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Interview:
Steve Winwood Adds To His Musical "Lives"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

“Nine Lives” is an apt title for Steve Winwood’s latest album — because it seems like he’s lived at least that many when it comes to music.

He’s been a rock star since age 15, belting out “Gimme Some Lovin’” with the Spencer Davis Group and logging subsequent tenures in Traffic (which earned him a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction), Blind Faith and Grammy Award-winning solo career, as well as a continuing association with Eric Clapton. And he’s amassed a session resume that includes Jimi Hendrix,

George Harrison, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera and many more.

Now at 60, Winwood says he has an appreciation for these achievements — but he also voices a strong desire not to be trapped by them.

“Let’s not fool ourselves; a part of what I do is part of what is known as the heritage music business, but I also try and reinvent some of the old songs as well,” says Winwood, who was born in England and now splits time between home there, where he plays organ and sings in his church choir, and Nashville.

“I do them in the style of the band that I’ve got, so we give a bit of a world music slant to the songs that I do. ‘Gimme Some Lovin’,’ ‘I’m a Man,’ they lend themselves to that, and even from the ’80s we do a slightly Latinized version of ‘Higher Love,’ with kind of a jazz saxophone solo in it.

“So I always try and keep the old songs alive by reinventing them in some way. I think a good song can have a few lives, too.”

But Winwood hopes that amidst all those, “Nine Lives” gets a fair hearing, too. Coming five years after its predecessor, “About Time,” it continues that album’s theme of spiritual exploration but mostly, according to Winwood, draws inspiration from the group of players he assembled for the album.

“‘Nine Lives’ is very much based on what the musicians themselves play and my perception of how they play,” Winwood explains. “On ‘About Time’ I had an idea in my head how I wanted the band to play the stuff I’ve conceived, and when they played it was obviously partly how I envisioned it and partly how they ended up playing it.

“This time, I based the material on what the actual band played and plays when they’re warming up, jamming, tuning up, and just a general feel for what the band actually do well. So the writing was very much more based on what the band play, and the sound the band themselves make.”



Steve Winwood performs with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at 8 p.m. Saturday (May 31) at The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $99.50 and $55. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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