A CONVERSATION WITH STEVE KIMOCK (continued)
PM: Okay, so we're not all dropping acid, and so it's not psychedelic in that way, but there is something much more open-ended, certainly harmonically, but also sonically, and rhythmically, than might go on in what I think of as a jamband. I'm not dissing anybody's art, I think it's all good stuff in its own way, but this is a much more psychedelic jazz rock without being what they called fusion.
SK: Although, in defense of the fusion thing [laughs], that was just another horrible label that some people got stuck with. I was a huge fan of John McLaughlin's stuff, with Miles' band and with his own band. And there's a lot of people that came out of that Miles Davis band that played great stuff, like Chick Corea.
PM: Right. Especially Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.
SK: So to the extent that that was labeled "fusion," and to the extent that I was influenced by it, I was influenced by fusion. But you don't think of John McLaughlin as being a jamband.
PM: No. You think of him more in terms of small band improvisation.
SK: Yeah, just a great modern jazz player.
PM: Aside from great, to what extent would you describe yourself in the same way? Doesn't a lot of your music speak to a jazz mentality?
SK: Harmonically, yeah. But I wouldn't describe what I do as being jazz any more than, you know...
PM: Any more than it's rock and roll.
SK: It's...how do I say this? There's just some stuff that you presume for a jazz band thing, you know. Presuming a seventh chord, eighth note as a basic unit note, two five as a basic harmonic kind of move; a certain tone, a certain kind of phraseology. And I don't do that.
PM: You don't ascribe to that.
SK: I don't play standards. A triad is just as good as a seventh chord. One, four, five is every bit as good as two, five, one. And you won't find that in a regular jazz context. I don't think there are jazz guitarists saying that Steve Kimock is a jazz guitar player.
SK: And they're probably right. No, they're certainly right. On the other hand, the improvisational spirit of the thing is probably more of the same material a jazz guitar player today might be running into just learning the vocabulary. But playing the heads to all the Charlie Parker tunes and stuff like that, that's not what I do. By the same token, the bluegrass thing or the blues thing is not what I do. Any time that the thing has gotten so formalized that you have to use these elements of style, you have to be acknowledging these influences if you're working with these resources, these people or these sounds...where's the individuality in that? Where's the person in that, to have to just go do all that? As a result, I don't play specifically in those styles.
PM: Yeah. There's a big and growing crowd of people that's becoming aware of you and coming to see you all over the country. I wonder what they'd say it is about you that they're coming to see, that they're coming to experience. It's something about that improvisational spirit that...how did you describe it before, about these four people coming together...the collision theory, and bringing what they have that day. That's why they're coming to see you, right?
SK: I guess so. The people that are coming to the show are bringing whatever good energy they have, or the troubles of the week they're looking to lose, or whatever. It's a vehicle to shed that stuff. That's a different aspect. There's a social aspect, obviously, to gigging. At a certain level, you know, you're going to bring some people together. And this is different from my angle as a player. As a musician, it's kind of hard to get an overview. It's a different kind of listening. Inevitably, I'm having a different experience than the people in the audience.
SK: My hands are really full. [laughs] I'm busy. It's all the same wheel, I'm just on a different part of it. I'm in a different part of the loop.
PM: Whereas an entertainer, per se, might say, "Oh, no, I'm right where they are. I'm having and promoting that same good time." But a musician, to varying degrees, is having a related but separate experience.
SK: The people are there for a kind of a fellowship. It's community. They're getting together for some of their own reasons, and the music supports that to an extent. A lot of the people are there for their own reasons. I don't even pretend to know what they are.
I don't know how many times I'd talked to somebody recently back from a Grateful Dead concert. "Man, I went to Ohio," they'd say. "Well, how was it?" They'd say, "Every other car in Ohio had a nitrous tank." And many were there for a different reason. They weren't really there for the music. Luckily for us, a lot of people that come to the shows, do come for the music, and for the experience of the evening's unfolding. How the people on stage are interacting with each other, and how the music takes shape. And when it's good, it's amazing.
PM: Right. I'm certainly looking forward to the show tonight.
SK: But I wouldn't pretend to know why the people come. I think it's got more to do with people. I mean, I think getting together for a gig probably serves the same kind of social functions that church served for other people at different times. continue