Jazz guitarist Jamie Leeming shares his rig secrets

Jazz guitarist Jamie Leeming shares his rig secrets

Jamie Leeming must be one of the hardest working guitarists we know. His resume is endless; he’s worked with a huge cross section of Jazz artists, as well as the likes of Barney Artist and Tom Misch; we even stumbled across a project he did with Tom and De La Soul last year (see inset video). We caught up with Jamie to see what he’s up to at the moment...

[MPS]
You seem to be writing and performing with a huge number of different artists, who are you working with at the moment?

[JL]
At the moment, I’m about to head out on tour with Alfa Mist, playing shows supporting the upcoming album “Structuralism”. It’s a real privilege to play his music, and I’m looking forward to travelling to a lot places I’ve never been before – the first stop is Cape Town Jazz Festival in South Africa.

[MPS]
Looking at your gig schedule, it is pretty intense; can you pick out a favourite gig?

[JL]
Tough question! A few recent shows spring to mind….I’ve played at a venue called Club Gretchen in Berlin a couple of times with Alfa Mist, and the vibe from the audience has always been crazy. I also love Band On The Wall in Manchester – I first played there with U.S saxophonist Chris Potter, and it’s been great every time.

[MPS]
Your debut EP “Heartsong” was met with critical acclaim when it was released back in 2015, Are you working on more of your own material at the moment?

[JL]
I’m really excited about the next original project – I’ve just finished recording a duo album with pianist Maria Chiara Argirò, one of my favourite pianists based in London. I would describe the sound of the album as cinematic, with a modern jazz influence – at the moment, release is planned for early 2020.

[MPS]
As a player who seems to have come from a strong Jazz tradition, who would you count among your musical influences?

[JL]
As far as guitarists go, I would list players like Julian Lage, Mike Moreno and Gilad Hekselman. Julian’s playing in particular has had a big impact on me – every time I hear him, he always manages to surprise me, which is something I really love. He has such a deep knowledge of the music and the history of the instrument as well, and whilst he has a phenomenal level of technical ability, I get the sense that he prioritises musicality over anything else. There’s a live version of the standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” on Youtube from a gig at the Blue Whale in LA, and he plays an improvised solo guitar intro that just floors me every time. I would also say that I’m heavily influenced by a lot of pianists, especially Shai Maestro, Brad Mehldau and Gwilym Simcock. I had the opportunity to study with Shai recently, and it was an amazing experience – he has a fascinating approach to music and harmony. I would particularly recommend his recent trio album “The Dream Thief”.

[MPS]
If you could go back to any musical era what would it be?

[JL]
I visited New York for the first time recently – I remember thinking it would be great to have seen it during the bebop era.

[MPS]
What was your first guitar?

[JL]
It was a Strat copy that I bought off a friend – I think it was a Marlin? I was 13 at the time – I saved up for a year and bought an Epiphone SG after that.

[MPS]
What guitar are you playing at the moment?

[JL]
My main electric guitars have pretty much always been a 2008 Gibson ES-335, a ’57 Fender Strat re-issue. I’m delighted to say that I recently started working with D’Angelico Guitars, and I will be using their semi-hollow Deluxe SS model for a lot of upcoming shows. It’s an extremely versatile instrument – the newest version has a great coil tap pickup system which means it’s able to cover a lot of different sounds really easily. It has a very modern sound, and it looks great as well! For acoustics, I’m using an Atkin OM Retro 28, a handmade by Alister Atkin who is based in Canterbury - it’s a really special instrument, with a lot of depth too, and character.

[MPS]
Tell us about your BigSky and Ojai, what made you chose them?

[JL]
I consider reverb quite an integral part of my sound, and I often have a particular type of colour in mind depending on the situation. The BigSky has a so many different options, and it’s also great at recreating sounds similar to those added at the desk/with plugins in post production. Combined with the preset features, expression pedal and freeze function, it’s a pretty comprehensive piece of kit! The Ojai is possibly the most practical pedal power unit I have ever come across – it’s extremely compact (which is great for travelling with) whilst being really powerful.

[MPS]
What else do you have on your pedalboard?

[JL]
At the moment, my signal chain is something like this – drive, octave, chorus, EQ, Strymon Timeline, Big Sky, tuner. I’ve just got hold of a Zombie Klone made by Fredric Effects, which is a Klon clone - I’ve never used a real Klon, but this sounds amazing to me. I’ve had an Empress Para EQ for ages now, and it’s one of my favourite pedals - no matter what amp you have to plug into, having the Para EQ means I can always get some kind of workable sound. In front of a great amp, it really allows you to fine tune your sound to the environment to get the best possible results.

[MPS]
Is there any advice you can offer to people starting out on their musical journeys?

[JL]
At the moment, I’m trying to focus on playing as honestly as possible, instead of playing in a way that I think will impress or appeal to certain types of audiences/listeners…basically trying to put the music first!

 

Find out more about what Jamie's up to at www.jamieleeming.com

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