Matthew: Tell us about each of the band members?
Marlon has been my partner and collaborator for many years. We
met in a recording studio in the late 80's, and found we had so much music
in common. He has so much range, both as a singer and a musician. Beyond
that he is a great friend, and so much of what makes Jazzhole special to me
is the friendship and the trust. The creative process can be very fragile
and sensitive, and Marlon is so special in his ability to encourage others
to express themselves, and take little fragments of ideas that others in
the group have, and make them into something really worthwhile.
John Pondel is our guitarist, as well as one of the producers and writers.
John cut his teeth on the studio scene in L.A., and came out to New York to
live around 1990. He has a great sense of feel, and space, and so much of
the harmonic sense of the music comes from him. What I think is most unique
in John's playing is his sense of being true to the song. He never plays to
show off what he can do, but rather, just to tell the story in the truest,
realest way he can.
Mark Robohm is our drummer, who is from Burlington, VT. Like John, and
really all the players in Jazzhole, his spirit is very pure, and true to
the music. His sense of space, and leaving room for the song to come
through is unique, and his taste in what he plays and what he leaves out
really makes the record. Mark was one of the founding members of Belizbeha,
and plays with a variety of bands in NYC.
Dave Inniss is our bassist, and has been with the group longer than anyone
other than Marlon, John and myself. The moment Dave joined us, we knew he
was the right fit. Dave is all about feel, and making the songs just sit in
the right place. Like many people in Jazzhole, Dave has played countless
shows in NYC, and knows what it takes to make a song move, and feel right.
Danny Sadownick is one of our percussionists, and is one of the most
exceptional musicians I have ever met.
Peter Mark also plays percussion, and is a long-time group memeber. Pete
has played in virtually every club in Manhattan, and was one of the
founders of the Lower East Side music scene in NYC.
David Sancious played keyboards, and is a virtual legend, having played
with Stanley Clarke, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and dozens of other
noteworthy acts. What was most exciting about working with David was his
humility, and beautiful vibe. We felt a little intimidated, based on his
incredible body of work, but the moment he stepped into the studio, we felt
his love, and support, and the collaboration was just magical.
Dave Binney has been a longtime contributor, and added some wonderful
saxophone, and newcomer (to Jazzhole) Michal Cohen adder her lovely voice
to "It Would Have Been Enough".
Matthew: You have a very big discography, when did you start making music? When did you decide to form Jazzhole?
Jazzhole: I grew up making music. My big brother (Glenn Rosenstein) had tape recorders in the house as far back as I can remember. My poor parents had to deal with not using the bathroom most of the time, because we were using it as an echo chamber, to record singers. We formed Jazzhole in 1992, when we realized we were playing on and engineering so many other people's records, that we may as well do one for ourselves, where we would have our own creative control.
Matthew: Do any of the members from Jazzhole, including you; have other creative talents?
Jazzhole: Marlon and John both teach, I grow organic veggies, Pete is a carpenter, Mark designs websites, David Sancious is a gardener.
Matthew: You sell your albums at UK’s leading Soul music shop Soul Brother Records. Does your music get distributed anywhere else in the UK?
Jazzhole: I think so. This is our first time working with Soul Brother, which we are very excited about. I think they distribute the record to other stores, as well.
Matthew: I mentioned a bit about distribution in my last question, what are your thoughts on the Music Industry?
Jazzhole: You may get a longer answer than you were hoping for on this one, Matthew. I think what has happened to the music industry is very sad. People think it is dying because of piracy, and downloading, but the truth is the industry committed suicide. So much ephasis has been placed on appearance, and image, and so little on music, that what we are left with is a world full of Britney Spears, Christina Aguiliera, etc. At the end of the day, the industry bet on style rather than substance, and it was a losing bet. Now the industry is steeped in self pity, rather than taking a hard look at what they did to themselves.
What is exciting, is that indie music keeps producing fresh and interesting new things. The internet is giving a voice to people who have never had access to fans before, but it is very hard for indie artists to make a living without a vibrant music industry to fuel things. So, the truth is, I think we will move into an ear with contrived, corporate superstars that will do mediocre music, and a bunch of talented, energized indie musicians who need a second job to pay the bills.
Matthew: Do you see an end to Jazzhole? Or will you keep as a tight group releasing music?
Jazzhole: I think we will keep on going. For me, it is like one of those great friendhips, were you can drift away for a year or so, but then pick up the phone, and it is like you never were away. We don't make any demands of each other, and once every couple of years, we all get together, and have fun making a new record.
Matthew: I worship your song ‘Love Philosophy’, that entire album is brilliant. How did you go about making it? What is the creative process of most Jazzhole records?
Jazzhole: Thanks so much! The creative process is really different from song to song. Marlon, John and I do the writing, and each song happens a little differently. Love Philosphy, which was part of the album "Circle of the Sun", was a groove that John and I had put together, and Marlon came in and heard it, and wrote a great lyric and meloday.
For the new record, "Poet's Walk", the process was a little different. I have a cabin up in Woodstock, and John and Marlon came up to the cabin, and everyone brought a little batch of ideas - some written down, some on cassettes. We sat around, listened to each others ideas, fit little lyric fragments to music fragments, took a swim in the stream, got back to work, reminisced, laughed, etc. At the end of three such weekends, we had written all the songs for Poet's Walk.
Matthew: In modern music whom do you listen to? Who would you like to collaborate with?
Jazzhole: The truth is, I have been listening more and more to older music, and less and less to what is new. I am more interested in collaborating with chance people we run into, rather than particular stars. Part of that comes from growing on in NYC, where often the musicians playing in the train stations, or out on street corners seems as special as stars on records.
Matthew: Your music is very impressive, beautiful, organic, and spiritual to a degree. How would you describe the Jazzhole sound?
Jazzhole: That is so kind of you. I do feel like it has become more organic, and acoustic over time. In the last few years, I have fallen deeper in love with nature, and the earth, and that love feels like it has such a natural connection to soul music. Love, and nature are such universal things, that span cultures, and music genres. I think all of us at Jazzhole care less and less about what genre we are in, or labels or categories. We have been "acid jazz", "neo soul", and many other things, but where we are winding up is in a place where we hope are music speaks to anyone.
Matthew: Would you consider working with any vocalists from the UK on future records?
Jazzhole: We are wide open to working with new people - any suggestions???
Matthew: Thanks again for this exclusive Jazzhole interview. Keep making those quality records, and winning over the soulful/jazz fans.