Jimmy Mc Intosh
with Bob Putignano
Jimmy McIntosh is not a household name, but on his debut recording the forty-eight-year-old guitarist makes a stunning impression on Orleans to London. Supporting musicians include three Nevilles (Art, Cyril, and Ivan) plus from the London side Ron Wood, plus Jeff Beck who makes several uncredited guest appearances as "Hot Rod." McIntosh more than holds his own with all of all of these very accomplished musicians and has crafted a superlative recording. Upon listening to Orleans to London it is no wonder that McIntosh cites the Stones, the Nevilles, Miles Davis, Reggae, and guitar greats Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Scott Henderson, and Mike Stern as just several of his personal favorites.
Orleans to London was partly recorded at the Piety Street Recording studios in New Orleans and the London session was captured at Ronnie Wood's home studio where Jeff Beck (who just happens to live down the street from Wood) joined in on the sessions.
McIntosh is a part-time teacher at the University of Nevada and also works in the Vegas production of the Broadway musical Mamma Mia. Jimmy McIntosh was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and grew up in Michigan where he eventually met guitarist Scott Henderson and they both used to sit in with a local Jazz band and hung out together. McIntosh attended the Berklee College of Music for two years and afterwards got a bachelors degree from the University of Michigan, he moved to Las Vegas in 1981 where he has become a well respected guitarist and has worked with a diverse group of musicians, including Doris Troy, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Buddy Hackett, Ben Verenn, and had a lengthy gig with the popular Vegas show Legends in Concert. He also worked on more than forty national TV shows including working in the house band for Penn & Teller where he got to work with Billy Preston, Slash, Lyle Lovett, Weird Al Yankovic, Eric Idle, Clarence Clemmons, and others. Since 1990 McIntosh has played with the Lon Bronson All-Stars Band, which is a powerhouse horn band that over the years featured players like Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Tower Of Power, Joe Walsh, and Kevin Eubanks.
Jimmy McIntosh got hooked on the Neville Brothers when he heard Fiyo on the Bayou and later met Art Neville and drummer Willie Green (who both play on Orleans to London). Via Art Neville, McIntosh met Ronnie Wood in 1999 and when Wood heard about McIntosh's new CD project Wood expressed interest in playing on it. McIntosh and his wife flew to the U.K. with the basic tracks he recorded with the Nevilles and had Wood overdub guitar parts. It should be noted that Wood was originally slated to play on just one track, but upon hearing the basic tracks wound up playing on five Orleans to London tunes. Wood also invited his friend Jeff Beck, who played on three Orleans to London tracks, which was a dream come true for McIntosh.
Upon hearing the Orleans to London CD I contacted his press manager Michael Bloom who setup an interview for me and below are some of the highlights of our conversation.
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: How did the Orleans to London CD project come about?
Jimmy McIntosh:: It started a few years ago when the Neville Brothers were playing Las Vegas, I had been really good friends with Art Neville and the Neville's drummer Willie Green for about fifteen years. So I called Willie a few weeks before their Vegas gig and asked if they would like to go into the studio with my bass player Rochen Westmoreland:, who is truly unbelievable, fortunately they said yes and I had a couple of new tunes written and ready to lay down with them. On that first Vegas session we cut four tunes in just two takes for each track. I basically was looking to see how it all would work out and if everything could flow and gel - it did. Six months later the Nevilles were back in Vegas and we did another three or four tunes. Then I met Ivan Neville and I told him about the project and asked if he would consider playing on it. I then gave him CDs of the rough tracks and he liked it and on Ivan's first session he wound up playing organ on four tunes. Then, from word of mouth from Ivan, Cyril asked if I needed a percussionist, as he also wanted to play on my CD, too. It really was a snowball effect, as initially I wanted to make a CD for myself and dedicate it to my father who had just passed away.
BW: It says on the liner notes that you recorded in New Orleans, too.
JM: Yes, then I went to New Orleans and that's when Art Neville joined in and played on "Mama Funk." All in all we then had nine tracks with Cyril, too. Then Ivan did the only vocal on the recording "It Was a Virus," which we did in Los Angeles. What was cool was that most of the tracks were one takes, giving the CD a live and organic good feeling, which is what I wanted, plus the Nevilles are monster musicians and they made it easy to do this.
BW: That covers the Orleans side, what about the London sessions?
JM: The London sessions came about when I met Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards in 1999 thanks to Art Neville. It was nothing special, just a brief introduction, but when I met them I got Ronnie's manager's contact info, so I emailed him about the project and told them that my new CD was going to be a labor of love, a non-commercial production in a New Orleans vibe and asked his manager, "Would there be any chance Ronnie would be interested playing on my CD?" About a week later my wife thought, "You are not going to hear back from Ron Wood," and then I did get the email saying that Ronnie is interested! You have to know that I am a Stones fanatic so this was like wow! I couldn't sleep as I just could not believe Ronnie wanted to play on my CD. So three weeks later my wife and I flew to London and went to Ron Wood's house. Check out my website JimmyMcIntosh.com as I have some pictures posted from Ronnie's house. I was really honored that Ronnie loved the tracks I brought with me and he just wanted to play on more and more of it, all total he played on five tracks and he recorded on those tracks basically for the fun of it.
BW: What is the story of the guitarist "Hot Rod"? Is it really Jeff Beck?
JM: Yes. He had heard about my CD from Ron Wood and when I was at Ronnie's house, sure enough Beck comes by, needless to say I was stunned. I'm already on cloud nine playing with Ron Wood and now Jeff Beck? Jeff liked the track "G-Spot," which is not what you think it is, as I called it "G-Spot" because it's in the key of G. [laughs] So I took off my original solo, as I was not happy with it, and Beck took my spot, first take he had it nailed! Then he played on "Rogent" as well; one take again. By the way, Ron Wood kept up his reputation as "One-take Ronnie" as he nailed each track that way, same as Jeff Beck did. I'm still amazed about how great Jeff and Ronnie are able to one take like this. The "Hot Rod" name was something we needed to do due to contractual issues, so as I knew Beck is into building hot rods, that's how the name "Hot Rod" came about for Jeff Beck.
BW: So, needless to say this turned into a dream come true for you?
JM:Yeah, the CD started as a dedication for my father and a personal statement for me and the next thing I knew I had three Neville Brothers and two of my guitar heroes, Jeff Beck and Ron Wood, on my CD. A dream for sure!
BW:People don't make recordings like this anymore.
JM: I don't like slick productions with short solos and such. Guys I really like I want to hear them play and take their time and that's what I was aiming for. And in the end I think that is what attracted all the guests on the CD, as they just wanted to have some fun and play.
BW: Tell me about the lyrics on "It Was a Virus"?
JM: My old boss, Penn Jillette [of Penn & Teller fame], wrote the lyrics and Ivan nailed the vocals.
BW: One last question, will there be a follow-up to Orleans to London?
JM: I do want to release a follow up in the not too distant future and include some of my musician friends like Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Ronnie Wood, and Mike Landau.
BW, turning to you: We will need to be keeping a close eye on Jimmy McIntosh for sure!
Bob Putignano www.SoundsofBlue.com
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society