June 25, 2024

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Interview with Rieger Attila: To me expresses the absence of self-centered attitude: Video

Jazz interview with jazz a bad musician, as if guitarist Rieger Attila. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Rieger Attila: – I grew up in the outskirt of Budapest, Hungary. And my father had an interest for music but he never played any instruments. He wanted to play the drums I think. He loved music. We had LPs at home and cassettes with many kinds of music, like: Everly Brothers, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, The Beatles, Chris Rea, JJ. Cale, Vivaldi, Bach, Puccini…not really jazz. Later when I was 16, I had a friend who started to play the bass, his sister played guitar. We also had a guitar at home since my sister Susie had a journey in playing classical so I started to play some pop songs with friends and soon I found the blues which got me for long.

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

RA: – Well, I was diggin’ the old blues players like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Albert King, I tried to imitate them. Later I went to a teacher and learned to read notes. I played a blue Stratocaster copy back then and loved Eric Clapton. I was 20 when had to complete my obligatory army service close to the Austrian border. I was on border patrol, but I practiced every day on an old acoustic. I learned solos from Clapton’s Unplugged album. We even formed a band there.

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

RA: – I was 21 and started to learn music and took it seriously. I always loved practicing, scales, arpeggios, etc. I had good teachers especially a saxophone teacher Csaba Tűzkő, I went to his classes regularly besides my guitar classes. He taught me how to practice with a metronome, he showed me the Omnibook, a collection of Charlie Parker’s solos. That was really the time of exploring jazz. Well, these things have been with me up to the present. I think I’ve improved my vocabulary and rhythm through transcriptions of the greatest players from Lester Young, Barney Kessell, Wes, Jimmy Raney, Clifford Brown, to Jarrett, Joshua Redman, Peter Bernstein and even some young players like one of my favourite Patrick Bartley or Ben Paterson.

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

RA: – Well, that’s a sensitive question and the question of preference. In Hungary most of the jazz  musicians play in several styles with a good feel. I think only few of us have the chance to tick to only one particular style and achieve perfection in that. Well, I love different styles and I listen to many different pieces of music from Scary Pockets, Vulfpack, Henry Cory, Dave Grusin, Michael Petrucciani, Steve Gadd’s Band…. to old favourites like Steely Dan, Grant Green, Hampton Hawes, The Crusaders, The Doobie Brothers…

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

RA: – The days before the performance I like to be alone with the tunes I’m planning to play. They are in my daily practice routine until the day of the performance. However, sometimes it’s good to be out somewhere else, and jump back to a setlist I haven’t played for long, it can bring new ideas into light. I like to play the tunes alone and create the right atmosphere through only the sound of my guitar.

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

RA: – To me this material expresses the absence of self-centered attitude, the effortless stream of musical thoughts through letting go of the ego-controlled world that surrounds us. On this path evolving is ensured by spiritual and intellectual connections.

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

RA: – I think the musicians should give the audience what audience should ask for. I mean one of our aims is to educate the audience and form their taste through an honest and uplifting performance.

JBN: – Please any memories from the studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

RA: – On the second day of the recording session we had a situation in the morning. Peter got sick by next morning and didn’t make it to the studio that day. That’s the reason why we have the young pianist talent Albert Horváth in the personnel. Albert plays Rhodes on the recording in 5 tunes. We did duplications too, these are the alternate takes and there’s one tune only with Rhodes. One more special thing that we have recorded the tune called ‘Song’ only once since we were sure that we can do one more take with Peter the other day. Well, there was other day and we love that first recording.

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

RA: – That’s a challenge for me as a teacher too. I’m teaching jazz guitar and band ensemble too in a secondary school for jazz. I think the roots of modern popular music is in the swing music which was actually the pop music in 1940s. So, I’d like to highlight the connections and similarities between the two worlds. I think most common thing is the rhythm, the groove with which we can be on the same page. Yes, that’s a long process to form taste and style, to show deepness. I think the best way is to became a role model and give my own examples to them.

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

RA: – I’ve always thought about life as a gift and an opportunity to do good. For me music is pure spirituality, the highest level of self-expression, and also a process to loose my ego. Sometimes I like to refer to music as if it was a living spiritual entity and the way you treat it shows your real self.

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

RA: – I would erase playback performances. Let live music flourish!

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

RA: – Michael Brecker the one with Claus Ogerman called ‘Cityscape’, that’s deep and beautiful music.  Illinois Jacquet’s ‘Swing’s The Thing’ is on my lists these days too, I listed to ‘Harlem Nocturne’ from that album a hundred times, – a mesmerizing performance.

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

RA: – I’ve always strived for achieving the balance in music. That balance, harmony and beauty is my aim to deliver to my listeners.

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

RA: – Well, there are some really touching moments in jazz history that I would really like to be a  witness of. One of them is when the Adderley Brothers “rediscovered” Wes Montgomery in Indianapolis in 1959. He was playing with an organ trio in a bar called Missile Room on Indiana Avenue. As Nat Adderly recalls, when they heard Wes that night they had to leave the place to make a phone call to Orin Keepnews, the head of Riverside Record and the rest is history.

JBN: – Here you have to ask your question to me, not to yourself 🙂

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

RA: – I believe that everything I got in life I have it with a reason. So, I try my best to harness more of each moment. To create and to be able to deliver something precious through music is truly a gift for me.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Rieger Rhodes Quartet feat. Sándor Molnár(t.sax) | The Answer Is Yes (J.Hall) - YouTube

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