OZ NOY - "Twisted Blues Vol. 2" Interview

 

“It’s Jazz. It just doesn’t sound like it.” OZ NOZ has just released his sixth studio album “Twisted Blues Volume 2” to critical acclaim. Recognised by Guitar Player magazine’s annual readers’ poll as “Best New Talent” (2008), and “Best Out There Guitar Player” in 2013, we thought it was high time to talk with Oz about his new album, as well as his approach to music.

 

 

Born in Israel, OZ NOY started playing already in his early teenage years in various jazz, blues, pop, and rock outfits in his native Israel. Heavily influenced by musicians like STEVE RAY VAUGHAN, JIMI HENDRIX, BUD POWELL, and CHARLIE PARKER, his precocious talent meant that, by the time he was barely 16 years old, he was performing alongside some of the country’s finest singers and musicians. In his twenties, he was firmly established among Israel’s top session guitarists, and for over two years was seen nationally as a member of the house band on the most-watched Israeli television, before moving to New York to start a career in the United States.

 

We wanted to learn more from Oz about his new record “Twisted Blues Volume 2”, his playing, and his new tutorial DVDs.



Congratulations on the release of your new record „Twisted Blues Volume 2“. I understand you are currently on tour through the States. Are you happy with the way the tour is going?

Going great, we're having a good time.

Which of the new songs are you playing live?

 We are playing most songs from "Twisted Blues Vol. 1 & 2" - almost everything.

Can you please tell us about your live band?

 
Right now I'm on tour with Keith Carlock & Oteil Burbridge. I have worked with Keith since I moved to NYC in 1996, this is the first tour I'm doing with Oteil, he's amazing!

 
Where did you record the new album?

This record took only a few days to record BUT those few days were within a full year. I clear ideas and was very specific about who I wanted to use on the record. It was hard to get all musicians in a room together. Sometimes I had to wait a few months between each sessions to get the guys I wanted.

 



How long did it take you to record the tracks?

We recorded everything at a great studio called the Carraige House in Connecticut, about 45 minutes from New York City. Except for “EJ's Blues”, which was recorded at Eric Johnson’s studio in Austin Texas.

 
Could you please tell us how many of the songs on the new record did you write yourself? Are there any covers?

 
I wrote everything except for "Come let me make your love come down", and " Freedom Jazz dance", which is a tune by Eddie Harris.

 
How important is trying new equipment  for you?

I am open to trying new gear but do not have much patience for it, mostly cause its very rare to have a new piece of gear that is better or different then the other many things that are out there already. I have stuff that I like that works for me. That said, if I see someone using something that sounds good I’ll try it BUT I'm not looking for that stuff.


Do you get inspired by a new piece of equipment?

Yes, very much so.

 
I read in interview that you said that putting down a good vibe on a record is sometimes not easy. Do you have any recommendations on how to create a great atmosphere in the studio?

It is had to say. Its very important to be in a studio that you are comfortable to be in, and the sound is good while you're recording. It is also very important that everybody knows the music and that they have great attitude.


How would you say does your live playing differ from what or how you play in the studio?

It’s the same for me in terms of what I play. The major issue is that the sound is different when you play live in a room, which can be very challenging! I try to play close by my amps in order to move air, and have it feel like a live gig.

 
We understand that the album’s title is a nod at WES MONTGOMERY’s song of the same name. How important was Wes for your development as guitarist?

Wes was a major influence on me. I was actually a Wes clone for a few years and had a WES MONTGOMERY band in Israel where I played all of Wes’s music. I actually was so into him that I used to play full records of him by heart with the solos and all.

 


Besides Wes, who would you say had the biggest influence on your playing?

I have a lot of different influences , hard to write them all BUT a lot of bebop players from Wes to JIM HALL, to PAT METHENY to ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, etc … same with Rock/Blues- JIMI HENDRIX, SRV, JEFF BECK , ERIC JOHNSON, BB and ALBERT KING, ALBERT COLLINS, etc….

 
When I first heard the whole record for the first time I could not help but think that „Twisted Blues Volume 2“ is your answer to John Scofield’s “A Go Go”. In particular “Get Down” and the last track “Freedom Jazz”, featuring John Medeski. Had John any influence on your playing?

 
I did wrote “Get Down” around the time that “A Go Go” came out, BUT I actually think that my older records are more suited for a comparison with SCOFIELD. „Twisted Blues Volume 2“ is much more of a Blues'ish record. I do love John’s playing, and surely he had a big influence on my playing and music.

 

You have also recorded a track with DAVE WECKL. Can you please tell us about your cooperation with him, as well as how your cooperation with CHICK COREA?

I have been working with Dave for about five years. We did a bunch of tours and he already played on my “Schizophrenic” record. I love playing with him! We have a real good connection when we play.

Dave connected me with Chick when I wanted to ask him to play on new record. Chick was very nice and supportive! He liked the song and he played an amazing performance on it. It really does not get better than this guy.

 



 
Your music is very groove oriented. Do you have any tips on how to improve one’s rhythm playing, as well as one’s sense of rhythm while improvising in general?

 
I think guitarists are lacking the rhythmical aspect of playing cause guitar can be such a technical instrument. You can develop technique pretty easy and quickly on guitar. I think the main thing is to be aware of rhythm & rhtyhm guitar! Also, listen to drummers.

 
Do you know a particular exercise how one can improve these skills?

 
I don’t. Just practice with a metronome and be aware of rhythms & rhythm guitar playing. Also, listen to other instruments in that same aspect.

 
You are the master of looping. Any tips on how to master this technique, and to improve one’s timing, which I understand is crucial when using loops?

 
I do looping on the spot, meaning that they don't lock every time, they are just textural. I don't have a tip for that, you just have to have a looper and use it live and see what happens, that is how I like to do it, on the spot! Sometimes its good, and sometimes its bad, but it always creates some kind of a vibe, so...

 
Can you please tell us about the tutorial DVD that you have released recently? Where did the idea come from and what are the aspects that you wanted to focus on in your course?


One DVD is a 2.5 hour lesson where I teach my method and view of improvisation, the second DVD is me teaching four of my original songs and talking about how I wrote them and ideas about writing your own music.



All the DVDs have playalongs with a real live band and also exercises. I'm very proud of these DVDs, I think they are super simple and very useful!

 

 




Let us briefly turn to your beginnings. Was it difficult for you to move to New York in the mid-nineties and work as musician?

 

Yes. It is hard to move any where new and start your life from zero, especially in NYC.



 How would you say has the scene there evolved over the past twenty years?

I would sadly say that it changed for the worse, its very sad what has happened in NYC, with lots of clubs closed, sorry to say that because I love New York!



Do you have to devote much time to the business side of your profession?

 I try, but I'm not a business person, I'm a musician, so its hard.

 
Has it become easier or more difficult to make a living as a professional musician?

Much harder.

 



Being a fanzine based in Europe, we would of course be eager to hear about your touring plans for Europe. Any chance of seeing you on European stages soon?

 
Yes, but not sure when yet, its at works now.


Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you in Austria hopefully again soon!

 


www.oznoy.com

 

Personnel playing on OZ NOY’s “Twisted Blues Volume 2”:


Oz Noy (Guitar); Warren Haynes (Guitar); Eric Johnson (Guitar); Roscoe Beck (Bass); Will Lee (Bass); Chick Corea (Fender Rhodes); John Medeski (Organ and Rhodes);Allen Toussaint (Piano); Reese Wynans (Organ); Jerry Z (Organ); Anton Fig (Drums); Keith Carlock (Drums); Dave Weckl (Drums); Chris Layton (Drums); Greg Leisz (Pedal Steel); Gregoire Maret (Harmonica); Lew Soloff (Trumpet);Giulio Carmassi (Flute)

       

All images courtesy of © Oz Noy