Interview in 'York Calling'

Interview: Ari Joshua

We’ve shared New York artist Ari Joshua’s music quite a lot over the past couple of years, and it just seems to get better and better. His new single Elephant Walk is out today and we’ve also recently reviewed another single, titled Country Stroll. If you’re new to Ari’s work, you can check out our premiere of Elephant Walk out at the end of this interview.

By Jane Howkins

You recently released the new track Elephant Walk and just before that you shared Country Stroll. What can you tell us about these songs?

Elephant Walk and Country Stroll are two more perfect examples of the genius of Billy Martin and John Medeski. I strolled into the studio for a few days of tracking and half way through the session, Billy looked at me and said something like; “Ari, do you realize you’re gonna have more music then you know what to do with…” I have been chipping away between all my other endeavors and every moment on this project has been filled with joy. Everything we tried just landed, it all worked. It was all in the flow. We did a fair amount of improv which is really what those guys are the pioneers of, but these songs, these two, these were really more crafted from the spirit world I suppose. I just had a feeling they might fit well.

These cats can really play, they can do anything and the music we made in this session really just shows that off. The way John mixes the piano and the organ in Elephant Walk and the way Billy was able to hear the percussion vibe he set down was just just a treat to be a part of. I gave Billy one of my African shakers, I picked it up at a museum in the early 2000’s and he used it on this track. We saw herds of elephants in the wild on that trip. There is mojo built into the music. Country Stroll was a song for Bill Frisell. These guys are on that legendary level with Bill – they have played with Bill, and know him well. The track was another 1 take wonder, and on both songs there were a few minimal overdubs done on the day of tracking with engineer and producer Chris Bittner.

How has the reception to these tracks been so far, and where can they be purchased?

The reception has been amazing. I am getting messages on social media and seeing folks bookmarking and playlisting the songs. I’ve seen a huge uptick in reviews, and they are all very positive. Particularly the jazz and jam band scenes have been liking the releases, as well as the art community, I get folks asking if I made the art. I made the animation but the art is by Paul Delaney. You can purchase the music and read select reviews at my website, you can also visit arijoshua.bandca….com/ and there is also merch and other goodies you can pick up. You can also buy sheet music on my site, I have been selling all my songs for very little.

You’re also joined on the track by jazz icon John Medeski on the organ and Billy Martin on the drums. How did the collaboration come about? Do you have any more collaborations planned?

I sort of touched on that in the first question, but that story goes all the way back to when I was 16 and a friend recommended a CD I check out… It was MMW, we would see them here and there and it became like a stylistic category. Like people would say, let’s do this with an MMW type flavor. When I moved to NY I was exposed to alot of GOAT status genius artists. I had teachers that had so much life experience and wisdom to share. It was really special. Between my classmates, the teachers and the players on the scene, it was a vibe. MMW were the young cats on the scene making it happen at a totally prime and fruitful time for the arts. Looking back it was a special time, you know before the computers moved in and took over.

I was 19 when I started to talk to John, and all of them about getting linked in. 20 years of seeds being planted and growing really is what led to this manifesting. I spoke to John over the pandemic and shared some organ trio stuff I was doing and was proud of and we started tossing around dates and considering drummers. I have played with a handful of folks they all know well. At first it was going to be a session in New Orleans, but as soon as Billy jumped on board, Woodstock lit like a burning coal as they say. There is enough material that there will be a full album, I would really love to do it again, or to play some shows together. Those guys are really in demand so we will have to see.

Do you have any more singles planned for release in the near future?

Yes, right after Elephant Walk we have Elon’s’ Musk featuring iLL Gates on drums and some production. Totally different style of music. I frequency jump, I hear that is what it’s called. I just wanna be creative, expressive and follow the source in whatever direction it wants me to. There is so much music in the bag right now. Just in production, like in the mixing phase, there are another 20 songs on deck. More stuff with John, and Billy and tracks with Skerik, Delvon Lamarr, Grant Schroff, John Kimock, Andy Hess, Eden Ladin, Joe Doria, Brad Gibson, Ray Paczkowski, Russ Lawton and more. It’s all through my label Music Factory Records. We just signed our first artist as well – Peter Daniel, who is a fantastic arranger, composer and sax player. No shortage of magic in the air.

Are there any plans for a full-length album or an EP anytime soon?

Yes, my hope is in 2025 or 2026 I can get some of these projects to do a little touring and pair it with some vinyl pressings.

Country Stroll has a unique sound that mixes jazz and Americana together. You mentioned there was an influence you had in mind when making the song?

Like I mentioned, Bill Frisell is one of the all time greats. He is one of those one note guys. I hear him in a movie soundtrack or on a playlist and I know in one note who it is. These are the artists I gravitate towards. The kids where you can say, let’s play this in a ‘Bill Frisell’ style. You know there are a handful of people you can do that with, it’s really the mark of something exquisite. I was also thinking a little Trey Anastasio and a little Jerry Garcia on that one. The sounds are great.

Do you have anything else exciting coming up in the next few months?

I am working on my music school The Music Factory and we have been adjusting to some huge life changing events that happened for us last year. Just settling in and taking care of maintenance and upkeep on that building. I am having the old windows refurbished and bringing in some new teachers and a film guy who is talking about doing a little documentary on all the happenings.

Do you have any tour dates lined up for the UK?

Dang bring on the offers! I would love to be out there again. I loved London and driving up to Dartmoor and driving around the hills where the wild miniature ponies and sheep are all scattered and the little rivers roll down the grass. I can see we have a good deal of streamers in the UK. I just need airfare and fare fees for fair play.

Any last words for the fans?

It means the world to me as an artist to connect with people through my art. You can make my dreams come true by supporting my efforts by buying some merch, streaming and saving material, and as well by signing up for music lessons through my school The Music Factory:

You can sign up for yourself or your kids – we have gift cards, and we can teach online as well, so you can be anywhere in the world! Our teachers specialise in meeting each student where they are at, so you can sign up at any level or age. Support us artists! Even the ones you may think are doing well, it’s a lot harder than you may expect, the system is set up for normal jobs to rise with inflation, but the arts are constantly left behind. Not meaning to complain, I am so blessed to be in this life pursuing the things that have brought me so much joy through adversity. Making this art is such a rare privilege, and I am so lucky to have found this passion. To have the ability to introduce people to the arts via The Music Factory, and to be able to make mine thought Music Factory Records, it is a blessing – we just need your support to keep the fire lit, and to keep the music alive and well.


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