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in his own words...John Moulder
Chicagoan John Moulder is a guitarist and composer whose music has evolved from an assimilation of various musical traditions. Moulder’s compositions and playing are featured on his CDs entitled Awakening, Through the Open Door, and Trinity and Bifrost, each named one of the ten best jazz CDs of 2006 and 2009, respectively, by the Chicago Tribune, and his most recent release, The Eleventh Hour: Live at the Green Mill.
Moulder has been a member of the Paul Wertico’s bands for close to twenty years. Recordings with Wertico include Live in Warsaw, Don’t Be Scared Anymore, StereoNucleosis, Another Side, and Impressions of a City by Wertico’s Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance. Moulder is also a member of the Larry Gray Trio and is featured on his recordings on the Chicago Sessions label entitled 1,2,3 and Three Equals One. In addition, he has played on numerous recordings by other jazz artists and vocalists such as Jackie Allen and Terry Callier. Moulder has played nationally and internationally at numerous festivals, clubs and concert halls and has performed or recorded with artists such as Eddie Harris, Bob Mintzer, Paul McCandless, Lyle Mays, Paul Wertico, Gary Burton, Niels Orsted Pederson, Arild Anderson, Bendik Hofseth and Kurt Elling.
Moulder received his master’s degree in music from Northwestern University. As an educator, he is currently a faculty member at Northwestern University, Benedictine University and the College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He has lectured, taught master classes and conducted clinics at universities, high schools, music institutes and other settings.
Moulder is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where he serves at St. Gregory the Great Church, the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University and is the Arts Chaplain of the Archdiocese. With his unique combination of talents and vocations, Moulder hopes to improve the connection between the arts and the Church, while building greater participation in both.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Tell us about your early life. Were you originally a Chicagoan?
John Moulder: Well, just north of Chicago. When I was born, my folks had just moved to Lake Forest/Lake Bluff. I’m the last of six kids. My Mom and Dad grew up and lived early on in their marriage in the Oak Park area, but later, after having lived in St. Joe, Michigan, my Dad landed a job as an electrical engineer with Johnson Motors in Waukegan, so they moved back to the Chicago area.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Was it a musical family?
Moulder: My Mom played piano when she was a teenager. I originally wanted to play piano, but we didn’t have a piano in our house. I was nine or ten and looking to play an instrument, and started playing my grandmother’s ukelele. Guitar was really popular––there were a lot of folk artists and of course rock music had really hit. At the time, you were able to buy a guitar pretty inexpensively. Soon I had my first guitar. As I began to learn how to play it, I fell in love with it.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Did you ask for a guitar or did they just pick it up for you?
Moulder: I was interested and then they found someone––a friend of my brother’s––that had a guitar that he wasn’t using. That was my first guitar.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: How old were you at the time?
Moulder: I think ten or eleven. I put it down for a while. I had a teacher that was facing an impossible teaching situation. He had several instrumentalists all in the same room trying to learn their respective instruments, so he was teaching a clarinet player, teaching me, then teaching someone who’s trying to play trumpet––we’re all in the same room simultaneously playing different music. As you can imagine, I didn’t enjoy it at first, but I came back to it about a year or two later after finding a good teacher I could study with privately, and from then on just really took to playing guitar.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You have dual careers… if you call the priesthood a career.
Moulder: [laughs] Right. Yeah, or a vocation… I look at what you are saying as varying dimensions of one vocation. I feel that they both flow from the same center within me. An example that you might find interesting and that was special to me because it drew upon the God-given gifts that I have been given, is that I was invited to go to speak and to play at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, at a place called the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research. They were offering a conference largely for ministers who were interested in the arts. Some of them were writers, and some of them might have been painters. Don Ottenhoff, who is the director of the Institute, is a friend who I first met in Chicago while he was editor for the Christian Century. He met me early after I first arrived at Ascension Church, around 1995 or so. Anyway, he and his wife Kathleen, who is a theologian as well, have since moved up to St. John’s, and a couple years back he called me and said, “John, we’re having pastors come to the institute who are interested in the arts and exploring art within their lives. They’re serious about it. And you’ve been doing it for twenty or twenty-five years. Why don’t you come up and share your experiences?” It was a terrific encounter. I felt like there were some kindred spirits there, and it resulted in a project that we’re pursuing. These workshops were the foundation for a grant proposal that I made to a place called the Louisville Institute, which is largely an institute on religion in America. They tend to sponsor conversations that otherwise wouldn’t be had. So about three years ago I received a grant from them to direct a symposium on “Theology and the Arts.” I brought together artists, musicians, theologians of the arts, patrons of the arts and pastoral leaders for talks and discussion. This time I was awarded a grant for a project related to “Improvisation.” It’s been really cool! Recently, as part of the grant project, I’ve been interviewing musicians in Chicago, L.A. and New York about improvisation. My work will consist of looking through the lens of some of the concepts we discussed and reflecting on how ministers at times improvise. So it’s been an interesting and meaningful way to explore and integrate these two very important worlds and aspects of my life.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Ministers improvising while delivering sermons or in terms of dealing with parishioners?
Moulder: Maybe both. That’s what I’m exploring through that lens. So it’s been really interesting––it’s a way in which the two worlds have come together, at least most recently in the project that I’m doing, so we’ll see what happens with it. But at any rate it’s been a rich topic for me to explore.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Many professional musicians know at a fairly early age that music will be their career. What was your experience in that regard?
Moulder: Well, I guess I got serious about jazz music during my freshman year of high school. I started delving into it more. I had a really good teacher who I studied with and grew with in terms of knowledge of jazz and blues. So I probably knew then that music was going to be something I would be serious about and invest in for life. I couldn’t imagine myself not playing, not wanting to compose, things like that––my interest and work in composition happened pretty early, and I always loved it. I really didn’t imagine it not happening. My having a strong sense of that probably began in high school. But I always knew that I was very interested in a number of things, like helping professions of various types: psychology and pastoral work, but also in subjects such as philosophy and theology, spirituality––all of these things were of great interest to me. I guess these were all strong interests that simultaneously were cultivated along the line. I always felt that they flowed from my interior and were all somehow important... so that I wanted to explore all of them, and I found a way to do so.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Which of these sides did you pursue in your formal studies?
Moulder: Well, I studied music a lot, independently. I studied with a teacher in Boston and did a lot of woodshedding––studying composers and things like that on my own. Later, I ended up going to Northwestern for a master’s degree in music. I worked on improvisation and arranging. The master’s degree was helpful background for the teaching positions I currently have at the universities. The background for ministry involved a couple of degrees: one a Master of Divinity, and the other an S.T.L.––Sacred Theology Licentiate.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Were you in Boston strictly because of music?
Moulder: That was for music. I wasn’t there for long, but I got a lot from it. Initially I wanted to study with Mick Goodrick, who is a great guitar player from out there, but he was on the road with Jack DeJohnette, so he recommended Randy Roos. I studied with him for a while and got a lot from it, especially given that time of my musical development. I was twenty-three. It was a good time in my life to get that dose of information and input. I’ve been in Chicago since then. I love the city. I love the scene. However, we could always use a few more jazz clubs, especially for such a flourishing music scene. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to travel and play outside Chicago, but I’ve never lived outside Chicago.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: When you were in your late teens and early twenties, were you thinking about the priesthood or were you thinking of what you could do to utilize your interest in psychology?
Moulder: I was thinking about psychology, because that’s what I got my undergraduate degree in, and there was the thought of playing music professionally. I had thought about doing music and psychology and ministry. I thought I needed to explore all of them, which is what I did. There wasn’t a lot of time in-between when I went into graduate school in theology and my undergraduate education. When I was in Boston I worked waiting tables and doing stuff like that. When I came back, I was taking classes at Loyola and worked at a bank for a while. There was a year that I worked both teaching music, playing gigs and working at the Newman Center. That was the beginning of music and ministry coming together and flowing together in my work. That’s been happening pretty much ever since. I ended up going to University of St. Mary of the Lake because I had an interest in exploring the possibility of priesthood: Why don’t I check it out and see how I feel about it? So I did go there, and after my first year I really loved the experience. It happened to be very favorable, and they were very supportive of the music that I was already playing quite a bit in Chicago. So it felt like a really nice mix and balance at the time.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Had your family suggested that you go into the ministry?
Moulder: No, they really didn’t, but they were very supportive of it. My grandmother’s faith was really important to her and my family was Catholic, but they didn’t push it at all.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: So you did this all on your own?
Moulder: Yes, but I never really got serious about it until later in life, in my twenties. I thought, Well, I’ll go and check it out.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Considering that you grew up in the rock era, how did you get involved with jazz?
Moulder: [laughs] Well, you can hear that some of my work has elements of fusion. You know, I did play rock & roll very early on, but I was always interested in the feel, the rhythmic side of jazz, and in the harmonic sophistication of the music.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: So you enjoyed rock, but it wasn’t as musically fulfilling as jazz?
Moulder: Yeah, especially as an improviser. Even early on I was always interested in music where there was interesting harmony. I think the first record I bought when I was a kid was Déjà Vu, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. As a kid of nine or ten years old, I always loved listening to their vocal harmonies. That kind of interest kept developing, and I think jazz was the next logical step, which I took my freshman year in high school.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Besides CSN, who were some of your rock influences?
Moulder: Oh, wow! Well, the singer/songwriters––James Taylor and of course Joni Mitchell, those types of people. They were definitely influential. Eric Clapton, the Beatles, guitar players like Hendrix, they all provided inspiration for me as a young player. They were all influenced by blues from Chicago, which I only came to appreciate later.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Were you a singer as well?
Moulder: I wasn’t. No. [laughs]
Chicago Jazz Magazine: How about on the jazz side?
Moulder: You know what happened? A friend of mine in high school—Steve Yastrow—was a junior when I was a freshman. In high school, a lot of people were playing guitar and he was like, “Let’s play guitar together.” I could see that he had a knowledge of chords and the ability to improvise and it interested me a lot, because that’s what I was getting into. He recommended a teacher that he was studying with, and that launched me into a deeper study of jazz—a deeper interest and getting exposure to a lot of people that I hadn’t heard yet, like George Benson—he was really big—Pat Martino, Jim Hall and a whole variety of players that I started listening to. It wasn’t chronological, like starting with early players like Charlie Christian and moving forward. I listened to current players at the time, then went back and listened to older players... all at the same time.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Mostly guitarists?
Moulder: Well, I enjoyed listening to everybody, really. I’m trying to think: early on, there were a lot of guitar players, but I loved pianists, too...everybody from Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. But horn players also fascinated me, so I definitely loved listening to Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter—among many other musicians.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Were you composing at an early age?
Moulder: Yeah, I started really at the very beginning, mostly folk songs with lyrics. But that soon shifted when I was in eighth grade, and freshman year I started playing blues and then started writing my own jazz tunes. That’s really stayed with me. I’ve always loved to do that––I love composing. It’s one of the things about jazz music that, for me, is really enjoyable.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: It sounds like what psychologists describe as being in a state of flow.
Moulder: Exactly! That’s it, because there are times when I’m playing that it’s exhilarating.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Do you have a definition of jazz?
Moulder: You know, I don’t, because I always feel that jazz is redefining itself in some way, and it keeps assimilating other music into itself, which broadens it. I definitely think improvisation is at the heart of it. When you don’t have improvisation in the music, it’s like, Is there really jazz there? That, I would say, is at the center of jazz. Of course, there are people that play improvisational music that’s not jazz, like in Indian music...
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Through the Church, you must have become acquainted with the classical canon.
Moulder: Oh, I enjoy that immensely, but that’s not music that I’ve played. The teacher that I’ve mentioned––Rich Matthews, in high school––was very immersed in classical music, so I was exposed to classical music and technique that way. I love it and respect it a great deal, but it’s not music that I’m pursuing as a player.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Have you ever experienced a conflict of interest between your faith and playing jazz in drinking establishments?
Moulder: No, I really haven’t. I’ve done it my whole life, so that’s never been a personal dilemma for me or anything I’ve felt at odds about. People have asked me about that. My view is that alcohol can be found anywhere––from a jazz club and restaurant to a church hall or a parish party. People can display good judgment or poor judgment in that regard, no matter where the location. Those types of things can happen anywhere.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Have you had many encounters with judgmental non-believing musicians?
Moulder: No, quite the opposite, actually. I have found that a lot of players are supportive of who I am, and the balance of music and ministerial life. Maybe because of the work I do, it is not uncommon that people disclose aspects of their faith life with me. They might not be churchgoers, but many have some kind of faith or spirituality that is important in their life. I definitely have had some profound discussions with musicians about that. The project that I’m working on moves in that direction with various musicians. I went to New York and interviewed a number of musicians who are quite talented and have a strong faith component as a part of their life. I find that fascinating.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Do you feel that you’ve struck a good balance between your interests?
Moulder: I do. I am the Arts Chaplain for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Over the course of centuries the church has been a patron of the arts. So many great artists were supported through the church. But that connection between the world of religion and the arts tover the last couple of centuries maybe isn’t as strong as it once was. There have been all sorts of reasons offered as to why that is the case, but the idea behind my position is that I have a foot in both worlds, and that I’m kind of a natural bridge between them. This position is a way in which I, as a representative, can in some ways be a supportive presence to the artistic community. There are a number of ways in which that happens. Some of it can be ministerial, like officiating at fellow musicians’ baptisms or weddings or funerals. Another is in discussing these ideas––like through this grant, I have been talking to musicians about their faith life, and found that they were really happy to do so. They’re like, No one ever asked me about this. I never get a chance to talk about how my faith or my spiritual life intersects with my creative life.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: When it comes to arts and the Catholic Church, perhaps the first thoughts are toward the visual arts, like the Sistine Chapel, The Last Supper or the Pietà. But music has a transcendent quality to it, perhaps more so than the other arts, particularly as a performer, because you are physically involved.
Moulder: I definitely think you’re on to something! I think that’s what, as musicians, we often times gravitate to. That’s one of the things that is really special about the experience of being an improviser––many times you do experience moments of transcendence. I guess we could call it a little bit of self-forgetfulness. That’s what I was explaining about when I am composing––you become immersed in a way that has parallels with spiritual practice and meditation, like being in the moment and letting go of our egos for a moment. It’s a unitive experience. That type of thing certainly has points of connection with the jazz world.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: All forms of art may provide a window for that experience, but music seems to provide a bigger window.
Moulder: I certainly might be a little biased, but music is what called out to me. Although there are dancers, visual artists, painters and they experience moments of flow and transcendence, music and the process of creating requires a total investment: the composition, the playing, the mixing, the mastering. I usually have a hand in all the parts of the process. Anytime you’re birthing a big project it has moments that are very joyful, exhilarating and very creative, and other times where it can be agonizing and difficult, where you’re paying some real dues to get it mixed or whatever. Case in point: my latest record, The Eleventh Hour, was recorded live at the Green Mill. My group was going to play there one evening in July, but I really didn’t expect it to turn into a recording. I got a call from Ken Christianson, who works here in town. He records a number of things––he’s an engineer for the Naim label.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: He’s also at Pro Musica. Doesn’t he record live events with what he calls “True Stereo”?
Moulder: True Stereo! Yeah, he’s got some incredible equipment that he sells, and he also works a lot, engineering live concerts. And he said, “John, I’m coming to see your performance on Friday. Do you mind if I put up some mics and record?” I was like, “Oh, yeah! That sounds good. It’ll be interesting to hear how we sound.” Through the course of his career Ken did a lot of stereo miking––one pair of stereo mics. Sometimes that would have mixed results, depending on the room and how close and how far all the instrumentalists were, in terms of getting a balance. So I wasn’t really thinking we were going to have something we’d be able to release from this. But when he showed up, he not only had a stereo mic––he had stereo mics on the piano, he had a mic on the guitar cabinet, a mic on the bass cabinet… all of a sudden it was kind of a different world. At that point I thought, I don’t even know what we’re going to get. The beauty of it was, I wasn’t thinking, Oh, this is a recording, so we just played. I really enjoyed a lot of what came out of it. It wasn’t until I went back and listened with Jim Trompeter that he said, “Man, there’s some really dynamic stuff here. You’ve really got to think about releasing this.” He was really helpful in the production and connected me with Rick Fritz, who’s another great engineer in town, and we worked together trying to mix it. There were some agonizing moments with that, because everything was bleeding into everything else in that kind of situation—there’s no separation. It made for a lot of depth in the recording, which was a beautiful thing, but it was also hard to work with. Rick was very inventive. He troubleshot and had some great solutions to make it work.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Who do you consider to be “your” group?
Moulder: The group consisted of Paul Wertico on drums––Paul and I have done a lot of things over the years. I’ve played in his group for—my gosh!––twenty years. He played that weekend. Larry Gray, who I’ve been doing a lot of work with. I’ve played on his last couple of records. Jim Trompeter—who I’ve known for many years, and really love his piano playing, and Geof Bradfield, who is more new to the group, but he had played some horn parts on my recording, Trinity, and just played beautifully. We played two nights at the Green Mill. Ken ended up coming for the second night, too, so for a lot of the tunes we had two takes to choose from.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Was this album released though Chicago Sessions?
Moulder: No, the Chicago Sessions recordings consisted of a couple of CDs with the Larry Gray Trio and one with Paul Wertico’s Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance that was called Impressions of a City, which was largely improvised from beginning to end. I’ve really loved working with both Larry and Paul on their records, too. There have been a number of them. With Larry, there was 1,2,3 and Three Equals One. Paul was on my first recording, Awakening, and then I played some in his groups early on––he has a couple of them. One was a quintet that we never really recorded with—Laurence Hobgood, Rich Corpolongo and Eric Hochberg—and then we worked for a long time as a trio with Eric and Paul and myself. Our first recording was during a tour we did in Germany and Poland. This was a concert they captured in Warsaw that was the start of a lot of the work I did with him. I really have enjoyed that. There’s been some really interesting things I’ve done with Paul’s groups: I got an opportunity to play with Lyle Mays, also Bob Mintzer was on one of the weekends we did at the Green Mill—it’s been great! Paul’s not only a phenomenal drummer, but also has really great ears in the studio and as a producer.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Paul’s also done a little work for another guitar player.
Moulder: Yeah! [laughs] Right—he logged quite a few years with Pat Metheny, and now Larry Coryell, too.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: What do you look for in your musical relationships? Why those people and not others?
Moulder: Those players came to mind because we have long standing relationships. There are many other players in town I feel a strong musical connection with. I guess in terms of any of the players that I play with, I’m looking for a way to connect with them. Sometimes you can have great musicians, but stylistically you may not be as compatible. They may go in a certain direction and I may be veering down a different path. But what I look for in musicians are not only the technical things, such as a nice time-feel and their gifts on the instrument and so forth. It comes down to hearing something of the soul coming through. A soulful player piques my interest. I feel I’m really hearing something coming from the inside, and also from the imagination. So if there’s soulfulness and imaginative playing, I’m all ears.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: What would you consider to be the best documentations of your playing?
Moulder: Well, I have particular affection for each of the five CDs I’ve released. As a leader, I wouldn’t put it out unless I felt strongly about it, so I guess I would include those. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed very much Larry’s two CDs and Paul’s recent CDs. I really like a recording he put out, entitled StereoNucleosis. Actually that particular recording was done a while back.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Paul has great names for his records.
Moulder: He does have great names, doesn’t he?! I loved that one! That was a very produced project—we had hundreds of tracks going. It was very captivating and mesmerizing, I felt, in a good way. The soloing on it largely entailed just hitting it and using the take as it was. Nevertheless, there was a lot going on. I liked the balance on that recording of a lot of high production, but a lot of edgy, interesting improvising.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Do you own many guitars?
Moulder: Well, I’ve gone through a lot of different guitars. I’ve sold a lot of guitars and I’ve bought a lot of guitars over the years. When I started out, I had an Ibanez 335, an Ibanez Artist. I played that exclusively until I was in my early thirties, but it ended up getting stolen. Then it started me down this path of trying out a bunch of different guitars. What ended up happening was, eventually I got a Gibson 335, which was like the Ibanez.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: The ES-335.
Moulder: Right! That’s been home base for me basically. I have a couple of 335s—I got one initially after the Ibanez was stolen, and I have one that’s more recent—it’s actually an older 335 that I like quite a bit, that I’ve had for under a year. Some of the other guitars that I’ve had and sold: I had a 175 for a while, a Gibson—I always think about going back to that because I liked that guitar. For a while—a good spell—I was using a Klein guitar. It was a headless guitar. There was a lot that was really great about that guitar.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Is that the guitar with no tuning pegs?
Moulder: Yeah! They’re down at the bottom, and the neck was like—it felt like you were driving a race car! The Klein guitar was made by a guy Lorenzo German. There were various people who played it. Mick Goodrick still plays it. It really was just so easy, it felt like it was cheating at times to play it! [laughs] But they’re no longer being made. I ended up selling it last year, because it was great for some of the fusion oriented things that I was doing, where there’s a lot of effects added to the guitar sound, but it wasn’t full bodied enough for me on other things. I found I wasn’t using it as much. I’ve had a few other guitars. I own a Strat that has humbuckers in it, by John Buscarino that I really dig. It really is kind of, what would you say… a Strat in disguise, or something like that. It doesn’t really sound as much like a Strat because it doesn’t have the single coil pickups—they’re humbuckers.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Your playing the Strat in some of your promo shots. That guitar has beautiful striping on the wood!
Moulder: Yeah, well John’s a great guitar maker. John Buscarino is from North Carolina. When I told him what I was looking for, I was like, “I really want a warm sound, but not a hollow body, because I’ll be playing it at volume where I don’t want to get feedback—and I want a tremolo bar.” He said, “I’ve got this guitar sitting right in front of me. I really think it has a sound quality, character and vibe that you are going to like. I’ll send it to you, and if you like it then pay me for it, if not you can send it back.” And I really loved it. That’s been a great guitar. I played a weekend with Chévere. You’ve got horns, a B3 organ, piano, all sorts of percussion, and you’re trying to solo over that. You really need something that cuts through. It really shines in moments like that. I’ve used that some and the 335.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You’ve used an acoustic too.
Moulder: Yes, I’ve got a steel string Taylor and then a nylon string. I love playing those guitars and recording with them.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Your playing runs the gamut, emotionally. Is that something that you strive for or does it come naturally?
Moulder: You know, I think it comes naturally. Maybe it’s been my interest in music. My vocational life has been pretty broad, and my musical life too. I’ve had a bunch of influences and I love all those different directions that you can go with the guitar. I never wanted to limit that. Various music and guitars—electric and acoustic—call something different out of me. The acoustic thing came naturally to me, because I started on acoustic guitar. But as I got to be a jazz player and was, for example, working in Paul’s group, the music called for using effects and creating various textures, so I began using more guitar pedals and gear. And, as I say, it was brought out of me by the situation I was in. And then I developed and cultivated that side of my playing. It certainly was something I enjoyed doing. However I feel the core of my playing is steeped in, for lack of a better word, straight-ahead and contemporary jazz.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Talk about the projects you have coming up in the near future.
Moulder: Well, there are a couple of things on the horizon. I have been in conversation with the Jazz Institute about performing a new work of my compositions. That will be happening in 2013, and/or 2014. That’s something that I’ve just started to work on. I do have something that was recorded long before the Green Mill recording, actually several years ago, that I did with Tim Garland, a sax player who has played in Chick Corea’s band. He is also quite an arranger and provided arrangements for Chick and Gary on the New Crystal Silence recording. He’s a very creative musician. Gwilym Simcock is the pianist—he’s a marvelous talent over in London; Asaf Sirkis played some percussion instruments; Paul played on it; and Steve Rodby played bass on the recording.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Have you ever toyed with the idea of some sort of Christmas project?
Moulder: Yeah, I just played on something! There’s a student of mine, Cory Goodrich, a marvelous vocalist who wrote this pretty Christmas song called “Please Believe,” and asked me to play acoustic guitar on it. The most consistent Christmas music I have played is with five other guitarists in town for an annual event—for 12 years so far—at the Green Mill that benefits Toys for Tots called “Guitar Madness.” John McLean organized the group which consists of himself, Ernie Denov, Neal Alger, Chris Siebold, Dave Onderdonk and myself on guitars along with Larry Kohut on bass and Tom Radke on drums. We recorded a CD almost ten years ago when the group was getting started. I’ve really enjoyed that group and collaborating with such phenomenal guitarists. I’ve played on a few other Christmas recordings, but I’ve never done my own Christmas record. People have talked about it, so at some point maybe that will happen. One of the projects that is dear to my heart, I wrote five or six years ago. It’s called Trinity which was a suite of music that included a piece entitled “Incarnation.” That was recorded maybe about 2005.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Do you consciously sit down to compose or do you wait for an idea to hit you?
Moulder: I can kind of tell when it’s going to start happening. It’s an interesting thing.
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