Guitarist Edison Herbert spoke to Peter Bacon ahead of his trio’s gig this Friday July 17th at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill:
Edison Herbert’s early exposure to music had the two classic ingredients. The London-based guitarist explains: “My older brother played classical piano very well, so at home I was inspired by him. And I have a church background, and there were some good musicians there – including an incredible guitarist.” So, Home and Church – both get big ticks! But there usually needs to be that single vital trigger moment, too. For Edison it was George Benson’s 1977 In Flight, the second Warner Bros album (after Breezin’) that fully cemented Benson’s jazz/R’n’B superstar status. “That was it – that’s where it all started,” Edison confirms.
His musical education included piano lessons for many years, and the piano still proves useful for writing purposes. He still listens to a lot of pianists – Oscar Peterson remains a favourite and a valuable source of harmony.
The list of favourite guitarists, however, is a longer one and includes all the greats: “Wes Montgomery, early George Benson, Grant Green… other guys like Tal Farlow, Joe Pass, Pat Metheny… those are the main influences. And then there are the funky guys – like Nile Rodgers.”
Edison’s current trio with Neville Malcolm on double bass and Winston Clifford on drums first came about by accident. “I was doing a couple of gigs at a jazz bar – and it just so happened that I got the right combination. That’s why I decided to record [the resulting album is My Favourite Tunes Vol 1] and how the trio came about.”
I suggested that the trio format gives the guitarist great freedom. Edison agreed but with a caveat: “It gives you freedom, but it also shows all your frailties, puts you on the spot.” He pays tribute to Malcolm and Clifford in this context: “My experience of working with these guys is that you never have bad days with them because they push you on, force you to think ahead.
“With the trio the most important thing is the combination of players, if you gel well together you will always have some special moments.”
And some of those special moments will be sure to occur on Friday, July 17th, at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill, when the Edison Herbert Trio will be playing as part of Pandemonium @ 50: A Celebration showcasing the UK’s best steel pan talent.
Edison explained: “It’s an evening of collaborations – I will be using a pan player on two songs.” And in the not too distant future look out for My Favourite Tunes Vol 2.