10 Questions with Wayne Krantz
10. Questions with Wayne Krantz
Wayne Krantz is bringing his trio to the City Winery in Chicago on April 2nd. We thought we would catch up with Krantz to talk about his influences, his musical concepts and his new release Good Piranha/Bad Piranha. 1. Chicago Jazz Magazine: On your new recording Good Piranha/Bad Piranha, you have Keith Carlock and Tim Lefebvre on a couple of tracks. Both were part of your regular band that performed at 55 Bar in New York. Can you tell us how you first started playing with both Keith and Tim? Krantz: The great drummer Zach Danziger introduced me to Lefebvre in the mid-‘90s, so we’d already been working together for a few years before Carlock came to NYC. The first time we all got together was in ‘97. I remember Tim and I looking at each other and saying, “Yeah, this could work.” And work it did. 2. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Who were your main influences musically when you were growing up that you think might have had some influence on your style of guitar playing today? Krantz: Miles Davis had a big impact, his aesthetic. The interactive thing he did with his ‘60s quintet. I wanted to apply that to a groove context. He never really did that and I thought it was the natural evolution. That idea informed my playing a lot. 3. Chicago Jazz Magazine:You have performed with many different artists over the years, was there a specific experience or artist that really opened up your mind and allowed you to think of music in a new and different way? Krantz: Honestly, not really. Whatever progress I’ve managed has been more or less self-generated. The exception would be the influence Steely Dan had on my time feel. I thought their classic R&B middle-of-the-beat placement would serve my music well, so I worked hard on it. Anthony Jackson inspired that a lot, too. 4. Chicago Jazz Magazine: It seems that your entire group can move quickly from one idea to another during a live performance, was this ability to maneuver developed during your regular gigs at 55 Bar in New York? Krantz:Definitely. The band was able to develop all kinds of things from that weekly gig, which we did solidly for six years or so. Invaluable. 5. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Can you talk about the different signals that you give the group to change tempos, feels and harmonics? Krantz: There’s a great potential for improvised instrumental music to be excruciatingly boring. To fight that, we developed a bunch of cues to keep the music changing a lot to try to keep the audience engaged. Tempo shifts, compositional cues, dynamics, mood, key, instrument combinations—anything we could think of, really. I direct traffic using mouthed cues. It’s too loud for the band to hear what I say so they have to be good lip readers. 6. Chicago Jazz Magazine: You have traveled throughout the world and have experienced many different music scenes. Why do you think so many artists develop an individual sound in New York compared to other places in the country? Krantz: I think New York just has more of everything, good and bad, as so many people come there. It’s a creative center, like L.A., and people are drawn there. Some of them manage to carve out something personal. Many do not. But there are people doing cool stuff everywhere. 7. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Your new album, Good Piranha/Bad Piranha, has just been released on Abstract Logix Records. How long did it take to do the entire recording and are the tunes all new compositions? Krantz: Both trios recorded for one day. None of the songs are my compositions; it’s all other people’s music that we jam and do our thing on. That was the concept behind this one. 8. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Will you be performing music from the new CD at City Winery in Chicago or your older tunes? Krantz: All of that, plus some new stuff I’ve written for this tour. 9. Chicago Jazz Magazine: You have a hectic tour schedule leading up to the performances at City Winery in Chicago. Does the traveling take a toll on your creativity or do you have a way of getting your mind focused before each performance? Krantz: Focus is what makes it work onstage, and yeah, fatigue can be a factor. But I’m feeling good about my strength in that department lately. I’ve made some changes that seem to be helping me be less distracted. We’ll see if that holds up between now and Chicago. It’s a great music town that always helps me get it together. 10. Chicago Jazz Magazine: After the tour, will you be back in New York performing or do you have other upcoming tours or recordings this year? Krantz: More touring, we’re going to Europe and doing some additional dates in the States. I have some ideas about a recording too, maybe for the beginning of next year.