Music News

Jonathan Kreisberg

Jonathan Kreisberg's playing conjures the dualistic essence of New York. The guy's a badass, burning up the fretboard like Jimmy Bruno, with a swaggering bravado that's pure Gotham. At the same time, there's an evenness to his attack in which every note has clear and distinct resonance, lending the material an air of sophistication. (Kreisberg, who was born in the Big Apple but raised in Miami, moved back to his home town a decade ago.) Speaking from his Brooklyn apartment, Kreisberg offered us some insight into his muscular yet elegant style.

Westword: Can you think of one particular jazz album that just floored you early on, that made you want to explore jazz more?

Jonathan Kreisberg: Early on, I would say the exploring thing was definitely inspired by Nefertiti, that Miles album. And improvisation-wise, there was so much stuff I was checking out. There was Charlie Parker stuff I had, which is an entirely different thing, just a more bebop thing. And then some records by Allan Holdsworth, which is more of the fusion stuff that I was really influenced by. But definitely, I'd say the overall vibe of that album just kind of flipped me out. I just love that quintet: Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock.

Speaking of Herbie, you've said how you were influenced a lot by piano players, like Herbie and Keith Jarrett.

Especially if I'm playing in the trio format. I think that it's a big thing for me. Being able to create that harmonic zone. So I've always checked a lot of piano trios for that -- Herbie, Bill Evans, Lennie Tristano, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett, of course.

It seemed like Jim Hall approached things that way as well, in a pianistic way. In a way, he's like the Bill Evans of jazz guitar.

Yeah, I guess so. Directly, I wasn't so influenced by that from him. But for sure, he's one of those guys. One particular album I was pretty influenced by -- I think it was his first record -- was called Jazz Guitar. But that's with piano, so he's not really doing so many pianistic kinds of things. For me, I think I was probably more influenced by his melodic approach. One thing that's interesting that I can connect with him and Bill Evans is that they're both really amazing thematic improvisers, like where one idea will just lead so smoothly into the next. And it never sounds like they're just plugging in licks or something. It's always kind of calls and answers that they're playing, and that's real musical.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon