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The Kenny Gradney Interview



I have been marinating in different regional pockets of music for quite sometime.

The pockets of this country where unique music developed because of culture, heritage and a need for individuality. Of late the great state of Louisiana has been turning round inside as I have interviewed Ellis Marsalis, Allan Toussaint and last weekend Leo Nocentelli. Those cats call New Orleans home with all the beauty and bumps, they saw their individuality accentuated, they saw their families moving upward and they  knew that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

These are values instilled in my guests generation and harder to find In younger generations like my own. The deep sense of insecurity which is actually the path that drives to you to coalesce around a group of artists who are intent on understanding, listening and trusting in the transcendental musical experience where you leave your physical body.

My guest is from Baton Rouge Louisiana but for reasons I have yet to uncover wound up in the burgeoning LA studio scene playing bass with Delaney and Bonnie displaying the art of the rhythm section with Jim Keltner - he himself a transplant from Tulsa. This honky tonk soul outfit was spurred on by the original blues masters and liquid pure psychedelia which was legal at that time.

This culminated in The Festival Express. A steam locomotive rolling down the track with Rick Danko, Phil Lesh and my guest. He can be heard in this documentary of Tricksters as they careened across Canada.

My guest is a decorated bass player who is in the same master discussion as Leroy Vinnegar, Scott Lefaro and John Kahn. He has a really deep pocket that allows his bandmates to settle inside, develop different themes and sequence the ideas without being rushed.

When Bill Payne auditioned my guest for the band Little Feat he was blown away because everything the eclectic Payne threw at my guest he could handle. This jack of all trades mentality led to the greatest run in that bands history along with rhythm mate Richie Hayward. Again the art of the rhythm section at work. Swing the band and lock the groove while your waiting for Columbus.

My guest has been somewhat of a hired gun for blues rock amalgamations looking for those Cajun/Zydeco  influences. Take Bobby Weir who brought in my guest in early '83 to play in the Midnights with rhythm mate Billy Cobham. He has worked with incredible unsung musicians his whole life striving to create real music with his own sound.

How did he acquire his own sound?
He did it on the bandstand playing with Paul Barrere and Bobby Cochran, Sam Clayton and Chico Hamilton.

He continues performing today in a new world that seems to want to dislodge from the gravity of the universe and unhinge itself. Freedom at its best and most frightening (conversely) is when there are no parameters. Throw away the charts cone up with a groove or a feel and see where it goes. Sometimes it won't go anywhere but when it does head out like Ornette Coleman, Lowell George or Jorma Kaukonen it is unexplainable and provides the concentric unison of the circle of magic and the circle of music.....

Knowing the sun rises and sets for all, Kenny Gradney welcome to the JFS.


Kenny Gradney [Download]


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