Over the course of his career, John Escreet has earned a reputation as one of the most active and diverse pianist/keyboardist/composers working in jazz and improvised music. His prolific output is reflected over the course of eight diverse and critically acclaimed albums. His most recent release “Learn To Live” finds Escreet using the Prophet-6 extensively, alongside a dream band comprising 2 drummers (Eric Harland and Justin Brown), trumpeter Nicholas Payton, saxophonist Greg Osby and bassist Matt Brewer. As well as being a leader of prolific output, Escreet is also a much sought-after sideman. Since 2011 he has been an integral part of Grammy award-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez’s band “Migration,” touring the world extensively and recording three albums with the group.
What made you choose the Prophet-6?
“I chose the Prophet-6 because a couple of friends of mine were using it, and spoke very highly of it. Initially I was reluctant to go with the same instrument they were all using as I didn’t want to just do the same thing as everybody else. But after I tried it out I was instantly hooked and knew that this was the synth I had to get. The possibilities are so endless that you can express yourself so creatively and uniquely through it, that having the same instrument as others no longer becomes an issue. It’s a brilliant instrument, and you can really make it your own.”
How are you using it?
“I use it in a few different situations — live performances, in the studio and at home. The Prophet-6 is all over my latest album “Learn To Live.” Ideally I like to use it in combination with a Fender Rhodes (which I run through a few different pedals) and an acoustic grand piano. I find that to be a good combination of instruments for the wide sonic palette I want to achieve. I use it alongside a Roland TR-8 drum machine in a live improvised setting in a duo project I have with saxophonist Chet Doxas. I also use the Prophet for at home production, where I record straight into Pro Tools. ”
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“There are so many things! I love how all the controls on the front panel are instantly accessible and there are no tedious menus to navigate and slow you down. I particularly love the aftertouch function, especially when routed through the LFO. I also really dig the fact that you can either organize your sounds very neatly and easily access specific sounds when you need them, or you can put it in live panel mode, where often what sound comes out is anybody’s guess! This is great in a live setting when improvising freely, and can truly push you into uncharted sonic territories.”
What does the Prophet-6 give you that other instruments don’t?
“The continuously variable wave shapes on both VCOs really open up endless sonic possibilities, and allow you to create these multi-dimensional sounds depending on how you blend the VCOs together. I also love having a high pass filter to add into the mix (in addition to the low pass filter). And as mentioned previously, the ability to switch between the current preset and live panel mode.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“Poly Mod is one of the most interesting features of the Prophet-6 in my opinion, and I love to experiment with it. Try holding a chord and using Oscillator 2 as the modulation source (select low frequency on Oscillator 2). The continuously variable wave shapes really open up the modulation possibilities. Then when you’ve found something you like, try combining it with some kind of modulation from the LFO (initially at a low frequency so you can differentiate between the two types of modulations). Modulate different things together. If you settle on something you really like, save it as a preset. Experiment!”
MORE ABOUT THE PROPHET-6
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