May 29, 2024

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Interview with Riley Stone-Lonergan: Music is subjective: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if saxophonist Riley Stone-Lonergan. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Riley Stone-Lonergan: – I grew up in Galway in Ireland. I have a very musical family, although its mainly traditional Irish music, I’m the only Jazz musician in my family. I played music my whole life but it was the moment i heard John Coltrane for the first time at the age of 16 that set my soul alight and made me realise that’s what i wanted to do.

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

RSL: – My sound has developed naturally over time through a lot of practice and even more listening to records. I try to make my listening as eclectic as possible. I love Soul, Funk, Hip Hop, Free Improv, Metal, everything. I think you should absorb as much music as you possibly can. Just devour it all.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

RSL: – My practice routines have changed so much over the years because I’m much better at coming up with new ones than I am at sticking to them. At the moment my practice consists of a small routine of scale exercises (I run through the piano Hanon exercises on the horn) and long tones, followed by trying to enjoy my instrument and find new things. I mainly just improvise these days. For rhythm i’ve done a lot of metronome practice, placing it at different parts of the bar and that type of thing. My will to do that has waned recently though because it kicks my ass.

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

RSL: – This is something that I really don’t think is worth worrying about. I think the most important thing is that you make a sincere effort to improvise and always play with honesty. If you really do both those things, your influences are still audible but you’ll always sound like yourself and no one else.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

RSL: – I don’t have a specific routine as such but I think it’s very important to clear your mind and focus. Being present when you’re playing improvised music is crucial because otherwise you begin to fall back on stuff you know has worked in the past. I want to play new stuff as much as I possibly can.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

RSL: – To be honest I have no idea what you’re talking about? Are you sure this question was meant for me?

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

RSL: – In terms of what I prefer, both when I’m listening and when I’m playing, I always lean towards the latter. But I really don’t think this is a clear cut thing at all. Music is subjective, and what I think is very emotionally charged and natural and soulful another person might hear it is very cerebral. But my personal preference is when music gets out of its head a bit and is more on the edge and spontaneus.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

RSL: – I truly believe that if you play music that’s very honest to who you are and present it to an audience with warmth then they’ll follow you absolutely anywhere. People are more open minded than they even give themselves credit for and underestimating your audience is not a good thing to do in my opinion.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

RSL: – When I was a kid in Ireland my great teacher Bertrand Huve (who’s French) let me sit in on a local gig he was doing for the first time. I was absolutely terrified but they were all so supportive and encouraging. It was just another run of the mill gig for those guys but for me it was quite life affirming.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

RSL: – Let them hear it. Kids don’t care how old music is, they’re more intuituve than that in my experience. I think we need to start letting our kids hear more challenging music without assuming they won’t like it immediately.

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

RSL: – I’m an aetheist and not at all a spiritual person, but to me that doesn’t matter. To me what matters is belief in your message whatever that message may be. Trane had that and it’s why he’s my favourite musician who ever lived. How much he believed in God is all that matters to me. The honesty and passion is what shines through for me.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

RSL: – I wish musical artists were paid fairly for their work in the modern age. I also wish improvisation as an art form was given the respect it deserves. In it’s own right not

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

RSL: – Oh so many people! My favourites are Coltrane, Dewey Redman, Lester Young. I’m obsessed with Sun Ship at the moment, Also my favourite band of all time Black Sabbath so listening to them is a daily occurance

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

RSL: – I don’t think I have one clear message, although part of me wishes I did. But i want to express myself in as honest a way as I possibly can and bring happiness to as many people as possible. If i can be a force for good, even in a very humble way, that means a lot to me.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

RSL: – I either want to go to 1935 and hear the Basie band with Lester or 1963 and hear Trane. Do you have a time machine then? This is all very exciting.

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

RSL: – My absolute favourite thing is to hear someone enthuse about music so please tell me your favourite few albums? Jazz or otherwise.

JBN: – John Coltrane A Love Supreme, Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus, Cannonball Adderley Somethin’ Else, The Clifford Brown – Max Roach Quintet, David Helbock The New Cool … 

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

RSL: – That is the question. I take every day as it comes and just try to be a little better each day. If I ever play badly, I accept that that’s just what was coming out that day and move on. It’s all valid I think. I love other peoples mistakes, and I’m trying to love my own too.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Riley Stone Lonergan/Dave Drake Band free-bopping in Brighton | Jazzwise

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