June 14, 2024


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Interview with Roman Fritsch: I love the playfulness of the music: Video, new CD cover

Interview with Jazz baritone saxophonist Roman Fritsch. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Roman Fritsch: – Well, I grew up in Regensburg, a town in Bavaria Germany and around one hour from Munich by car. I started out with piano and then saxophone. The town has quite a vibrant music scene, especially for a small town so I joined some bands. Since My father, Markus Fritsch, is a bass player I got in contact with the music business at a young age. I loved going to my fathers concerts and hanging with the bands. With 14 I ultimately decided I wanted wanted to become a musician, especially a baritone saxophonist after listening to Gerry Mulligan for the first time.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

RF: – Since Mulligan has always been my hero I started out trying to sound like him. Though his sound is still very implemented in me and my play, during the last couple of yearsI more and more find my own sound through certain sound exercises. My teacher showed me some amazing techniques and what could be possible and I still do those
exercises. The search for my sound might never be completed but I’m on my way and I’m getting closer and closer.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

RF: – Regarding my practicing I do have some exercises I try to maintain on a regular basis. Soundwise for example I play the horn just with air, pushing the reed back a little bit. Great effect. Mostly I also do some permutations of different chord qualities and approach them with certain notes and pack them into phrases. This helps for technique, sound, timing, ear training and more. Besides that I want to just play – sometimes just me by myself or with a backing track. Since I’m also a writer I do a lot of work at the piano – finding interesting harmonic progressions, composing melodies, voice leading and so on. I think of this as very important for the musical practice as it grants you a
deeper look into the music itself.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

RF: – I always change, that’s the only thing that never changes – luckily. When I listen to old recordings I can hear the improvement comparing it to today. And next year I’ll look back and will also find something that has been improved. So I just let it happen and if I take a glance back it will just show me that it always can be improved and I keep going.

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

RF: – Usually I bring all my attention to the music that will be played. Focus is very important. I listen to recordings of it, learn the melody and arrangement, improvise over it and if I stumble across a great line I work on it to implement it into the song. The better I’m prepared, the better I play and bring fresh ideas to the song. Also you have more fun with the music if you have looked into it before.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2023: Roman Fritsch Quartet – Dance Of The Leaves, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

RF: – I love the playfulness of the music. The idea was having a kind of standard songbook with catchy melodies that support the interaction between the musicians and the unique voices of the band members. I do have a quartet in Germany but for a long time my wish has been to record an album of my songs with American musicians. So I
packed my things and moved to New York for a month, got the band together and prepared there for the recording. Right now I’m working on new big band charts which I want to perform with my band and record with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band in December.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

Dance Of The Leaves : Roman Fritsch [feat. Bill Mays, Dean Johnson & Ron Vincent]: Amazon.fr: Téléchargement de Musique

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

RF: – I got in contact with Bill Mays, Dean Johnson and Ron Vincent through Franca Mulligan. Franca has been a dear friend to me since we first met in 2015. During one stay at her house I told her about my quartet recording plans so she got on the telephone and called up Gerry Mulligans old trio. I was stunned that those guys I have admired for so long wanted to make the recording happen. We met up for the first time in April 2022 and recorded the album a few days later.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

RF: – One gig will always be a special memory for me. Before I started studying at the Eastman School for a year abroad I was honored to perform with Ryan Keberle’s Big Band Living Legacy Project at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC. Man, that was insane. The whole band was full of such amazing musicians. Therefore I was quite nervous. I was there to play „Line For Lyons“. The musicians liked the way I played and I was feeling so blessed to be on stage with cats like Ted Rosenthal, Scott Robinson, Steve Wilson, Kenny Washington and more and of course Ryan. He is such a nice guy and I’m still thankful for that opportunity.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

RF: – I don’t think you need intellect to play music. Intellect gives you some deeper insight in how things may work but up until you experience that thing you haven’t really known it or understood it properly. Theory is good to intellectually understand what is possible or what can work in a certain way. It is a way to approach music but to really understand you have to play. When I feel the most comfortable playing I don’t think, I listen.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

RF: – When I play my own music I try to transport the emotions I had whilst writing that tune or I have in that moment. The emotions the audience feels may be similar to the ones I had but mostly everybody connects on some very personal level to the music. If the audience is longing for a certain emotion I’m sure they’ll find a place in the music where they feel connected. On another band stand I always try to transport the composers or arrangers emotional message if I know it through lyrics or stories.

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

RF: – I love those old standard tunes but I think we should be more open to new musi , new standards. Terri Lyne Carrington just released an all female „real book“ last year which is fantastic. Finding new composers and featuring their music may influence and inspire more youngsters to bring their music to the people. Also I think you have to get children interested in music at an early age where they’re still open minded and not guided by societies imaginations. You gotta have workshops at schools, offer them a place to practice, perform and experiment with music.

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

RF: – Luckily this life gave me the chance to spend it on music and to bring music amongst people. I do feel drawn to music but I wouldn’t say music is my spirit but more of a fuel which keeps me going. I have found myself, I know who and what I am. Music’s just the wonderful cherry on top of the cake. Overall music’s always in my head, so I chose this way of experiencing life.

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

RF: – If I had the power I’d probably change quite some things in the musical world. If I had to choose one at the top of my head I would say: More quality than quantity. A lot of artists these days are more of a cash cow to their labels and companies than they are of actual artistic worth.

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

RF: – I do listen a lot to vocal jazz lately. Since I’m about to write an album with own songs I look for good arrangements with singers like Frank Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Barbra Streisand, Vicky Carr and so many more. Besides that I listen to a lot to big band jazz, classical and orchestral music and also film music. But I’m always on the lookout for new music and try to stay open – every music can teach me something.

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

RF: – I would like to go back to the early sixties and listen to the great big bands of that time. Gerry Mulligans Concert Jazz Band, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, … I just wanna listen to those bands in real and soak it all in.

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

RF: – Every song has its own meaning, it’s own message. Overall I would say I want to bring joy to people. Be in that moment and just let the music take you away from everything that burdens you.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

RF: – I did enjoy your questions very much. They were deep and reflected. It was a joy answering them and thank you for being interested in my music.

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

RF: – I did give several free concerts with other bands, like with the Bavarian Youth Jazz Orchestra or the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Germany (BuJazzO). I don’t really have expectations from this interview but I feel very honored to be featured and if this gives my music a chance to be spread more widely and bring joy I’d be nothing but happy!

Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Note: https://jazzbluesnews.com/2023/03/19/useu-jazz-blues-association-festivals/ You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/useujba/

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