BowieZone: Your new album has been a long time coming Mike, as far as the content goes I mean. I personally have been waiting for many years for a Mike Garson album of Bowie songs. What has made you decide that now was the right time for The Bowie Variations for piano?
Mike Garson: Well, it's a great question. I'd been thinking about it for about 30/35 years, maybe more, but it was starting to feel right over the last five or ten years and I was thinking of doing it with a band and then different singers covering songs and then jazz arrangements, but I realised that nothing can top those recordings that David did are just perfect. So, if I am just honest and play my own variations and improvisations on his themes in the way I always kind of play, then I'm just paying respect to his music in a different way - like Bach wrote the Goldberg variations. So, the time just seemed right, you know - and not quite sure why, but I very much enjoyed doing the project.
BZ: The opening track on the new album is Space Oddity. You also have a bonus Alternate Take of the song closing the album. With your style of playing I can imagine there are actually many alternate takes of all of the albums tracks - would that be correct?
MG: Actually on this album, that was the only song that I did an alternative track of. I actually have another one - there were three Space Oddity's I did and if I ever do a volume two of more David songs, which I would like to do - in which case I would do version three of Space Oddity, Aladdin Sane next time and Time and Lady Grinning Soul and some of those pieces in my own interpretation of course, just instrumentally - that's the plan, but the other tracks were pretty much first takes. Space Oddity has been the only one that I've played live over the years - I've played it with my jazz trio, I've played it in concerts. Of course when I start touring I'll be doing Life On Mars and maybe Changes and maybe John, I'm Only Dancing and of course this piece I wrote for David called Tribute To DB.
BZ: Track 9 on the Bowie Variations is called Tribute To DB. What can you tell us about this track - does it take in any of Bowie's music, or is it a track of new (Mike Garson) music?
MG: It'a a totally new Mike Garson piece. I think there's a vibe about it that somehow harmonically, and intention wise perhaps, sums up what I feel from his music and it's a truly original piece - I didn't base it on anything.
Labels: BowieZone, David Bowie, Interview, Mike Garson, Reference Recordings, The Bowie Variations