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Classic Rock Society interview / by Dave Winstanley

Infused? You soon will be!


Dave Winstanley talks to db-infusion's Danny Berdichevsky about the band's latest excellent release...

Reviewing the new album from db-infusion a short while ago, I was struck not only be the excellence and diversity of the music which came as no surprise following the bands last outting, Dreamscape; but also by a number of other things not least the distinctive title which seemed to be making a very strong statement. Shortly afterward I had a chance to chat with the bands primary creative force. Guitar maestro Danny Berdichevsky about these matters; and I started by asking about that singular title. He told me:

"I chose the title "Muso & Proud" as a statement about the current state of the music business, which is overrun by manufactured commercial music and talent shows like the X-Factor; whilst on the other side of the coin in what is considered more serious music, such as the current jazz scene, the pervading music is safe, dated and unoriginal. It's as if the industry is about all other factors apart from the music. Fashion, politics, what's cool and hip; yet just dare mention 'Muso' the reaction is that people run away as soon as you say the word. I wanted to create an album that was not safe and where there are no compromises and I wanted to make a point of challenging ourselves and the listener by creating an album that is interesting and unique."


A bold statement indeed, then and one which of course will strike a chord with many followers and fans of the multi-faceted collection of musical sounds and styles that come under the all-envolopping term "classic rock". For all that though, the band's sense of fun and enjoyment is obvious, not only in the zest with which they play their dazzling music, but in other ways too... And that cover is certainly one you won't normally find in the all-to-serious world of pop, where narsissitic, photo-shoots of the artists themselves are more often than not the order of the day; or even rock where every band seems these days to feel duty-bound go for either "gothic", "ornate" or "obtuse" cover subject matter. Here we have some cartoon characters, looking suspiciously like the band members, amid an array of images from the album, immediately outside a jazz club. Could Mr Berdichevsky, the "muso", be responsible, I wondered?

"Yes, the idea was mine. I wanted it to be a little bit tongue-in-cheek, and to have fun with the "muso and proud" idea at the same time getting the images of the track titles into the cover. We didn't want to take ourselves too seriously and we wanted it to be fun aswell. It's comic, and comedy can be powerful for getting a message across. When I first mentioned it to the band members they didn't seem very happy about the cartoon images looking like the band members, I guess they didn't think it would come out as well as it did. So I told the cartoonist, Gary Boller, not to make the figures too close to us. However once they saw the samples they really liked it and wanted it to be as close as possible to our images!"


This album, I noted, seems to be a melting pot of influences, where elements of out-and-out jazz and classical seem to be coming to the fore. Was the band, I wondered, heading away at all from the "jazz/rock/fusion" area?

"It's true that the album has more classical and jazz influences and of course flamenco influences too, but you still have strong elements of Jazz/Rock fusion in the album, such as “Friday's Morning” and “The Flight of the Bumble-beat” where Rimsky-Korsakov's classical piece got the rock treatment; And “Asturias” was arranged differently with quite an intense high-energy performance by the band. I always believed that if you record or play any piece of music, you should approach it from your own original angle so that you put your own stamp on it. That;s why, when we recorded “Giant Steps” and other tunes we approached them in a high-energy Jazz/Rock fusion way."







 



The album is, of course, extremely well produced, as we've come to expect from such high-class and experienced musicians. So it was a cinch to record then?

"No, not at all. It was a very challenging album to make. first of all the material was not easy and there were so many different styles to work with, in particular working with pieces like “Asturias” and "La Barrosa", which are normally played as solo intrumentals; and of course "La Barrosa" has a very difficult flamenco rhythm (alegrias), so nobody thought it would work arranging them for the band. However, we managed to pull it off. Then it was difficult decided which guests would play on which tunes and it took time to pin them down to record. So it was a huge challenge but at the time, extremely rewarding, especially working with such talented musicians who really made such a wonderful contribution."


So having done all the hard work, what, I wondered, were the band up to now?

"We are working hard to promote the album as much as possible, doing gigs and sending CDs out to promoters, festivals and so on," Danny told me. "The problem is, we are a relatively new band and this is just our second album. It is original music and it's unique so it takes time to get through to the right audience."

 

Where there encouring signs in the way the album had been received, I asked?


"So far the response has been very good, both from critics and from our audience," pointed out Danny. "I have found that a wide variety of people are interested in our music. I had a really good response from a well established classical concert pianist who loved the album so much she wanted to come and hear us live. I think because of the diversity in our music it can appeal to a wide range of audiences from rock, to prog rock, to jazz and world music."

 

...and of all the fine pieces the band had been responsible for, did Danny, I wondered, have a personal favourite?

"It's always hard to choose one of the pieces, as they all mean a lot to me, especially when I have worked so hard and put my heart and soul into each and every one of them. However, I think from our first album, "Dreamscape", “Dark and Blue”, stands out with its strong melodies and harmonies. When I wrote the tune I was strongly influenced by the Brazilian composer Villa Lobos. From the Muso & Proud, my favourite would probably be “The River” which again is melodically and harmonically strong; but out of the arrangements for the covers it would have to be “Asturias” and “La Barrosa”, which were the most challenging to arrange and record; but they are such beautiful and complex tunes that it was enormous fun working on them."


Finally, what hopes and aspirations did he have for the band? A follow-up album, for example?

"I hope we will continue to evolve with the same direction, challenging ourselves and trying to create original, unique and beautiful music. I already have some material for follow-up albums and am forever composing new material. But for now, we are concentrating on promoting the current album."

 

Danny and his band are, in many ways, typical of the brand of musicians for which the classic rock society exists: Extremely talented, and possessed of enough moral integrity to be able to enjoy making music for its own sake: in fact, the refreshing antithesis of those who, on the back of media-hype, come into rock to "get rich and get famous and get laid". It's up to us to see that they are supported and encouraged. The future of REAL music is in their hands.



 

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