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Written by Bridgid Brousseau
“Just keep that big beautiful smile and that big beautiful sound!” ~Chick Corea~ (advice to Steve Carrington)
What a beautiful smile it is! Nothing gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling like that of when someone who takes time out of their day and busy schedules to talk with me. Steve Carrington was at a basketball game with his son when he took a few minutes to speak with me about his musical passion. He also scores big for getting my off the wall jokes but I digress.
If you have not had an opportunity to listen to his CD "A Caring Tone," you are missing out on experiencing the unique sound of a great talent.
Bridgid: Your CD “A Caring Time” has ten tracks on it. How did you determine which tracks would be on this CD?
Steve: There was actually going to be eleven. I sang one song. It was just me and the piano but when we listened to it the engineer accidently had the piano microphone bleeding into the voice microphone so we didn’t use it. I chose songs that were broad spectrum that project my sound. That’s how most cats relate to me. They say I’ve got a special sound and your sound is your voice.
Bridgid: Do you feel that your special sound came natural or did you have to tweak it make it your own?
Steve: I think it just came natural. I think I’ve always had a unique sound but as I played on it just became more refined.
Bridgid: What attracted you to the tenor saxophone?
Steve: I actually first heard the alto sax. A guy that lived next door to my house used to play. When I went to school the band teacher put me on tenor because he needed a tenor player. Because I wanted to play the sax anyway, I was okay with it. I can play alto too but tenor is my thing. Tenor is who I am. I just started listening to other tenor players. That teacher was a tenor player. He was a really good player.
Bridgid: So your band teacher gets the credit! Well, give a shout out to him. What is his name?
Steve: His name is Howard Burns.
Bridgid: I was listening to your CD “A Caring Tone.” I love it! Tell us about your band.
Steve: On that record, I play with one of my favorite piano players, Anthony Wonsey not only my favorite but he’s a favorite of many others because he’s played with many others. He’s played with Kenny Garrett, Carmen Lundy and he was also in Elvis Jones’ Band. He’s a very diverse piano player and we have great chemistry. We’re like brothers and he played very beautifully on the record.
Steve: I use two different drummers because I was in the studio two different times. One of the drummers, Eric Kennedy is actually my cousin. He’s played with Larry Willis and he also studied with legendary drummer, Louis Hayes. On bass I used Curtis Lundy, Carmen Lundy's brother. Curtis has played with Betty Carter, Art Blakey and Stanley Turrentine and many aothers
Bridgid: Do you play with the same band all of the time?
Steve: I try to mainly use the smae piano players in my band which would be Cyrus Chestnut or Anthony Wonsey.Cyrus has played with Betty Carter also as well as a host of other musicians. I also used Noah Jackson. He’s another great Bass player too. Noah is presently the bassist for Abdulla Ibrahim. He also played with Winard Harper, and studied with Rodney Whitaker. He’s a great bass player on the scene and worked with me in the studio the second time. There’s also Brandon Lewis. Brandon has also with Kenny Garrett and presently plays with Azar Lawrence He has a band here in New York called "The Program of Deprogramming." He also played with Kenny Garrett and many others.
Steve: Kenny Garrett and I are very close. He actually gave me the saxophone that I have. He’s really been in my corner. He actually introduced me to Chick Corea. Chick and I are now discussing using me on his next project. We'll be doing more playing together. They’re all great musicians. That’s why I chose them for the songs.
Bridgid: So I know you're touring. Are you going to be touring with the same band members that are on the CD or will you interchange them?
Steve: Well, I have to work around their schedules. So I interchange them if I can't get them.
Bridgd: You have bee dubbed as the “Jazz healer?”
Steve: Yes, and after hearing me Chick Corea understood why. His exact words to me were “just keep that big beautiful sound and the big beautiful sound.” He also says I have a gift.
Bridgid: What types of concerts besides Jazz do you like to attend?
Steve: I just love good music. It doesn’t matter who it is. If it’s good I enjoy it!
Bridgid: You did a remake of “Love’s In Need Of Love” on this CD. What is your process for processing a non-jazz piece into a Jazz piece.
Steve: It just happened. Anthony Monsey put the beat on it and that made the song fresh. I'm always looking to do a Stevie Wonder song because his music is so beautiful. He's one of my favorite artists and favorite writers. I grew up listening to Steve Wonder.
Bridgid: What is one unanswered question you would like to have answered before you depart this earth?
Steve: I'm quite spiritual so it's not so much a question but more so what I'm always thinking about. It's not so much searching for an answer but it's a question within an answer. I always want to understand the questions of life.
Steve: When I was in my teens I read this saying that Bruce Lee wrote. It says "love cannot measure itself until the hour of parting. Trust comes within you. It's not trust to rely on someone of whom you know nothing. To each ending there comes a new beginning. I seek not to know all of the answers but to understand the questions."
Steve: I think music is an expression of your life. What's going on in your life is what makes your music come alive.
Steve: I would like to undstand life and all of it's intricacies. One question would be "what is the purpose of life?" Another question would be "does energy transfer?"
Bridgd: Do you think energy transfers?
Steve: I believe it does. It doesn't just dissipate. It doesn't end. I believe it moves. For instance, if you look at the young ambitions today, they never got the chance to be around the masters and legends that died. There's a disconnect and you can hear it in their playing. Some energy didn't get transferred there.
Steve: However, when you hear musicians like Kenny Garrett who played with Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and Miles Davis, you hear and feel the energy. Kenny was able to be in the presence of those people that had that energy.
Steve: When I was eighteen years old I told my mother that I needed to go to New York and find Kenny Garrett. Of course she didn't let me go. She said you can find him but you're not going to New York. As fate would have it we crossed paths anyway. It was destined to happen. Many musicians today play but they don't have that spirit because they didn't get that energy.
Bridgid: In addition to Kenny Garrett who are the great musicians that you received your energy from?
Steve: I was blessed to be with Dizzy Gillespie. I got to be around Stanley Turrentine. I also make it my business now to catch the link. So, Kenny is the link. He's the flame taken from the great musicians before him. If you're able to spend time with these people then I believe you can catch the link.
Bridgid: That makes perfect sense. I love that answer! I'm blessed to be able to speak with you and hopefully catch some of your energy.
Bridgid: In the Jazz world there are so many more male artists and female artists. Would you agree?
Steve: Yes, there are.
Bridgid: Why do you think that is?
Steve: Jazz was a male dominated realm at first. There were woman but they were scarce. They were there when Jazz was being innovated but they weren’t the innovators though. There were great players though. There are more women Jazz artists now though.
Bridgid: Yes, but it’s still male dominated like everything else. It’s great to see so many more women Jazz artists coming up but they are still far outnumbered.
Bridgid: So I didn’t know you had children. Tell us about them.
Steve: I have a son and a daughter, ages two and seven.
Bridgid: Have you put any musical instruments in their hands yet?
Steve: They just naturally gravitate towards something. My daughter gravitates towards the piano and my son wants to play trumpet but he plays my soprano sax.
Bridgd: So, which song on your CD "A Caring Tone" did you dedicate to me?
Steve: " A Time For Love."
Bridgid: I knew it!
Bridgid: When will you be performing here in Los Angeles?
Steve: We're working on that right now. We'llhopefully be at Catalina Jazz soon too.
Bridgid: Tell me something that you would like for your fans to know about you?
Steve: I would like them to know that Steve Carrington deinintly wants to share everything with my fans. My music is a reflection of the journey of mylife and it's story. I want the fans to come along with me and continue the journey with each recording and each performance as the life and times of Steve Carrington unfolds. I'm also recording a new record that will becoming out in January or February fo 2015.
Bridgid: It's been such a pleasure and an honor speaking with you. Thank you for taking time out for me. I appreciate you.
Steve: Thank you! Lights out!
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