July 13, 2024

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Interview with Rufus Reid: The trio pairing with a string quartet I have wanted to record for many years: Video, new CD cover

Jazz interview with the great contrabassist and composer Rufus Reid. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – Please explain your creative process …

Rufus Reid: – I wish I could explain my process, as it is not an easy answer.  I think every composer has their own way of moving forward creating something.  For me, most of the time, I must keep my ear out the initial process.  So, I use rhythmic formulas, combinations of numbers, tone row concepts, etc.  It is different everytime.

JBN: – What are your main impulses to write music?

RR: – I have many things I wish to write for myself, but the best is when I am commissioned to create something with a deadline.

JBN: – What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your work and/or career?

RR: – When I spend more time at the piano with pencil and paper for a few days and the music becomes more solid to me, that is a good moment.

JBN: – Before we jump into anything historical, can you tell us about what we can expect musically this evening?

RR: – I am excited about my new recording, CELEBRATION, exhibits a broader view of the way I play the bass and the way I hear all music.  I have nothing to prove, but to play good music and have FUN!

JBN: – Are there sub-genres within the jazz field that you tend to stay away from or focus on?

RR: – NO! I can play in many different ways, but the music program MUST compliment and have a musical reason to be there.

JBN: – When your first desire to become involved in the music was & what do you learn about yourself from music?

RR: – I just love music and always have. If it intrigues me, I want to know more about it

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

RR: – Physical and mental preparation is always paramount for me. As I become older, it is more intense.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Celebration, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

RR: – The concept with the trio pairing with a string quartet is something I have wanted to record for many years. Writing for strings is like everything else, you must study the possibilities of those instruments and strings have an enormous spectrum of sound.

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here

JBN: – Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

RR: – I am sure my sound has evolved in this process.  Pianist, Steve Allee and drummer, Duduka Da Fonseca have played together well over 10+ years. When I heard the SIRIUS QUARTET for the first time, it was fantastic and I had to use them. The addition of drummer, Kenneth Salters, brought another dimension for the two pieces he plays on.

JBN: – How would you describe and rate the music scene you are currently living?

RR: – Since the pandemic, the scene is slowly opening back up, but it will be a while longer to get better.  It will be, however, very different and will never be the same as it was!  We all have to move on with the way it is!

JBN: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?

RR: – More so than ever before, I think more about “How” to enter the pool than what notes in the chord that are correct!

JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?

RR: – Yes!  But, much is not their fault. When I was younger, I wish I had been taught certain “business” things to help me. Being a creative musician, jazz or otherwise, is a way of life, not a job!

JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?

RR: – Being gifted and talented isn’t enough.  Being prepared at what you do.  When the opportunity presents itself, you grab it and run with it or watch it go by!

JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?

RR: – NO! Composing came to me quite late in my career.  For me, it was, simply, not the right time!

JBN: – With such an illustrious career, what has given you the most satisfaction musically?

RR: – I have been given a gift to play music and the most satisfaction I receive is in “that moment” playing with artists who make me play better than I would otherwise.

JBN: – From the musical and feeling point of view is there any difference between an old and great jazz men and young?

RR: – If the players, young or old, can really play, there is no age disparity, whatsoever!  It is wonderful when that happens.

JBN: – What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career?

RR: – Study the players in the lineage of your instrument!  Only play with players who are better than you are.  Truly PRACTICE, because no one cares if you do or not!  Be patient!  Learn to love your sound!

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

RR: – Your questions are good, but not so easy to answer with a few sentences.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

RR: – I suppose your website followers will know a bit more personal, sometimes, intimate aspects of your featured artist.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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