for creativity we go to 11
award winning contemporary jazz
12 time juno nominated artist
featured on over 100 recordings
18 as a leader/co-leader
producer of 19 solo recordings
After 54 years at the drums, Barry has established himself as one of Canada’s unique drum set stylists. Over the years Barry has worked with some of Canada’s finest musicians, led his own bands, and accompanied many international artists. Barry has also been featured on over 100 recordings (studio/tv/radio), including 18 CDs as a leader/co-leader. Barry has been a featured performer on numerous Canadian Tours as well as a performer in Europe, The United States and India.
Barry recieved a Juno Award in 1991 for his contribution to Brian Dickenson’s “In Transition” as well as TEN Juno nominations over the last decade and a half with the likes of; Michael Occhipinti, Chris Tarry, NOJO, David Buchbinder, Kirk Macdonald and Al Henderson. Barry Romberg’s Random Access was also nominated for best electric group at the NJA in 2005/06/07/09. Random Access won Best Electric Group in 2008. The Random Access Large Ensemble was nominated for Best Big Band as well as Barry for Producer of the Year at the NJA.
The Random Access Large Ensemble CD "Existential Detective" was nominated for a Juno Award in the Contemporary Jazz Recording category in 2009.
Over the years Barry has worked with the likes of; Gil Evans, Hank Jones, Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz, Donny McCaslin, Ben Monder, Don Pullen, Kenny Wheeler, Ritchie Bierach, Don Byron, Sam Rivers, Rez Abassi, Jeff Coffin, George Garzone, Joanne Brackeen, Sonny Greenwich, Bill Mays, Metalwood, Rick Margitza, Mark Turner, Kenny Drew Jr, Roswell Rudd, Mark Murphy, Carol Sloane, Mark Whitfield, Eric Alexander, Jane Bunnett, Holly Cole, Dave Young, Don Thompson, Phil Dwyer, Moe Koffman, Bernie Senensky, Mike Murley, Lorne Lofsky, Peter Appleyard, Rob McConnell, Molly Johnson, Carol Wellsman, Guido Basso, Hemispheres and The Shuffle Demons.
Barry continues to freelance on drums, composes, teaches (currently on faculty at York University and is always getting involved in new projects. Besides leading two bands; Random Access and The Random Access Large Ensemble, some of the more recent undertakings include; INSIDE OUT with Lorne Lofsky and Kieran Overs and Four Blind Mice w/ Kelly Jefferson and Geoff Young.
Barry is also a featured member of bands led by: Kirk Macdonald, Michael Occhipinti, Geoff Young, Lorne Lofsky and Al Henderson.
Barry has also been the recipient of numerous Canada Council grants over the last 10 years supporting many different Romhog projects. (24 grants in total).
Selected Discography ---Leader/Collective
The Way It Is>>Is The Way It Was, Random Access/Trio
Crab People, Random Access (w/Ben Monder)
Unplugged Live, Random Access (w/Donny McCaslin)
World Creativity, Random Access
The Gods Must Be Smiling, Random Access
Was Shall Why Because, Random Access Large Ensemble
Existential Detective, Random Access Large Ensemble (Juno Nominee)
Big Giant Head Random Access Part 6 , Barry Romberg
Accidental Beef Random Access- Live on Tour- Part 5 ,Barry Romberg
No Soap Radio Random Access Part 4 Barry Romberg
Random Access Part 3, Barry Romberg
That Magic Thread, MRC Trio
What Is This Thing?,Inside Out,
Random Access Part 2, Barry Romberg
Tribal Dance, MRC Trio
Random Access Part 1, Barry Romberg
Village, Three Sisters
Greatest Hits, Barry Romberg Group
2nd Floor Please, Barry Romberg Group
As A Sideman
w/ KIRK M
Kirk Macdonald Jazz Orchestra, Common Ground
Kirk Macdonald jazz Orchestra, Family Suite
Kirk Macdonald Jazz Orchestra *
Kirk Macdonald, songbook vol 2*
Kirk Macdonald, Family Suite
Kirk Macdonald, Songbook Vol 1 *
Al Henderson, Taiga
Al Henderson, Regeneration *
Father & Sons, Al Henderson
Urban Landscape, Al Henderson,
Dinasour Dig, Al Henderson,
w/ Michael O
Highwire, NOJO *
Creation Dream “Songs Of Bruce
Creation Dream, Chasing After Light*
City Of Neighborhoods, NOJO *
Michael Occhpinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project*
Distillery Jazz Fest, w/ Creation Dream
Surrealist Blues, Micheal Ochippinti
When She Dreams, Nancy Walker
Levitation, Nancy Walker
Invitation, Nancy Walker,
Sound Of Toronto, CJRT, Nancy Walker
Luminosity, Nancy Walker,
Best Of 1990, Vector,
Jazz Guy, Victor Bateman
Jazz Notes CBC with Victor Bateman
w/ Brian D
In Transition, Brian Dickenson,@
October The 13th, Brian Dickenson
w/ Roy S
Art Of Melody, Roy Styfe
Subway Dream, Roy Styffe
w/ Lenny S
Transparency, Lenny Solomon
The Gershwin Session, Lenny Solomon
Shurum Burum Jazz Circus, David
Of Battles Mysteries Unknown, Chris Tarry *
CBC Jazz In Canada 1973-1989
Adrean Farrugia, V1.0
In Between, Geoff Young
A Decade Of Favourites, Bob Brough
Group of Seven, Tony Quarrington
Here And Now, Reg Schwagger, CBC
Outsource, Glen Hall
Marchino Harmonicas, Bill Grove
Coast to Coast, Stephan Bauer,
Devils Brew, Moe Koffman
Shelley Berger, Shelly Berger
Just For You, Dave Young,
Ruin, John Macleod
Unity Records Compilation,
* Juno Nominee @Juno Winner
“The music (on Crab People) carries a fascinating edge that doesn’t make you think of anything else except what you’re listening to.....”
John Ephland, Downbeat Magazine
“Romberg resisted the urge to put the jams (MRC Trio) through the same cut and paste process as the Random Access materials, and it was a wise call, for these long evolutions are the most effective way of hearing his own highly individual work. He may owe a sentimental debt to Elvin (Jones), but in his intense musicality and prodigious output he’s closer in spirit to Jack Dejohnette. Random Access Part 3 and Tribal Dance are both jawdroppingly good.”
Brian Morton, Wire Magazine
“Drummer-composer-bandleader Barry Romberg is playfully subversive. The Latest installment…
(RA 3) is full of suprises and good humour, along with a multitude of good grooves…..Romberg displays quick hands, keen instincts and coloristic tendencies behind the kit….”
Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times Magazine
Strange and elusive music that defies categorization.......
(Crab People)....establishes Romberg et all as the most creative in the field of improv, give a long listen.
“Barry Romberg’s sound hasn’t fully filtered down across that long border separating
his native Canada from the US, and it’s a shame. He’s distinctive and prolific, swirling his
own brand of originality with established sounds……Romberg’s drumming…..is crisp and
geometrical, full of tight grooves, dividing the sometimes swirling music into percussive
Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
“Romberg struck me as the most startling drummer since Claude Ranger…..I’m truly
convinced Romberg has potential as a future jazz visionary.”
Bill Besecker, The Jazz Report
“Romberg is one of the most innovative jazz drummers in Canada.”
Dennis Slater, FFWD, Calgary
“Romberg plays in a brisk bustling, licety-split manner, marshalling a lot of small, quick sounds with a sharp crack of a rim shot. It’s a personal style, something that a lot of drummers never develop in careers much longer than Romberg’s to date. He applies that style and all its textures to a heated post-fusion style of jazz, the sort that the Breckers, Bergs, and Sterns are doing down New York way.”
Mark Miller, The Globe & Mail
“The hardest-working musician in Canada just might be drummer Barry Romberg, who in addition to various sideman gigs, plays in the Barry Romberg Group, The Three Sisters, Inside Out, and the MRC Trio- and distributes recordings by these enembles on his own Romhog Records……
Romberg’s got his own style, but there is plenty of Elvin Jones in Barry’s offbeat accents and in his sheer power and force—and some Jack Dejohnette, too, in his vast musicality and creativity…..Romberg’s skills as a producer are as important as his ability behind his kit.”
Paul Olsen, All About Jazz
“Romberg’s percussive approach is as much about colour and texture as it is about pulse and his work is consistently imaginative.”
Lois Moody, The Ottawa Citizen
“Romberg is an exciting player, and an unchallenged master of the kind of fill that crams the last beat or so of a bar with so many hits, crashes and bombs the next downbeat bursts out of the flurry of sound like a startled rocket.”
S Pederson, The Chronicle Herald
“Another thing we were treated to which is much more rare with the full NOJO complement was numerous drum solos from Barry Romberg. He seems equally comfortable reading the complex charts that are the staple of this groups diet and messing around in the back during some free for all rockout with horn players marching through the crowd or quacking like ducks through their mouthpieces and bringing everybody back together again. He can keep the beat surgically steady and instantly switch to some free form homebrew rhythm cocktail, then lay down a groove funky enough to actually get people in a Calgary jazz audience onto the dance floor!”
Anthony Appleby, C JAZZ
“Barry Romberg is, quite simply, one of the most exciting drummers on the local jazz scene. He plays with an energy and intensity that is hard to ignore regardless of whether he's playing in a traditional jazz quartet, in a tribute to the music of Bruce Cockburn, or in his own contemporary jazz ensembles. He always seems to be having a great time on the bandstand - fully interacting with the other musicians in the group, and being ever so devious...playing with the time feel just enough to keep everyone on their toes.”
Josh Grossman, Toronto Jazz Fest Director
Barry Romberg’s Random Access
Random Access began as a studio experiment some 20 years ago. Over time the concept has morphed into a working unit that has gone through different configurations over the years; including the original 7 piece electric band (2 horns/guitar/violin/bass/drums/perc)--a large ensemble (w/ ten horns)--a unit featuring tabla great Ravi Naimpally; and the scaled down quartet version with special guest Donny Mccaslin on a live recording and Crab People with Ben Monder.
There have been 13 RA releases over the years.
Random Access won best electric group at the national jazz awards in 2008 and was nominated in the same category 5 other times. RALE the RA large ensemble was also nominated for best big band at NJA 2 years running. Random Access was also nominated at the Juno Awards in 2009 for best contemporary jazz recording.
After an almost 10 year hiatus ROMHOG RECORDS is back with latest installment in the Random Access series with the new TRIO offering entitled “THE WAY IT IS>>IS THE WAY IT WAS” featuring Sam Dickinson on Guitar and Ewen Farncombe on Keys—two of the leading voices in improvised music of their generation out of Toronto.
Two thirty year olds that were raised on Random Access—they were students of mine and were playing RA tunes in high school. NOW....they are Random Access....pretty cool!!
The CD features four tunes penned by the leader, a few collective improv pieces and two covers by piano greats; Kenny Kirkland and Keith Jarrett.
Random Access began as a studio experiment over 20 years ago. This is the 13th RA recording and a perfect return, capturing the RA sound, continuing the legacy established on CD’s like; Existential Detective (Juno nominee), Accidental Beef, Part 3, No Soap Radio, Crab People, Unplugged, and World Creativity. Those CD’s featured a host of elite musicians; Donny Mccaslin, Kelly Jefferson, Kirk Macdonald, Geoff Young, Rich Brown, Ben Monder, Ravi Naimpally, Hugh Marsh, Kieran Overs, Kevin Turcotte, Blair Mackay and Robi Botos all contributed to RA projects over the years.
At the same time Random Access is influenced by electric Miles, Weather Report, Wayne Shorter, and John Scofield, there is also a tinge of the avant garde and a little schvingy as well.
Random Access is unique and original musical experience.
ROMBERG Interview BARRY
ROMBERG Taken by Ludwig van Trikt
CADENCE: You are a native Canadian. Are there any regional characteristics to the Canadian scene?
BARRY ROMBERG: I guess you could equate Jazz in terms of regions like American Jazz, Canadian Jazz, Latin American Jazz, African Jazz, etc. And certainly all those places would bring their own unique slant on how the music might sound. But being born and raised in Toronto, which is one of the largest cities in this country and [has] probably the biggest music scene in Canada, I believe I grew up with the same influences that most American musicians might have had coming up in the last 30 years. But I would have to say no in regard to a distinct Canadian Jazz sound.
Now of course Gil Evans, Maynard Ferguson, and Oscar Peterson prob- ably represent the pinnacle of Canadians contributing to the international Jazz scene. Jazz is international (at least now, anyway). To me, Jazz is a big word and covers a lot of ground, especially nowadays. There are so many cross-cultural influences of all different styles melded into various sound- scapes. Ultimately Jazz represents a means for improvisation, some sort of framework to construct spontaneous composition. Other than that, all bets are off, culturally and otherwise.
Let’s delve into your roots.
I was born in Toronto, Canada, on July 24, 1959. As far back as I can recall I used to carry this old radio around the house. I was probably six or seven at the time. It had this old large plastic tuner dial, a real ‘60s deal, and I would carry it from room to room; I would even take it into the bathroom. Already music played an influential part in my early life.
My parents were always very supportive of my musical interest and endeavors. I started playing the drums at age ten, studying privately and listening to mostly AM radio pop music of the day and a little Buddy Rich. My folks rented out the basement of our house until I was a teenager. So when I was around 12 the tenants at the time brought me a Cream album for Christmas and it changed my life. That led me to Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. I also played in my first band when I was 12. We had a trio: drums, guitar, and organ. And we played The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater, tunes like “Proud Mary” and “All Right Now” by the band
Free. By the time I was 15 years old I was playing in a band with guys in their 20s doing Deep Purple and Black Sabbath material. At 17 I quit high school to play full time and I traveled all over Canada playing in a couple
of not so great commercial groups. After a few months I realized I should have stayed in school. It was around this time that I discovered Jazz Fusion; the bands Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever. It was from there that I worked my way back to all the great ‘60s and ‘70s Jazz; the classic John Coltrane 4tet and the Miles Davis ‘60s quintet being my biggest influ- ences even to this day. When I was 20 I entered York University in the Jazz Program. I still work with people that I met there 30 years ago; and now I teach there ... I have come full circle. My first Jazz gig was also when I was 20 with a performance in soprano saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett’s group.
From there I went on to my first Canadian tour on a gig with Dave Young when I was 22.The first recording session (January 1985) was when I was 25, with Reg Schwager.
What was the curriculum like when you studied at York University?
I was never a great student, so I was only at York University for two years.
I was there as a mature student as I had quit high school to go on the road
and play for a few years before that. While at York I played in two workshops and audited the theory course that at the time was run by John Gittins. John was a great analytical musical mind, and subsequently, years later, we would do a fair bit of playing together in the late ‘80s. I was never big on institution- al education, which is ironic since I spend an awful lot of time teaching both at York University and Humber College. I have learned more about myself
in the last five years teaching the next generation than I did when I was at school; primarily because I learned most of my shit on the street so to speak. Listening and learning from records was like a religion when I was com-
ing up. And of course the younger guys that can play well now—and there are some real good ones who are hip to the language, which you can only really learn from listening to the real shit ... In my opinion it’s all about the listening experience. Unfortunately now you have a whole generation of kids growing up [and] learning everything they know from youtube.com. Now, youtube.com can be a great thing but only in conjunction with real listening, otherwise you’re screwed. I can’t really watch that stuff; I feel a real discon- nect when I watch. Of course that doesn’t stop me from posting my stuff.
You mentioned that Jane Bunnett was one of your first serious Jazz gigs. How did you manage to work with her after having largely been a Rock drummer?
Although it was my first Jazz gig it was anything but serious...
I was just starting to get into Jazz and through a mutual friend I landed the gig. Jane and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, had this gig at Yuk Yuk’s, a comedy club in downtown Toronto; they were the house band. I signed on as the drummer for about a year. At the time I was working at
Sam The Record Man which back then was the big record store in Toronto. Ironically Jane and her husband Larry had worked there a few years before me in the same capacity—in the Jazz department (a lot of listening went down there). It was a fun gig. We played a little at the beginning of the evening and then played accompanying the comics on and off the stage.
The band met and hung out with up and coming people; Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel, Alan Thicke were the ones that went on to huge careers. In the next few years I played a lot with Jane Bunnett in her band that during that time consisted of Reg Schwager on guitar, Dave Trevis on bass, Jane on soprano/ flute, and Larry on trumpet. This was long before she caught the World music buzz. I still joke with people today and say, “Oh yeah, I worked with Jane when the gigs paid $50.00.” (The $50.00 part was no joke though.) Another key gig for me around this time was being a member of Dave Young’s first group as a leader that also featured Kirk MacDonald and Mark Eisenman. Kirk and I play quite a bit together to this day, and that was almost 30 years ago. Some of the guys I work with in my bands have long musical histories with me: Hugh Marsh, 20 years; Geoff Young 30; Rich Brown, 15 years... You know what they say: the turtle wins the race.
While you were paying dues I wondered if you played what is commonly called the Jazz canon. Jazz and Pop standards of the day?
Most of the 70 plus CDs I have played on have mostly featured people’s origi- nal music as opposed to playing standards. Jazz artist still cut their teeth on playing tunes but the focus has shifted over the last 20 years to feature more original music. A big influence was the ECM label of over 30 years ago where much more compositionally based music, still improvised but based less
on the straight ahead blowing sessions that you had, say, on the Blue Note
and Contemporary labels in the ’60s . But then again Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s groups were on to that in their own way in the ’60s.Essentially looking for new forms to play on beyond the popular song book. When I do play “tunes” I prefer to stretch out much as possible when I dive in you need the right people to do that...but sometimes I just love playing tunes. In this regard my big influences in that vain have been Miles Davis’ 60’s band, the Bill Evans trio, Keith Jarrett’s trio and Brad Mehldau all these people that play “tunes” and breath new life into them.
Do you think having eschewed the high-visibility sideman route has had any adverse affect on you?
One of my favorite writers Joseph Campbell said “the journey you think you should be on often is the one you’re on”. I have no regrets as to how my career has unfolded; perhaps if I was an American it would have given me the opportunity to work with certain people I probably will never work with. But as far as being a Jazz musician in Canada I have worked with and con- tinue to dabble as a sideman for many different high profile Canadian musi- cians. The last 5 years or so I’m doing less of that as there seems to be less work and I teach a fair bit along with the fact that I have been busy doing my own projects; not to mention after you do this for a number of years you get more selective as to what you will do, at least I have.
In 1984 you did study with Gil Evans.
I worked with Gil in I think it was 1983 he did a concert here in Toronto and I was fortunate enough to get the call for that gig. The performance was a big band with a few open rehearsals. Gil was so loose and a real sweet heart. He had no drum book and wanted me to play without charts. I talked him into getting me some music so I actually knew what the hell was going on. But Gil was all about being in the moment...totally. I really respect that approach. I believe he wanted his large ensemble to work and sound like
a trio; in terms of maneuverability. We rehearsed all this music which we played at the concert but when we began the show he just started playing
the piano and it had nothing to do with what we had rehearsed. The bass player Dave Trevis and I looked at each other and came in and began to freely associate with what Gil was playing. I thought it was so bukowskiesque to play “what ever” in a big band situation. There were no solo designations either; whoever felt like playing would get up and blow...
I remember the saxophonist Alex Dean really took advantage of this situation. Hanging with Gil Evans for a few days was a great experience, he gave Dave Trevis and I a tape to check out that Miles Davis had given him
of Miles’ band at the time playing the Cyndi Lauper tune “Time After Time” which was later recorded when John Scofield was in the band. Gil Evans
was Miles’ advisor right up until the end of his life. I also remember taking
a chart from the band book which was the tune “Eleven” by Jaco in Jaco’s hand writing. Somehow the tune disappeared over the years. While he was
in town I would drive him around in my car and I always wanted to save the back seat where he sat for a keep sake and people would ask why do you have that rear seat and I would say...”Gil Evans sat there!” for some reason I never did save it.In retrospect my own large ensemble has elements of his improvisational approach and the flying by the seat of your pants mentality as well. So when I was mixing the latest Random Access recording I thought Gil would have loved our spirit and intent, and that’s why I dedicated one of my recordings to him. I really dig the recording process quite a bit and since I have a studio in my home I have been prone to experiment a fair bit...
it’s the Glenn Gould approach. My own take on that is letting the recording process dictate the compositional outcome. Really it’s about melding pure improvisation with studio finesse. Most of those Random Access CDs at least “ Random Access Part 3” (Romhog #109) and “Random Access Part 4” (Romhog #111) have no structure whatsoever. We play free and then I do some editing and layering. Lately the last few CDs have had more structure (rhythmically) but harmonically it’s wide open. Of course the large ensemble is a different animal . The biggest influences on me musically have been John Coltrane, Miles Davis,Keith Jarrett,Weather Report and Wayne Shorter’s present quartet. Wayne’s band is really carrying the torch... that’s the way
I like to play, where you’re playing form and then you’re not playing form somehow, you’re always playing form even when your not..and the level of communication is on another plane. Again it’s real pure improve...sponta- neous composition that’s the shit!!.
What is the concept behind your band Random Access?
In the early 80’s I began playing in bands that were strongly based on per- forming original music. A number of musicians like myself were influenced by the ECM Record camp, the 1/8th note vibe, a much looser approach to playing groove, with less of a focus on the more traditional Jazz thing; the basis was improv but at the same time trying to incorporate different sound- scapes and forms to blow on. In the beginning my various bands played a style that was very much influenced by the New York City vibe at the time; Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette,Keith Jarrett, John Scofield, Dave Liebman this was a sound from around 1985-1993. I have always had two guitars in the band, go figure, in fact I remember people thought that I was copying Marc Johnson’s band Bass Desires which featured John Scofield and Bill Frissell but I actually formed my band way before I knew they had that thing going on. The two guitar thing has a lot to do with keeping things open and very loose. I’ve always been a guitar freak...Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Led Zepplin those are my roots along with Weather Report and electric Miles Davis.By the early 90’s I concentrated more on just being a sideman and didn’t do much band leading. Then in 2000 I got the bug again to pursue some of my own new projects; at the time I was playing in groups where the music was very structured and quite complicated so I thought this time out it should be a much freer approach. In 2002 I formed a trio with Hugh Marsh on violin and Rufus Cappadocia on cello and it was like no other band I have ever played in. For over two years we did a bunch of gigs and recorded two CDs and not once did we talk about what we would play; pure spontaneous composition which was quite magical. My Random Access band was built off that concept of just improvising with little or no pre-conceived ideas. This idea actually was born in the studio. It wasn’t until after a few CDs that I put a band together to emulate what I was -doing in the studio. When you play that way (free) live you’re living on the edge all the time because it can be really great, or not. The last few years we have been playing some tunes I wrote that are complicated rhythmically but have no harmony and the pitches are open to interpretation with the right band it works really well.
I love to still play tunes or even originals of other artist especially since
I have had the pleasure to perform with some of Canada’s finest composers. The names include:Geoff Young, Michael Occhipinti, Al Henderson, Kirk MacDonald, Bernie Senensky and Stephan Bauer to name a few. What I really always wanted in any of my groups was to attempt to generate the kind of energy and emotional output that John Coltrane’s band had; for that band is the pinnacle of what to shoot for as far as I am concerned.
You have your own label, Romhog ?
Well its pretty basic...Since there isn’t much happening in terms of support from external sources to promote Jazz music as far as major labels and all that, its pretty standard to do it yourself and find distribution later on. Now even higher profile guys like Branford Marsalis and Dave Douglas have start- ed their own labels because of a lack of major label support..and look what Maria Schneider has done with ArtistShare! Especially now that everything
is going digital; you have a whole generation of people that get their music off the Internet. It is my opinion that a lot of people don’t buy CDs in stores anymore; so when I put my first self produced project out in 2001 (I also had two prior recordings as a leader in 1989 & 1993 ) that was the birth of Romhog Records. I had a lot of support from the Canada Council for The Arts. The label has over 12 titles to date; which includes CDs by Geoff Young, Adrean Farrugia,Kirk MacDonald and the trio Inside Out. Unfortunately I have been unable to secure international distribution, although I came close a couple of times. I do have a distributor in Canada; although most of my sales come off the web anyway. Needless to say, I am in it for the love of art. If I depended on Romhog Record sales to butter my bread I wouldn’t have any bread. The music on the label is also kind of hard to categorize so in a world where things need to be compartmentalized it is hard to find a nich
in order to sell our disc. In the late 1980’s I was also one of the founding members of Unity Records which was a co-op formed by some Canadian musicians to promote original music. The bottom line for having your own label is that you can do what you want artistically, there is no way some major label would give me a contract to make those Random Access record- ings since I prefer to do everything in terms of production, I would have had a hard time working with an external producer since I have a vision as to how I want things to turn out.
Don’t forget I engineer/mix/edit all my stuff, the only things I don’t do is the mastering and art work.
Do you have any feelings that there is a disconnect between Canadian Jazz artist and its authentic African American roots?
Of course most of my heroes were African American musicians, but to say that white musicians haven’t made contributions to Improvised music is ridiculous. I got over that when I was a teenager...I am white, Jewish, and middle class from Toronto. Once I accepted my roots I was good. So I take all my influences mix’em up and hopefully something fresh comes out. There is as much John Bohnam in my drumming as there is Elvin Jones
or Tony Williams. As far as Jazz and the classroom is concerned there will always be a disconnect. A school can give you the tools with which to work with but they can’t teach anyone how to play. The one thing I do notice is that as time goes on the younger generation gets further and further away from the roots of Jazz music which of course is the Blues...and more often than not it results in music that is more about the head than the heart. There needs to be a balance in this regard. I break it down as good hard and bad hard. Good hard is hard music that feels good, and bad hard is hard music for the sake of hard and generally leaves you cold inside. It is after all about emotional response isn’t it? The music that gives me goose bumps and brings tears to my ey way beyond an intellectual pursuit. That is why I got into this in the first place; because it makes me feel.
February 2, 2009 Toronto, Ont., Canada
stream of consciousness