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JGT Interview: London Jazz Guitarist Tom Remon



JGT contributor Joe Barth talks to London jazz guitarist Tom Remon.

A fine guitarist who lives on the north side of London is Tom Remon.  Tom has been busy performing not only in his native Great Britain but all over Europe for over ten years.  Tom and L.A. guitarist Sid Jacobs recently finished a well-received tour of England.

JB:  Talk about what inspired you to play jazz guitar. 

TR:  I got into playing rock guitar and blues rock from the age of eleven after having many different phases within the blues/rock idiom. At around the age of fourteen, I had a period of listening extensively to the Allman Brothers Band.  I read in a few Duane Allman interviews that he listened to a lot of jazz records, and that really helped spark my curiosity about this art form.

Also at the same time I was having guitar lessons in high school from a great jazz guitar player named Carlos Olmos and he really helped me get started playing. He also turned me onto two albums that blew my mind at the time, Pat Martino Live (1972) and Pat Metheny’s Question and Answer. Once I heard those two albums, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

JB:  What did you appreciate most about your musical studies at Middlesex University in London?

TR:  There are so many things about Middlesex! Firstly having both Gareth Williams and Dave Ohm as teachers was incredible. They were both so encouraging of my playing and whatever voice I had but also knew exactly how to push me to become a better player. Nikki Isles’ touch on the piano whenever I heard it knocked me out, I’ve never heard the piano being played with such grace and with a beautiful sound. 

JB:  To you, what are three of the most influential jazz guitar albums and why?

TR:  This changes all the time but at the moment I would say Larry Goldings Peter Bernstein Bill Stewart Live at Smalls (2011).  The guitar tone would be enough to do it for me, I can’t get over the sound he gets, and then that time feel.  Then the mix of tunes and how Peter deals with them, playing the most swinging, beautiful, creative guitar in today’s! I could go on and on but Peter Bernstein’s music has and still has a huge impact on me.  He has been a big part of my life, I’m not ashamed to say I’m a huge, huge fan of his!

George Benson: Giblet Gravy (1968). This album is just iconic. The way George and Herbie Hancock play is just pure beauty. George’s guitar playing on this album is just jaw-dropping. His sense of control, sound, and feel still knocks me out, and even after fifty years is still timeless.

I have to say four albums by Wes Montgomery:  Dynamic New Sound/Boss Guitar/Full House/Smoking at The Half Note.  I had to put Wes in there, how could one not? It was too hard to pick just one album so I thought I’d cram them all in, I mean Wes is the greatest right? There are a number of special solos,  but “Days of Wine and Roses” on Boss Guitar could have you on the verge of tears it’s so beautiful. 

 JB: Talk about how London guitarist Jim Mullen has influenced you as a player.

TR:  I’d say Jim’s huge sound on the instrument, the urgency and depth of every note he chooses to play, the time feel, blues, and constant driving flow/forward motion are the aspects of his playing that influence me the most. Jim Mullen is one of the greats, as well as a hero of mine without a doubt. I hope we can get together and play again. 

JB:  You recently did a tour of England with Sid Jacobs.

TR:  Sid is one without a doubt one of the absolute greats of jazz guitar, the way he supports the other musicians on the bandstand is like no other. His comping is so beautiful, he gives you everything and more! He is one of the masters in my opinion of counterpoint, and I’ve seen him improvise the most beautiful two/three part melodies I’ve ever seen! 

He is full of stories, of all the guys he’s played with (Idris Muhammad, Eddie Harris, and Mike Clark being a few) and also about his beautiful connections to Jimmy Wyble and Joe Diorio, was such an honor to spend time with someone who is directly in the lineage of jazz guitar. Sid is also one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met and is such a joy to be around. We had a ball and I cannot wait to make music with him again! I am truly honored to call him a great friend!

JB:  You and drummer David Lyttle play together regularly.  Tell us about your duo.

TR:  I have been incredibly fortunate to play a lot in the last couple of years with David, who like Sid has become a great friend of mine. We’ve been exploring the guitar/drums duo format playing standards and originals. His drumming is just so great! His ride beat, sound, creativity, and ideas are just on another level. No wonder he worked a lot with some of the greats such as Louis Stewart and Jesse Van Ruller. 

Playing with Dave has been one of the best things for me in my life, playing with him has helped my time feel, sound, comping, learning how to shape tunes, ballad playing, basically every aspect of my musicality. I wouldn’t be the musician I am if it wasn’t for him. He’s a musical mentor of mine as well as being one of my best friends. 

JB:  What do you appreciate most about the D’Angelico guitar that you use?

TR:  It’s such a beautifully made instrument, I’ve had so many musical friends of mine, especially guitarists comment on the tone the guitar produces. The thing that I appreciate most though is that I have to work and figure out how to produce a good tone. If my touch or control is off, it will tell you, my guitar takes no prisoners! It’s something I have to work on all the time!

JB:  Talk about your goals in making the Eagle Peak album.

TR:  I really wanted to do an organ record, and had a lot of tunes that I thought worked for the lineup so we went for it, working on that record saved me over the pandemic!  It was also the easiest and most joyful recording experience of my life, everything was more or less one take!

JB:  Talk about making a living as a guitarist in London, and the type of gigs that you do.

TR:  I’ve been lucky where I’ve been able to travel around the UK and occasionally internationally fairly regularly either with David or trumpet player Neil Yates.  But the gigs I do in London vary, I’ve been lucky and been able to reconnect with a lot of my old friends from Tomorrow’s Warriors who I grew up playing with and I’ve been doing a small bunch with them recently playing all sorts of gigs. 

JB:  Any future projects that you are looking forward to?

TR:  Definitely looking forward to playing with David Lyttle later in the year, there’s a couple of really exciting things we will be able to get into later in the year! Also with another very close friend, the incredible trumpeter Neil Yates, who like David has had a serious influence in shaping the way I play.

Very excited to also have the opportunity to meet in person and perform with John Stowell later this year and continue playing with Sid Jacobs next year. I am finally able to tour the music of my last record Ho Nim Myo in November this year.

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