Bob: What’s new with you? What’s your latest project? What gets you up in the morning and says, man, I can’t wait to get to that!
Jonathan: Yeah. Well, as you know, we’re in a crazy, kind of a once in a lifetime (hopefully!) zone where we’re dealing with this reality that now we’ve been in it for four or five months. It’s crazy and no one expected it would still be going like this. I’ve canceled multiple tours so that’s been tough, but I wouldn’t say disastrous for me, because in the end it’s actually been an interesting experience. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on it. I could argue that I have a “once in a lifetime” chance to be reflective and have this break after a really crazy period. It’s kind of an interesting time for me specifically too because I am going through a kind of midlife moment (haha)…and It also happened right after I released my first live album. Capturing Spirits, JKQ Live.
Bob: It’s hard to believe it’s a live record. It is so freaking good.
Jonathan: That almost makes me want to cry, haha, because it was a lot of work mixing, so thanks!
Bob: People will really appreciate it, the tone and the playing. It’s hard to believe it’s all from one night. It is a hell of a great record.
Thanks! We actually didn’t know it was being recorded, I had forgotten that it was in the contract that the venue was going to make a board tape.
It was one of those things where we finished the gig and I said, “Oh man, I wish we recorded this!”. The guy who was running the board said, “what do you mean? We did record!”. So it was like, “oh, alright!”
Bob: So it recorded off the mixing console live?
Jonathan: Yeah! There were a couple of mikes on the guitar amps. We had two overheads on the drums and maybe a Kick. Maybe it was just that. And then the bass, we had a mic and a DI. Then two mikes on the piano. So we really worked on isolating using frequencies and fixing a lot of phasing and stuff to really isolate and have some control over the mixing. It was a real challenge because the bass amp was right next to the piano, So there was a lot of bleed – especially when the tunes got louder. It was a lot of work, but I just thought the performance had something that none of my other albums had. And I realized now I may do all albums live.
Bob: I love live records! If I listen to an artist, I want to hear their live stuff.
Jonathan: Yeah. I worked with Dr. Lonnie Smith and he’s always told me that ‘the real stuff’ is in the live recordings. So, I finally came around to it. When you’re as picky as I am, it’s hard. I realized the secret is to make sure they don’t tell you they are recording! That’s the secret. You don’t have time to get in your head.
Bob: So tell us about your new Membership Club – Explorations of Note with online lessons/community.
Jonathan: The membership club is something I never could have done unless we kind of had this virus apocalypse. What I mean It’s really given me a moment to think about what education means and what it means to be generous with your life and your music.
I grew up in this time where we had guys like Holdsworth and Metheny, and those guys were like gods. You didn’t really have access to their life or how they were working. It was kind of like they were mad scientists in their secret labs. And I grew up that way and that was cool. But now with the onset of social media and all this stuff, there has been a lot of changes — and for me honestly, the jury is still out on a lot of this stuff, as far as whether it’s good in general. Like for instance, This whole concept of guys getting on Instagram, playing over, play-a-longs or playing a 32nd line or whatever… I’m not really convinced it’s good at all honestly.
So what I wanted to do was ask myself “ok, so what is good about these new mediums and what is bad”? Like for instance, Streaming and the whole sharing everything on social media for free is horrible for artists’ revenue, but it’s kind of where it is and I don’t think we’re coming back from that. So, that being said I thought to myself, “how can I find a way to rethink this kind of artist behind the wall thing?”, to find a way to do it where it’s going to be mutually beneficial. I knew that I needed to do it in a way where it was interesting for me and might inspire me to be more productive and
Explorations of Note is basically it’s a monthly membership program. We have many recorded and live lessons, PDFs of all kinds of stuff I’ve played, tune analysis videos of compositions I’ve written, and also ones I admire. It also has a bootleg session with a bunch of unreleased stuff. On the final tier, there is also the chance to study privately. So it’s a pretty dynamic program. I never did anything like it, but so far it’s been great!
I actually think we’re in the middle of some type of a Renaissance. I just hope the whole Instagram 30 seconds flashy thing, or the guy in his underpants playing over the play alongs doesn’t affect it. We just need to remember that going out and putting a band together is what it’s about. We need to remember that coming up with a concept and playing shows that touch people (not physically, of course, haha). But you know, with our sound, I think that we really need to keep our eyes on that. And if we do that, jazz guitar stands to have a little Renaissance here.
Bob: Yeah. Renaissance is what we’re all about at Jazz Guitar Today!
Jonathan: Thank you. I had a great time.
Bob: See ya.