3) After Seeds, Sky Canyon fans are waiting for an album release. When do you suppose that is?
Yikes! Seeds was recorded in 1976; it’s ancient history – LOL – and not related to anything I’m doing now. The more recent album of new age music I did is Immersion – that was released on Watercourse Media (www.watercoursemedia.com) in 2004.
Seeds was re-released more recently, only because my musical partner from back then wanted to have it available. However, these days my focus is jazz; releasing singles and then at about 8 or 10, compile those into an album. That said, I’m also working on a rock album with my old rock band (where I was the drummer), featuring all original, classic 70s rock tunes.
New steps now might create exciting sources of inspiration from this project. With so many genres and a library of musical knowledge, the magic can come from anywhere, anytime. This might be an old way of creating music, but its new to an entire generation that has not heard this style.
Challenge birthing inspiration
Collaborating with other artists, what is it that you discover about the chemistry that is exciting and makes you want to keep doing this?
This is a great question. The chemistry is in bringing the right players to the track, ideally better players than me, which forces me to up my game. I give them direction on what I’m looking for, but then it is their brilliance that comes through. Partly because I tell them I want a performance that I can brag about them to the world. On Bluesalicious, for example, Eric Gunnison’s piano solo is so fabulous that I had to go back in to improve my vibraphone solo. Chemistry equals inspiration, which equals performances that get me excited about why I do this.
A great way of looking at live music, where each element in the clock inspires the other to keep time. The vibraphone gels in with the other instruments to fabricate something so unique, I haven’t heard before-mastery in music at its finest. There is a possibility for live music as well, so fingers crossed this project goes on tour!
Listen to the jazz glitter in the single here:
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Self professed metalhead, moderately well read. If the music has soul, it's whole to me. The fact that my bio could have ended on a rhyme and doesn't should tell you a lot about my personality.