KRSH Radio Interview April 2014
KRUSH ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Maximus Groove: Jason Bodlovich brings jazz, funk and blues-rock to Sonoma Grown.
Jason Bodlovich left Southern California for Sonoma County’s laidback rural vibe nearly two decades ago – and he never looked back. Now 40, the talented multi-instrumentalist has lived in Northern California since 1996 after moving up from Huntington Beach. He completed the jazz program at Sonoma State University where he studied with the late great Mel Graves and spent his formative years as a musician here. Without a doubt, Bodlovich is most definitely Sonoma grown.
Bodlovich performs live in-studio as part of The Krush’s ‘Sonoma Grown’ weekly series on Thursday, May 1 at 2pm.
Asked what he loves most about Sonoma County, Bodlovich is hard-pressed to find just one thing. “I could go on and on about this one,” he says, on the phone from his home in Penngrove where he lives with his wife on a nice little plot of land. “I love the vibe. That entails not only the scenery, but the people, the music. I met my wife here. It’s got an amazing energy.”
It’s that kind of energy that can be found in high doses at Lagunitas’ beer garden and tap room in Petaluma. Bodlovich’s latest album, with his band JBG featuring drummer James Stafford and bassist Joel Kruzic (Bodlovich rips on the guitar), and appropriately titled Maximus, captures that energy in full glory. Recorded live at Lagunitas over the course of two years, it came about from JBG’s monthly residency at the brewery, where they’ve performed live at least once a month for four years.
Steeped in groove, blues-rock and jazz, Maximus shows off deathly deft musical chops with a deep funk base. “It’s my natural vibe to play something funky on guitar,” says Bodlovich. The album captures the band at their peak while playing live, he adds.
“Personally, I feel most creative on the guitar in live settings,” he explains. “I’m most inspired by the energy of the crowd, and the band, and the volume. I really like this new album because we kicked it up a notch through consistent playing. We’ve developed chemistry up there on stage.”
Bodlovich has ventured a long way from his days of playing thrash metal on a guitar and amp purchased for him by his mom when he was fourteen. After he “stumbled” into jazz as a junior college student, he found himself playing less of the fast and heavy music of his teen years; he eventually becoming obsessed with jazz history and theory, especially Bebop. An accomplished jazz ensemble player, he’s opened for Diana Krall and, impressively, recorded with notable jazz bassist Ray Brown on the album Blues For Dexter – A Tribute to Dexter Gordon. Twice, he’s been awarded a North Bay Music Award in the jazz category. But Bodlovich is a man of eclectic tastes that go beyond the realm of jazz. His work with JBG shows off funkier, groove-oriented talents and another project, Ragtag Sullivan, delves into blues-rock. He’s been known to dabble in swing and Brazilian sounds too.
It’s all in a day’s work for the talented musician. He’s also got a healthy sense of humor and gets a kick out of the question, “If you were stranded on a desert island with every musical instrument imaginable and three musicians do jam with endlessly, who would they be?” Of course, his favorite guitarist Jimi Hendrix tops the list. His next choice? Dave Grohl, the multi-instrumentalist famous for his work with the Foo Fighters and Nirvana (You might say Bodlovich is Sonoma County’s answer to Dave Grohl!) And his final choice? Like any true Sonoma grown artist, he goes with the best choice: Tom Waits.
“He would be able to riff, and sing, and talk, and have endless amazing things to sing about,” says Bodlovich. “We could write some cool tunes because he’s a definite lyric master.”
Sounds like the island jam of the century.
To listen to Jason Bodlovich’s discography, including the latest album Maximus, and to learn more about upcoming CD release shows, go to www.jasonbodlovich.com.
On The Culprit
Review Date: September 2010
“Bay Area six-stringer Jason Bodlovich traverses a wide range of styles on his sophomore release [“The Culprit”], from the soulful, gospel-tinged “Krumble” (played with urgent bent-string fervor on electric guitar), to the buoyant, Brazilian-flavored “Cotash” (played on nylon-string acoustic), to the swinging blues “B Flatted.”. He shows a fondness for Wes-like octaves on the bossa-nova-flavored “SGB,” and offers Django-esque filigrees on the title track. And he exchanges some hot licks with guest guitarist Randy Vincent on the duet closer, “B4Ugo,” recalling the tight blues-based chemistry between Joe Pass and Herb Ellis.
-Bill Milkowski, Jazztimes
Review Date: Spring 2011
“It started with a guitar, an amp and some lessons at the age of 15. By today’s standards, he was a late bloomer. At the Sunday night jam sessions at the now defunct Valley of the Moon Saloon, Bodlovich hooked up with Isaac Carter and Phil Herrschaft, among others. Musically dexterous and naturally affable, Bodlovich migrated from guitar to drums, as there never seemed to be a drummer in the house. The trio eventually put together one of the best undiscovered discs in Sonoma Valley: The Magflies. Meanwhile, Bodlovich was busy honing his unique blend of jazz, rock and funk. He developed a love for the laid-back bebop of the great Dexter Gordon, and realized that no one had ever done a tribute. Young Jason Bodlovich was able to convince Ray Brown-who had done sessions with Gordon-to buy in, and with Bodlovich on drums, the tribute disc was wrapped. Since then, Bodlovich has issued several albums with various personnel, mostly with him on guitar and typically alongside Isaac Carter. His latest disc, The Culprit, is a configuration of some of his young students as players. Miles Wick, Noah Lemish and James Stafford-all protÃ©gÃ©es of Bodlovich’s-appear on The Culprit, as well as others in the “family of rotating musicians” known as the Jason Bodlovich Group (JBG). A new disc this summer features funk, rock and a little bebop vibe thrown in for good measure.”
-James Marshall Berry, Sonoma Magazine
On The Culprit
Review Date: September 2010
“There is no dearth of talented jazz guitarists in Northern California and any regular reader of these postings probably realizes I have a particular affinity for such players. Julian Lage, Terrence Brewer and Hristo Vitchev are among my personal favorites.
Here’s another area guitarist to note: Jason Bodlovich. A Huntington Beach native who studied at Sonoma State and still calls the North Bay home, Bodlovich has a half-dozen albums to his credit. His latest effort is “The Culprit”, which also features Noam Lemish (piano), Miles Wick (bass) and James Stafford (drums). Helping out on guitar duties is Bodlovich’s six-string mentor, Randy Vincent.
The disc is dedicated to Janice King and the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society, so it’s only proper that the organization hosts its release party. That’s set for Friday at the Plaza Bistro in Sonoma. All in attendance will receive a free copy of The Culprit.”
-Brian McCoy, Oakland Examiner
“Fluent in jazz, blues, funk, rock and Brazillian music, Bodlovich is a guitarists guitarist.”
Just scroll down to Jason Bodlovich and click link for intro/bio and audio track.
Taylor Guitar’s Wood and Steel Publication
On The Shadow Out Of Time
Review Date: Summer 2007
Even if you’re not a jazz fan, you might find yourself succumbing to the infectious jazziness of Carter & Bodlovich. The guitar duo met as music students at Sonoma State University and have been performing in the Northern California region for over seven years. Their chops are formidable enough to have earned opening slots for Joe Satriani and for the fusion supertrio of Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty. Isaac Carter and Jason Bodlovich write original music that draws from Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Gypsy Swing and Eastern Modal styles. The Shadow Out of Time is a showcase of two guitarists who produce the sound of a much bigger ensemble. At once hip and subtle, this duo is not afraid to shred: rock and blues licks sneak out in really cool places. “Shock T” makes you want to get out of your chair and shake it. A lot. It’s a standard blues framework played at a solid 110 miles per hour. Even if you’re not dancing, you might lose your breath from just from listening – especially after the six-string duel at the end. “DBV” starts with the sonorous and contemplative soundings of East Indian music. But this raga runs up to a summit of feverish fretwork that clearly establishes the duo’s musicianship. “The Nihilist” is a locomotive through the minor key landscape. The acoustic-electric match up generates a huge amount of steam through the middle section. “The Moose” is ice-cool. Carter & Bodlovich play a steadily flowing jazz piece with an understated melody and then rip off a blistering syncopated bridge. They use the guitar as percussion accompaniment for a few measures, then slide back into the melody. The music of Carter & Bodlovich is jazz that invites you in and makes you feel part of it. Its inventiveness and range could make jazz fans of even the most indifferent listener.
– Tim Whitehouse
On The Shadow Out Of Time
Review Date: Spring 2007
Acoustic guitar duo Isaac Carter and Jason Bodlovich offer a full menu of jazz styles with their nine original compositions on The Shadow Out of Time. Their music is intricate, emotional and compelling, and it springs from a diverse range of influences: think Brazilian, Afro-Cuban Gypsy swing. The song “Samba for Satch” feels irresistible; it will definitely put you in the mood. “Untitled Blues” evokes the sound of stylish 1930s jazz clubs, while “Dr. Saperstein” is almost mathematical in its progressions. The album’s hypnotizing title track, “Shadow Out of Time,” is exotic and the epitome of acoustic guitar. Carter and Bodlovich met while attending Sonoma State University, where they both studied music with a jazz emphasis. They have performed together across Sonoma County and the North Bay for more than seven years.
– Kathleen McIntyre
On The Shadow Out Of Time
Review Date: June 2007
All the songs recorded on this CD are composed by either Carter or Bodlovich. The first composition arrives at a driving pace and conjures up images of wild stallions galloping across the plain. Titled, “Samba For Satch,” it combines the talents of both these songwriters. As a guitar duo, Carter & Bodlovich create excitement with a rich, string flavor. Isaac Carter plays Mesa Boogie Amplifiers and both artists utilize Taylor Guitars. Their approach is a mixture of classical, gypsy and Jazz rolled into a tight cigar of pleasant energy. This music will fire you up. “Q” is a melodic piece written by Bodlovich, and sounds Spanish-influenced. In Spain, I heard many pieces of music that were roasted in a kiln of spirit the way this one seems to be. “Untitled Blues” is a Carter composition and certainly doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t begin like any blues I am used to hearing. Instead, it has its own path to follow, walking along at an obvious skip and kicking up dirt and gravel as it goes. It makes you want to briskly whistle along. Bodlovich keeps the rhythm strong with simple strumming beneath Carter’s intricate solo. Carter plucks his melody staccato against the smooth under-tow chords and sails along unobstructed. “Shock-T” begins, ballad beautiful. It settles the listener down and creates a mood of introspection. However, the ballad doesn’t last long. After only a few seconds, it breaks into an up-tempo pace. This one reminds me more of blues than the last tune. But this is a blues played swiftly with vibrant rock overtones. “Dbv,” the following tune, is a pretty song with a hauntingly sweet melody; another composition by Bodlovich. Upon some detective work, I discovered this duo has been together for seven years, which explains their smooth, musical allegiance to each other. They meld like one guitarist with four hands. Both claim inspiration from Django Reinhardt, Carlos Antonio Jobim, Bola Sete, and a famed trio of guitars including Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco De Lucia. That elucidates all the various nuances you will hear in their compositions. They live in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, California, and have a couple of Cds under their belts. Here are two fiery musicians creating a fresh new sound along with some interesting original music. This recording is a solid listen! Guitar buffs are certain to appreciate the quality and musicality of these two gentlemen.
– Dee Dee McNeil
20th Century Guitar Magazine
On The Shadow Out Of Time
Review Date: June 2007
Bay area acoustic guitar phenomenon Isaac Carter & Jason Bodlovich come out swinging hard and fast on their 2007 cd. The Shadow Out Of Time mixes a realm of guitar styles-from Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and Gypsy swing of Django to the more modern, fiery influences of McLaughlin, Santana, DiMeola and DeLucia. Mixing intricate songwriting and fiery improvisations, Carter & Bodlovich make excellent us of their Taylor guitars.
– Robert Silverstein
On Blues For Dexter
Reviewed by: Glenn Astarita
“Recorded in 2001, this sprightly tribute to tenor sax great, Dexter Gordon pronounces a rather all-encompassing vibe, through the viewpoint of drummer Jason Bodlovich. Featuring the late bassist Ray Brown, this quintet performs four Gordon originals and other works. But the gist of the matter pertains to the ensemble’s mode of capturing Gordon’s distinctive aura, complete with a relaxed sense of urgency, performed at various tempos. Bodlovich is a fine young drummer, whereas trumpeter Jay Thomas doubles on tenor sax for a few energetic exchanges with tenorist, Steve Wolfe. More often than not, the musicians use Gordon’s arrangements as foundations for artistic expression, yet they predominately abide by a rock solid game plan, via these pumping, hard-bop showcases. Occasionally, Wolfe and Thomas toss in a few quotes or stylistic remembrances of Gordon’s signature sound and style, but that is to be expected. Ultimately, the drummer and his musical associates provide a richly thematic, and resonantly enacted tribute to the late saxophonist.”
On Blues for Dexter
Review Date: January 2004
Man, I’ll tell you what, if some guy called me and said, “Hey, I’m doing a Dexter Gordon tribute album and I want you to be the tenor player,” I would at the very least gulp real hard before saying yes. The very hard-swinging young drummer Jason Bodlovich apparently put Steve Wolfe and Jay Thomas in that position when preparing his project, Blues for Dexter (Moonrise), and I feel for both of them, because it’s an almost no-win situation. I say almost, because both men do a pretty darn good job on a set of tunes dedicated to, written by, or otherwise associated with Gordon. Although his sound is big and dark, Wolfe plays almost nothing like Dex. Nor does Thomas (who also burns on flugelhorn and trumpet); his sound and manner of phrasing is considerably lighter. No matter, since both inject their solos with sufficient energy, intelligence, and –especially in Thomas’ case–individuality to make a go of such old hard-bop chestnuts as “Catalonian Nights” and “Blues Up and Down.”
Review by Chris Kelsey
On Blues For Dexter
“Long Tall Dexter was synonymous with grace, verve and eloquence when he lifted his horn and, of course, he was also a survivor who managed to carry on and delight jazz lovers despite various setbacks throughout his career. It has been claimed that he created an authentic bebop style on the tenor, having learned from Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet and Charlie Parker along the way. And here that legacy is being kept alive by this drummer-led quintet. They have chosen tunes from different stages of his output, ranging from the 1940s with the oft-performed classic battle, ‘The Duel’, featuring Steve Wolfe’s tenor and Jay Thomas on trumpet. These two dig into the chase and remind me of how exhilarating such trading of licks could be, especially when in this case the bass of Ray Brown is in pursuit. The spirit of some of those early recordings is definitely present here and it’s welcome. Brown also makes his presence felt on Bodlovich’s own homage, the only original on the album. Together with the drummer he struts through ‘Blues For Dexter’ with all the ?lan associated with a Gordon solo. And it’s the bass man who propels the opening tune, ‘The Panther’, through its lithe and supple workout, supporting tenor and trumpet while still making his own irreducibly sturdy heart the centre of the whole track. I’ve always been a sucker for the more tender, romantic bent that the tenorman often pursued so I’m grateful for their version of ‘Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry’. Wolfe, to an extent, goes for the kind of tone Gordon captured in 1962 on the Blue Note recording ‘Go!’. It’s reflective but energized, nodding back towards those bebop roots whilst embracing the ballad form. ‘Cheesecake’ also appeared on that album and displays more bebop leanings with Thomas singing clear, shapely lines over the tireless precision of Brown and Bodlovich. Some way away from that is the measured cool of Donald Byrd’s ‘Tanya’. Wolfe, again, is masterful in building, from a fairly ordinary theme, a solo that is tough and tender, smooth and sinuous. Larry Fuller’s piano on his solo is paired with some of Brown’s fulsome bass tone, and the two are entirely suited. As a brief resume of some of Gordon’s work it should be welcomed. It honestly captures some of the essence of the man and his music and it sounds as though these guys love him. I’m certain he would have approved.”
review by Paul Donnelly
All About Jazz
On Blues For Dexter
“The second release by drummer Jason Bodlovich captures the essence of the great jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon with a pervasive blues and swing mood. Bodlovich leads an exciting group of musicians who faithfully interpret these still-thriving standards. The two factors which help make this an enjoyable listen are simply the music and the musicians. In addition to bassist Ray Brown and trumpeter Jay Thomas, the band consists of the lesser known but equally talented Steve Wolfe on tenor sax, and Larry Fuller on piano. The musicians clearly gel together as one with an emphasis on the music that is conveyed with high enthusiasm.
The recording includes selections by (among others) Dexter Gordon, Donald Byrd, and the Gershwins. It begins with the Dexter Gordon composition “The Panther,” with the tight rhythm section of Bodlovich and Ray Brown supporting the melody. Gordon’s classic “Cheesecake” gets a swing workout as the band blows confidently in high fashion. Bodlovich shows flair and precision as he guides the band with impeccable drumming. Good rhythm, not soloing, is his primary goal, as each selection is filled with crisp rim shots, flowering cymbals, and vivid rhythms. The horn section is aggressive on “The Duel” as Wolfe and Thomas trade eager solos against the hard bop rhythm. The band changes moods on the serene “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” which features a nice piano solo by Fuller.
It’s about the heart and the soul of the blues as the group expounds the message clearly on Donald Byrd’s soulful “Tanya.”
Where Bodlovich’s rhythms create the heartbeat, the great Ray Brown’s stellar fretwork is definitely the soul of the recording. His bass walks, moves, and grooves on each of the selections. One of the highlights features an impressive bass and drum duet. With all around good sounds and the correct mindset, Blues For Dexter could temporality transport you back to 52nd Street.”
Review by Mark F. Turner
On Blues For Dexter
“Drummer Jason Bodlovich’s “Blues For Dexter” is a great tribute album to the late saxophone giant Dexter Gordon. One of the faults that I find with many tribute albums is that the players seem more intent on showing off their chops and playing every lick they know than truly recording a tribute to the artist they presume to be honoring. “Blues For Dexter” has, thankfully, avoided that pitfall. Joined by Steve Wolfe on tenor sax, Larry Fuller on piano, Jay Thomas on trumpet, flugelhorn & tenor sax and the legendary Ray Brown on bass, Bodlovich has managed to record a CD that truly captures the essence that was Dexter Gordon. Neither Wolfe nor Thomas stoop to trying to copy Dex’s solos or ‘ape’ his sound, yet they really bring to life the music that defined Gordon’s style and his impact on jazz as one of the preeminent saxophonists of the 50’s and 60’s.
You’ve also got to hand it to Bodlovich for putting together such a top-notch band. They play very cohesively together, with everyone contributing great solos. It’s especially nice to hear Thomas doubling on brass and woodwind â€“ he’s one of the very few musicians playing today that can pull that off and sound excellent on both. The band tackles four Gordon originals (The Panther, Cheesecake, Catalonian Nights and The Duel) and a couple of Gordon signature standards (Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry, Tanya and Blues Up And Down). The tunes follow Dex from the late 1940’s thru 1970, allowing for quite a bit of variety.”
On Blues For Dexter
“Blues for Dexter is drummer Jason Bodlovich’s second release as a drummer (he also plays guitar) and serves as a tribute to Dexter Gordon. The real ace here is the presence of the great Ray Brown, who is the bedrock throughout(his bass is mixed out in front to further emphasize his significance) The ten tracks constitute a well-executed Bop session that at times might be referred to as a “blowing session.” Ultimately, such an atmosphere corresponds well with the original performances of these tunes. Many, but not all, of the compositions appearing here are those written or associated with Gordon, including the indefatigable “Cheesecake” as well as one Bodlovich original “Blues For Dexter.” Bodlovich energetically swings throughout.
The session begins with “The Panther,” a bouncy, boogaloo rhythm that really chugs along courtesy of Ray Brown’s bass and Bodlovich’s steady tom accents. Tenor saxophonist Steve Wolfe sounds as if he is obviously influenced by Gordon, but displays a gruffness that adds to the funk of this tune. “Cheesecake” makes it’s mandatory appearance and features a particularly fluid solo by Jay Thomas. Thomas switches from trumpet to tenor on two tracks, the Latin-flavored “Catalonian Nights” and Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt burner, “Blues Up and Down” perhaps in an attempt to spur on a tenor battle. Thomas’ sound is lighter “heard on the left side as best as I can decipher” and thus contrasts nicely with Wolfe’s huskier conception. Interestingly enough, Gordon’s great December 1947 encounter with Teddy Edwards, “The Duel”, is not re-created as a tenor vs. tenor showdown, but rather Thomas sticks with the trumpet. Of note is that
Ray Brown is simply outstanding here, showing why he is one of Jazz’s greatest musicians and that he remained vital even in his final days. This is a solid Bop session featuring plenty of zestful interplay for fans of this genre.”
Review by Jay Collins
originally published July, 2003
In this stripped-down duo outing, Carter and Bodlovich create a crisp, coherent set of Brazilian-influenced music. Carter flashes brilliantly on guitar, using speed and nuance instead of volume and fire to illuminate the melodies. Many of the tunes, like the Anthony Jobim-penned title track, are given a spare treatment, with just two guitars and clave. Bodlovich keeps busy on all cuts: he plays both nylon-string rhythm backing tracks and all the percussion on the record. Drumming:
Given the airy nature of the tunes, Bodlovich employs his full set of percussion tools, mixing a rhythm recipe with varying combinations of cuica, triangle, tamborim, cowbells, wood blocks, cymbals, and other instruments. This creates a simple clarity in the rhythm to support Carter’s solos. On “Mamacita” he mixes cabeza and maracas. On his own composition “Lindo” it’s guiros, brushes, chimes, and clave.
Verdict: Very pure and tasteful exploration of drums and guitar.
“On the Move” Feature published 2-01
Santa Rosa, California’s Jason Bodlovich is a double-threat: a drummer and a guitarist. “I got a late start in music,” says Jason. “So I took a double-time approach to studying, practicing, and listening. I got serious in college where I studied with bassist Mel Graves(Lee Konitz, Mose Allison, Mike Stern and Steve Smith), and drummers George Marsh(John Abercrombie, Dave Grisman, and author of The Inner Drummer) and Jim Holland (The Complete Book of Drum Fills) By the time I graduated I was gigging with the San Francisco jump blues/swing band ACME Swing Co. I had a blast soloing and kicking the horns, shuffling and playing jungle grooves. We toured the U.S. and Canada, and I eventually caught the attention of the folks at Ayotte Drums. They’ve graciously offered me an endorsement.”
Jason now teaches and freelances in the Bay Area. With such varied influences as Billy Higgins, Zigaboo Modeliste, Topper Headon, Mitch Mitchell, and Joey Baron, he strives to be “everyone’s favorite drummer to call for gigs and recordings.” Along with a busy playing and teaching schedule, as well as a personal practice routine that borders on the militaristic, he recently found time to record and release his first CD as a leader. Called Moment’s Notice, it features Mel Graves and several other notable Bay Area Musicians. The album consists of jazz standards, a cover of the Meters’ funky “Cissy Strut,” and an original drum solo piece on which Jason explores recurring themes, ultimately trading fours with himself. Jason’s playing throughout the album is tasteful and expressive. You can get information on it from Jason’s Web site:
Ursa Minor Arts + Media
Jason Bodlovich is a rare gem. his incredible proficiency and versatility as an instrumentalist and composer is itself mind blowing. but it is his enthusiasm, professionalism, genuine care and humor that make working with Jay such a joy!”
– t s o ( Ursa Minor Arts & Media )