What’s the Deal with Oz Noy?

By Oscar Jordan

The first time I heard about Oz Noy was when I saw an advertisement for his first record In a guitar magazine. The ad had a quote in it that made me snort; or maybe it was a face palm. I don’t remember. I imagined that the quote was the work of some, oh so pleased with himself PR genius who wasn’t really into fusion. The quote was, “Imagine Jeff Beck meets John Scofield in James Brown’s band, and you might get the picture.”

Fusion guitarist Oz Noy rockin’ out to his latest album, Schizophrenic!

I later discovered that the quote wasn’t dreamed up by some hyperbolic hipster making stuff up at all. it came from a music reviewer at Guitar One Magazine. Okay, I was wrong. Anyway, I purchased the CD to find out what the deal was. The quote didn’t exactly nail it, but I was impressed. It was a hip yet nasty mix of funk-jazz Strat extrapolations working the New York fusion thing extremely well. The rhythm section was badass and the compositions were solid and quirky in the best way.

Guitar wise, smatterings of Scott Henderson, Mike Stern and John Scofield would creep in and out, but by the second record, those party crashers had long gone. What was left was a proclivity for deconstructing Stevie Ray Vaughan in alien bop-funk environments, and a personal compositional direction.

Oz Noy’s current record is Schizophrenic. it’s his fourth release and his third studio recording. It’s his best record to date. He’s reached that venerable station in guitardom where you can pick his playing out in a crowd. While he was in Los Angeles I caught his gig at The Baked Potato. It was mesmerizing, so of course I had to meet him.

SMG: What’s going on with you?

Oz Noy: Schizophrenic came out in September. I’m about to record another one, but I don’t know exactly when yet. I have this new project called The Twisted Blues Band. It’s more of a bluesy quartet. That’s the latest. I’m pretty happy about it and I’m almost ready to record.

SMG: So the new project is going in a more blues direction.

Oz: It’s kind of the same vibe but it’s more bluesy.  Definitely more on the blues-ish side than the other records.  I have maybe two more tunes to finish writing and then I’ll be ready.

SMG: Are you on the road a lot?

Oz: I’m not one of those guys who tours a lot.  Lately I’ve been traveling more.  When it comes to my band, I’ll come to L.A, go to Austin or Nashville.  I play New York every week.  I went to Japan in November so that happens once or twice a year.  Now I’m going to Europe which is my first European tour under my name.  It hasn’t been like that all the time.  Most of my work is basically studio work in New York.

SMG: What kind of studio work are you doing?

Oz: Playing for other people.  A lot of it is either jazz records or indie records.  Last year I did a bunch of TV work and sometimes jingles.  That stuff is so day to day.  You get a call, you do a track for this, a demo here, a demo there.

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