Jazz interview with jazz contrabassist Rufus Reid. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Rufus Reid: – I was born in Atlanta GA, but the family moved to Sacramento CA, When I was about 7 years old. Music was always in our home and I am told that when I was very small, I used to beat on the pots and pans in the kitchen.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
RR: – Honestly, I have no idea about when I was thinking about my sound. My inspirations were individuals like Ray Brown, Oscar Pettiford, Andy Simpkins, Paul Chambers. Each of theirs sounds were very individual and had a lot of clarity that was always and continues to be impressive to me. I don’t think you do anything except to truly listen to what comes out of your instrument. I am quite sure I have adapted different aspects of each of those players to be part of my sound production.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
RR: – I am constantly thinking of melodies and the harmonic melodies produced by the chord progression. When I’m working on specific technical things, I always use the metronome. I often use this software app called, Drum Genius. It is the best thing next to playing with a real drummer, but you’re in control of the tempo.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
RR: – One has to develop deep concentration and focus to keep out all unnecessary influences. If you concentrate solely on the music that you’re playing there isn’t room to become disturbed buy anything.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
RR: – Preparation of your performance material is paramount at all times. If you find yourself being indecisive too many times, I think you should take heed and become more prepared. Your audience or your first listeners, who maybe your band mates, are the first ones to know you are not taking care of business and are being too cavalier.
There could be talk or advertising about your CD
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
RR: – I always feel the emotion of music, or soul, is always better than music that makes you think too much. The jazz musicians should have both, the intellect and soul, but not at the expense of being musical!
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
RR: – The best performers learn how to “read” the audience. One should always be receptive of how your music is being perceived. Sometimes the audience does not know what they want. The prepared performer should be aware of who he/she is performing for!
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
RR: – My first recording with Dexter Gordon on Columbia Records, “Sophisticated Giant”, was a special event. I knew it was going to be an exceptional recording. It was extremely exciting to play the Slide Hampton arrangements. To this day, this recording sounds truly fresh!
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
RR: – In my opinion, an exceptional composition will stand the test of time. Young people will always be interested in music that is played truly well. Composers are always challenged to create solid compositions that will be memorable for decades. There are only two kinds of music, good and bad.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
RR: – Music is my sanctuary! A jazz musician is a way of life, not just a job!
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
RR: – I would want the music business to be more honest, as the music!
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
RR: – I tried to stay in touch with many of the exceptional young players coming up. I try to listen to music from other parts of the world. I listen to a lot of European orchestral music, as I’m composing other forms of music, in addition to my jazz compositions. I think it is most healthy to be more open minded!
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
RR: – Being honest to the music at all times and the listener will feel the passion and honesty in your music.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
RR: – NO! I do not wish to be disappointed. It is best to just dream about how one might have thought it was or would be.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan