Music often echoes the soul and significance of a man's expedition. Through the notes, they mirror tears that fall from pains of the past, melodies give birth to one’s chronicles, and the arrangement is the evolution of one’s existence. This sole performance, by means of the vision of Jamie Craig, is just that--a retrospect of his life. Titanic eruptions of brilliance galvanized in sensitivity become the defining spin of A Dream Lost.
To articulate the impact of Craig’s multi-dimensional world of music as "wide-ranging" is an understatement. In many ways, his philosophical approach to music augments that diverse impact of his technical hypotheses. Between the lines, the notes escort the psyche of Craig into numerous reverberations, which explain volumes about him.
Craig’s musical background entered into much of this accomplished spin. His bassist rock’n’roll flavor, along with guitar, piano and the techno-world, allow him to expand the horizon of his project The Lost Dream. With hints of his recording past, his feel for sharp backbeats and defiant tones as tools, assisted him in creating new sound mixes with a new slant. This form or process accomplished that common and universal goal for all artists entertainment!
This "Motor City’ musician has countless elements contained within him, and the craft he submits to the mayhem of the music industry. What positions Craig foremost in this field of jazz, is his insight of music theory and genres as they intermingle. Craig talks numerous times about fusion mix with jazz, and the results from that relationship. In addition, discussed is the synthesizer’s emotional output and exercise of countless sounds a unique dialogue in music values and impacts.
The Lost Dream sways philosophical characteristics from "The Power & Glory" as a civil rights musical study comparison to "The Lost Dream," and his own years of emotional encounters all transcribed to a few very reflective yet complex music sheets. However the outcome in sound takes, the "Craig" feel of those said flashes in time and without lyric, makes those stories unfold.
For more of this musically explosive and dynamic intellect, tour in conversation and arouse your time between sets with Jamie Craig.
JazzReview: In listening to The Lost Dream I see a soulful visionary in Jamie Craig. How close am I to describing the man?
Jamie Craig: Well honestly, when most people see a white sheet of paper with a black dot on it, and you ask them what they see, ninety-nine percent will tell you they see a black dot. I am the one percent who sees the white. I think outside the box and that translates into the way I envision, write and record music.
JazzReview: Jamie, explain the "Jazz-Rock-Fusion sound experience from the sound to technical concepts.
Jamie Craig: The Jazz-Rock fusion sound experience for me is the amalgamation of an entire lifetime of being born and raised in Detroit--from the early sounds of Motown Records to Bob Seger to Anita Baker. When you put all that into a mixing bowl and put it in the oven, the cake that comes out is Jamie Craig. The Motown sound was built on consistent rhythms played by the Funk Brothers who are still around today. I believe a good Jazz-Rock Fusion experience must have the rhythm behind it, and then built from there.
JazzReview: Other than those influences that drive you conceptually, i.e.: Kitaro, Yes, etc., what drives the Craig machine?
Jamie Craig: Take what I just said about the past fifty years of Detroit music and then add the marvels of 21st century technology. There is so much one can do now that was not even available, say five years ago with modern recording techniques and clean sound. The Craig machine is fueled for years to come.
JazzReview: You say that the sounds you can get out of synthesizers are either ultra-real or fantasy-like. Explain this and the dynamics behind the instrument’s power.
Jamie Craig: Well take, "The Lost Dream" for example. We have the bass and drums laying it down, then there are French horns, saxes, synthesizers, strings and guitars all dancing with each other throughout the CD. Most people who hear the CD cannot believe that it was created entirely on keyboards. Then I tell then to listen to the song "Movement Z" where the flute sounds so real, but it actually goes from flute to piccolo range seamlessly.
JazzReview: Your music thrives on the listener’s imagination. Many would look at it as the emotions too. Address how you go about feeding the need of the listener.
Jamie Craig: Being an instrumental artist, you must look at yourself as taking a painter’s canvas and then choosing your colors that you will be using. In this case, those are my instruments. Then choosing a theme that I want the art to fall in (smooth jazz, new age, jazz-rock fusion). And like the painter with his brush strokes, I put down the notes. In the case of The Lost Dream, I had a concept. The concept of The Lost Dream is that moment of intense sadness when one realizes that the hopes and dreams that were very alive and real have gone, whether it is a relationship or the bigger picture when our country lost its innocence on 9/11--then putting it down in music through the use of particular instrumentation and melody. In this case, it was the sax and a retro ‘50s vibrato guitar trading licks back and forth in a minor key, then a unison crescendo to intensify the feeling.
JazzReview: I find The Lost Dream project to be extremely forceful and multi-faceted. Would you agree, and if so, why?
Jamie Craig: I would definitely agree with that statement. I am forging new territory with The Lost Dream. The CD is doing something that I personally have not seen before in contemporary instrumental music. It had gone Top 10 in New Age airplay nationally, and at the same time, are now #1 Smooth Jazz and Jazz Fusion categories on Amazon.com. So the music is refusing to be genre stereotyped while appealing to a wider audience.
JazzReview: "Movement Z" is defined by you as going through a structured process from A to Z, before you find whatever you’re looking for. The music has that upbeat tempo, which delivers that point. How did you go about defining the sounds to create that attitude?
Jamie Craig: That particular song put me through some changes so to speak. I worked on the song every day for eight weeks to get the sound of what it became. I went from A to Z and exhausted and auditioned every sound until it was complete and final, "Movement Z."
JazzReview: How appropriate is the effort you label "The Power & Glory" with our country’s future at odds looking for that fulcrum of balance as the elections near? As you state, it has a message. In its own Obama-esque way, it offers "hope" musically. Discuss the evolution of this piece. The sounds define what point in the composition?
Jamie Craig: I’m glad you are bringing that up. "The Power & Glory" is an instrumental, political statement. To me, I wanted to convey how unfortunate [it is] that the current powers that be, have completely turned back the clock on the average citizen. What I am referring to is civil rights, and making the US Congress irrelevant by issuing secret decree after secret decree. The average citizen is completely oblivious to this fact and sadly, we will probably not have the same civil liberties again in our lifetime that we once enjoyed. Musically, what I did with this piece was layered an electric piano and organ over a pulsating deep-picked bass guitar and a really powerful drum kit. Then, the icing on the cake was a cool new age guitar, giving it the sound we hear. So musically, we have "The Power & Glory."
JazzReview: What cut amazed you after you spun the final take?
Jamie Craig: Actually, it was the song "The Lost Dream." This was because as the song unwinds and you get to the very sad crescendo as I listened, it even made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my eyes welled up with tears. In my case, it brought up my own thoughts of personal loss and what could have been, but will never be.
JazzReview: As a self-taught musician, you must find the complexity of composing and arranging much more of an intricate exercise. Which cut processes were most intense and why?
Jamie Craig: The most complex song on the CD is "Movement Z." The song starts in a new age vein, very mellow with flute and a mellow-picked, electric guitar. Then it picks up and there are some intense bass and drums, followed by a bass solo that flows into a techno movement, which is followed up by some very nice wailing, lead synth work--and ends right back in the new age vein where it started.
JazzReview: Describe the developmental process you went through prior to the production of The Lost Dream.
Jamie Craig: I learned a lot! I played every note of every instrument on the CD. I had to get up to speed quickly about 21st century sound processing. If you want to do it all, then you better be good at what you do. So, I had to make sure every instrument sounded not only good, but perfect. Then the final product mix had to have the right EQ and effects.
JazzReview: The project is an expressive trip through a person’s legacy that is lost. The concept is very real; the music offers diversely complex tempos, fitting the moods and moments of that pain. Is this a self-assessment of your life or someone close to the creator’s heart? Why this examination of feeling?
Jamie Craig: Since you asked, I will tell you. The Lost Dream is a self-assessment of my life. I was a happily married man with three young, beautiful children. My wife, at the time, developed paranoid schizophrenia. Me and my three children watched a women disintegrate right before our eyes.
JazzReview: I am so sorry; I can understand now the intense feel within the tracks of The Lost Dream.
Jamie Craig: I ended up being a single, custodial father with children who would ultimately never see their mother whom they once loved and adored.
JazzReview: Each cut is placed strategically. Please comment on the progression of the cuts as to the loss of a dream.
Jamie Craig: The tune stack, as we call it, starts with "The Lost Dream," the radio mix. There are two versions on the CD. "The Lost Dream" radio mix has a minute shorter intro. This sets the tone for the CD. The CD rolls out cut by cut telling the story of The Lost Dream. It reaches a peak with the cut "Our Lost Dreams," a six and a half-minute piece, complete with Cuban percussion and a doleful sax melody. The song, "Our Lost Dreams," was personally the collective loss as a family [that] my children and I went through, but I felt on a greater scale, the song can be interpreted as a country [with] the collective loss we all felt after 9/11--losing our innocence and dreams as a nation. The CD ends with "Take the High Road," a positive song that tells the listener, ‘No matter what you have been through, you can hold your head high and climb to the summit.’
JazzReview: It’s a fine piece of concentrated production and composition. Is this to be the trademark of this one-man, artistic development and future?
Jamie Craig: Definitely. The next CD is already in the can as they say. It will be entitled Illumination so stay posted. It will be one album you or the listening audience will not want to miss.
JazzReview: All artists have a second thought attached to most of their projects. If you had a musical mulligan, what change would you put into action?
Jamie Craig: Well, considering this was a debut CD, I would be more sure-footed next time out. I made a few mistakes with who I selected for promotion and personnel, but I can’t beat myself up too much. It’s a learning process.
JazzReview: Do you have any direction as to your next studio appearance?
Jamie Craig: The next CD, Illumination, by definition brings light and enlightenment. Without giving too much away, there are some really nice violins, reeds, and of course, the smooth jazz, rock-jazz fusion experience (to the second power), new age, prog-rock and many surprises. I think it will blow people away.
JazzReview: Jamie, The Lost Dream was your debut piece so what do you think of the industry process and hoops outside the studio?
Jamie Craig: (laughs) I was originally signed to a record company (which will remain nameless). I fired the company after I realized that I could do ten times the job they could do in the promotion department. The Lost Dream was too good of an album to sit collecting dust on some executive’s shelf. In the end, the word is out and I am glad it is.
JazzReview: Finally Jamie, tell us something we don’t know!
Jamie Craig: Jamie Craig shall not be labeled. If you think you know me or what I am about, stay tuned for the next chapter. You may be surprised.
JazzReview: Let’s hang back with an exercise in acquainting you with the audience. Be blatantly honest
1. What is your one hidden vice? Food
2. Your favorite hang-out spot? My Office
3. What makes you laugh? Old John Candy Movies
4. Your favorite 70’s rock album? Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen
5. Who is the most intense musician from the past 5 decades? Jean-Luc Ponty
6. What do you look for in our next president? A humble human being
7. What really pisses you off? Apathy. As fellow human beings in the world community, we do not have the luxury of complacency or silence!
Jamie’s Final Note: I wish people would make more of a point in today’s world to return phone calls!
After Sets with Randall Davis, Music Consultant and Executive Producer
JazzReview: Randall, talk to us about the path and gifts of Jamie Craig. Dissect, if you will, the performer.
Randall Davis: When I started working with Jamie Craig, the first thing I noticed was his extremely strong, creative and vibrant bass and drum lines. When I found out that Jamie had been a bassist in various rock’n’roll bands for many years when he was first starting out, it made perfect sense. He has an innate sense of how to make rhythm work within a tune.
One of the most difficult things for a synthesist to do is to make all the sounds of various instruments really sound like the instruments themselves. This is what Jamie excels at. The drums really sound like a full drum kit played by a live drummer. You would swear the bass parts were played on an electric stringed bass. The same thing applies whether it is the sound of a wooden flute, an English horn, or a guitar.
The other interesting aspect of Jamie’s sound is that it crosses so many genres. It has already had huge success in the new age field, although it barely fits there because of the aggressive bass and drums sound. It is picking up quite a few followers in the smooth jazz genre, even though it is not quite like anything else at smooth jazz radio today. But his music also has fans in the progressive rock arena, even though there are no lyrics. That versatility is what keeps the sound interesting for me.