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Eddie 'Gip' Noble

Eddie 'Gip' Noble

Eddie 'Gip' Noble

Tell us about your new album and what you were trying to accomplish with it musically?

On my album In the Lite of Things, I chose popular songs that have stood the test of time and then I brought that music into a smooth jazz setting. I have played so many different styles of music over the years, I wanted to take examples of each of them, and offer listeners new arrangements they have never heard before.

For this album I selected well-known, highly-charted hits from the past five decades and turned them into instrumental smooth jazz. These tunes have seldom, if ever, been heard in smooth jazz. The material comes from many genres. I picked one jazz classic, Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” which I do quite a bit different than he did, plus I added my friend Jim Henken doing a scorching guitar solo. It is the first single. But there is rock represented on the CD with Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” and several British pop tunes like The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain,” Sting’s Desert Rose” and Tears for Fears’ “Shout.” But I also love R&B/pop so I did jazz versions of Michael Jackson’s “This Girl is Mine,” Vanessa Carlton’s “1,000 Miles” and Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last.”

I even chose two country songs to convert to jazz -- Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and George Strait’s “Run.” I stuck in one original, “Don’t Want to Be Alone Tonight,” that I co-wrote with Dee Dee McNeil, who has written for the Supremes, the Four Tops and Gladys Knight, and that is the only vocal on the album. It is sung by Zuri, who has worked with Chaka Kahn and Brenton Woods, and who was on my first album too.

Changing classic compositions into something new is part of the nature of artistic endeavors. You take what you love and know best, and create something new out of it. I specifically wanted this to be feel-good music that is melodic, light and buoyant, and easy-to-listen-to.

Regarding your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?

Even though I have had some fantastic gigs with my own band doing my own music, I spent so many years touring with top acts, I have lots of memories of those large-scale shows playing music that people truly love with all their heart. I toured extensively playing with R&B acts such as Brothers Johnson, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Patti Austin, Barry White, Shalamar, Mary Wells, the Marvelettes, Teena Marie, The Drifters, The Platters, Brenton Woods, Arpeggio, The Jones Girls, Mona Raye Campbell and others.

I also played with top blues artists including Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Etta James and Albert Collins. I even performed with a rock’n’roller, Joe Walsh. I also have played with some talented jazz guys -- Gerald Albright, Plas Johnson, Rahmlee Michael Davis, Larry Gales, Henry “The Skipper” Franklin, Andy Simpkins, James Gadson, Debra Laws, Ronald Muldrow and a bunch of others.

Some of my most memorable experiences were serving as the Music Director for Brothers Johnson, Johnny Watson and Etta James. When I first got with Gladys Knight, I got her music at 10 p.m. and we started rehearsals the next morning. One of my favorite moments was when she sang “I Will Survive” with just me backing her up on piano. When I toured Japan with Patti Austin we did “A Song For You” and she told me she wanted me to play it with a different ending every night. That was quite a challenge.

Who were some of your biggest influences?

My dad played a lot of jazz and standards, and began giving me piano lessons when I was four. Some of my earliest influences were all the Motown pop-soul acts and also Etta James, Ray Charles and Bobby Blue Bland. I started looking for jazz piano teachers and found Don James, who was a friend of Herbie Hancock’s. Don told me I should be listening to Herbie so I started buying his albums and every recording I could find with Herbie on it, and that led me to a lot of other great jazz like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Wayne Shorter.

I would have to say Chick Corea also was influential. But I’m still the most influenced by the amazing, funky, electric piano sounds that Herbie Hancock created 35 years ago. I try to instill my playing with that same drive and energy.

What are some of the things you are proud of at this stage of your career?

My two albums, Love T.K.O. and In the Lite of Things. Having co-written “Love T.K.O.” for Teddy Pendergrass. Touring with a lot of talented musicians. I had some exciting moments appearing in a quite a few films and TV shows. Most of the time I was cast as a musician. I was in “Bird,” the Charlie Parker biography directed by Clint Eastwood, “City Heat” with Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, “Animal House” in Chuck Berry’s band, “Jo Jo Dancer” with Richard Pryor, “The Nutty Professor” with Eddie Murphy, “Against All Odds” with Jeff Bridges, “All of Me” with Steve Martin, “Inspector Gadget” and the Tina Turner biography “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

I also made appearances in television shows such as “Dallas,” “Knot’s Landing” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s “12 Minutes of Fame” and “Watching Ellie.”

Going back in your life as far as you can remember, what music do you recall hearing and being affected by?

As a child I lived in Chicago at the corner of 43rd and South Park, and right there was the 400 Liquor Store that played jazz loud all day long, and just down the block was a jazz night club, the Rose Room, so I heard music all the time.

I was too young to get into the clubs, but I remember standing outside one time listening to Smokey Robinson sing. My life changed when a friend gave me a single by The Three Sounds with Gene Harris on piano. When I was older I was in the Air Force and I went to a concert by Miles Davis and that profoundly affected me.

Is there anything else you want to say about your new album In the Lite of Things?

When you listen to it you will hear that on most of the material I will take a solo on acoustic piano and then a little later I will do a solo on electric piano, back and forth like that. I like both sounds. Both instruments have so much to offer. I enjoy being able to offer both sounds within different tunes. I think it keeps it interesting.

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