Jake Hertzog on Being Musical Director For Nickelodeon ’Tween Stars the Naked Brothers

Jazz guitarist Jake Hertzog serves as Musical Director for the Naked Brothers Band, featuring Alex and Nat Wolff. Here, he reflects on how the experience allows him to reconnect with his own inner musical child. —Barry Cleveland
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“At first my job as musical director was basically just taking the arrangements on the records and translating them into arrangements for a six-piece live group. But now it has become a much more collaborative process between the brothers—Alex and Nat Wolff—their father Michael, who is an incredibly good musician, and the other people in the group, to create the Naked Brothers Band sound. Working with incredibly brilliant children is inspiring in many ways, because it allows you to see the creative process at its most pure, and witnessing that allows you to break free from all of the lessons and schooling and people who told you to do something or not to do something, and just get back to the creative process at its core. So. Its really fun and inspiring for me to be around them when they are writing and playing music, because they bring the child’s creative spirit to everything that they do. It is also incredibly pleasurable to work with these guys because they allow you to realize how much you enjoy playing music. When you are first starting a career, right out of college, you are faced with a lot of obstacles like how to make a living and prepare your own music, and then when you get into a situation where it is really just down to having fun, there’s nothing more fun than playing with children. It helps me to write and perform music with the same sort of joy that I had when I started at 13 and didn’t have to make a living doing it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a little of that back after working with these guys, and when I go home and play my own music, I feel like I’m 13 years old again, just trying something for the first time.”
Jazz guitarist Jake Hertzog will be featured in the June 2009 issue of Guitar Player.