Dropping AUGUST 12, Evan Carydakis has a new track called “Movin’ On.” It’s right in line with the blazing material he has so far; songs like the funky “Ponderosa” and the cooler, laid-back “Majorca.” But with “Movin’ On,” the pace is strong and his notes set the story in motion. His horn has an assertive bop, a definite rhythmic statement and he’s got the skill to imbue deep melody anywhere his tenor goes.
When and why did you start the sax?
I first picked up the saxophone at the age of fifteen. There was a local record store in Melbourne (my hometown) called Allan’s, and I remember coming across the album cover for “Royal Garden Blues” – that album cover did it for me! That’s what I wanted to be!
Why specifically did you choose tenor?
I loved the sound of the instrument. Also, when I was growing up it was extremely prominent in both popular and jazz music. I also had the privilege of seeing some great tenor saxophonists live, Michael Brecker in Paul Simon’s Band and Chris White of Dire Straits. the most influential from a live perspective.
Do you remember the first jazz you heard? Why did it inspire you?
Getz/Gilberto – I couldn’t believe how lyrical, melodic, and musical Stan Getz was on this album. His playing was out of this world and on another level. Just brilliant. Also Grover Washington Jr. on Winelight. This was a killer album.
Talk about how you refined your sound, and how would you define it?
I define my current sound as strong and muscular, noting that sound develops and changes over time at different points in your career! Refining my sound has been about listening to other players whom I like and understanding where their sound is coming from. Once you understand that, then you can emulate it and make it your own sound.
What inspired the new track “Movin’ On”?
There are mainly two ways I write. In a disciplined fashion, and from inspiration. “Movin On” was written from a point of discipline, as one part of three songs I wrote specially for a COVID-safe concert at St. John’s Anglican Church in my hometown, in between lockdowns.
Talk about your personnel here and what they each contribute to the vibe.
My twin brother Stephan Carydakis is a smooth jazz producer, bass guitarist, drum programmer, and the guiding force behind the crafting of the song and my studio performance. A hard taskmaster, he makes sure I get the best out of my efforts, and he has my back! Michael Whittaker on keyboards took the song to another level with his musical savvy, knowing exactly what the song needed. He added some beautiful colors. Patrick Yandall’s guitar was the icing on the cake, with his in-the-pocket playing and super smooth sound, a total pro.
What is your biggest goal?
To keep writing better songs, with better production value!
What was the most influential part of your music education?
My time with legendary jazz educator Charlie Banacos! Just a brilliant mind and a generous man who passed away way too soon! Yiasou Charlie!
Overall, what themes inspire you when you compose?
Of the current songs I am writing, one is inspired by family, specifically the love of family. The other song is inspired by place, specifically the Greek Islands, and one island in particular but I can’t tell you because it will give away the name of the yet-to-be-released song!
How do you keep your music smooth- and what is your definition of smooth jazz?
By focusing on space, simplicity (as much as I can), melody and respecting my audience! Smooth jazz for me is the best of pop combined with the sensibility of jazz.
What is the most difficult part of being a musician today?
I can only speak to myself: finding the time to do it all: from booking tours, speaking to venues, arranging radio and newspaper advertising, having the appropriate levels of insurance, writing new material, releasing and promoting new material, and practicing!
What is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding is playing to a full venue, on a tour that you have organized and promoted!
What are your plans to perform for the rest of 2022?
I currently have a five-date regional Tasmanian theater tour booked of mainly 200- to 300-seat theaters and national performances penciled in for 2023, with a view to international festival performances beyond that.
You talk about getting “back to your roots” with this music. What has been your journey so far?
Well, in recent years I have explored more complicated harmonic textures, even heading into free improvisation with my Coltrane-inspired festival shows from 2018 to 2020. However, over the last two years in particular, my style has come full circle, returning to its original popular and rhythm and blues-based methodology. I try to focus on simple and catchy melodic forms which are reflective of my formative years when I relied on popular music for my inspiration. Growing up with music in the ’80s and ’90s, we were presented with an incredible selection of music embedded with great saxophone parts, from Huey Lewis and The News, to Dire Straits, to Spandau Ballet, to Sting, and Jamiroquai! It was an incredible period for music!
For more information, visit https://www.evancarydakis.com.au.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
© 2022 Debbie Burke