As a perfectionist, jazz musician Mike Fields took 18 months to complete his latest album, Attic Jump, and he’ll be sharing it in Penticton on Nov. 13 in the middle of his world tour.
Field said Attic Jump features the work of 17 different musicians, who are “some of the best session musicians in the city if not the country.”
“We weren’t going to be happy putting anything down on record unless it was what we wanted. If that meant going back a few steps and fixing it then that’s what it took,” he said.
The goal of Attic Jump was to capture the energy the Mike Field Quintet is able to deliver from a live performance.
“Music for me fits into the context of my life and I try and share that with everyone,” he said. “We still have the quintet playing on a couple tunes on Attic Jump, but also some big-band sound and a whole bunch of different guitar sounds,” he said. “It has rockabilly, some Santana on latin tunes, Django Reinhardt on a couple gypsy jazz tunes.”
Although he began playing the trumpet at age 10, Field’s pursuit of a career in jazz was stalled after finding success in academics. A major contributing factor towards becoming a musician was his move to New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It was a totally surreal experience,” he said. “I wasn’t at all planning on studying jazz when I went down there, I was just going to get some day job. But the city was paralyzed and no one was exactly hiring at that time. So I had nothing to do but I did have my trumpet with me.”
After vigorously practising, Field was accepted to the Masters of Jazz Performance program at New York University. He then began to pursue a PhD in Spanish literature (a self-proclaimed language nerd) when his success in jazz presented a fork in the road.
“A career in academia doing linguistics research – I love that topic; it’s so interesting but really stressful,” he said. “At the same time my jazz music was really starting to grow. I realized at that point I have these melodies inside and they need to get out.”
He said the stability of his future was a major factor in his decision, but his love for jazz came out on top.
“It took a really long time to decide which path to take but in the end, it ended up being one of those decisions you agonize over for a while and once you finally make it it became so obvious and you wonder why it took you so long to make.”
Field’s knowledge of linguistics doesn’t really come through in his music, he said, but the discipline he needed to study transferred over.
“The few papers I published gave me an invaluable experience in bringing a full project to fruition,” he said. “When you’re submitting your paper for publication you go over it a trillion times, make sure you haven’t made any spelling mistakes, stupid grammar mistakes, that sort of thing. But at some point you need to press send and commit to it being out there because once it gets printed on paper that’s it. For music it’s sort of the same thing; it’s audio and it’s put on a CD as opposed to words on paper.”
Field will be performing alongside local musicians for his show at the Shatford Centre which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $18 and are available through his website mikefieldjazz.com.