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Jacobs-Remon Guitar Duo On Tour in England



Joe Barth talks to LA guitarist Sid Jacobs and London guitarist Tom Remon while they are on tour of “one-nighters” around Great Britain.

Traveling by train, they are having a great time performing these gigs.  I caught up with them to ask how things were going.

JB:  Sid from Los Angeles, and Tom from London, how did you guys begin to play together?

SJ:  I met Tom 10 years ago when I was in London. I did a workshop for the Institute of Contemporary Music. Before the workshop started, a faculty member asked me if I would mind playing with one of the students. He said, “He plays jazz better than any of us”. Tom was just 16 years old. After the workshop, we played a few tunes for those in attendance and afterward, we spoke for a while and there was an immediate rapport. You can sometimes sense when someone has a similar vision. It’s a brotherhood that we all share. 

TR:  We stayed in touch for the next 10 years, sometimes I’d send him a recording I did and ask what he thought.  After touring a lot with the incredible drummer David Lyttle, feeling inspired, I wanted to ask Sid if he’d like to come over to the UK and perform with me. 

JB:  How did you select the cities and arrange the tour itinerary?

TR:  I looked at the map and looked at what venues I could possibly get gigs at, a lot of it was emailing, or asking in person if I was already there with another band or calling up, I did it in a way where the venues would be geographically not far from each other or at least easy to get to.

JB:  I know you are seeking to make your own statement as a duet, but do you have any of the great guitar duets of the past as a departure point of where you want to take the guitar duo?

SJ:  My God no. That’s too daunting. So many great guitarists, and duos. I can only think about what to do in the moment, find common ground, and “watch what happens.” That by the way, a great tune by Michel Legrand, is not yet on the setlist. (laughter)

TR:  Well for me, in terms of great guitar duos, about a month ago I saw Peter Bernstein and Jesse Van Ruller touring the UK, that was it for me!! Beautiful song choice, incredible interplay, and so much feel and emotion! Peter Bernstein has been my hero on the guitar for years, and he’s been a real inspiration for duo playing especially, the way he comps, the way he uses the amp and the acousticness of his guitar. I love his unbelievable swing feel, and tone, his sense of dynamics, everything.  And the same for Jesse for every single reason I’ve listed but in a completely different way!

JB:  Tell us about the setlist and material you are performing.

SJ:  As of today, we are only halfway through, so everything is, and will probably continue to be in an evolutionary place, a work in progress. Maybe it’s our own take on standards from the American Songbook, jazz tunes, ballads, and the blues. Fortunately, we have a good amount of common ground to choose from, so we don’t have to read on the stand.

TR:  One tune we’ve done on these duo gigs is Jim Hall’s arrangement of “With a Song in My Heart” which I recorded with (London guitarist) Jim Mullen years ago, and I saw Pete and Jesse play it in February, and that inspired me to pick it up again!  We are constantly adding and changing things night by night – as we have loads of common ground in terms of repertoire!

JB:  Tell us what you appreciate about bassist James Owston and drummer Jim Bashford as your rhythm section.

TR:  I’ve known Jim and James for a long time, the three of us have toured around the UK with one of my best friends and one of my favorite musicians ever, the trumpet player Neil Yates (he introduced me to those two) so I’ve been able to build something musically with them! James just plays underneath everyone in such a joyful way – is the only way I can describe it, sometimes when I’m closing my eyes and comping for a soloist, I’m always hearing these killing fills in between the walking baselines with so much vibe, syncopation and totally in line with what’s happening on the bandstand.

SJ:  I just met them through Tom, and for me, they are among the most supportive and generous rhythm sections a guitarist could hope for. I enjoy the acoustic sound of the guitar, so my ideal volume allows you to hear the blend of the amp and the natural sound of the instrument. These guys know how to burn at a whisper, and they both play great and very musical solos. 

TR:  Jim is one of the sweetest souls out there and is always giving everything to the music. He has such a beautiful tone on the drums and is always interacting with really musical ideas that always catch you by surprise, and when you least expect it he will “light a fire under your ass!” He has a huge swing beat, and I’m learning a lot about comping from playing with him, he kicks my ass!   They really know how to play under guitar players!

JB:  Any further plans for performing together?

TR:  Sid and I are having such a ball on the road, both on and off the bandstand.  Lots of joy, and serious laughs for sure!  We will be doing stuff in the future, we’ve talked about a couple of ideas and I can’t wait for them to happen!SJ:  I think so. I think we’re just getting started; we are just scratching the surface. So far, the response has been positive, and Tom and I get along royally. It is England after all.  I love his energy so if the situation presents itself, I won’t say no. I can’t.

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