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Interview: Juewett Bostick
(Published: September 20, 2019)

Q: What are the earliest memories of music you can recall?

A: The music of Dinah Washington, Etta James, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, later the entourage of Motown groups hit the airwaves. My mother always had the radio playing while working around the house. It was her soundtrack while cooking, doing the dishes or doing her hair in the evening.

Q: Do you recall a strong musical community in and around where you grow up, which is where, actually?

A: I'm a native of California, born and raised in San Francisco. The part of the city, Lakeview, was an ordinary working-class Afro-American community. I'm unable to reinforce the image of a severely depressed community the media or others speak of today. Most of my friends had both parents living at home, no rampant drug use or disproportionate violence. Were there crimes and bad kids? Yes, but not enough to swing the pendulum in the direction of what we see and hear of today. My exposure and taste came through mass media. The music was shared through the radio, spinning 45's on record players. Once in a while a popular group would appear on The Ed Sullivan Show or Dick Clarke's American Bandstand, which everyone would tune into. No nightclubs or bars in the immediate neighborhood to sneak into, etc.

Q: Why are you attracted to the styles of music on your Shades of Blu album?

A: It's soulful and it puts my body in motion. I wanted a clean break from anything that would be categorized as ‘smooth jazz.' I though long and hard on the material selected for the project and how the music should sound. When I processed all the factors I came down to the following; 1) Everyone loves the blues and it's derivatives (R&B, jazz, gospel), 2) strong rhythm holds the magic, 3) the guitar needs to be out front and 4) the project has to resonate with a young audience.

Q: Did you study music in school?

A: Yep, and I had private lessons. My first goal was to be a studio musician. So, I wanted and learned to read and write music, know music theory, traditional and jazz harmony.

Q: Which musicians have inspired or influenced you and how?

A: My immediate influence came from a neighboring musical family of five. Four brothers and one sister all of whom were into music and artistic design when I was attending elementary school in San Francisco. The older brothers were into musicians like Ahmad Jamal, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Cal Tjader, etc.

An important point from one of the older brothers was, ‘your musical mentors can and should change'. How I translated that was, ‘a single musician doesn't have everything I'll borrow from'. On Shades of BluI was pulling from multiple sources for inspiration. If I'm to list specific musicians I referenced throughout the project's production they are; Johnny Allen[1], Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk, Chic Corea and Jimmy Smith. However, I was listening to a lot of music from other artist and musicians for ideas and guidance as the project progressed and took shape.

Q: Are there any artists who influenced you to change your approach to music and how?

A: Creative growth can be like Tarzan swinging from limb to limb. You harvest ideas and inspiration from various sources as you mature and grow artistically. When you encounter a challenge or feel limited you switch to the next limb and start a new creative ride. You keep moving from limb to limb as you mature and strive for continued growth.

For my creative statement on Shades of Blu I sought after the clean productions of Quincy Jones, I love the solos, sassiness, melodic ideas and phrasing of Lee Morgan, grit and raw energy of Johnny Allen, the strong grooves of Teddy Riley, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the harmonic writings of Monk, Herbie Hancock and Chic Corea. I had to cook these creative ingredients into something coherent that I was not ashamed to take ownership of.

Q: What led you to choose the material on Shades of Blu?

A: I wanted songs with a bluesy foundation, strong melody, mature structure, thoughtful arrangement and interesting harmonic composition. I felt the Blue Note catalog from artists including Hank Mobley, Bobby Timmons, Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan and others offered a great resource that was under exploited and met this criteria. These songs could be refitted with modern harmony and contemporary rhythmic ideas. It became my responsibility to re-imagine this music for a new era, something for today with mass appeal. And along the way, I did a lot of writing myself!

More Information: https://juewettbostick.com

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