artishare profile:

The ArtistShare Profile series features exclusive interviews with ArtistShare artists focusing on inspirations, current projects, and the creative process.

john clayton

Featured Artist: John Clayton

Describe the moment when you realized you wanted to be a musician.

John: I must have been 18 or 19 years old, hanging out in an L.A. club called Donte's.  I saw 2 musicians smile, laugh and hug each other. Their brotherhood was so thick in the air, their freedom at showing their appreciation for each other, their being that open with their feelings--it all came together at that moment and I recall thinking, "THIS is what I want to do!" And what I witnessed then holds true in our jazz-family community. That was over 40 years ago.

AS: What was your most memorable experience as a music fan?

John: I remember hearing Ray Brown playing at a club in Hollywood, Shelly's Mannehole.  It included Milt Jackson, Teddy Edwards and Monty Alexander. I was just turning 17. They grooved so hard, the audience was grooving with them, that it felt like the walls were made of thin plastic and pulsed and swayed with the occupants. I hadn't seen anything like it, outside of our church. That was the introduction to a lifetime of music that takes me to a place nothing else can.

AS: What was your most memorable experience with a fan (of yours)?

John: I think everyone's soul is fed when you learn that someone who admires what you do is positively affected by it, by you and/or the advice you give them. That happened in a big way to me by my best friend, Jeff Hamilton. We were teenagers--I may have just turned 20 back then. I was new to Indiana University and the bassist in a group Jeff played in asked me to sub for him one night. We got through the first set and Jeff pulled me aside (Jeff is from Indiana, I am from L.A.). He asked what I thought he should do to improve and realize the level of music he thought I represented and beyond. I asked him who he wanted to play with. He mentioned Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman and Count Basie. I asked how many records he had of Oscar, for instance. He said something like 5. I said you need to have 25. Learn everything on all of them--all of the tunes, the grooves, the arrangements. I ended the talk by telling him he would play with those people. And he did.

AS: What was the inspiration or story behind your current ArtistShare project and tell us a little about the creative process.

John: My latest project with ArtistShare represents a portion of a dream-come-true. Now that I am at this stage of my life, I want to pursue things that are a bit more selfish. Not entirely, but some of my projects need to be "Jus' Cuz" projects. I have recorded my first father/son duo recording with Gerald. I have 2 more projects that represent this first phase and I look forward to more and more.

The concept behind this Parlor Series, is the participant imagining I have invited them into my parlor. My guest and I will play some music--period. We don't know what we'll play and we'll create the arrangements and sometimes the compositions there, on the spot. Of course, we bring the participants along so they can witness or understand how it all happens.

AS: If you could collaborate with any musician (dead or alive) and share the process with your fans, who would it be and why?.

John: Part of me doesn't want to share my "wish list" with everyone! It's rather personal and private. Maybe that's some weird voodoo I have going, I don't know. But I have a list of musicians whose music touches me. It includes people like Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Kenny Barron, Danilo Perez, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Dianne Reeves, and about 25 others!