Tom Remon & Jim Mullen new album
Interview first published at Sussex Jazz Magazine (March 2021 issue)
Emerging young guitarist, Tom Remon is releasing his debut album with Jim Mullen, legendary guitarist and an understated supporter of youth talent. The album is played in a Duo format of only guitars and is called Duality. Was out on March 5th on Lunaria Records.
Listen and Buy it here: https://tomremon.bandcamp.com/
Duality sounds like an intimate musical conversation between 2 like-minded and supportive friends.
I know there´s a generation gap and a whole life of experiences separating Jim Mullen and Tom Remon, now this beautiful egoless collaboration transcends all that. In the end, what stands out above all is mutual respect and an unconditional Love to the instrument they share.
Tom Remon tell us a bit more about his journey and this new album with Jim Mullen.
How did your musical journey start?
I grew up as a very small child listening to my dad's CD collection of music, he used to listen to in the early 90s - albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magik (RHCP), Full Moon Fever (Tom Petty), The Black Album (Metallica), Rage Against The Machine's first album, etc. So I have always been surrounded by music.
When did you start playing the guitar?
By age 11, I picked up trying to play the guitar after hearing Hendrix for the first time and got lessons at High School by a guy called Carlos Olmos who later introduced me to Jazz Guitar when I was 15/16. It was around this time I started going to Tomorrow's Warriors. Eventually ended up in Binker Golding's youth ensemble - which was some of the best musical education I had ever received. Binker was an amazing example of someone to aspire to as a musician. I also made amazing friends in the Tomorrow's Warriors circle (amazing musicians and people such as Hamish Moore, Joe Elliot, Sam Jones, Zoe Pascal, Laurence Wilkins, and Patrick Boyle).
Throughout that time as well, I have received incredible and real heartfelt support from Gary, Jeanine, Steve Williamson, and Denys Baptiste from Tomorrow's Warriors. Patricia Pascal from JazzNewBlood and Gordon and Jilian Weddurburn from GW Jazz. All 3 Organizations are pivotal to the future of jazz in the UK!
From age 19, I enrolled at Middlesex University and received amazing lessons from legends such as Gareth Williams, Dave Ohm, Nikki Iles, Rob Townsend, Chris Batchelor, Hannes Riepler and Kate Williams.
I know you are of Israeli origin. What role do your roots play in your music?
That’s an amazing question, I believe some people are actively and more artistically conscious of it than others - However, I also believe whether we like it or not we play like who we represent as human beings – I feel we really do play our lives through the instrument which must have something to do with our roots and upbringing!
My predominant roots are Israeli however I have never gone about learning tradition Israeli music as of yet – and I have massive respect for those that incorporate elements of their roots actively in their music I wish I could do it. I do love ‘world music’, I love Hindustani music, Music from Mali, Music from Soweto, Music from brazil etc.
Who inspires you and What are you listening at the moment?
Everyone that knows me knows I’m a massive Peter Bernstein freak, I can’t get enough of his playing – His playing touches me so much – His feel, his sound, his chords, his ideas to me is perfect! I love Wes Montgomery for all the same reasons (he’s the deepest) I love all the great Guitar Players - Grant Green, Tal Farlow, Hendrix, Albert King etc - I also love Ali Farka Toure’s music especially the albums Niafunke and his playing on Corey Harris’ Mississippi to Mali. Anything with Kenny Kirkland, Jeff Tain Watts, Wayne Shorter, Brazilian Music, Common (the rapper), Megedeth… I could go on!
How did you connect with Jim Mullen and how the DUO album idea came along?
I asked Jim for a couple of Guitar lessons at the end of 2019/start of 2020 and I recorded some me and Jim playing together on my phone.
During the start of the first lockdown, I showed the recordings to a mutual friend of mine and Jim’s an amazing guitarist called Bernie Holland (who is an unsung UK guitar legend – played with Mose Allison, toured with Georgie Fame, Van Morrison, Danny Thompson) and he suggested that we both do a recording together!
One day a few months later I was in a bad mood for whatever silly reason so I decided on a whim to give Jim a ring and ask him if he was interested – to my amazement he agreed, so we set up a date at my friend’s home studio in August and did the recording in a day!
Tell me about the repertoire and the process of choosing it?
We both chose collectively – We both agreed on my originals and I bought in a couple of ideas and so did Jim and took it from there!
All the originals are mine – a lot of the standards on the album are somewhat arranged by Jim. We did his arrangement of East of the Sun as a samba with the Barney Kessel tag, his slight reharm of Like Someone in Love, and his idea of Whisper Not in 5/4. We did Jim Hall’s arrangement of With A Song in My Heart which I was terrified of doing – because it’s so beautiful – its Jim Hall all over! Wasn’t sure if I was at all capable of capturing or encompassing that heart and beauty he puts into music!
How was the experience of recording with a guitar legend like Jim Mullen?
It was really interesting – I was a bit cranky in the morning as my wrist was in agony and I received some news as well that annoyed me – However, Matt the engineer and Jim just put me at ease (without even realising) just through their nature as amazing human beings!
Once we were set up, we fired through each track – and did the majority of the album in one take! It was an absolutely unbelievable experience being up close to such a master and legend of the instrument and watching him nail every tune, with a beautiful big sound that really speaks out, the heaviest feel I have ever witnessed, and the most tasteful and beautiful melodies and the most killing lines that always catch you by surprise.
Jim Mullen is an unbelievable force of nature and I had to pinch myself realising I was able to witness that up close. Last but not least his playing is so good it comforts you, and you play so much better than you do normally.
Can we expect a live concert of the DUO in the future?
I really hope so, myself and Lunaria Records are trying to put a small tour/run of gigs together – It’s been so difficult because of Covid. Touch wood we can make it work somehow!