By Carsten Weide & Uwe Reith
Blue Desert meet Bobby Caldwell and talk about highlights of his long and impressive music career.
Japan is a market for you and your status there is legendary. What promted this situation being bestowed especially in Japan or did it happen coincidentally ?
I am blessed to be embraced by the people of Japan. They have been devoted fans for over 30 years. I was fortunate enough to get over there in 1980, when American music was very appealling in Japan. My fans stayed with me ever since. I am very grateful to them, and I enjoy performing over there every year.
Your voice is as flexible for pop and blue eyed soul as for swing & jazz tunes (Come Rain Come Shine). Your voice feels so natural. Does this change come easy for you?
Yes. I have enjoyed all types of music since I was a child. My parents were both singers, and I was raised on the music of the greats, like Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. I love performing with my big band, and carrying the torch for these classic old standards.
Where songs like ALL OR NOTHING….especially recorded for Al Jarreau prior to his recording?
I spent a period of time writing for other artists. I wrote “All Or Nothing At All” for Al Jarreau, and I am honored that he recorded and released it. “Next Time I Fall” was written for Chicago, but Peter Cetera took the song for his debut album, when he left the group. I wrote “Heart of Mine” for Boz Scaggs, and it was a hit. I too had a hit with the song in Japan. You just never know how things are going to work out.
Refering to Q3: Do producers of Jarreau or Scaggs albums take over your demos or Midi tracks or are these songs completely recorded new?
Most of the time the songs are completely re-recorded, but from time to time my midi tracks have been used.
Who is deciding if you use songs for his own records or if they will be sold to other artists?
At this point in my life I am making all of the decisions surrounding my new work. I have been, and will always be, honored when other artists choose to record my songs.
What’s your favorite line-up when performing live. Do you have any favorite band members?
I perform with my R&B group, my “Up-Close and Personal” group, my big band, and even symphonies. I love it all. I have had many great musicians in my bands over the years, and continue to work with talented artists. It’s impossible to choose a favorite.
What was your favorite line-up/team of studio cats during the studio era (70s, 80s)? How far were you involved into the recording process or did this happen due to the record companies’ order?
There were great times in the studios back in the 70’s and 80’s. The guys from Toto were always great to be around. I was involved with all aspects of my recordings, and I’m still loving it! Now I have my own record label, and I’m in the process of writing and recording my next album.
The songs “What You Won´t Do For Love” & “Heart Of Mine” has become some of your music trademarks. As an artist with many songs releases, it much be great to have songs to become “masterpieces”, and people always want to hear them, and they get lot of airplay. How did you create these songs, and what do they mean to you personally?
I’m honored that people still want to hear my music. I am also honored, when other artists record my work. I’m grateful for the songs that achieved commercial success, but a couple of my favorites remain rather obscure. For example, “Once Upon A Time” from my WHERE IS LOVE album, and “April Moon” from my COME RAIN OR COME SHINE album are two of my personal favorites.
Your song ”What You Won’t Do For Love” is probably one of your songs that has been covered most by other artists. Have you ever been listening to some of the other versions, and do you have a favourite among these?
I really like Go West’s cover of that song.
Many great musicians have been playing in your band over the years, and some has actual been kick starting their solo career by playing with you, such as: Michael Lington, Mark McMillen, and Richard Elliot. How is it to be a part of a career start for other musicians?
Don’t forget Dave Koz and Boney James…..It’s been great working with so much talent. There’s nothing better than seeing a young musician get their start and move onto their own identity and career as an artist.
When people talks about you and your music, they often calls you the “west coast music crooner”. When you mention “crooner” you always think about the good old “Rat Pack”. You have been doing shows in Vegas. How is it to perform at the “big” stages in Vegas, compared to other venues around?
I did an 18 month run as Frank in The Rat Pack is Back in Vegas. It opened at the Desert Inn, and later moved to the Sahara. It was not on a Vegas “big stage”. What made the show special was that the venue was set up like the great lounges of the 60’s. The show tried to recreate the Rat Pack performances at the old Sands Hotel/Casino. It was a lot of fun, and the crowds seemed to love the show.
You have frequently concerts in US and Japan, what about touring in Europe to meet your fans there. Do you have any future plans for this?
I would love to get to Europe. If any promoters want my show, I’ll be there!
In Japan you are an establish artists. Your album is selling to gold and platinum status. Your concerts are sold out, soon after they are announced. What are your thoughts on your success in Japan?
The fans in Japan have been my best friends for 30 years. I’m honored.
In general you album releases have a very artistic artwork on them. Do you have any influence on this, are you involved in the process?
I have always been very particular about what I put out there. I’m writing my next album right now, and I will release it when I feel it’s worthy of my fans.
This year you have released the album “The Consummate Bobby Caldwell” and also a collection album “Songs For Lovers Only Vol. 1”. Your last studio album release was in 2005. It must be great to be back with some new stuff, why did it take you five years?
I did not release these two albums. A former business associate released them, and I hope my fans are enjoying them. I am now free to create and work as I choose. It’s been a long time coming. Now I am thoroughly enjoying writing and recording independently.
In 1992 you released a live concert from Japan on laserdisc and VHS. Many fans still have this concert as one a highlight of your work. Any plans for re-issue this on DVD, and maybe the audio tracks on a separate CD?
That was a nice piece of work. However, it was released by a Japanese entity. Whether they choose to re-release it remains to be seen.
What music do listen to when you relax and what and what music do you listen to for inspiration and who are your “hero´s”?
I love Sinatra, The Beatles, Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire to name a few.
What is so far the greatest moment as a musician?
I just celebrated my 60th birthday with Dave Koz and Sheila E on the stage of The Hollywood Bowl. That was pretty cool.
If you could choose between any artists or group that you have not worked (living or dead) who would like to play with?
There are many, but Donald Fagen is a favorite. I admire him in every way.
Pictures from the official Bobby Caldwell website.