The Gazette (Colorado Springs) - Boz Scaggs Interview

Boz Scaggs mixes a broader range of sounds

[Gazette, The (Colorado Springs) Jul 26, 2002  by Bill Reed]

Slip in a Boz Scaggs album, and you know the next hour will be cool.

Laid-back grooves.

Soulful singing.

That classic R&B swagger.

Maybe that's because of the way Scaggs puts together his albums, showing up in the studio with a few ideas and then letting it flow.

"I've never written material before I go into the studio," Scaggs says before a gig at Wente Bros. Winery in California.

"I know the style of music I want to do and I choose the collaborators, the musicians, the producer and the engineer accordingly. When we arrive at the studio, that's when I get busy. We put it together as we go."

For his 2001 release "Dig," Scaggs formed a trio of collaborators including himself, Toto keyboardist David Paich and studio ace Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar (Kootch started as a studio guitarist with the likes of James Taylor and Carole King, and has ended up producing artists from Neil Young to the Spin Doctors).

"The three of us got together for an exploratory session at a studio in San Francisco and found that all things were clicking," Scaggs says.

"It just proved to be one of the most satisfying musical endeavors I've ever been a part of. The three of us found a magic time and place for ourselves in that process."

Scaggs is all about the process, but Virgin Records is all about the product - they're billing this as the best Boz Scaggs album since 1976's "Silk Degrees," which sold 5 million copies, yielded the hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle," and turned years of critical acclaim for William "Boz" Scaggs into commercial success.

"They're different projects," says Scaggs, 58, of the sales pitch.

"It's not something that I would have said. It has nothing to do with 'Silk Degrees' in my mind."

A quarter-century of music has passed between "Silk Degrees" and "Dig," yet Scaggs produced only five albums in that time. "Down Two, Then Left" (1977) and "Middle Man" (1980) both reached the Top 10, then Scaggs' passion for music ebbed and he turned his focus to managing Slim's, a San Francisco club, and just living life.

By the time Scaggs returned with 1988's "Other Roads," his sound no longer intersected with commercial radio.

He's too adult contemporary to play on R&B stations; he's too R&B to play on light rock stations; and he's too old to play on Top 40 stations.

It's no wonder Virgin Records wants to recall Scaggs' glory days, but he'll never achieve those sales figures again.

One gets the feeling Scaggs doesn't care, as long as he gets to keep exploring new musical ideas.

"Dig" shows off more colors in Scaggs' musical palette than any previous CD.

"There's stuff on there that's drawn straight from Delta blues, or straight out of the bop era of the 1950s in American jazz," says Scaggs. "There's stuff out of contemporary hip-hop radio music, there's soul ballads."

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