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David Preston



Appearances at SoundCellar -

PRESTON-GLASGOW-LOWE - Thursday 7th November 2013


Question 1 - What made you want to become a musician?

In the same way someone doesn't decide that they're male or female, gay or straight, brown or blue-eyed, it's always felt that its not really a decision I've had to make. Most musicians I know are the same in that they have to be musicians because of who they are.


Question 2 - What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing jazz?

When I was dealing with the pure mechanics of the instrument I'd do anywhere from 5 to 12 hours a day. It definitely wasn't all "quality" practice, but spending that amount of time on the instrument has definitely afforded me some kind of basic fluency. All it involved was transcribing, or learning solos, learning scales and basic chord systems and playing standards. Pretty rudimental stuff.


Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?

As long as you're genuinely interested about what you want to practice, and have an application for it, I don't think you can go too far wrong.


Question 4 - Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?

Olivier Messiaen's 'the Technique of my Musical Language'

Hermann Keller 'Phrasing & Articulation'

Rainer Maria Rilke 'Letters to a Young Poet'


Question 5 - Which recording, either as a leader or a sideman, do you think is the best example of your playing?

The first would be 'Silvertide' with my trio 'Preston-Glasgow-Lowe'. Secondly is with Melody Gardot where we did a version of 'Because' live at Abbey Road. Third is Shaney Forbes's composition 'Kite' I recorded with a band I used to co-lead with him called Meridian. All quite different approaches and styles but I'm more or less happy with every note on those tracks, which is a rare thing for me! They're all up on youtube/soundcloud if you want to listen.


Question 6 - Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?

Not really. If I had the same process for every tune, I think they'd all come out sounding the same. The one common thing I've noticed is that 9 times out of 10 I'll obsess over one note, chord or rhythm for a very long time, then change it, only to find that it was fine where it was. As long as I can't conceive of a note being anything else than what it is, then I'm normally happy with it.


Question 7 - What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?

Good accompaniment, which I guess has come from working with so many singers. To me it works if I can accompany someone (singer or instrumentalist) well and vice versa. If I feel I'm being ignored or that I want to ignore them then we're not going to be playing good music together. I also like to feel like I have their patience to make mistakes and go for things. So many musicians seem that they have no time for that, which for me won't work. I like to think that I have that same virtue. I really don't mind them occasionally indulging themselves so long as it's to get somewhere and that they take everyone else on the stage with them for the ride. I like being able to make a musician feel like they can fall back on me if things don't work out. I think you need that trust if you're going to explore music together and especially if you're going to improvise. It shouldn't be a dependancy however.


Question 8 - Name some of your favourite standards and tell me why you like them.

'Get Out of Town', 'Last Night When We Were Young' , 'Dont Worry About Me' and 'I Fall in Love Too Easily' - anything with despair, nostalgia and unrequited love seems to make a good standard for me.


Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?

Keith Jarrett - Still Live

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

Bach - Sonata and Partitas for solo Violin


Question 10 - What music are you listening to at the moment?

Allan Holdsworth - 'Then'

Chick Corea - 'Now he Sings...'

And like everyone else, lots of fragments of music from all over the place.


Question 11 - What motivates you to focus on creative music?

I love the feeling of playing something new. As much as I love standards old and new and any modern repertoire, it never will have the same effect to me as something I can call mine or my groups' own.


Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?

As part of Melody Gardot's world tour in 2010 we played 3 consecutive nights at the L'Olympia in Paris collectively to about 8000 people. I’m not a spiritual person but I really felt like something was going on there other than music for those nights. We also did a duet there as an encore in 2009 playing 'La Chanson des Vieux Amants' which was a profound experience. Every gig I do with Kevin Glasgow and Laurie Lowe is always memorable. We always manage to hit some kind of zone that opens up a new creative world for me.


Question 13 - Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?

Pat Metheny at the Hammersmith Apollo and Brian Blade Fellowship at the Village Vanguard are ones that I'd say literally changed my musical life. I went to hear some organ music at Westminster Abbey once. I was depressed over Christmas, got drunk and went there on a whim. I don't know who I heard but it was perfect for the moment.


Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?

I'm playing a Gibson 356 into a Carvin V3M Amp. The speaker cab is a mystery to me but it's LOUD. I use a Lehle preamp into a Ernie Ball volume pedal, X-otic x blender into a Rat and Morpheus Capo, then into a G-Lab analogue delay. Thats all going to change the second I have some cash to spend though!

BONUS QUESTION! If you had more cash what gear would you buy and why?

The short answer is that I normally buy gear because either a) it’s about to break or is broken, b) i get bored of my sound and c) the musical situation I'm in calls for other sounds and tones. The long answer is that a lot of the stuff I'm interested in is just to preserve or accentuate a good sound. When I was last at Paul Stacey's studio I tried a few of his pedals. He has an outrageous collection. Lots of old vintage stuff and modern things too. It got me thinking that until I have to deal with a particular piece of music or musicians then I really don't know what or why i'll need a particular sound. The sounds I'm investigating at the moment are purely for the purpose of playing in my trio. As we're not doing the whole ambient-psychedelic-effect thing, I really just want to make sure the sound is as pure and loud as possible. That said there are certain things that I want to get anyway... I'm looking into getting some Lehle parallel loopers or more x-blenders just so I can run digital or old analogue effects in my chain without messing up the signal too much or converting into digital, an Empress super-delay and Strymon time-line, as much as I like my G-lab delay it’s not as versatile as those two. I'm either going to get a Rothwell love-squeeze or Wampler ego compressor, definitely the most transparent ones out there I've tried. I'm going to get an old Rat pedal, or get the one I'm using modded so it’s a little less filthy. Occasionally I hit a sweet spot with it but sometimes it just gets too rough. Possibly the EHX graphic fuzz or the signature Holdsworth pedal seem like good options for slightly more versatile distorted sounds.


Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?

I'm loving a guitarist called Charles Altura at the moment. Su Meng and Roberto Aussel are playing some ridiculous classical guitar too.


Question 16 - What's your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?

I love stand-up comedy. To me its as important as music, art or drama and has a profound effect not just on culture, but on the intellect too.


Question 17 - What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?

I try not to worry about it, as even some of the busiest musicians I know want to be working more.

I'm kind of selfish in that as long as I can write, play and perform music I love with musicians I love, I feel I haven't got too much to complain or talk about.


Question 18 - Have you got any tips for jazz promoters?

I feel like they could give me a few tips! It seems the problems happen when a promoter isn't clear with the musicians about their requirements of them and expectations and vice versa. So much seems to be mentioned on musicians being annoyed that they're not being promoted properly or that there isn't a crowd for their music. To that i'd say promote yourself and think about the audience and the show. The former is easier said than done, but the reality is that very few people at a small scale on the fringe of culture are going to do it for you until you can either pay them or until the music is so good that the process becomes exponential. Luckily there are people up and down the country that are doing it for the love and its keeping the scene alive.


Question 19 - What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?

The unbelievable shit Holdsworth is dealing with on 'Non-Brewed Condiment' off the record 'Then'.


Question 20 – Have you got anything you'd like to promote?

My collaborative project 'Preston-Glasgow-Lowe', with bass player Kevin Glasgow and drummer Laurie Lowe.

We're playing a UK tour October and November 2013 and coming to the Sound Cellar on the 7th November!

We'll also have a record out 2014 so check for updates. You can go to to listen and watch our online video EP too.