The consummate performer who connects with his band, the audience, and his inner dance groove, Nick Colionne gives the music his all. The perfect red or canary yellow suit and snazzy wide-brimmed hat aren’t all that grab the camera; his grin and his moves show what the man is all about.
He lays down the hooks that pull you in before you know what’s happening.
Your musical influences growing up?
My stepdad started teaching me at age nine. I was heavily influenced by Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell then as I progressed I got into George Benson, BB King and Jimi Hendrix.
Was the guitar your first love, or another instrument?
Yes the guitar was my first instrument. I also learned to play drums as my brother was a drummer. Then keys and violin, banjo, mandolin and some saxophone.
What is the jazz scene like in Chicago?
Now the jazz scene is a lot smaller than say 15 years ago. Most of the jazz clubs closed and now there is a big blues scene here.
Which have been your favorite venues so far and why?
Panama City, Berks in Reading PA, Catalina Island, The Montrose Room in Chicago and Jazz on the Vine in WI.
I love the crowds and great promoters which make it fun and the venues themselves are great.
I love playing the Montrose Room, it’s the only place I play in Chicago usually only once a year that I play at home.
A place you haven’t performed yet that you would like to?
Tokyo Blue Note Jazz Club.
What other countries have a strong love for smooth jazz?
Most of the European countries have a big jazz following. England, Germany and Spain to name a few.
What makes the Epiphone Nick Colionne ES175 Premium uniquely yours– how was it crafted to capture what you wish to convey, musically?
I talked to the company and told them what I needed as far as feel and sound, and they crafted it to my specs. I try to have a sound and tone that’s mine.
Who are the personnel in your band and how do you blend together yet give each other space to express yourselves?
Garrett Body – bass
Jason Grant – drums
Collin Clauson – keys
Evell Knight – keys
We all like each other so it comes together. We hang out together. I’m not an artist who does not hang out with his cats who work for him.
What inspired the track “The Journey” and where does it take you in your head?
The Journey came because I wanted a song that moves like I do.
How do you plan a song that will turn out to have a genuine “hook”?
Hooks just come into my head and I try to sing lyrics to it. If I can come up with words that make sense, then I feel it’s a catchy hook.
How long have you been playing the smooth jazz cruises?
I’ve been doing cruises since 2005. I love them because you get to interact with fans regularly and it’s a great time.
How do you think being a youth counselor and teaching (music, computer music and guitar) informs your music?
Well it helps because I deal from the heart with kids, and I do the same with the music.
What are the ingredients, besides talent, for a successful career in music today?
Knowledge of the business and knowing that you have to give it all you got every time you hit the stage. Respect your audience and have fun on stage.
Places you will tour for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018?
I’m all over the place through the end 2018 – Florida, Chicago and other places. Also I will be doing the Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2019!
New CD to be released first quarter of ’18.
Hopefully more mentoring and a fishing club that I’m trying to start with kids. And probably produce more and write more for other artists.
Thank you for the interview.
For more information, visit http://www.nickcolionne.com/.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
(c) Debbie Burke 2017