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  • Smooth Jazz Network

David Garfield: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: David Garfield.

David, many of our readers know you as a recording artist and keyboardist; but you also are a songwriter, producer, arranger, session and touring musician, band leader, musical director, record label owner, and the list goes on… Any of these hats that you prefer over the others?

Yes, I have the most fun playing the piano but so many of these other hats are necessary. I never intended to have my own label, but over the years I found that it was the best way for me to release my music to the world and gave me the most artistic freedom. Doing sessions and tours has been a way to keep the income coming in, but I always find a way to have fun doing it when I’m doing it and I learned so much from being on tour and in session with legendary musicians and artists.

How do you keep a balance?

I always write down the important things that need to be done on one sheet and put the things that are not as pressing, but should not be forgotten, on another sheet. I also believe that having a day or two off of work each week energizes and clears up the mind and spirit, it’s kind of like sharpening the saw before cutting again.

You have also always been a touring musician. What has the past year been like for you?

It’s been wonderful to stay at home and unpack the suitcases. I’ve been lucky to have seen so much of the world and have been on the road since 1976 on and off. To stay at home has been a true blessing and a treat for me. I’m finally opening up my mail form 10 years ago!

You have written songs for and performed with some amazing artists over the years. Can you tell us about a few of the ‘standouts’?

Well, to write with Smokey Robinson is at the top of that list. We have written two songs together and both are on the “Outside The Box” project. Another thrill was arranging and performing the duet between George Benson and Van Morrison in London a couple of years ago and producing and arranging for George Benson’s “Guitar Man” record was a real thrill. We recorded “Since I Fell For You” as a duet, which is special to me and after the sessions we would sit in my car in front of his hotel (The Peninsula in Beverly Hills) and listen to the recordings of the day over and over like I did when I was a kid, until the security from the hotel came up to the car and told us to “turn it down.”

Any artist still on your wish list?

I had always hoped to work with Sting or Eric Clapton, but at this point I don’t know if that will ever happen. A lot of my band members have toured with them though, so I guess I’m one step removed.

Tell us about your next single.

We decided to record “I Won’t Back Down” instrumentally after Tom Petty passed, we were performing that weekend and our drummer was Tom’s drummer in The Heartbreakers. I decided to perform this song for the first time and he could not even play, but went to the bar and wept while we played it. The melody was so sweet instrumentally that I decided to do this arrangement and record it. We have a cameo guest appearance from my buddy Michael Lington on sax, and some amazing work from the top pedal steel guitarist in Nashville, Paul Franklin to give it a little touch of twang.

And you have a full album coming in the Fall?

“Stretchin’ Outside The Box” is the sixth and final release in the “Outside The Box” series and this one includes several singles that have been popular on the radio over the last period of time, such as “Sweetness”, “Sir Charles”, “Pirate’s Cove”, and “Rainbow Seeker”. It’s a double CD with 24 songs and the emphasis is on “stretchin’ out” so many of the songs are long and full of inspired jamming. The music on this album is the closest to what I consider my comfort zone and includes a tribute to Herbie Hancock, and Joe Sample.

Any plans to get back on the live performance circuit?

During the pandemic I had started doing shows from my house over Zoom and we’ve been quite happy with this format. We broadcast normally on Saturday at 3pm and people tune in from all over the world - it’s actually Sunday morning in Japan and Indonesia where some of our audience is from. We’ve been able to have a tremendous array of guest artists and everybody is comfortable coming to the house, so I plan on sticking with this for a while and will probably offer subscription service to the next concert series in the Fall.

Follow David Garfield’s latest news and learn more about the subscription service and the upcoming album here.

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