Jazz interview with jazz drummer Jorge Rossy. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Jorge Rossy: – I grew up in Barcelona and there has been music in my father’s side of the family for several generations. My father plays piano, guitar, and accordion. I had an older sister, Mercedes, who was a piano player. Sadly, she passed away in 1995. I have a brother, Mario, who plays bass.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
JR: – Our personalities are a result of our temperament (our genes) and our experiences. What I have done is just play with people whose playing moves me and interests me and who can relate to my playing – and I have also just fallen in love with tunes and specific versions. We can’t escape our identity. I never consciously looked for “my” sound. The closest to that would be just to allow myself to play things that I played before and keep developing from those old ideas. As you grow up you start realizing that, even if your musical taste is quite eclectic, some things come to you more easily than others, or interest you more, or people around you call you to provide them with some things that they value in your playing or your behavior. The result of that (with many other things) is what can be perceived by some as “your personal sound”.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
JR: – I don’t thing that I need exercises in order to maintain my ability to play, or my ability to talk, walk, eat…. I play when I have to ‘cause I have a gig or a recording or a lesson. Also I try to keep my curiosity alive so if I happen to have some free time then I enjoy trying to figure out things that intrigue me musically. I never had the capacity to have any routine of any kind, even the word doesn’t sound very appealing.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
JR: – I love disparate influences coloring what I do! And I still think I’m very predictable!
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
JR: – Each case is different. On drums I practically never prepare. When I play vibes I need to prepare much more to really know the music so then I just really try to spend time inside the music in many different ways to connect with it emotionally and analytically. I see what ideas come by association and I follow through with them as far as time permits.
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JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JR: – I don’t know how to separate those two things. I think that all this compartmentalizing of different aspects of our consciousness might be helpful in order to think or analyze some concepts but it has nothing to do with reality. My perception is that we think and feel at the same time with all our consciousness (and the unconscious too). Usually the more intellect, the more curiosity, the more time you spent trying to figure out something, the deeper the emotional connection. In my experience the dichotomy between intellectual versus emotional is a false one. The brain and the heart don’t cancel each other out.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
JR: – I don’t know what they want and I don’t think they know either…. I guess I do give them what they want in the sense that I pay attention to the vibe of the room and I try to make sure that I make myself clear and that I’m not boring them with some meaningless meandering. I try to get to the point or to come up with something that might be exciting, intriguing or at least varied. Something that I have experienced is that usually the best way to connect emotionally with the audience is by introversion. You need to connect with your emotion first. When you are full of the feeling and the meaning of the music, then it pours out of you. You need to create your own bubble and the bubble will grow and grow till it includes them.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
JR: – Too many! Ok here comes a traumatic one: It was when I broke Larry Grenadier’s bass by knocking a separator with my fat ass while setting up the drums in the recording of Mark Turner’s CD “In This World” (1998). I remember seeing the separator falling on Larry’s bass in slow motion… It was so painful!!!! Also a very memorable experience (a more pleasant one) was working at the studio with the great Manfred Eicher for the first time in my life last September. This happened in the recording of Jakob Bro’s CD Uma Elmo in trio with the great trumpet player Arve Henriksen. We had never played together before as a trio. (Jakob and I had played together a few times in different contexts but neither of us had ever played with Arve). Manfred’s guidance and suggestions were illuminating and inspiring.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
JR: – By playing them well! Good music is timeless. Humans will always relate to Bach, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Nina Simone, Elvin Jones, Blossom Dearie… they are too good to be ignored!
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
JR: – That’s a big question!!! I’m a hedonist. I just want to have a good time. It just happens that my idea of a good time is to feel useful to the people around me and to learn from them, so my spirit is a spirit of collaboration.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
JR: – We need more women playing instruments!!! Many more!
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
JR: – A lot of different things, Alice Coltrane, Roberta Flack, Kenny Dorham, Ben Webster…
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
JR: – We better start collaborating globally in order to survive before it’s too late. The clock is ticking!
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
JR: – Into the future where we have understood that we accomplish much more collaborating that competing with each other. It might be around the corner… I think more and more people are bored to death with the stupidity of this capitalist patriarchy. It’s dumb as hell and it’s killing everything.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself
JR: – Do you believe that the market “regulates itself”? I hope not!!!
JBN: – Yes, of course.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
JR: – Using my desire to survive and faith in the human spirit in order to try to find a way out of self-destruction and to try to leave an inhabitable planet to the next generations.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan