Every jazz enthusiast likes reading interviews of well-known jazz musicians, but JazzReview loves turning our readers onto musicians and CDs deserving recognition. Therefore, let me introduce Craig Schoedler, electric bassist, who recently recorded a fine contemporary jazz CD entitled "By the Water," featuring Mike Stern on guitar, Vince Collela-guitar/acoustic guitar, Ralph Bowen-tenor sax/flute, Steve Jordan-drums, and Tom Petroski-keyboards.
From the very first song to the end of this CD, you'll be clamoring for more, but since this is Craig Schoedler's first CD, you'll just want to play it over and over again. All songs are written and arranged by Craig and provide a sampling of laid-back grooves, sharply conceived "fusionistic" jaunts, funky voyages and smooth sailing. What's more, the interplay between the featured artists on this CD is a tonic for the soul! Don't just take my word for it. Listen to what others are saying:
David Weckl- "I really dug it. The CD is terrific!"
Dennis Chambers- "Hey, this CD is the stuff!"
Will Lee- "Don't miss the chance to hear this innovative modern bassist."
Dave Liebman- "Some smokin' stuff!"
Chris Minh Doky-"It sounds really, really killin!"
Matt Garrison- "I'm glad to hear bass players steppin' up and out like that-very nice touch and melodicism, just my kind of stuff!
Bill Dickens-"This CD is slammin'!"
The CD was co-produced by Craig, and Paul Wickliffe at Skyline Productions in New Jersey who also did a fine job with the engineering and mix. Craig is hoping to land with a major label and is working on getting international distribution. "Doing this on your own can be exhausting," said Craig, "but I'm getting good response from other musicians and interest in my music."
JazzReview.com: You have a diverse selections of songs you wrote for your CD. How did you go about selecting them?
Craig Schoedler: "I thought about what musicians I wanted to have play on my CD and many of the tunes were written for the artists I wanted to use. I was never much into writing songs, but since doing the CD, I'm really starting to enjoy it. In fact, bass player, Bill Dickens recently asked me to write something for his CD."
JazzReview.com: So, how did you go about rounding up all that great talent you featured on your album?
Craig Schoedler: I met Mike Stern at the Fifty-five Bar in Greenwich Village (NYC) approximately ten years ago. I had studied with Lincoln Goines and Jeff Andrews, so that's how I met Mike. Mike really helped ease the tension during our 9-hour recording session. I was tired and freaking out trying to do all this in one day, but Mike has a great sense of humor in addition to being a great guitarist. I met Ralph Bowen about ten years ago also. He is a versatile virtuoso and outstanding musician, but he's also a down-to-earth person. The combination is really refreshing. Ralph is one of those guys who can make you play better just by walking in the room. I wanted Vince Collela because of his overall musicianship. I've had the opportunity to play with Vince in many musical situations and he always seems to play the right thing. He is very 'in the moment.' Steve Jordon is one of my all time favorite drummers. His sensitivity and feel takes drumming to a very high level. He is effortless to play with and very professional as well. I went to Temple University with Tom Petroski. Feel comes first with Tom and he is always inspirational to play with.
JazzReview.com: It's a hard road nowadays trying to get a major label interested.
Craig Schoedler: "Yeah, it's a really expensive calling card putting out your own CD, but the whole idea is to document my playing so I'll have an expression of myself. I was debating whether to start my own label, but I'm hoping something happens to get distribution. I'm getting my music out to magazines, labels and over the Internet. It's an exhausting process, but I'm getting great feedback and encouragement. We'll just see what happens.
JazzReview.com: Where do you get your inspiration, Craig?
Craig Schoedler: My writing and playing style is all about my influences. Everything just comes out from years of listening to artists that were my favorites. I started playing bass when I was 12-years old. My earliest influences were Earth, Wind & Fire, Rush, Yes, Asia anything that was on the radio. I think the more experience you get as a player, the more your own personal style develops but, it's hard to get away from your early influences. Half of my playing style and enjoyment comes from a lot of R&B. It's a mix with bass solo-a real combination of things. My influences have also come from the people I studied with Vince Fay, Lincoln Goines and Mike Richmond. I love Anthony Jackson and of course, I can't forget Miles Davis. Miles was a major influence on me his originality. He was on the forefront of every style. I named my oldest son Miles!"
JazzReview.com: You're married with children. How do you juggle musicianship and parenthood?
Craig Schoedler: I have a wife, Helen, and two boys; Miles age 8 and Alex age 5. It's all about balance. In the earlier years, I used to practice all day long. Now I try to balance quality time with music and family. Believe it or not, my wife was the one who got me into jazz. She went to West Chester University and was a flute and sax player with the university jazz band there. That's how I met her and how it all started.
JazzReview.com: Do you want your sons to follow in your footsteps and become musicians?
Craig Schoedler: No, not really. I'd feel more comfortable with them going into medicine or something, just because I've been through it all. Actually, they both show signs of musical talent and my younger son is very artistic, but as their father
JazzReview.com: But, Craig, could your father stop you?
Craig Schoedler: He tried! (laughs)
JazzReview.com: How did you get started playing bass and what's your musical training?
Craig Schoedler: From the minute I started playing bass at age 12, I was obsessed with improving. I studied with this guy locally in Conshohoken, Pennsylvania from age 14 to 20. He provided me with a sound foundation of theory, harmony, rhythm and technique. I played with progressive rock bands in the Delaware area and had a fake ID to get into clubs. I was playing with musicians who were a lot older than me, which was a great learning experience. After high school, I went to Drexel University to study business (at the request of my parents). Drexel just didn't work out. I wanted to play bass-that was it! It would have been helpful to have a degree in marketing right now. After Drexel, I transferred to Temple University where I studied performance. When I started, I felt like I was being forced to study jazz. I was still very much into pop and progressive rock. But, by the time I graduated in 1990, I was heavily into be-bop. I have a Masters degree and started my Doctorate in music at NYU. I studied with Mike Richmond, Jim McNeely and Adam Nussbaum. In addition to my regular classes, I studied with Jeff Andrews and Lincoln Goines as I mentioned before."
JazzReview.com: Craig, thank you for the interview and best of luck with your outstanding debut CD. We hope our readers will share the same enthusiasm we do for your great talent. Can you tell me how our readers can purchase your CD or get in contact with you for tours and recording?
Craig Schoedler: By going to www.phillyjazz.org or to my personal website which should be up and operational in a few weeks at http://www.craigschoedler.com.