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New Release From Wales Guitarist James Chadwick



JGT contributor Joe Barth talks to guitarist James Chadwick About his new trio album, “Inside Out”.

Above Photo by Dave Daggers

If your travels take you to Wales in the United Kingdom and you find yourself in its capital city of Cardiff and you hear some great jazz guitar, chances are you will be listening to James Chadwick.  Though born in London, James has made Cardiff his musical base and home for several years.  James has just released a wonderful trio album entitled Inside Out and I talked with him about the making of this album.

JB:  I’d like our readers to get to know you a bit.  Did you grow up in Wales and what inspired you to play jazz guitar?

JC:  I was born and raised in London but went to the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff to study Classical Guitar. Apart from about eight years where I lived in London, Cardiff has been my home. I’ve always been drawn to the music we call jazz and a musician who I still admire a lot, named Dylan Fowler, gave me my first lessons and turned me on to an extensive list of great records to acquaint myself with.

 JB:  To you, what are the names of a couple of the most influential jazz guitar albums? 

Gone Like a Train by Bill Frisell and  Undercurrent by Bill Evans and Jim Hall.  There are some classics I haven’t included, but these two albums opened musical avenues and options I wasn’t aware of until I heard them. I think I’m on my third copy of Gone Like a Train. Bill’s choice to be simple and to the point was the most striking thing to me on that album.  The musicianship and interplay on the other record are inspirational. 

JB:  Talk a little about the jazz scene in Wales and the United Kingdom and the type of gigs you play.

JC:  The jazz scene in Wales is very much divided into different areas. It’s becoming more vibrant and, on the whole, there is a growing enjoyment of different styles and ways of playing this music. The gigs I do vary from local bars to restaurants, art galleries, and concerts. I’m always on the hustle to keep busy!

JB:  Your new CD Inside Out is a guitar, bass, and drums trio album.  Five of the songs are originals of yours.  Did you write the songs with the guitar trio in mind?

JC:  Whenever I write I have a sound of this context in mind.

JB:  You begin the album with a rhythmic rendition of “I Remember April.” Talk about how you came up with this.

JC:  It was a spontaneous moment with the riff coming from the interaction with bassist Henrik Jensen and drummer Mark Whitlam. The only preconceived idea was the tempo and style.

JB:  I enjoyed the sparse treatments of Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.” Talk about coming up with these. 

JC:  “Night and Day” was one idea that came about from the gigs we have done. We seek to set the mood and see where we go from there. The important component was not to play or hint at the tune too soon. We like a lot of group improvisation. “Days of Wine and Roses” mood came from the intro and again the feel and interaction were very much in the moment as we play. A lot of trust is needed!

JB:  Bassist Henrik Jensen and drummer Mark Whitlam are, of course, a fantastic team. What do you appreciate most about them as musicians?

JC: Their support, musicianship, and I trust them completely. It’s always a journey and at times the music is going places you weren’t expecting. The trust of oneself and those around you is so important.

JB:  You mentioned Bill Frisell’s Gone Like a Train as an influential album.  I hear some “Bill Frisell approach” in your playing.  Did you have any personal contact with Bill over the years?

JC:  I would love to meet Bill at some point, he is someone I admire greatly! I have spent a lot of time transcribing his playing. The most recent recording is his performance of “Lush Life” with Petra Haden. It is such a great performance and his accompanying of her voice is just perfect.

JB:  What do you appreciate most about the Gibson guitar you play? 

JC:  I love the sound and the feel of playing it. I knew the first time I tried it that this was the guitar for me. The amp I use is a Fender Blues Junior. It’s easy to take around and has a great sound that suits what I do. 

JB:  You have performed with guitarist John Stowell.  Talk about John’s impact on your playing.

JC:  I discovered John’s playing during the lockdown and decided after four years of not playing that I would dive in again and also get some lessons. The sessions with John were full on and there are many aspects of his chordal and harmonic language which has opened doors for me. I do feel our sounds are very different, which is a good thing, but playing with him and discovering his insights have been a big learning curve for me.

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