Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gee Watts - Ignorance (Ain't Bliss) Pt. 1 + Video



Hermon Mehari - Exclusive Interview & MP3s

Every Now And Then MP3
Lost In Darkness MP3

CHH: What do you think of Jazz's current state, when did you start playing trumpet?

HM: I think jazz in a musical sense is in a great place. There are many
great creative artists everywhere pushing the music forward. The main
thing I would say is hurting jazz right now is that the music is so
widespread, its harder to categorize it. Unless they're a jazzhead,
you can't expect a person who enjoys listening to West African jazz
guitarist Lionel Loueke to also enjoy listening to pianist Brad
Mehldau or Roy Hargrove's RH Factor. They all sound so different, and
the average listener tends to rely on general preconceptions and
labels when dealing with new music. And I started playing trumpet in the band program at my middle school when I was about 13 years old.

CHH: How did you meet Bobby Watson and choose to go to UMKC?

HM: I listened to Bobby Watson on Art Blakey recordings before I ever met him. After I auditioned at UMKC's jazz program, I received a call from him telling me that he really wanted me to go to school there. I was star struck... it was an obvious choice to go to UMKC after that
point. It was definitely the right choice for me and my career.

CHH: Did you listen to Jazz at an early age? Were you a Hip Hop fan?

HM: I didn't listen to jazz seriously until early high school. At that point, I stopped listening to all other kinds of music. Before that I listened to a lot of popular music: Top 40, etc. My favorite artist as a kid, and still is now, was Michael Jackson. I remember asking my parents to buy me MJ cassettes. The only hip hop I listened to at that point were the guys making hits: Jay-Z, Busta, Eminem, Coolio, Dr. Dre, OutKast, etc.

CHH: How did you meet French pianist, Tony Tixier? What's the Jazz culture like in Paris as compared to the United States?

HM: I met Tony Tixier while on tour in Paris back in November of 2010. We ended up playing a performance together through a mutual friend during my stay. The jazz culture in Paris is very European. It has its own style. I liken it to this: There are many American musicians who play salsa music, reggae music, sambas, etc. The samba is a Brazilian style. An American will play it one way, a native Brazilian will play it in another way. Jazz is an American style of music.

CHH: Why did you start doing music tributes especially with Hip Hop?

HM: The group I play with called Diverse started doing tributes for a few reasons. It is our goal to play music that a lot of people can relate, especially younger audiences. We are called a jazz band, so when we play jazz we like to use other modern genres as influences for our original music and choices of covers. There's no better way to be influenced by another style of music than by learning it and playing it. Another reason we started doing tributes is to collaborate and
build relationships with other musicians, singers and emcees. Also, playing these tributes helps us build an audience and makes people aware of us.

CHH: Were you aware of Kansas City rappers such as Reach before you started collaborating with them?

HM: I was only aware of a few rappers in Kansas City when I started venturing into the local hip hop scene. Diallo French, who used to work at Streetside Records, hipped me to Reach. I went out and started watching him perform as much as I could. Since then we've performed together on a regular basis, are good friends and are starting projects together.

CHH: How did Diverse form?

HM: Diverse started as a quartet at UMKC, as an independent group that ventured out and took initiatives on its own. We started with a vision and had goals with the type of music we wanted to do, and still continue to pursue our mission to this day. Diverse still has a jazz project of original music that we are moving along, but we have also started a big project of original music with some great artists from around Kansas City.

CHH: How did you meet Les Izmore?

HM: I met Les Izmore at Mark Lowrey's first "Mark Lowrey Vs. Hip Hop" show in early 2010. I was blown away by his musicality as an emcee, and immediately had the idea of collaborating with him. I remember asking him that night if he liked Common; I had been listening to Like Water for Chocolate for weeks nonstop. he replied that Common was one of his favorite emcees. In March of 2010 we ended up doing our first tribute show to Like Water For Chocolate.


Riv Locc - Interview with Middle of the Map


Appetite for Destruction out now.

Steddy P - Not Hearing You

The second No Days Off 2 leak, full album coming next week.