Over the course of his career Eddie Jobson has moved from being the “boy wonder” who was playing with many of the top British bands in the early-to-mid ‘70s (Curved Air, Roxy Music, sessions galore), to performing with some of the top acts of the day (Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, UK), to becoming one of the most capable elder statesmen of progressive music. A telling sign of his stature among musicians was the role he played at the Official Keith Emerson Tribute Concert last May in Los Angeles. The stage was full of amazing players who all had a connection to Keith, but when it came time to close the show with the ELP classic “Lucky Man,” it was Eddie who manned a modular Moog to play the iconic synth solo.
Since returning to the stage in 2008 after a 27-year absence, Jobson has teamed up with some of the most ferocious and musically accomplished players around to play the music he was influenced by and loved (U-Z Project), and to revisit his most enduring band, UK (both in the UKZ project, and the official reunion tours). Having just released a definitive 18-disc boxed set of the UK material, Eddie talked with Keyboard about his music, his career, his gear, and much more.
Since returning to live performance you have put together projects such as UKZ and U-Z before staging a more official UK reunion tour. What were your goals in forming each of those ensembles?
Well, the idea of UKZ was to form a ‘players’ band, only with a very contemporary flavor to it. It took quite a while to find musicians of the caliber I was used to playing with in the ‘70s, and I ended up with a German drummer (Marco Minnemann), an American bassist (Trey Gunn), a Belgian singer (Aaron Lippert), and an Austrian guitarist (Alex Machacek). With me being a British keyboardist living in Los Angeles, we ended up forming and recording the first EP without the band ever meeting. Even the group publicity photo was Photoshopped together from individual pictures shot in different cities, and the video was also shot in five different locations with each musician filming themselves against a green screen as they actually recorded their part on the song. It was a truly international project and is one of the few music videos where the band are not synching to a recording, but are actually being filmed live playing onto the recording.