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Sam Barsh: - As a lead artist I would have to commit to a lifetime of touring


Sam Barsh

 An article with Sam Barsh

 

   Chicago is where I started playing. I was born there, and raised in a nearby town called Wilmette. Chicago is where I was exposed to jazz and jazz clubs. I was only interested in jazz back then and Chicago was my link to jazz.

 

   Getting a No 1 hit didn’t happen as early as it may seem, although I do hope to have a long career. I started out as a professional musician nineteen years ago. And a lot of things really didn’t go my way at times. You make so many things, and such a small percentage winds up on a record. A hit song represents not just that song, but so many other songs you created along the way. When I hear a hit, it makes me want to hear the music that didn’t make it on the record. Of course a hit song opens doors and gets you more opportunities, and to me that's the most important thing.

 

Aloe Blacc ''The Man''

 

 

   I met Avishai Cohen through Brian Killeen, a bassist I went to college with. I was already a big fan of his before I even moved out east. Avishai had started a rock band with some of my classmates, and they used to rehearse at our school in New Jersey. I was living in Brooklyn, so sometimes I’d drive him back to his place in New York and we got to know each other a bit.

 

 

   When Avishai wanted to start a trio with young musicians, Mark Guiliana recommended me to be in the band. I started working with him right after graduating university, so I didn’t have to get a job. Avishai Cohen is a great bandleader and a friend. It was a very special experience, and he allowed me to shine and do my thing. Not many bandleaders allow that.

 

 

   The live band / touring scene and the songwriting / production scene are different worlds. Live, you are seen as a side-musician. In the studio, you are seen as a writer. I've worked with people in live settings mainly through recommendations and reputation. Most of my work in the studio comes from personal relationships I have with producers, artists, and my publisher. In both settings, getting consistent work is based on personality and on being able to deliver. I'm comfortable in a lot of different situations, and am always willing to do what the leader wants, whether its a session or a gig.

 

 

 

Sam Barsh

   I prefer helping others shine to being the lead artist. Among the cons of being the lead artist are that you have the promotional responsibility. If a show isn’t well attended, it’s seen as your fault. You have to be comfortable talking about yourself. Some of it I don’t mind. Although you do get recognized, being a lead artist is a full-time job. In helping others create their sound and cultivate their artistic vision, I get to make a lot more music, and have a bigger output than I would otherwise have had. I toured so much in my 20’s, and I’m really ok with not traveling much. I enjoy LA. I have my friends here and sessions almost every day. It’s better for me to be in one place. I still travel a bit, but as a lead artist I would have to commit to a lifetime of touring.

 

Palter Ego ''Man In The Mirror'' cover

 

   Ten years ago I would never have thought of moving here (Los Angeles). But as my musical interests became more diverse, I realized that the things I wanted to do musically had shifted from New York to Los Angeles. The other genres aside from jazz thrive in LA, and there is a good jazz scene here too. It’s not as good as New York, but it’s good. My years in New York have affected the way I play and it gets me work here.

 

 

Sam Brash ''Wake Up And Smile''

 


Sam Barsh is a keyboardist and songwriter. He has written and produced songs for major label artists Norah Jones, Robin McKelle and Aloe Blacc, including the hit song "The Man", which Barsh co-wrote for Aloe Blacc. Barsh has released solo material as lead artist and with his band Palter Ego.

He has also performed with a diverse group of renowned artists, including: Avishai Cohen, Babyface, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Brenna Whitaker, Bruno Mars, Cassandra Wilson, Common, David Foster, Dontae Winslow, Emily King, Estelle, Fred Wesley, Gavin DeGraw, Gene Simmons, Gregory Porter, Je Parker (of Tortoise), John Robinson, Jojo, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kiran Ahluwalia, Large Professor, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Ballas, Maurice Brown, Maya Azucena, Mino Cinelu, Natasha Bedingeld, Quadron, Ravi Coltrane, Rez Abbasi, Robin Eubanks, Robin McKelle, Roy Hargrove, Stevie Wonder, The Brand New Heavies, The Mighty Blue Kings, The Spam All-Stars, Tom Jones, Wax, and Zach Brock.

Find out more HERE.

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Zam Johnson: '' - Zam, you like everything!''

Zam Johnson
An article with Zam Johnson



 I grew up in LOS ANGELES with R&B and soul music. In my neighborhood the PLATTERS lived on the corner, AL McKAY from Earth, Wind & Fire lived across the street, my aunt was a good friend of HAROLD LAND and CHICO HAMILTON,. and many more of the famous and not so famous. But a lot of great musicians also lived in the hood.


In my early teens me and my buddies used to go to CONCERTS BY THE SEA. We could get in because they served food.  We were lucky to see all the greats: ELVIN JONES; PHAROAH SANDERS; LES MACAN; EDDIE HARRIS…and, and, and everybody!!
There was a club that RED HOLLOWAY owned, an old post office where the greats also played, but you had to be 21 to get in because of alcohol.  Me and my buddies were hanging by the door listening to ART BLAKEY. The music stopped and the door opened. It was ART. He said “you kids want to come in?”. We said “ya!”. Art said “follow me”, and put us next to the bandstand. They started playing and the club owner came to throw us out! ART was playing his ass off and yelled “IT’S COOL!” at the owner. They didn’t kick us out.





At this time a lot of rock music started happening: JIMI HENDRIX; CREAM; VANILLA FUGE; LED ZEPPELIN, CHICAGO -- also MOTOWN and JAMES BROWN. And I started playing in bands. In those days you HAD to play everything IF you wanted to work!!!


I was always interested in playing all styles of music, and L . A .  is good for every style because of the film- and television-industry.  I worked my way into being a touring studio drummer and percussionist from the mid 70s to the early 8os.

Panic in 1981


Around -78 I got involved with synthesizers, drum machines and samplers. I was already playing in avant-garde groups, but with the synths, drum machines, acoustic drums and percussion I was composing, and I put the group PANIC together with NORTON WISDOM painting live and SNAKEPIT EDDIE EDWARDS on horns and electronics. At this time punk bands, free jazz, rock and soul bands all played on the same stage!! The same thing was happening in NEW YORK ! A REALLY great time for experimental music, and a lot aggression an energy!!!






84 to 85 I was on tour a lot going back and forth to NEW YORK from everywhere! And spent a lot of time in recording studios playing on records. Producers started calling me to do the electronic thing. At this time I was composing a lot and trying to get into film composing or sound effect design.  The commercial industry just didn’t get what I was doing!! ORNETTE COLEMAN told me he had the same problem. “Go to Europe!” he told me!


In 1987 I got hired to compose a movie score and came to BERLIN to work on the film for a year. I shipped 38.ooo dollars’ worth of equipment, which took 3 months to get to BERLIN. But then the customs took it, tied me up for another month and wanted 28,ooo D MARK from me. Anyway, it all worked out when I met a judge that played boogie piano. He got my shit!! But after that the film production went bankrupt! They gave me 3 month to check BERLIN out, and after that I was on my own. I went to all the jam session at that time. I hadn’t really played drums for 4 years. BERLIN was clicks at that time. The jazz guys didn’t play with the latin guys, rock guys didn’t play with the blues guys, an there was no funk or groove music happening. I came and played with everybody, and my phone was ringing off the hook. I was working 7 days a week and didn’t even own a drum set. So I said “SHIT!  I can make money here”, and I really didn’t want to go back to LOS ANGLESES because L . A. is like a police state. I felt like I could end up in jail for a parking ticket there!

 

Zam and Saqid in Berlin 1


But I didn’t come to EUROPE to play drums and percussion. I came to compose and do my electronic thing. I got lucky. A theater needed musicians to play an international Butoh festival . I was hired to play sampler and keyboards, but we had guitar, sax, trumpet, bass, percussion and drums in that band. We played every day for a month. It was sold out every night.  Most of the musicians were punks and free jazz musicians and didn’t give a fuck, and just wouldn’t show up at times!! So I ended up playing all the instruments. They would just leave them on stage. I showed up early and practiced on all the instruments. When someone didn’t show up I could play it. I was the only one who did all the shows.

I was asked to do a duet with a famous dancer from JAPAN. He asked me to compose something for him. The night we performed, MINAKO SEKI, whom I have been working with for 28 years, was just starting her company. She asked me if I had any music for her. I said that I had tons. She said that she didn’t have any money but that she wanted me to be her composer! “The only thing I can do for you is put your name on a poster as composer!”, she said. I said cool. I was running all around berlin and saw beautiful posters. A friend said to me “Hey look at that poster. Isn’t that your name?” We worked for about 2 years. We produced everything ourselves and got very popular. Our shows were sold out, and we did 6 or 7 production a year. Then one year we finally got 60.ooo  DM to produce a big show. MINAKO said “We can pay you now”. I’ve been blessed. I’ve done over 6o multimedia and theater productions with a lot of different artist.  I am also am co- founder of TEN-PEN-CHII, a multimedia dance group, with JOAX MANGER and YOMIKO YOSHIKO. 2015 is our 20th year aniversary.

 

TEN PEN CHii ART LABOUR ''iki'' an Interactive Dance Machine


I’ve been painting for 12 years. I had painted in the early 80s for about 6 months. Then I was always on tour. I was painting for about a year and a half, and a good painter/musician from Boston, DANIEL, came to see me. It all happened very quickly. He brought a gallery owner, he gave me a show. I said “Well, I’ll make a website”. NORTON was on his way to Casablanca Morocco to a gallery. NORTON  showed the gallery my website. The gallery owner called and gave me a show. It was really happening for 4 years. Then the world money crashed !! And now the art business is like the music business. If ya ain’t a kid they don’t want to deal with ya !





Zam Johnson painting

I don’t plan to move back to AMERICA. The last time I went through customs they asked me what I was coming to the U S A for – and I am part NATIVE AMERICAN and have a US passport. I love AMERICA but the government is out of control!!!

 

Zam and Sadiq in Berlin 2

 

 

 I was asked what music and art IS to me. Well, a lot of my friends say “Oh ZAM, you like everything”,  and that’s kind of true. I see the good and bad in everything!!!  I have to laugh sometimes, it’s so bad it’s just great in a funny way!! I like things that are progressive and thought out, very open and innovative!!  I like creating and inventing things !! I started playing guitar year ago !!   Hey, I’m a  67 year old noise punk guitar-player !! IT MAKES ME HAPPY!!! ZIGGY, my wife, says that I am like a kid !! FULL OF SURPRIZES !!

 

Zam and Sadiq in Berlin 3

 

 


 

 

Zam Johnson drumsolo

 

Zam Johnson ''Taboo''

Zam Johnson ''Just Repair Nancy''


Zam Johnson is an American artist, composer and painter. After work with numerous acts in the US, such as Iron Butterfly, Brian Wilson and Barry White, Johnson relocated to Europe in the 80'ies, where he has continued his work with the music and added visual arts to his output. Find out more HERE.

Kris Bowers: - I don't really know who Kris Bowers is


Kris Bowers

 An article with Kris Bowers


   I don’t really know who Kris Bowers is. I am someone who is trying to be a musician.

   My parents got me started in music. They aren’t musicians, but they put me in lessons when I was 4 or 5. They let me try other things as well besides music.


 

Kris Bowers ''Wake the Neighbors'' live 2014

 

   I like keyboards for the simple fact that they are unique. They call a piano its own orchestra. With keyboards you have the range. You can play chords, melody, rhythm, all at once.

   Music is everything. It’s how we connect, both to each other and to our own emotions. Music reminds you of certain times and gives you a feeling instantly.


Kris Bowers

 

   Currently I’m touring with Julia Easterlin. We are doing concerts as a duo, and I’m excited about it. It’s just the two of us, and we experiment a lot on stage, with loops among other things, creating tracks on the spot.

   During the rest of the year I will be travelling and working on a couple of projects. I am starting my next album, and I’m making the music for a documentary about Kobe Bryant. A friend of mine is part of the production team, so that is how I got involved in this. And I love making music for television and film, so I enjoy doing this project.

 

Kris Bowers' record ''Heroes + Misfits'' (2014)

 


Kris Bowers was born in Los Angeles in 1989. He studied classical piano and jazz before he relocated to New York. He has earned undergraduate- and Master's degrees in jazz performance at Juilliard. He won first prize in the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, and appeared on Kanye West and Jay-Z's album ''Watch the Throne''. In 2014 he released his debut album ''Heroes + Misfits'' on Concord. Find out more HERE.

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