June 15, 2024

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Interview with Matt Von Roderick։ That more people realize the spiritual possibility inherent in music

Interview with trumpeter and vocalist Matt Von Roderick. An interview by email in writing.

Dear readers, get to know more about our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festivals and the activities of our US/EU Jazz – Blues Association in the capitals of Europe, we will soon publish program for 2024, enjoy in the July – August – Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, new addreses this year, also in Amsterdam, Budapest.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, 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?

Matt Von Roderick։ – I grew up in a musical family in a small town, Lyndonville, VT. My mother was a classical pianist, and my father is a classical violinist. I started out on their instruments at ages three and four respectively, and eventually gravitated toward a baritone horn that was laying around my father’s office, and finally found the trumpet around age 12. Singing was also always a part of my life to some degree, often in synagogue.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2024

I think I was drawn to the trumpet because it felt very connected to Jazz, and to me Jazz was exciting because it stood for freedom of expression in the moment, more so than simply following in my parent’s footsteps and playing what was previously “written”.

One of the first times I played an improvised solo in a concert setting, I experienced a kind of floating, out-of-body experience. Along with the joy of connecting to the audience, that introduced me to the magic of music.

Because both of my parents were professional musicians, I could see that music could be a career path, and to me that was thrilling.

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?

MVR: – I like exploring the many possible approaches to music and to the trumpet and voice, and I think over time I’ve continued to expand in many directions at once, to the degree that now I feel I’m swimming in one big MUSIC and all possibilities are beginning to be at my fingertips…and of course there’s always more to find!

I would say I have an eclectic approach, very broad. I really appreciate the most classic standard forms, and at the same time I love the ability to at times surprise with something more avant garde or unexpected. I once had a conversation with Pat Metheny when we were both at Carnegie Hall waiting to hear the Keith Jarrett trio perform. I like how Metheny put it – he said “I like musicians who can play bebop, but don’t have to”.

Ultimately I think the idea is just to sing and play what you truly like and find beautiful, and to express and communicate aesthetically what it is that excites you — to mine the depths of your being through working on your self and your craft, and to then share your findings with your audience.

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

MVR: – I have a daily practice which first isolates the various aspects of what I do, including breathing, tone production, tonguing, fingers, singing and listening — and then eventually integrates all, with trumpet and voice.

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

MVR: – Absolutely. I’m always changing and growing. That said, a philosophy I picked up from my father, one of my earliest musical mentors, is that it’s usually best to add possibility to one’s musical sphere than to subtract. So, I have been expanding and adding possibility as I go along…

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

MVR: – The soul leads, and the intellect is like a guiding hand that can help provide form, when needed. Yo-Yo Ma, someone with whom I share the same birthday, has said that when he plays the music of J.S. Bach, the ‘beat’ represents fate and the melody is his free will.

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

MVR: – The audience connection is sacred, and I always seek to provide the value of beauty, inspiration, love and adventure as it flows through my unique beingness.

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

MVR: – I think all forms of jazz are valid. As for the standards, they’re called “classic” for a reason — because they never go out of style! I think if people are really given the opportunity to find themselves within those songs, they will. I also like the idea of mixing the classic with the most cutting edge, I think that’s an inclusive and expansive approach.

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

MVR: – I believe we’re here to discover and remember the truth of our beingness and to expand and express that truth.

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

MVR: – That more people realize the spiritual possibility inherent in music, and to be sharing this possibility with millions of people through my music, now.

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

MVR: – Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, June Christy, J.S. Bach, the alternative rock band ‘Stars’, and I’ve really been enjoying the album ‘Expectations’ by Keith Jarrett these days.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

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

MVR: – I’d like to hear my two heroes Miles Davis and Chet Baker, live. I’d also like to see the state of music and the world 100 years from now.

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

MVR: – How did JazzBluesNews get started? Are you a musician yourself, Emmanuel? What do you play? What’s the mission statement of your company? Will you bring me to Europe for a festival performance?

JBN: – Our website started working in 2012, at the same time we founded the association. Our mission is to promote real and quality jazz, but to work with musicians of good will, not marginal chickens like you, who sit on their cents and are not quality musicians.

 

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

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