Up Close and Personal with Mike Garson: Revisted (Interview by David Pukin)
Back in December 1999, I interviewed Mike Garson through email, courtesy
of his webmaster, Matthew Gilbert. This culiminated in "Up Close and
Personal with Mike Garson"
, an article in Issue 6 of Mediaflash back in
February 2000. In the interview, we discussed his involvement with the
Pumpkins on Machina, Billy Corgan on Stigmata, his own improvisational
musical style called Now! Music and more. Over six years later, I did a
short follow-up interview with the multi-talented pianist.

Recently, Garson did some shows with his jazz trio. As far as I knew, this
idea had been on the drawing board for quite some time, but never came
to fruition. A few years back, there was talk about Jimmy Chamberlin being
in a jazz trio with Mike. I asked him if this was just a rumour, or if Jimmy
was originally supposed to be involved. Garson explains that Jimmy was
never supposed in "my jazz trio, but there was talk back then of me and
Jimmy and Billy doing a trio album, but very different from my jazz trio which
is beebop based.".

Not only was Jimmy never supposed to be in Mike's jazz trio, but this
project has been around a lot longer than I realized. When asked if he will
be doing more shows with his jazz trio, Mike says that "I've always been
doing that since 1970, but no one knew about it."

As many people know by now, Mike Garson has worked with Jimmy
Chamberlin fairly recently. Through Garson's Myspace and the JCC website,
alternate versions of "Loki Cat", "Streetcrawler", "Owed to Darryl", and
"Timeshift" by the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex have surfaced. I asked Mike
if he worked on any other tracks. He simply responds, "No, but those all have cool piano parts". As for why none of
these versions appeared on Life Begins Again, some fans online speculated that Mike had been unhappy with the
way the tracks turned out. But when I asked Mike whether he had any influence on the decision to exclude his
version of these tracks, he sets the record straight: "No, it was Jimmy's choice".

Given Mike Garson's experience with working with the Pumpkins on tour and in the studio, I wondered if Garson
would be involved in some capacity with the new incarnation of The Smashing Pumpkins. Given that both James
and D'arcy seem unlikely to return to the fold, I asked him if Billy or Jimmy had approached him to discuss the
possibility of working with the band sometime in the future. Mike states they have not approached him yet, but
"who knows, I love them and their music." For now, fans of both Mike Garson and the Pumpkins will have to wait
and see if Mike will play with them again.

Aside from work in the past with the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex and The Smashing Pumpkins, Mike has been
keeping busy with his own solo material. His latest album, Homage to My Heroes (2003), was inspired by the
various musical masters that have influenced Garson over the years. When I asked what the impetus was for
recording the album when he did, Mike says, "I love improvising in a classical piano style." The album received high
praise from a certain Smashing Pumpkin says Garson, "Billy Corgan likes it, too. He told me one fine day!"

While there is no follow-up to this album out yet, Mike Garson is far from idle. Recently he released a 4 track EP,
Part of the Whole (2006) on his myspace page for free. When asked why he would release it for free, he had this to
say: "I've written 4300 pieces, so what's a few among friends! Funny, but true. I just completed the finale and it
will be available for free download [on] Saturday, May 20th, 2006 on Myspace" (If I am not mistaken the song,
"Meditative Improv" is the finale he was speaking of). And if that is not enough for you, Garson also says that
3 separate albums of his: "jazz, electronic, and classical" will be released in the next few months on iTunes and
CD Baby.

What else is next for Mike Garson?, will he be going on tour with David Bowie or any other bands? I ask. Mike says,
"David always gets me first, as I have been with him since 1972, and that says a lot. Who knows what life will bring
but I am always practicing piano, so I am ready to go at the drop of a hat."

I would like to thank Alex, who runs Mike Garson's myspace for facilitating the interview. Look for this interview to
be eventually/hopefully integrated into an entire issue of Mediaflash (let us know if you want to contribute!).
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