Sam Barsh: - As a lead artist I would have to commit to a lifetime of touring
Chicago is where I started playing. I was born there, and raised in a nearby town called Wilmette. Chicago is where I was exposed to jazz and jazz clubs. I was only interested in jazz back then and Chicago was my link to jazz.
Getting a No 1 hit didn’t happen as early as it may seem, although I do hope to have a long career. I started out as a professional musician nineteen years ago. And a lot of things really didn’t go my way at times. You make so many things, and such a small percentage winds up on a record. A hit song represents not just that song, but so many other songs you created along the way. When I hear a hit, it makes me want to hear the music that didn’t make it on the record. Of course a hit song opens doors and gets you more opportunities, and to me that's the most important thing.
Aloe Blacc ''The Man''
I met Avishai Cohen through Brian Killeen, a bassist I went to college with. I was already a big fan of his before I even moved out east. Avishai had started a rock band with some of my classmates, and they used to rehearse at our school in New Jersey. I was living in Brooklyn, so sometimes I’d drive him back to his place in New York and we got to know each other a bit.
When Avishai wanted to start a trio with young musicians, Mark Guiliana recommended me to be in the band. I started working with him right after graduating university, so I didn’t have to get a job. Avishai Cohen is a great bandleader and a friend. It was a very special experience, and he allowed me to shine and do my thing. Not many bandleaders allow that.
The live band / touring scene and the songwriting / production scene are different worlds. Live, you are seen as a side-musician. In the studio, you are seen as a writer. I've worked with people in live settings mainly through recommendations and reputation. Most of my work in the studio comes from personal relationships I have with producers, artists, and my publisher. In both settings, getting consistent work is based on personality and on being able to deliver. I'm comfortable in a lot of different situations, and am always willing to do what the leader wants, whether its a session or a gig.
I prefer helping others shine to being the lead artist. Among the cons of being the lead artist are that you have the promotional responsibility. If a show isn’t well attended, it’s seen as your fault. You have to be comfortable talking about yourself. Some of it I don’t mind. Although you do get recognized, being a lead artist is a full-time job. In helping others create their sound and cultivate their artistic vision, I get to make a lot more music, and have a bigger output than I would otherwise have had. I toured so much in my 20’s, and I’m really ok with not traveling much. I enjoy LA. I have my friends here and sessions almost every day. It’s better for me to be in one place. I still travel a bit, but as a lead artist I would have to commit to a lifetime of touring.
Palter Ego ''Man In The Mirror'' cover
Ten years ago I would never have thought of moving here (Los Angeles). But as my musical interests became more diverse, I realized that the things I wanted to do musically had shifted from New York to Los Angeles. The other genres aside from jazz thrive in LA, and there is a good jazz scene here too. It’s not as good as New York, but it’s good. My years in New York have affected the way I play and it gets me work here.
Sam Brash ''Wake Up And Smile''
Sam Barsh is a keyboardist and songwriter. He has written and produced songs for major label artists Norah Jones, Robin McKelle and Aloe Blacc, including the hit song "The Man", which Barsh co-wrote for Aloe Blacc. Barsh has released solo material as lead artist and with his band Palter Ego.
He has also performed with a diverse group of renowned artists, including: Avishai Cohen, Babyface, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Brenna Whitaker, Bruno Mars, Cassandra Wilson, Common, David Foster, Dontae Winslow, Emily King, Estelle, Fred Wesley, Gavin DeGraw, Gene Simmons, Gregory Porter, Je Parker (of Tortoise), John Robinson, Jojo, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kiran Ahluwalia, Large Professor, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Ballas, Maurice Brown, Maya Azucena, Mino Cinelu, Natasha Bedingeld, Quadron, Ravi Coltrane, Rez Abbasi, Robin Eubanks, Robin McKelle, Roy Hargrove, Stevie Wonder, The Brand New Heavies, The Mighty Blue Kings, The Spam All-Stars, Tom Jones, Wax, and Zach Brock.
Find out more HERE.
Previous post: Remembering Bessie Smith