To the general public, he's best known as a judge for the TV show American Idol. But for those in the know, this is just the latest in Randy Jackson's impressive string of credits. From legendary session bassist to songwriter and record producer to artist manager and label vice president, Jackson boasts a seemingly endless list of accomplishments.
Singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw is on the verge of releasing his debut album, Chariot, on J Records. Gavin's music is both hooky and emotive, combining urgent vocals with roots-tinged rock songwriting. We caught up with the 25-year-old New Yorker to talk about writing, recording and the nature of inspiration.
Hot off his success scoring The Matrix: Reloaded, not to mention the Wachowski Brothers' two previous films, The Matrix and Bound, film composer Don Davis is definitely in demand. Before the phone rang with the next urgent "Get me Don Davis!" call, he filled us in on what it's like to be a top composer in this competitive business.
Saxophonist Dave Koz describes his latest album, Saxophonic, as an exploration of the many moods of the horn. "This album feels like an adventure to me, with the saxophone leading me into new territories," he says. "I'm blending some cool new beats with traditional jazz, adding some African stuff, and then it's off to Ibiza for that coolchill, smooth jazz sound. It's really a journey through different influences."
As the sole drummer on Steely Dan's new album, Everything Must Go, Keith Carlock took over one of the most coveted drum thrones in pop music. How did it feel to claim the seat once occupied by legendary players such as Steve Gadd, Rick Marotta, and Hal Blaine?
As one of the leading vibe and marimba players of his generation, Dave Samuels boasts a career distinguished by both critical and popular acclaim. In addition to his work with such jazz legends as baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and jazz-pop icons Spyro Gyra, Samuels' own Caribbean Jazz Project won a Latin Jazz GRAMMY® for its 2002 album The Gathering. With a new Caribbean Jazz Project record, Birds of a Feather, out this summer, Samuels took a few minutes to tell us about his lifelong love affair with mallets.
"On the heavy side, we're inspired by bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Metallica, and Tool," says frontman/guitarist Justin Stewart Cotta. "But then there's the more ambient, sonic stuff like U2 and Pink Floyd. And of course Hendrix, and even some old Elvis stuff-and above all, AC/DC."
Ask producer Justin Stanley to take sides on the digital vs. analog divide, and he'll give you an unusually sensible answer: "It's all about getting your ideas down freely without the technology getting in the way. Analog definitely has a sound, and the subject will always be debated. But the most important thing is accessing creativity as easily as you can."
In her hit song, "A Thousand Miles," singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton sees herself as "making a way through the crowd." Carlton does indeed stand out from the current crowd of young female singer/pianists. On her debut album Be Not Nobody, her heartfelt, confessional vocals combine with intricate, multi-layered piano and orchestral parts to create a distinctive whole.