Talking with Eric Person
by Paula Edelstein
Eric Person and Meta Four have recorded an astounding set played at the 7th Annual Big Sur Jazz Festival in 2002. The scenic venue not only is one of the most beautiful settings on earth but the music emanating from this outstanding ensemble is just as great. So kick back and relax. This is a laid-back set that just takes you there…just in case you weren’t. We caught up with Eric Person as he prepared for his CD release party at the Blue Note in New York and here’s what he had to say…so listen up!
PE: Hi Eric. Good luck with the new release.
EP: Hi Paula, thank you.
PE: What was the most important aspect of playing at the 7th Annual Big Sur Jazz Festival for you? It’s history, the locale, the creative aesthetic, etc?
EP: Big Sur is really such a fascinating place, spiritual and even mystical. When I found out that we would have the opportunity to record both of our performances at the festival, I had a feeling that we were going to make some special music, and with that, a special recording. And I was ready to document this band in LIVE performance, cause to me that’s where the music really happens.
PE: What are some of the technical difficulties associated with recording “live” at a jazz festival as opposed to recording in a studio session?
EP: The studio is a controlled, sterile environment. A LIVE performance is held under a variety of conditions, so it can be hard to control the situation. Unwanted noise, feedback, and improper miking, could have stopped us in our tracks, so to speak. Thank goodness the weather conditions were perfect. We did get good sounds on all of the instruments despite the short setup time. I tried to be Zen about the whole recording experience, so I could be relaxed to make great music.
PE: As a saxophonist, playing outdoors must be quite an experience especially since you must contend with the natural sound effects as well as those you’re making on stage. Does playing in such a natural setting as Big Sur, California create an added dimension with respect to ambience and inspiration or is it just one of those dimensions you’ve grown accustomed to since you’ve played so many outdoor venues?
EP: Playing at Big Sur ranked as one of my most special performances, period! The fresh air, the sun peeking through the trees to warm my horn, a bird call that becomes a fifth instrument, the hills around us. That’s just too special to take for granted, it’s pure inspiration.
PE: Pure joy…Eric, you’re loved around the world and have performed in such great venues as North Sea Jazz in The Netherlands to sets in Portugal. From the USA to Mexico. You’re on the cover of CADENCE magazine, in Ben Harper’s new video, PLEASURE+PAIN our ARTIST OF THE MONTH at Sounds of Timeless Jazz.com. How do you deal with fame?
EP: Oh believe me, I’m far from famous. But I think when people hear this music, they become fans. It’s a challenge for any creative musician to “stay in the game” and produce his music against the odds. I’m building my solo career, one victory at a time, cause I’m in it for the long haul. >
PE: Humility…hmmm! A good thing in my book! How did this particular incarnation of Meta-Four come to be?
EP: This really is a dream band. I feel it’s “pound for pound” my best ensemble. These players really understand the Meta-Four concepts. John Esposito, our pianist has been with the band since 1994, Kenny Davis our bassist, off and on since 1992, and Peter O’Brien on drums since February 2001. Having steady personnel really helps the music grow from gig to gig.
PE: You’ve released the new CD LIVE AT BIG SUR at a CD release party at the Blue Note in NYC. Will you be performing at other Blue Note venues…such as Las Vegas, Japan, Tokyo, etc.?
EP: I can only hope. We are really hyped on this new CD, and the reaction has been great. We have much work to do to get this music heard far and wide, but we believe in what we are doing and it’s fun. It has to be a joy or what’s the point.
PE: Truer words were never spoken. It’s gotta be fun. I understand there’s a little Person in your life experience now! Is there a song on the new CD that relates to him?
EP: Yes! The CD is dedicated to my newborn son, Kadin. And I would say “Special Someone” is also for him.
PE: Very cool. Where can your fans find upcoming concert information and news about your latest recording LIVE AT BIG SUR?
EP: Anyone wanting more info on the CD, me, Meta-Four, performance info and news can go to: www.ericperson.com
PE: Eric, again, thanks for the interview and good luck with the new CD and all future endeavors.