Jul 1, 2019
California native Alex Sill began playing guitar and piano at age 12 and progressed quickly, eventually earning a top spot in Lee Ritenour’s international Six String Theory Competition. Inspired by the likes of Larry Koonse, who suggested Sill enroll at CalArts, and shredder Steve Vai, who has said that “Alex Sill is one of those rare talented individuals that has all the elements in place,” he continues to grow and improve.
Sill’s debut album, Experiences: Real and Imaginary not only shows him to be a promising jazz guitarist and composer, but also allows Alex to share some of his deepest thoughts and philosophy on the symbiosis of music and the mind. Simply put, Alex finds that Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes - inherited common human behavior patterns that represent themselves psychologically as images. Music, he insisted, brings these instinctively understood human tropes and myths to bear.
The result is an often cinematic set of tunes, touching legendary Hollywood (“The Ballad of James Dean”); the Los Angeles landscape (“Chaparral”) and even iconic celebrities (“Jackie”).
The sound of the recording is exception – it was recorded with Sill’s primarily L.A.-based musicians, including saxophonists Danny Janklow and Jacob Scesney, trumpeter Mike Cottone, pianists Otmaro Ruiz and Vardan Ovsepian, bassist Benjamin J. Shepherd and drummer Gene Coye. Sill’s mentor and friend Dave Grusin, the legendary keyboardist-composer and a renowned writer of film scores, appears on five tracks. The influence of Grusin and engineer Bill Schnee (Aja), is clear, bring back some of the best of the GRP sound to Sill’s original compositions.
While he is building a reputation as a leader, Alex is also in demand as a sideman, touring Japan and elsewhere with Simon Phillips’ Protocol. The ace drummer/percussionist (Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, 801, Toto) tapped Sill after seeing him at one of several tributes to their mutual idol, the late, great Alan Holdsworth, where Alex held his own with Holdsworth band veterans Virgil Donati, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Hunt, Joel Taylor and Chad Wackerman.
Podcast 687 is my conversation with Alex Sill, as we talk about Experiences: Real and Imaginary; his musical philosophy, and his fascinating family background involving his father’s times as a co-founder of the Philles Records label with Phil Spector. Musical selections include: “Gaucho's Theme" and "Jackie".