When The Music Moves You

When The Music Moves You

Celebrated musician brings New Orleans to Arkansas


When guitar player Ted Ludwig was forced to leave his New Orleans home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he and his family ended up settling in Central Arkansas — first out of necessity, but then out of affection for the place. Though the hurricane’s aftermath was of course devastating, Ludwig says the move was like a reset for his music and allowed him to step into a more central role.

“When I was in New Orleans, I was playing with a lot of people as a side man,” he says, a distinct Louisiana drawl coming through over the phone. “But when I got to Little Rock, I started doing things as a leader with my own trio, so it allowed me to kind of be able to take the wheel creatively. It let me be able to bring my own ideas to my group as opposed to trying to create someone else’s idea.

“Of course,” he adds, “New Orleans music is in my blood. I grew up in the city. [But] then I got to bring this sort of fusion of New Orleans music with musicians I’ve met up in Little Rock to create a nice blend.”

Now, that trio comprises three inductees to the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame — with Ludwig being the youngest inductee ever — and, in fact, is the only group in the state whose members have all earned the distinction.

“Being a jazz musician, you’re always looking to play with the players you think are at the highest level,” Ludwig says of connecting with bassist Joe Vick the first night he performed in Little Rock and drummer Brian Brown soon after. “We have sort of similar ideas of where we want the music to go and how tight we want the group to be. And so having that is really important, because in many situations, you don’t get to keep the same musicians with you all the time. It starts to become what folks’ availability is. But in this instance, these guys have stayed with me so we can continue to develop our sound, develop our music, and play together all the time, which is key to really having a tight group.

“But it’s not just my gigs, it’s their gigs, too,” Ludwig goes on. “That was one of the things I told them at the beginning is that even though it’s ‘The Ted Ludwig Trio,’ it’s our group, and it’s something we can do for us. If they have an idea and they say, ‘We think this kind of groove would sound good,’ or, ‘We want to do some stylistic things that are a little different,’ I’m all ears. Because that’s what makes a group interesting and … diverse stylistically.”

That style, if you just have to put a label on it, Ludwig says, leans more toward modern and mainstream jazz. A blend of bebop, hard bop, modal jazz and modern jazz make up what he considers “straight ahead jazz,” and that is where his group has landed. When combined with his New Orleans roots, music from the New York scene and the classical music he enjoys, Ludwig’s approach is a unique combination of influences and inspirations.

“His fluid heartfelt melodic style coupled with a strong harmonic sophistication has made him a compelling and impressive jazz musician,” Offbeat Magazine explains. “The New Orleans native delivers a passion and precision that is jazz guitar playing at its most engaging and accessible best.”



KUAF Summer Jazz Concert Series

with The Ted Ludwig Trio

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17

WHERE — Haxton Road Studios in Bentonville

COST — $30

INFO — 530-4407, digjazz.com

Categories: Music