Smitty: Well, it’s my pleasure to welcome to Jazz Monthly one of the hippest, most prolific guitar players in the business. He’s about to release his great new record called Keepin’ It Cool, please give a red carpet welcome to Narada Jazz recording artist, my man, Nick Colionne. Hey Nick, how are you?
Nick Colionne (NC): I’m doing good. I’m doing good, man.
NC: Real good.
Smitty: Yeah, you should be man, because you’re sure keepin’ it cool.
NC: I’m trying. It’s cold in Chicago, so it’s not hard to keep it cool here. Believe me, it’s cold.
Smitty: Yeah, it is a little cool right now. You have got to be so excited, I mean, you’ve got this great new record, you just signed with a new label. You must really be burning the candle at both ends right now.
NC: Well yeah, but it’s good, you know, it’s good to burn it at both ends instead of not having any fire going at all, you know? (Both laughing)
NC: Yes, I’m real happy, with the new label and I’m really happy and excited about the new project, you know, Keepin’ It Cool.
NC: I’m hoping that it’s going to do really well.
Smitty: Well, I think it will, because I can tell you that when I first got this record and listened to it, I couldn’t put it down, and I’ve already narrowed down my favorite track, although every song is really tight, my favorite track is the title track. That is my song!
NC: (Laughing) “Keepin’ It Cool” is your track, huh?
Smitty: That’s my song!
NC: It’s kind of my track too.
Smitty: Yeah man. But this is one of those CD’s where you can kick it in the player and just let it play and groove to it, and it’s just got that provocative groove to it, you know?
NC: Well, that’s what we were hoping for, that’s what I was really going for; to have one of those projects where you just want to hear the whole thing, not just one or two tracks. You know, try to give it some kind of flow that keeps you listening.
Smitty: You scored it Nick! It’s a great project. And speaking of that I heard a lot of different styles and vibes; I mean, you blend a lot of different styles on this record and what I like about it is, not one song sounded alike, and I love that in a project.
NC: Well, I try my best to not make an album one-dimensional, you know. I wanted to go into a lot of different fields, and it’s all gonna be me because it’s me playing. I wanted it all to feel differently, and incorporate some other things that I’ve played.
Smitty: Yeah, that’s nice. And you brought back “Rainy Night in Georgia.”
NC: Oh yeah, I thought “Rainy Night In Georgia” is such a great song and, Carol, my manager, she just loves it so much, she kind of made me do that one.
Smitty: Well, you could tell her I said “Great choice!”
Smitty: Yeah. But let’s break it down a little bit. Now, when I think about, or when I listened to this project, I had to wonder about your life in Chicago and the influences that you have there and abroad, but how much does your life in Chicago influence your music?
NC: A lot, because, I’m a brother straight from the ‘hood, you know, (both laughing) so all my music kind of reflects my life experiences, so to speak. Like “Keepin’ It Cool,” where I’m from here, you had to keep it cool. There’s a feeling in Chicago. I mean, I guess it’s in the air, I don’t know. But there’s a feeling in Chicago that comes out in the music, so there’s something right about that. It happens, and I think most artists blend in with the environment from wherever it is they may live and the feeling of that area.
NC: Because I do, you know, we’re heavily blues influenced here and a lot of jazz, blues, got a lot of jazz greats here and a lot of blues greats, Lonnie Brooks and we’ve got Ramsey Lewis here playing jazz, my boy Steve Cole…we’ve got a lot of great people here.
Smitty: Yeah, well, Chicago has always had a great mix of fantastic artists and that’s still true even today, you’re right. I love that. Now, you’ve been compared to Norman Brown, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, you know, how do you describe Nick Colionne’s sound, his music?
NC: Nick Colionne’s sound is all of the above, plus Nick Colionne (laughing). I guess my inflections will come from all the people that I’ve emulated over my career, you know. When I was a kid I played a lot of Wes Montgomery. Basically that’s all I played. A lot of Wes Montgomery and a lot of Kenny Burrell, a lot of George Benson, and I also played a lot of rock. Like (Jimi) Hendrix and Steve Vai, all these people that I’ve listened to. It’s been like a like a combination, a potpourri, just throw it all together and then inside of there I found who I was. You can’t go your whole career emulating other people, so inside of all these people who I loved to listen to, I found who I was.
Smitty: I feel a lot of those influences listening to your music. I can still hear “High Flyin’” and that was my favorite track and now “Keepin’ It Cool” has just kind of taken over.
NC: Well, that’s good, You gotta keep moving on.
Smitty: Yeah, yeah.
NC: That means a lot to me; that means that I’m constantly growing as an artist when you say that, because you’re not saying, well, “Hey, ‘High Flying’ was my favorite record,” your new record is good, but ‘High Flying’ is my favorite record.” You found something here that is your new favorite, and that’s the way I want it to be each time that I do another record. I hope it progresses where even though you had a favorite song on this record, on my next record, you’ll have a favorite song there because I’m continuing to grow.