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Progressive Rock Interviews

Edgar Gabriel’s StringFusion

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Edgar Gabriel from 2009
MSJ:
I teach at Elmhurst College and Harper College. In addition to StringFusion performances, I am quite a busy with gigs in the Chicago area. My gigs are interesting and varied. For instance, last week I premiered a classical Tango written by composer Gustavo Leone and played rock and roll Israeli music with the band Nefesh. Also, I teach and write music publications under the name String Groove ® (www.stringroove.com), which teach and promote improvisation for young string players. I am currently in the process of releasing a great deal of new ensembles for string orchestras.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
When I was 16 I knew that I would be a musician, I never had any thoughts otherwise after that. However, when I was younger, in addition to musician I wanted to be an archaeologist, paleontologist, astronomer or some kind of scientist. I still have a great deal of interest in these areas. 
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?
More good music, I just received a CD recording of a concert StringFusion did at Elmhust College in September. The recording quality is very good thanks to engineer Travis Duffield, there is video so look for it on YouTube shortly. I am currently writing charts for our next StringFusion rehearsal Sunday, which includes more originals, Jean-Luc Ponty and Mahavishnu Orchestra. We are also booking future concerts, mostly in the mid-west, I have two wonderful children ages 2 and 4 and like to be near them right now. 
MSJ: Are there musicians you'd like to play with in the future?
I am very fortunate to be working with my favorite musicians right now; they are not only great musicians but also very good friends. There are too many great jazz musicians to mention that I would like to play with. In the rock world, I would love to jam with Eric Clapton, Sting, Jeff Beck , Jimmy Page (I came close, I was in the string section with Plant and Page for their No Quarter tour). 
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?
If I were a superhero, I would have to be Batman. My musical heroes are musicians that play the sh** out of their instruments and create new original stuff. My nemesis would be Jokers in the music business that can't play their instruments and use recordings as their primary source of live performance, engineers that sample, arrange music and call it “original,” and anyone who stifles improvisation and the artists that create it. 
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
There are so many great living musicians in this world that it would be hard to narrow it down to a few for a band. If I had to pick a fantasy band of musicians that would otherwise be impossible to assemble I would choose musicians that are no longer living such as: Charlie Parker and John Coltrane on Saxes, Carl Fontana-Trombone, Benny Goodman-clarinet, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis Trumpets, J.S. Bach on Organ, W.A. Mozart - piano, Jaco Pastorius -Bass, Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Frank Zappa - guitar and bandleader, John Bonham -Drums, Johnny Frigo, Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli and Nocolo Paganini -violins. Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Billie Holiday vocals.  
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing?
I would have a mix of many types of music such as: Biréli Lagrène, Jean Luc Ponty, Zappa Plays Zappa, Return to Forever, Randy Brecker, The Police, King Crimson, Shinedown, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Gilles Apap, Mark O'Connor, Simon Shaheen, L. Shankar, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Randy Brecker, Pat Metheny, Bela Fleck, Alison Kraus with Robert Plant, and the Dixie Dregs with Jerry Goodman. 
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
Yesterday I bought SMV, (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten) which I am listening to right now and sounds great. I also recently purchased:  Hilary Hahn's recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin, Brad Goode's Polytonal Dance Party, Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert (my LP was worn out), Randy Brecker's Nostalgic Journey and a concert DVD Where the Wild Things Are, by Steve Vai. 
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
My wife and I saw Joshua Bell solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last week, it was a great concert, the CSO and Bell were in top form. 
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
I am working towards creating new good music. New music has always evolved from experimentation or improvisation.  Improvisation disappeared from classical music years ago and it has now almost vanished from rock and pop. (ie. the lead guitar solo is now removed from the new pop and rock formula). One of the only genres that improvisation is left today is jazz and it is in danger of losing a growing audience due to the music media and markets. I am an optimist and believe that good music will always survive and thrive. With the advent of digital production, it is viable for someone who cannot play an instrument to create a musical recording. Digital reproduction makes it easy for the consumer to obtain music without payment. Ironically, I believe that in the future, musicians and the music business will earn their primary income from live performance and only those who can play (pay their dues) will survive. This will lead to new great music. Will it be called “Jazz?”
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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