JASON EVERETT (Mister E) of DEEP ENERGY ORCHESTRA 'Playing with Fire'
Interview by Lee Henderson partly via phone in December 2018, and then via messages Feb 2019.
Jason Everett, a fine bassist and multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, arranger, and performer, has had a long history of music, from early lessons, school jazz band, and the various fusion bands, such as 1988's Little Green Men (a space jazz outfit), later forming his own band Tal Maya (a Sanskrit term meaning, "beat illusion"). In 1994, Jason moved to Seattle, and in those early years was a part of Snake Dance, Resonance, Sarab, and Avaaza (all eastern hybrids of sorts). He got injured on the job in 2009, but made his first solo album using a slightly modified Tal Maya ~ Beat Illusion (adding the 'beat illusion'). Before he began the Deep Energy Orchestra, he worked with several Seattle bands including Andre Feriante and The Bohemian Entourage, Tarana (World Fusion), Shoruk (Traditional Arabic), Deseo Carmin (Flamenco Rock), and Gina Sala' (Kirtan). As you will see, this interview focuses mainly on DEO and a bit of his beginnings. You will find more info about Jason (also called Mister E) below in the links. it was a pleasant experience interviewing him, as he is a deeply spiritual human.
[Please see my review on DEEP ENERGY ORCHESTRA for more info and a listen and purchase]
JE = Jason Everett
LH = Lee Henderson
LH: What age and instruments did you start with?
JE: At age 2, I stood in front of the TV watching Boston Pops and conductor Arthur Fiedler. I began learning violin, woodwinds, sax, and at age 12, I asked my father if I could learn bassoon. That instrument just grabbed me. Then I took up bass and joined the school jazz band.
LH: Who were some of the earliest bands that got you excited?
JE: I practiced to Rush 7 hours a day back in High School. I went from playing Geddy Lee to listening to Shakti (John McLaughlin - *editors note: and V. Selvaganesh, who plays on the Deep Energy Orchestra 'Playing With Fire' with Jason) and Mahavishnu Orchestra. These bands changed my world.
LH: Did these also influence your composing in the eastern fusion style?
JE: They played a huge role in my composition sense. The spiritual and
LH: Do you have previous releases?
JE: I have 7 or 8 recordings I played on but 'Playing with Fire' is my proudest and more mature. [see my intro for details about Jason's earlier bands]
LH: How did 'Playing with Fire' get started?
JE: It began with a classical guitarist Fareed Haque (now touring with Billy Cobham). He was the featured soloist for the Feb shows and will be featured on the next record out this fall. He plays a “guistar” custom guitar / sitar. As a note, he played with Sting when he was a lad. As the idea grew, I knew I had to have the right people to be able to tackle my compositions in this style. The decision to hire and pay high level musicians was the key to the album being great.
LH: What all influences did you use in this album?
JE: It has eastern, jazz, flamenco, as well as funk. Even some gospel.
LH: What is your relationship with Trey Gunn like?
JE: Great. Trey told me my compositions are my strength. He has helped me a great deal in many ways. I love working with him.
LH: I know you have lived in a few different states. What inspired you to finally make this recent album?
JE: I became a fireman 15 years ago, with two kids and wife, and I had to put music aside for some years. After my kids grew up I decided to finally do what I had wanted to do for a long time. I once played in a Top 40 band but with that experience, I swore I would never play music for money again. That is the reason I am free as a musician, to write and perform from my spiritual side.
LH: With most of your band members being out of state, do you plan in doing live concerts and maybe touring?
JE: It does pose a problem with live shows and the thought of tours. I would like to build a local talent band to play Seattle and surrounding areas. That is still an idea. Rachel Nesvig is already local, but filling the slots for the others will prove to be hard.
LH: I know you said the turn out was not great on your first live show from the release party of 'Playing with Fire' , either on your home turf on Vashon Island or in the city of Seattle. Do you think the word has not spread yet?
JE: That could be it, but I felt like my own town would have supported me more. It surprised me how few seemed interested in this kind of music. Maybe time will improve things.
[ I did a follow up with Jason after his band had performed another round of concerts to see how things were going ]
LH: How did those live shows go from the 2nd round (recently)?
JE: the shows were great. we sold out the Seattle show and had a good sized crowd on Vashon Island.
LH: You mentioned a new album in the fall, with Fareed Haque on it ?
JE: we are working on a second release and I have a meeting with 7D Media to start working on details. Possibly an EP of Moksha sooner than later and then a new CD in the works
LH: Any luck with finding enough local musicians to do the concert gigs you spoke about?
JE: No luck yet with local musicians, but Fareed Haque played this last set of shows and is on board, so it seems like we are spread out still.
LH: Can you speak about any of the music/compositions you have for a followup album?
JE: I have several new compositions in the works for the next CD. some old ones, and several new ones. In fact, I almost have too much material!
LH: Thank you so much for this time and the information. I wish you the best and look forward to your next release. Your first one made my TOP CHOICES of 2018.
JE: Thank you Lee. It is an honor to have had the chance to share my music and my story. I look forward to sharing the next record this autumn.
©Interview by Lee Henderson December 2018, and Feb 2019