“How the HELL does a person play the guitar like that??” Those were my exact words, walking out of Detroit’s own, Cadieux Cafe last night. A little crass? Maybe. Valid question? Absolutely.
Slim Gambill has been in town the last two days handling guitar duties for Lady Antebellum one night and playing songs from his new solo album, Fake Jazz & Theme Songs the next. Anytime you are able to see a guitarist of Gambill’s caliber play, you are in for a treat. However, if you are lucky enough to have an up close and personal point of view, I would say that is more like a feast than a treat.
Last night, fans of Slim Gambill saw a jazzy/rock/groove/fusion band that was incredibly tight and amazing in performance. You’d think that they’ve been playing together for years. This is not the case. In fact, during the band’s first set, Slim talked with the crowd in between songs and mentioned that he just met bassist Chuck Bartels and drummer Jason Gittinger for the first time the previous night. Bartels wowed the crowd with his use of the entire fret board and Gittinger put on a paradiddle clinic all night with his ultra fast snare rolls and high-hat shuffle. Rounding out the band was someone that Gambill is very familiar with, having played with him for nearly twelve years, Latavius Mulzac on the keys. Mulzac wasn’t just there to fill out the sound. There were times when he owned it. Longtime friend Will Fogle joined the band on stage for a few songs, making the full sound that much wider and even did a little soloing of his own.
The entire set felt like a highlight as Slim blazed through song after song but still found time to make sure each member of the band got a chance to shine – solo style – and the crowd was very responsive every time Gambill would announce a member of the group. But when it was time for this guitar virtuoso to go.. Go he went and his fingers seemed to defy how many notes can be played per second and how far you can bend a set of strings before they break. There were people in the venue that seemed to be ok – just having a beer at the bar, but turned around after hearing what was being played on stage. At one point, I saw three people sitting at the bar pull out their phones to get the band on video. After one song was over I saw one of the guys say to the other, “UNREAL.” This is the kind of guitar performance I’m talking about here.
I was excited to see how his song ‘54321’ would sound in a live setting and I was not disappointed in the bands delivery. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll always miss not have Jeff Coffin play horn on stage but the band made me forget, briefly, that part of the song was missing. Not an easy thing to do. The most rocking part of the night belonged to another song off of his new album called,Lyla Marie. The song dedicated to his daughter has some serious bite to it. The smoothest part of the night was the band playing George Benson’s version of Affirmation. The crowd showed its appreciation when this song finished up.
Originally, I planned to only release my interview with Slim on a podcast and YouTube video next week and mention highlights from the show during that episode. But having seen last night’s epic performance I was compelled to write about what I saw. I’m glad I was one of the people in attendance and will surely be in the room the next time he comes to town. (March 20, 2020, but who’s counting?)
‘Til next week when my full interview with Slim comes out, here’s me putting on my headphones for another listen to his new record and asking myself.. Seriously, how in thee hell does he play like that?
Repost from SoundVapors.com - see the original Interview/Review here
Slim Gambill – Fake Jazz & Theme Songs – Holy moly, this is becoming one of my favorite albums released this year. Ten songs on this instrumental opus (outside of Over Getting Over You – which we will get to later on), none of which allows you to lose interest. There’s so much going on musically here, that it has taken me a half dozen listens to really feel like I’ve been able to take it all in – but I’m sure I’ll pick up on little nuances here and there that I didn’t previously catch.
Sometimes when I preview an album for review I’ll pick out the highlights and direct people to listen to those tracks. In this case I’m tempted to just say “here” and hand you the CD because, to me, all of these songs are a highlight. But since I’m putting out an article, let’s talk about songs.
The album begins with Last Time Thing. Creamy guitar tone, bright horn section, stellar piano & organ play, melodic bass lines and a drum sound that is almost like a dream to these ears. Folks, this is the way drums are supposed to sound. I literally want to call up the mixing engineer and ask him how he mixed that snare so I can steal his method going forward. That’s how much I love the drum sound on this record. You can probably just attach this first part to every song, as the article goes on. They all have these great qualities.
The next song, Levitations, is one that Slim described to me as one of the real jazz songs on the record. Again, there’s so much to take in, especially on a song like this, but pay close attention to the bass guitar. My fingers were sore after listening to this one. I told Gambill during our conversation that I could almost envision this song in the movie “Quiz Show”. The thing just swings, man.
Let’s get into one of my favorite songs on the album. Like I said, I like them all but 5,4,3,2,1 is something special. Maybe it’s the time signature. Maybe it’s the movement in the song. Maybe it’s Slim’s milky Hendrix-tone or maybe it’s having Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band) playing saxophone on it. I was fortunate enough to see the band play this song live and seeing Gambill absolutely slay the solo gave me an even greater appreciation for the song.
Yacht Rock alert! The next song is one that I’ve been playing nonstop since I got the record. Over Getting Over You features Candace Devine on vocals. Even though Yacht Rock is generally late 70’s and early 80’s type stuff – this song will fit nicely on my own YR playlist next summer when I’m enjoying a cocktail by the water and watching the sun go down (I almost hate myself too, for writing it). Devine’s voice is so special on this song, I went straight to her own album, Here We Are just to get more of it. It’s powerful and controlled at the same time. She has one of these special vocal tones I continually talk about. It’s something that many singers wish they had. In that same space is the dynamic guitar solo by Gambill. It’s probably my favorite solo on the entire album and that is saying something, since his play is off the charts throughout.
While I know that all of the songs on the album are special to him, here are three songs that might have an even more special place in Gambill’s heart. Gambill explains to me during our conversation, “There are two tunes that I wrote for my kids and then there’s one for my wife. Those ones probably mean the most to me. There’s Lyla Marie, there’s Silly Time and then there’s 62 Victory Blvd. So I love those tunes.”
Each one of those songs has it’s own personality and feel to them. Silly Time is such a happy song I can almost see Rick Moranis dancing along to it in a beach montage from My Blue Heaven. 62 Victory Blvd just feels like home. It’s a warm, sunny song that feels like an adventure. Maybe the adventure of the search and capture? Either way it’s another great piece of music, only this time we get a terrific acoustic guitar to fill the speakers. Finally, Lyla Marie grabbed me right away. Two things jumped out at me. One was the guitar sound. I immediately thought to myself that this was possibly an old Deluxe Reverb amplifier I was hearing. (which was confirmed by Gambill during our conversation) Second, was that I thought, of all the songs on the record, this was the one I felt like could’ve had vocals over the top of it. I’m thinking Kim Wilson/Fabulous Thunderbirds type vocals.
Let’s bring this one home with three additional great songs. Again – all musically different than one another and special in their own way. Cop Show once again features Jeff Coffin and Gambill had a cool explanation of the Coffin’s intro this one. Gambill says, “That was the last one on the list, he blazed through everything so fast I was kind of like I’m not sure on Cop Show what you’ll do but, but then I was like just do that Careless Whisper/Lethal Weapon/David Sanborn. We’ll ‘verb it out and just come up with a couple of things that’ll go on top of it. And so he came up with that melody. So the intro stuff is just him playing.”
Also Shuffle features Kenneth Crouch a super talented piano player that has played with some legendary artists like Eric Clapton, Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill. His presence on this track is felt almost immediately. His fingers moves quickly over the piano keys. It’s a pure joy to listen to this caliber musician, do what he does. Truly amazing.
The album closes with the appearance of two other notable guitar players. Isaac Hanson (that Hanson) and Chris Nix (Jonathan Davis of Korn). The concept of 4 Guitars Having A Conversation Over Cocktails was explained to me, perfectly. Gambill says, “As the title suggests, I wanted to have a bunch of guitar players that are just in conversation, like when there’s multiple people. You kind of talk over each sometimes and cut each other off. I think it turned out great!” So do I and if you listen to it with that in mind, it makes complete sense.
The album is a keeper for me and I’m already ready to hear more from him. If you’re ready to hear more, you can click on one of the links below to your favorite place to listen to podcasts and hear our entire interview. We get pretty deep into the production of the album and talk about Lady Antebellum as well. Another topic of conversation was T.V. Theme Songs. We talk about his favorites and how they inspired him. The title is a dead giveaway – but they clearly had an effect on him. And I’m glad they did.
By Tommy Martin. You can follow Tommy on Twitter.
JAZZIZ presents the premiere of “Last Time Thing,” a jazzy groover from Fake Jazz & Theme Songs, the debut solo album of guitarist Jason “Slim” Gambill, best-known as the secret weapon of country music superstars Lady Antebellum. “As the first tune I wrote for the project … ‘Last Time Thing’ best represents the scope of the album and me as a musician,” he explains to us. “A dirty White Stripe-esque guitar riff and ’70s George Benson vibes, with allusions to the Beatles and Curtis Mayfield, all tied together with an all-star horn section. That’s me in a nutshell.” Fake Jazz & Theme Songs will be out on September 6. Check out the article - click here
10 Best Country Songs To Hear Now
Slim appears in Rolling Stone with his song "54321 (featuring Jeff Coffin)" - READ ARTICLE
"In his spare time as Lady Antebellum’s longtime touring guitarist, Slim Gambill makes instrumental music rooted in the freedom and smooth delivery of jazz. Here, he changes time signatures and burns up the fretboard with the funky “54321,” which also features a horn solo from the Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin." - Robert Crawford
Lady Antebellum Guitarist Slim Gambill Drops Jazzy '54321' From Debut Album: Exclusive
8/15/2019 by Gary Graf
The world is about to get a different taste of Jason "Slim" Gambill, the pigtailed guitarist for Lady Antebellum, via his upcoming solo album Fake Jazz & Theme Songs.
As the title indicates, the Colorado-raised, USC-educated Gambill's own music comes from a different kind of stylistic country, and there's nothing fake about the jazzy terrain he explores on many of its 10 tracks. One of the songs, "54321," which Billboard premieres exclusively today (Aug. 15), includes saxophonist Jeff Coffin... Continue To Article
Get a copy of this video in the Official Slim Store
Slim Gambill Interview & Feature
Slim is featured in this month's edition of Jazz Guitar Today. Read the Interview - click here
Fake Jazz & Theme Songs - Album Promo
Release Date: September 6th, 2019
Atlanta Jazz Festival
May 25-26, 2019
Last year the festival operated under the threat of rain all weekend. This year's 42nd edition saw record-tying high temperatures: 93 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit (ten degrees above the historical averages). No doubt it is a coincidence that the programming was cooler than last year's: lots of contemporary/smooth jazz and pop, and very little progressive jazz or Latin. Not that this had any apparent effect on the size (or enthusiasm) of the audiences. It should also be noted that several of the acts have current or past associations with Blue Note Records, giving the festival a bit of contemporary Blue Note flavor overall.
Slim Gambill & The Ludlow St. Project
Nashville guitarist/composer Slim Gambill has a high-profile main gig, as guitarist with the backing band for the hit country trio Lady Antebellum. He titled his solo album Fake Jazz & Theme Songs (Ludlow St. Records, 2019), but there was plenty of real jazz on offer. The opening tune featured a head in octaves (Wes Montgomery or George Benson style), which morphed into an over-driven rock guitar solo—Gambill is a killer guitarist in both styles. The second tune had a fast bebop head, with walking bass. The band was introduced as first-call Nashville players, and they certainly demonstrated that: this piece included bebop piano & guitar solos, followed by solos from drums and electric bass. "54321" included a quote from Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," then moved on to big guitar and organ solos.
Gambill thanked the audience, noting that "I'm usually in a country band, so thanks." He introduced a tune titled "Meet The Family," saying that it was a working title ("for no particular reason") which stuck, because "I'm bad at titles." They then performed a "name that tune" mashup, which turned out to be legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery's "Four On Six" combined with Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" from Songs In The Key Of Life (Tamla, 1976). "Lyla Marie" is titled for his young daughter. But "it's not a sensitive ballad, because she's a firecracker: she's a little rocker." Dynamic vocalist Candice Devine joined the band for "Over Getting Over You" and "Treat Me Like A Lady." The set ended with the instrumental "Last Time Thing" (which opened the album, but also worked very well as a closer).