Jazz Nation (TJN): We’re talking
today with a great saxophonist, a great composer, he’s
got a great new record out, NY LA, Warner Brothers
recording artist, Steve Cole! How’re
you doing Steve?
Cole (SC): That’s good man, you need some
canned applause when you say my name!
(Laughing) Hey I’m working on those special effects!
Believe me, the applause is out there and you hear it at every
So what’s happening man? It’s
good to talk to you!
same here. So you’re on the road, I know
you’re on tour, you’re getting ready for a new
record. How’s the road treating you?
great; I’m having a blast. We’re
kind of coming close to the end of the Guitars & Saxes
tour that I’m doing with Peter White, Richard Elliott
and Jeff Golub. I’ve got to say it’s one of the
best summers I’ve had traveling in a long time.
been like working with those cats on the road?
it’s great! You know I’ve been listening
to a lot of their music for a long time, and before I was their “colleague” so
to speak, I was their fan. It was really kind of cool. I’ve
known Jeff and Peter for a long time and have just gotten to
know Richard on this tour, and they’re a great bunch
of guys, superb musicians. It’s been a blast.
So you were classically trained, you’re
out of Chicago, which is just a Mecca for music. Talk about
those early days…
early days…wow. Well there were dues to be
paid here in Chicago! I started out playing classical music
and it started back in college. All the very well known Russian
and French Literature for Saxophone and Strings, I’m
sure you’ve heard all of it, right?
laughing) Oh yeah!
I started playing pop music, R&B, be-bop, all
that stuff, playing clubs in Chicago until 4 o’clock
in the morning for many years. You know, just doing that kind
of thing, then started doing some commercial music, radio and
TV stuff. Then I started thinking about getting in to some
other types of music. I met some great people here in Chicago,
Brian Culbertson, a guy named Bob Mamet, who is a Latin
recording artist, a while ago, and started getting on the road
and playing as a side man for those guys and eventually was
able to do it on my own.
what made you make a decision? How did that all evolve to
where you said, “Hey, I’m ready to
do this. I think I can do this on my own”?
I guess early on I knew I what I wanted to do. I had a fairly
good idea. Even as a classical player, I
was concentrating on being a soloist as opposed to playing
in an ensemble, so to speak. So I think that was my focus very
early, and I think it just took the experience of being on
the road and playing this music and kind of finding my voice
as a player and individual artist…I think it was a pretty
Well you’ve really come up through the ranks
and paid those dues, as you said. We’ve watched you
over the past few years evolve into a great a sax player with
a lot of great ability and a lot of charisma on stage and just
doing your thing. You know, Between Us was a
great album. I still love that album. Just some great tunes
on there. So how did you get from Between Us to
it took about three years. (Both laughing) How did I get
to NY LA? Well I think NY
a progression from all the way back to the first record Stay
Awhile. I think we kind of planted the seeds
with regards to the type of music that I was really into. And
Between Us was another step in the
progression, taking that to the next level. Taking all these
periods that happened between
your first and second record and trying to put those in to
the composition and production, etc. I continued working with
Brian Culbertson, he produced Between Us, and
then I think NY LA was kind of pushing
the envelope a little. On the smooth jazz stuff, I think we
took it to the
next level in terms of production and composition. I think
we did a great job in writing and putting it all together.
Also I kind of ventured in to more pop music with the vocal
tracks on the record, which I really enjoyed doing. And then
kind of towards the end of the record, started taking it to
another area, mixing a lot of different styles together, R&B,
gospel, jazz, hop-hop and RAP music together, and kind of transitioning
at the end of the record into kind of an acid jazz hop-hop
thing, which I really, really like. Kind of where I wanted
to end off this record because I’m thinking about maybe
pursuing that a little more heavily on the next one.
sequel, right. NY LA2. No, I’ll
call it LA
NY just to be entertaining about it.