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Guitar Player Magazine is calling him "…the blazing wunderkind." The Boston Phoenix has declared him "...the WOW! factor." Award-winning jazz guitarist and composer, Jake Hertzog, is making it big in New York City. Jake’s second studio album, Patterns, just released this April 2010, has been chosen as Guitar Player Magazine’s Editor’s Pick and has been quickly gaining international regard.
Jake’s debut album, Chromatosphere (2009), brought him critical acclaim including a five page interview in Guitar Player Magazine (June 2009) highlighting his unique technique and approach to modern jazz guitar. Both albums are recorded and produced by Grammy Award-winner, Joshua Paul Thompson.
Under the alias Hey Jazz Guy, Jake is a monthly contributor to Guitar Player Magazine’s ‘Lessons’ section. He has been coined as the Jazz ambassador to the non-jazz world.
For three years, Jake stood as musical director, lead guitarist and mentor for Nickelodeon's The Naked Brothers Band stars, Nat and Alex Wolff. They concluded two national tours and have performed on national television shows including Good Morning America, The View, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, The Today Show and many others.
Past achievements include winning the Grand Prize in 2006 for the Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in Switzerland. Jake holds title at 20 years old as the youngest ever prize winner in the competitions history. He was invited back in 2007 to showcase his original music in the Montreux Jazz Festival. Jake is an alum of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and recipient of several performance scholarships.
Jake’s contributions to the rock world including the successful New York band Wakey Wakey, the pop world with Nat and Alex Wollf and his vast expertise in Jazz put him in the forefront of the fusion world.
Exerpts from Guitar Magazine 2009 interview
Describe how you might approach re-harmonizing a jazz standard.
At this point, I’m into this interval thing using two of my fingers, as I mentioned when discussing my right-hand technique. Rather than harmonizing a melody in the traditional way using the changes, I look for different interval combinations that will flow on top of the bass line. For example, I’ll use sixths and sevenths and voices based on them as opposed to the usual thirds and fourths. Those wider intervals have a different sound that obscures the harmony slightly, which I think is more interesting than just playing Bbmaj7, Ebmaj7, D7#5, because people have already heard that kind of harmony many times before. I’ll also choose intervals based on how dissonant or consonant I want the harmony for particular notes to be. For example, minor seconds, minor sevenths, and minor ninths will produce more dissonance, whereas fourths and fifths will produce a more consonant sound without giving away the structure of the chord, which is going to be in the thirds most of the time. Chord melody arrangements are beautiful, but I’m more interested in counterpoint or single lines or weird interval combinations that are going to produce sounds that aren’t expected. It sounds like dissonance is a big part of your harmonic concept. Dissonance is my entire harmonic concept! At least in the sense that instead of always approaching harmony in a chord/scale or linear waywhich I also love and continue to practiceI prefer to think in terms of consonant and dissonant moments. So, if there is a Gmin7b5 chord, instead of thinking about the scales that’ll work with it, or non-harmonic triads or whatever, I think about which notes, intervals, and combinationsare going to be dissonant and which are going to be consonant. And when I have that as a reference point, I can say that within the context of a particular moment in the music, I want the harmony to be more on one side or the other. And that concept can also be applied to melody, for motif development or repetition of phrases, because I think they too have dissonances or consonances relative to whatever else is going on. Using dissonance as a basis for the conception of a solo or an entire piece is where I’m at right now.
What is the first thing you need to know when approaching jazz improvisation?
The first thing is to be able to identify parts of the songform and changes and rhythmic ideasfrom an overall perspective, so you have a mental picture of the framework you are going to be improvising within. Joe Lovano said something great to me once, which was, “If the song was different you would still have played the same solo.” That was a good lesson for me, because you have to be true to the song, especially if you are playing jazz. A lot of musicians ask how a song can service their improvisation, but the question should be how their improvisation can service the song. Know the song as if you wrote it. Everything after that point is style and language. How do you feel about smooth jazz? Just like with any kind of music, sometimes it is really great and sometimes it can be done badly. What I do like about it is that it allows people to sing along with jazz in a way that they probably haven’t been able to do since Cole Porter or George Gershwin, and I wish there were more jazz musicians who were writing tunes that people could dance to or sing along with or understand in an emotional way so that they weren’t required to have a music degree in order to enjoy them. So, for whatever else smooth jazz musicians sacrifice to get there, they at least bring that back.
What does it mean to be a jazz guitarist in 2009?
Jazz is all about searching for new musical concepts that haven’t been explored yet. That’s what the creators of the style were all about in their time, and I feel that, in our time, we should carry forward the same spirit
without playing the same notes. So, while I started by learning what had already been done, it was more important for me to push for something new than to study with the intention of sounding like somebody else or a player from some other era. Of course, traditionalists and innovators support each other, because the traditional forms provide the context for the newer forms. It’s just like with classical music, Mozart was great, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play Bach anymore.
The legendary Harvie S has performed and recorded with masters in music including Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Jim Hall, Michael Brecker, Gil Evans, Mike Stern, Arturo O'Farrill, Lee Konitz, James Moody, Houston Person, Pat Metheny, Art Farmer, Toots Thielemans, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Dr. Billy Taylor, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Chick Corea, Erik Friedlander, Yusef Lateef, Danilo Perez, Paquito D'Rivera, Grover Washington Jr. and Pat Martino.
Internationally recognized for his consistent, subtle and stylish drumming on stage and in the studio, Victor Jones is known as an innovator who is not afraid to bring together different styles and sounds. He has played on hundreds of recordings, played hundreds of live concerts and performed in clubs everywhere on this planet, often as a backing musician for a variety of well-known artists.
For the past five years Victor has been recording and performing with his own group, Culture-Versy, effortlessly blending Hip Hop, Urban Soul, Modern Jazz and Funk. Victor Jones is a leader that understands and plays with every facet of great American Music and popular art forms.