I think of a recording as being a kind of sonic mirror. It's a documentary in a way where you've marked a specific moment but your relationship to what happened in that moment changes over time. 'take it from the ground' as a title was really an acknowledgement of the process of capturing what happened in a specific moment in time.”

take it from the ground

A Sideman Steps Out Of The Shadows...

You may not recognize the name Scott Collins, but there's a good chance that you've heard him play guitar before.  As a session player, he has been on television (Powerpuff Girls), video games (Trials Evolution, God of War II) and nationally syndicated advertisements and industrials as a former staff guitarist for The Distillery).  Over the course of a lengthy career, the  Berklee College of Music and the California Institute of the Arts, graduate has played on world premier performances, done tours of Europe, Mexico and the US, played in innumerable ensembles and appeared on  over a dozen recordings with various artists. 

On Sunday, November 18th the guitarist and songwriter will showcase his skills  with a CD release party for his debut instrumental acoustic guitar recording, “take it from the ground” at MOPCO Improv Theatre on 10 N. Jay Street in Schenectady.  "After years of playing in various projects, I wanted to release a recording under my own name that highlighted a lot of music that hasn't been documented before."  Mr. Collins' playing on fretted and fretless guitars draws from a wide range of western and non-western music, but improvisation is always a core component at the heart of his process.  "Improvisation is attractive to me as a performer because there's a real immediacy in giving a voice to something that can only exist in that moment.  It's a kind of mindfulness that's communal with the audience and it can create a truly special moment of resonance and transcendence.  The title of the CD, 'take it from the ground', was really an acknowledgement of the recording process.  All of the tunes (except the last song) were improvised and recorded as it was performed.  The title is about capturing and preserving what happened in a specific room in a specific moment in time.  The result is almost an anti-acoustic or post-acoustic recording, that is more about exploring a specific philosophical mindset than merely showcasing technical skill.  "When I was playing in KoriSoron (with guitarist Farzad Golpayegani and percussionist Dean Mirabito), the emphasis was really on Farzad and I pushing each other to go deeper into the solos and there was a lot of testosterone that those shows.  But this comes form a different place.  Some of these pieces were really challenging to pull off live, but it's more about serving the song and the mood instead of saying, 'Look at what I can do!' There's a certain amount of that in any CD release with craving attention, but with this recording, I wanted  to create something unique, an immersive environment that transports people somewhere and gets them thinking about the music after it's done playing."

The Schenectady-based guitarist currently performs in two decidedly different local bands that share a common goal of global fusion.   I come from the mountains is an acoustic instrumental duo consisting of Mr. Collins on fretted and fretless guitars, and Dean Mirabito on tabla and Middle Eastern percussion.  Mr. Collins also performs with Embe Esti, an intercontinental band that incorporates Afrobeat, North African and other global traditions into an electrifying take on soulful dance music.  In addition to performing solo acoustic music, he’ll also be performing with both groups on the 18th.  "The CD release party is going to be special for a number of reasons.   Both bands will be debuting some music at this show, but I'll also be doing some solo pieces with improvisation that will be performed only one time at this show and then never performed again so it will be a truly unique experience for the audience."

While the new cd features Mr. Collins on solo electro-acoustic guitar, he credits Daby Zainab Faidhi with altering  the musical direction of the CD.  "I met Daby through an international film festival  where she had submitted a fantastic animated film called,Ardh Al-Sawad (The Black Land) that was selected for the festival and approached her about the artwork for the recording.  She and I talked through a number of ideas and processes and ultimately she came up with the idea of using a set of stairs as guitar frets and then running strings down them.  The starkness of the image really moved me.  I had recorded a number of tracks previously, but I felt like much of the music didn't really work with the new artwork, so I saved a few of the live tracks from the previous sessions and then took the recording in a different direction."  A return to an old process yielded surprising results.  "On an older Mac computer I had a few freeware applications that allowed me to record multiple layers of guitars and mix them in real time to a stereo file.  'In that late hour' was the first track that was done that way and '21st century blues' was the second.  Like the previous tracks, those were improvised and recorded in real-time and that just set the aesthetic for the rest of the recording."

"take it from the ground" CD Release Party  With Scott Collins (solo guitar), I Come From The Mountains and Embe Esti will be held at at MOPCO Improv Theatre Sunday, November 18th on 10 N. Jay Street in Schenectady. Doors open @ 4:30 PM and the show runs from 5 - 6:30 pm.

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