Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Ryan Devlin. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Ryan Devlin: – I was born and raised in sunny Orlando Florida. Ive lived here for my whole 24 years of my life so far. I got interested in music from my Dad. My Dad is a professional saxophonist and teacher here in orlando and was a disney musician for 30 plus years. I was always really interested in music just from hearing it all the time but I was a huge funk My Dad played a lot of James brown and tower of power in the house. I played piano from kindergarten to about 4th grade, then i asked my Dad to teach me saxophone.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
RD: – This is a tough question because It’s hard to analyze how your own sound is Ive really had to same heroes throughout my jazz career. Michael Brecker being my favorite and then studying a lot of Coltrane, Joe Henderson and Steve Grossman. I also took 2 years of lessons with Chad Lefkowitz Brown who helped me develop and mature a lot.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
RD: – I have system of writing etudes for I do these on tunes or stringing ideas from transcriptions together. As far as rhythm goes I love to play along with records and drum tracks.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
RD: – I want to be the best I can be at all times and never stop improving and The only way to do that is to stay focused and goal oriented.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
RD: – I listen to my heroes. Before my recording session for this record I listened to Michael Brecker’s live performance at the New Port jazz festival in 1987 for It’s only of my favorite recordings of all time. So much energy and just beautiful playing all around the band.
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2021: Thoughts On The Matter, how it was formed and what you are working on today?
RD: – I really love the overall message of the I wanted to show how passionate I am about my music and playing while showing the listener how I use music to emote. My quartet helped support that in the perfect way and I’m so thankful for them. I listed this in my linear notes but the project really came up by chance. I got to meet and play with Ulysses Owens Jr. Who is a Grammy award winning world renowned drummer in the early fall. We hit it off really well and he offered to come back and play with my quartet and potentially record a project. It had been a goal of mine to record an album before I earned my bachelor’s degree (which I will be receiving in May) and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do it with someone like Ulysses and at Timucua records.
I’m currently working on grad school applications and writing my next album!
JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?
RD: – I selected Per Danielson on piano for so many His playing first of all is not only burning and beautiful but is extremely interactive. Hes always developing his ideas and communicating them to the band. His comping really fuels up and supports solos really well. Hes also one of my professors at the University of Central Florida where I attend school.
I selected Ulysses Owens Jr because of his time, insane technical ability and Ulysses is one of the nicest humans Ive ever met and it’s showed I’m his playing too. All of his interactive fills fuel the band and his pocket never waivers. Hes one of if not the best living drummer in my opinion.
Thomas Milovac and I have been playing together for 6 to 7 years now. From high school honor bands to recording sessions we know each others playing very well. Thomas has got a fiery passion for all types of music. His writing is incredible, for example the tune “The First and Last of Everything” that we play on the record is one of the most beautiful tunes i’ve played and he matches that with an intense swing and buoyancy in is
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
RD: – It’s an equal balance, you have to have both to have success in my
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
RD: – My opinion is if I’m passionate about my music people will be more inclined to listen. I want to give the audience what they want in emotions but I want to stay true to my voice and favorite types of
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
RD: – One that really sticks with me is a gig I did with Chad Lefkowitz Brown. We were hosting a jam session together and he called a tune I didnt know at the time. I said “ill sit out on this one you guys play it”. Chad who was my teacher at the time said “No no I’m going to tell you the changes once and then youre going to play it…let your ear do the ..you’ll be fine”. I was really scared but I did it and I went home and learned the tune. From that moment forward I try and learn as many tunes as I can so that doesn’t happen again.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
RD: – Jazz music is still very young compared to other forms of This music never ages in my opinion. There is always something new you can play or do over the “old” standards.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
RD: – The meaning of life in my opinion is If you can do something that makes you happy, you’re doing it right.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
RD: – Jazz music being more mainstream and money per stream going up.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
RD: – A lot of 70s Steve Grossman and early 80s Michael Brecker.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
RD: – Saxophone and jazz is my passion and this is how I emote everything I feel.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
RD: – I would want to go to the mid Listen to all the great fusion and Coltrane inflicted jazz going on. Thats my favorite kind of jazz.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan