Ain't Nobody - die Salsa-Version des Chaka Khan-Hits ist immer noch ein Dance-Floor-Killer. Hinter dem Salsa-Hit steckt der Bandleader und Pianist Alex Wilson, der gerade sein neues Album Salsa Con Soul veröffentlicht hat. Michael von Salsa-Berlin.De hatte die Gelegenheit, ein Interview mit Alex zu führen.
Und unter unserer Rubrik CD des Monats findet Ihr eine CD-Besprechung des neuen Alex-Wilson Albums
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Michael: You were born of mixed British and Sierra Leone parentage. It's not the typical 'Salsa-Combination' :-) So how do you found your way to the Salsa?
Alex: I had a very international upbringing, born in the UK and then spent the first year of my life in Sierra Leone, followed by 9 years in the UK and then 6 years in Vienna, Austria and 2 years in Geneva Switzerland. I attended international schools so what with all the different cultures and languages in my environment it seemed natural to me to gravitate towards 'melting pot' type styles, beginning with jazz and then salsa and Afro-Cuban music.
Michael: And how ( and at which age ) you became a piano player?
Alex: When living in Vienna as child, I was sent to guitar lessons. I actually went to the audition at the conservatoire ready to play guitar and piano at the age of 10. The panel asked me to play something on both instruments - I played a classical type thing on guitar and then boogie woogie on the piano and they gently suggested that I stick to the guitar ! Later in my teens, about 15, I went back to piano and formed my own jazz band at school, which set me on this path.
Michael: 'Salsa Con Soul' is your 6th release and I'm sure, that the dancing crowd will love it like your 5th 'Inglaterra'. Some people are curious about the voice of 'Ain't Nobody'. Aquilla Fearon sings also on the new album. She has a real Soul voice which match also the Salsa ... could you tell us more about her. She has many fans here in Berlin....
Alex: I'm very pleased to hear that there are fans of our music in Berlin - Aquilla now travels to Germany quite a lot to perform as she is involved in the 'Spine Alliance' music project. Her voice is perfect for my salsa project as it is very rhythmic and also has the ability to cut through the salsa orchestra - no mean feat when there are 4 horns and three percussion ! Aquilla is a MySpace aficionado so fans can visit her page at : www.myspace/aquillafearon
Michael: The new album has a strong focus to the mixture of Salsa and Soul. The last album had showed a very wide spectrum of Salsa. Not only Salsa&Soul like 'Ain't Nobody' - also real Timba ( Pega' En Inglaterra) or World music Salsa ( Oh Kuri). So what do you plan for the next album. Is Soul your new way?
Alex: My aim with each new album is build on the previous project but in a non-linear way. So for my next album don't expect simply a better version of Salsa con Soul. Having said that, there are also offshoot projects from each album so, for example, I would love to do a full-on Bhangra-salsa album with Kujlit Bhamra, co-producer of 'Oh Kuri', and a full-on gospel-salsa album with Nicky Brown, co-producer of 'Rhythm & Life'. I have several ideas for the next salsa album but it's too early to say yet. I have, however, two other non-salsa projects for 2009, UPLIFTING ROOTS (listen at www.alexwilson.net/uplifting.mp3) and MALI LATINO (listen at www.alexwilson.net/mali.mp3) . There are plans also for me to record with the German band SUPERMERCATO and also be involved with the SPINE ALLIANCE project, so I always keep busy !
Michael: The same question to all musicians: You have produced your album by yourself. You have founded your own record label to sell the CD. So it seems very difficult to produce a good Salsa Cd. How are the conditions in England for you?
Alex: The conditions are both exhilerating and also very tough. Mainstream industry support for the recording of salsa is at exactly zero, even less than that of jazz. Also, the UK mainstream press are slightly lukewarm about salsa - we can be very conservative as a nation sometimes ! On the other hand, London is a very exciting place to be in many ways. There are so many cultures there and music is produced to a very high level. So if I want to find a top gospel producer, no problem, same for African music of all kinds, etc, etc. Maybe because it is so tough to survive in London, there is an edge to the music we creat. I am very pleased that the UK salsa scene has got behind my salsa project wholeheartedly - the launch gigs have sold out and, for an independent release, the record sales are good. I am also based in Switzerland and there are some great bands happening there - Mercado Negro, for example - and I know you have some good musicians in Germany. In summary - it's challenging to self-produce quality salsa but very rewarding. I am very lucky to have some people who believe in me on my side, such as Eric Schaber from Inch Marlowe Records, and I am always looking for more album investors (I offer a very good deal!) so that I can record more projects so please spread the word !!
Michael: Could you tell us about the Salsa Scene en 'Inglaterra'. I know some of the other London Salsa Bands like Merengada or Jimmy Le M. Are they still there. Do you have enough live gigs there. Where can people see you. Do you have some regular gigs there.
Alex: Interesting that you mention those two bands - I was musical director and studio producer of Merengada for many years and Jimmy invited me to play with La Clave often in the early years of my career (thanks Jimmy!).
They are still going but performance opportunities for the large bands are few and far between ! I have been lucky to get into the larger venues, thanks to my loyal fan base and we can pull a crowd of 300-700 with good
planning and promotion.
Germany - when you're ready for us, we're ready for you !!!
All the best,
Michael: Alex, thank you for the interview and hope to see you soon in Germany!