Jazz rock via Mexico at the Divided Sky on Thursday
It took “Bitches Brew” for Todd Clouser to acquire a taste for jazz.
Like most teenagers who picked up electric guitar, Clouser was a rock ‘n’ roller. His new album, “A Love Electric,” has a jazzy bent with obvious bites of post-1970 Miles Davis, who had moved away from classic jazz rhythms and into rock improvisation.
The discovery of Davis’ fusion was an ear opener for the Berklee School of Music-bound guitarist
“It helps me bridge the gap between rock and songwriting, which is what I had my later teens, early 20s rock bands,” he said. “It made it easier for me to digest and then I could trace things back from there. Miles, Sonny Rollins, things I like to listen to now. That music is still my bag in a way. I like playing that stuff.”
Clouser will perform at Lake Tahoe for the first time on Thursday, April 14, in a quintet. The show starting at 9:30 p.m. will be at the Divided Sky in Meyers. The cover is $5.
Besides music, Clouser gained inspiration by growing up in Minnesota and attending college in Boston. He moved four years ago to Mexico, a much warmer place, when he accepted a teaching job.
“They had no instruments,” he said. “I played acoustic guitar and had them sing ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’ The kids were thrilled, and it reminded me why I got into music in the first place.”
Clouser has hooked up with some Baja natives and Argentina expats to make a jazz band. He also puts heads a monthly blues revue, this month paying tribute to Blind Willie McTell, and last month, Muddy Waters.
A student of music and its artists, Clouser’s album has songs honoring Wes Montgomery and Curtis Mayfield.
His favorite guitarist?
“Jimi Hendrix is the obvious answer,” he said, “Speaking in that raw emotion and just honesty and unique voice. Also Peter Bernstein is an incredible jazz guitarist. It’s the same thing that Hendrix had but in completely different style.”
He said as a player he first connected rock and jazz by studying Montgomery.
“The standards like ‘All The Things You Are’ and ‘Autumn Leaves,’ my friends were into, but I didn’t feel that at that time,” Closer said. “I got to college and some of that was forced upon me but my ears started to open up the more I was learning and just by being intrigued. These notes these chord changes are something that sound interesting, out of the box, to me. Let me dive into that and figure out what was going on.”
Clouser’s quintet includes Mexico City native Mark Aandurud on piano, and Minnesotans Gradon Peterson, bass, Adam Mackler, trumpet, and drummer Greg Schutte, who co-produced “A Love Electric.”