Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and owner and founder of the successful music school, The Music Factory, Ari Joshua announces the release of his latest track, "Meeting of The Minds," featuring Billy Martin on drums, John Medeski on keyboards, Ari Joshua on guitar, and Jason Fraticelli of Cyro Baptista and Matisyahu on bass.
“Meeting of the Minds” is just a small window into the unique body of work recorded in this session. The track is due to be released on February 9th, 2023.
Grateful Web had the opportunity to sit down with Ari Joshua before the release of his new track. Read on below for a summary of our discussion on the inspiration behind the album, what it is like to collaborate with creative supernovas Billy Martin, John Medeski, and Jason Fraticelli, and so much more.
Inspiration behind Meeting of the Minds
“The inspiration and creative process for this album evolved as it was happening. I composed a fresh set of 20 new songs one week before the recording date, which is something I tend to do, but while we were together in the room, we found a lot of joy through improvising and being present in the moment. There was even a phrase flying around the room at the time, ‘You gotta let that dove fly.’ In other words, settle in with the imperfections of the art, and embrace the fact that as long as you are honest and raw, you will discover something more amazing than you had planned. This album is a free expression album. I think everyone in the room was able to take risks and was completely supported and listened to. I was able to embrace tones I never knew I could make, from whale calls to various sounds that came out that sounded nothing like the instrument.”
Collaboration with Billy Martin, John Medeski, & Jason Fraticelli
“I first asked John and Billy if they would be able to make music together many years ago when I was in college. I was in New York and would see them at Tonic and other various clubs in the city. They were playing a wide variety of rooms, and I resonated with what they were doing, and what they were saying musically. I was a big dreamer, even back then. I was young and trying to do everything I could. I would check in with John every so often and share my recordings with him, but this one particular time— the stars aligned. I had some gigs and family in New York, and it all just clicked into place. This song in particular, “Meeting of The Minds,” is a snapshot of the first notes we played together as a quartet. I even left the dialogue there in some sections.”
“To be honest, I knew these guys were deep waters, but there are certain things one can only learn through osmosis. We are all influenced by similar artists, so there was some solid ground. Billy is a force of nature, a creative supernova. He is a feeling guy, with a really deep concept. Pretty much everything he said resonated with me. It seems that he really wants to lean into the unknown. He wants to create genuinely expressive art. We tried out material from the pile of songs I had, and then we would do one to three takes, making sure there is a 50/50 mix of improvisation and composition. Billy, John and Jason were all like, ‘Hey, we are all here. Let’s do what we do!’”
Applehead Recording, Woodstock, NY
“The session was at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, New York. The studio is a one-of-a-kind, really special place. The owner lives on the property, as well as the engineer. It’s a big barn with a mix of old and new construction. The control room almost has a Star Trek shape and feel to it. Jason Fraticelli was the first to arrive at the studio. He was playing with Cyro Baptista in Boston, and it was on his way home to Pennsylvania. Jason and I have played together for years, and he collaborated with me on some amazing recordings from a while back that I have been releasing. I love that guy. He impacted the session by giving me a sense that there was someone there who understood me and supported the trajectory.”
Meeting of the Minds Artwork
“The artwork was created by one of my dearest friends, Burgandy Viscosi. She is a genius, if I can say so, and she is really tuned in to the cosmic. Everyone absolutely must check out her art. She has painted a few murals at my music school, The Music Factory, and she also has a mural at Alex and Allison Grey’s new facility, The COSM (Chapel of Sacred Mirrors). Alex and Allison are also two of the most brilliant artists alive today, and Burgandy was able to set me up with a personal tour of their property. That tour was part of the album’s flavor. To see their two story paintings, and learn about their ideas— Meeting of The Minds, the artwork, the barn, the players, and who they are— it all melted into a flavor, a taste, and a sound. To be clear, this album of 27 tracks is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what we did in the few days we had. This is just the introduction. Maybe 5% of all that really happened in the session. It’s like a handshake, or a first impression. It is the launchpad, and the foundation.”
Setting the Tone
“You know when you meet someone, or a group of people, and you just hit it off, like you can tell that it is going to work, and that it is going to be a lot of fun? This was like that. I think a lot of what made us able to meet there, and create right out of the gate was the spirit of the music, and the spirit of all the great artists who came before us. Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, even Picasso, and Van Gogh— each of them with their own unique voice. That spirit is what Billy and John facilitate, and have so prolifically been able to contribute. We opened up the rabbit hole and jumped in. I don’t think we even planned for it to be recorded, but as we were sound checking, we were uncovering some great stuff. It really set the tone for the next few days. We played it back and Chris Bittner looked at me, and we were both like, ‘Alright, this works!’ I am so excited to share this first taste of the quartet and look forward to sharing more.”
Purpose, Mission, and Vision
“My mission is to seek the truth and to take the lessons I have learned from the masters, my family, my ancestors, and from human history— and to find my path from there. I believe that there is profound magic and power in music, and that we live in a society that is struggling to find its own purpose and identity. I think we live in a world where we still need to fight for things that are good, wholesome, and universally key to the collective well-being. My dream is to facilitate music education everywhere, while providing good paying jobs for artists. I want to create, and I want to find people who I resonate with. I want to play from my heart, and for that to resonate with other people who are like me. When I was a kid, I watched artists play and listened to music on records and tapes, and it made me feel alive. I felt like I understood something deep and meaningful. I want to be able to do that for others. Now I can say, ‘Yeah, I am capable of doing that,’ which is really a victory in itself, but there is so much more that I want to do. I want to find the right people who resonate and understand. I want to carry the torch, so to speak, and to be a course of light, and to be a channel for the good energy that is out there in abundance. My vision is to do this as efficiently as possible while I am alive.”
Creativity and Spirituality
“I create because it helps me resonate with my soul and with the souls of other people. When I create, I feel as though I am communicating or resonating with entities that are not physically tangible. With a group setting like this, and with other players who are experienced, there is an element of conversation, and with that comes a sense of being heard. It is a practice in listening. The things we are listening for are partly musical, and on the surface, it would seem as though it’s just about the notes, keys and rhythms, but there is so much more. It becomes therapeutic, to both the creators and the listeners. There are so many personal reasons for why I create that I can’t even begin to detail, but when I was a young kid I had a lot of steam to blow off. I used sports at first, then later when I discovered music, everything clicked. Playing music allows me to rise above words and thoughts. It allows me to go beyond that, and get directly to the feeling.”
Learning From The Masters
“When I learn from the masters, I listen and imitate. I try to access the feeling that they were accessing. You can never really know exactly what that is, but you can get close. When I play my music, I am trying to connect to the source. When I connect to the source, the music, notes, rhythms— there is a subtle way that you can tune in, which allows the flow to come in a way that is almost transcendental. You are receiving a story and telling a story— a story that is really open to interpretation. It can be both the most complex and simple thing. It’s like the blues. It can be painful and ugly, and euphoric and beautiful, all at the same time. When I play music, I feel like I am giving back. I am sharing something that the world needs, while also healing and receiving something that I need so much.”
Outside of Music? Mostly More Music
“I founded a music school for kids and adults over a decade ago. I get a lot of joy watching folks of all ages learn music. I feel like music is my purpose. All the recordings I produce, and the kids I see growing— it’s like planting seeds and growing gardens. I love to be in nature, and traveling. I love warm weather, and taking time to reset. If I am stuck at home, I spend a lot of time resting now. From age 14 to 30, I pushed super hard, even too hard at times. I used to practice 5-10 hours a day, but I don't enjoy it like I used to. Now, I am trying to figure out how to fit into the world as a human. I have been doing a lot of journaling, and something that I will open up more about in the coming years is learning about addiction, recovery, and mental health. I love to listen to great talks and think about philosophy.”
How do you know a project is complete?
“Well, I am the king of not finishing things. I love to start things, but I have learned that there are people who get ideas and start things, and then there are people who take that idea and finish. While I am getting so much better at finishing, I love to collaborate with people so I can watch and listen to their processes. Once I have spent around $2000 on a single piece of music, I know I need to at least start to think about wrapping it up. You can see why that could be a problem. I have 300 tracks that I need to finish, and I just can’t afford to get it all out there, but once you put all the paint on the page, and then you do the mixing and overdubs— and there is a whole art to that— then you find the album artwork and you pick a date. My dream is to someday be able to hire and work with a team who can help me share more music.”
Like a Volcano
“Every single human is unique in their own way, and is capable of more than they imagine. What sets me apart is my story, and the time I have dedicated to playing my instrument, and to sharing the gift of music. I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. We moved to the states, whereas legal aliens, I went from New York, to Pennsylvania, to Seattle, Washington. In the 90’s, I witnessed the grunge music explosion from ground zero, as well as seeing the start of Phish, and the later years of The Grateful Dead. I was able to see all the living jazz legends, to meet them, and to study with many of them in NYC. I was able to really mature during what I would call a strange time in the art world. I am persistent and steady in my pursuit of happiness through the arts. When performing, recording and touring weren’t providing the fruits I thought they would, I opened a music school. I am as dedicated to the arts as I can possibly be, and I also know I have so much more inside myself to offer. When I play music I get a tingly euphoric feeling, one I have found that a lot of other creators and humans feel. The feeling is a gift, but it is one that many don’t understand and cannot see. I am in the unique position of being halfway through life, with a dynamic history of pleasures and pains propelling me forward. I have a lot of dreams to get to, and a lot to say. I feel like a volcano that is full of melting liquid, the stuff of substance, and I am ready to leak it out.”
“At this moment? I am alive, and I am here, and I feel a depth of clarity. I know what I want, and I know a thousand ways not to do things. For example, I am not wealthy in the material sense. I am doing the work. I have the knowledge to keep going, and the wisdom to know that I don’t really have a choice. I have put in at least 50,000 hours to move in the direction that I want to go. I have invested a lot of time thinking in certain ways that I now realize no longer serve me, and I am ready to continue moving forward in the best ways I know how, despite the fact that it can and will be incredibly frustrating and hard. This is the most memorable and proudest moment right now.”
The Music Factory
“The Music Factory is a music school that teaches life lessons through music. The building we have now is physically based in Seattle, WA, but we also offer lessons online and through zoom. We have been a brand for 20 years and we have been offering music lessons for at least 15 years. We have taught over 70,000 lessons and employed over 50 local artists. We teach lessons to students of all ages, levels, and styles. Students anywhere on the planet can access the knowledge of our staff, and around 15% are online. I am open to growing, building, expanding, and anyone interested in teaching, or in an internship in PR or marketing, or if you want to open a franchise for example, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up at www.musicfactorynw.com/sing-up. Our way of teaching is to meet each student where they are. Our teachers are capable of teaching anyone from total beginners to the most advanced students. We focus not only on the mechanics and rudiments of the medium, but also on building mentorships. I would encourage anyone that is interested in learning music, or if you have kids or friends that want to learn, call or email us. Also, if you believe in the mission of music and what I stand for based on the music I am making, streaming my music and supporting my mission that way is a great way to participate.”