Along with world class jazz guitarist, Rich Severson, the quartet features Fresno's first call drummer, Gary Newmark, bassist extraordinaire, Roy Carlson, and the Central Valley's "A" list keyboardist, Darrell Devaurs. Playing an enjoyable variety of standards and originals, from bebop to Bossa Nova, these stellar musicians are sure to capture a jazz lover’s attention.
Severson allowed Patch to interview him for this article:
Patch: What’s your connection to the Oyster House?
Severson: One of the band members, bassist Roy Carlson, went to the Oyster House after attending a birthday party at Jimmy Kimmel's house for longtime friend and former band mate, Cleto Sr, who plays on the Kimmel show with son, Cleto Jr. Roy thought it would be a great place for the band to play while in SoCal for the NAMM show. Cleto then put him in touch with Oyster House manager, Chris Hunt.
P: Is this particular band you’re going to be playing with your usual group?
S: Yes this is my regular quartet, we have played together locally for many years. We all play in other bands as well and also in church. Roy, Darrell and I play together at Northwest Church in Fresno.
P: What do you enjoy about these musicians?
S: We are all good friends and really have fun playing together. There is just chemistry between us. Plus these guys are all first call players, educated musicians, good improvisers with a great sense of style. I met Roy and Gary shortly after I moved to the area about 20 years ago and worked with them ever since. When we decided to add a keyboard Darrell was the best choice for our band.
P: What’s special about performing at an intimate venue like the Oyster House?
S: It’s close and personal, a relaxed atmosphere. You feel connected to your audience and their reactions and that affects how you play.
P: Who are your influences in the field?
S: My main influences are Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery. I’ve always been a big fan of Howard Roberts and was fortunate enough to have worked with Ted Greene for a few years when we young teachers and authors.
P: Where when why and with whom are your most memorable gigs?
S: Playing at a Fresno Jazz Festival and having to play after George Benson who I really admire. None of the other bands would follow Benson so we got roped into it. I asked my friend Chris Montez who we had been recording a jazz CD with to come and sing a few tunes with us. The venders who had closed up shop after Benson had to reopen because nobody left. It was quite a compliment to the band and Chris
P: What’s your favorite part about performing live jazz?
S: It’s never the same. The interaction between the musicians and the audience make it new every time you play.
P: What do you recommend for aspiring musicians?
S: If you are serious about music then go to school and study music. Study one on one with many teachers to help you develop your own style.
P: Are you still teaching and if so, how does that impact your career?
S: Yes! I have had an online an online instructional website www.GuitarCollege.com for the past 18 years. I have over 65 instructional DVDs, 15 books and 700 download video lessons. I create at least one new video lesson each week and also do one on one Skype lessons. I also hold an annual 5 day jazz guitar and bass workshop in the Yosemite area every June. This year we will starting some weekend jazz guitar and fingerstyle workshops too. I feel there’s always more to learn and teaching keeps me eager to learn more.
P: How many CD’s have you released and what’s important to your latest release ‘Jumpin Java?’
S: Jumpin’ Java is first CD that is all my own tunes and arrangements. We were blessed to have recorded it in a state of the art studio in Fresno with a top engineer. This is our second Cd with the Jazz Quartet the other “Blue Christmas” I really proud of with original arrangements of Christmas standards. I have another three Cds with a trio and three solo guitar CDs
P: What’s on your upcoming agenda?
S: We will continue to play local shows and host a twice a month jazz jam. Next month we open for Warren Hill at the Fresno Tower Theater and will play at a Fresno Jazz Festival in May. We’ve played several local festivals but we would like to get into the jazz festival and winery circuits to work more out of town. We want to do more recording are also considering adding a vocalist to the band.
Learn more at: http://www.guitarcollege.net/richseverson.html