Drummer Bob Rees
AAJ: What can you suggest to help listeners open their eyes and open their ears to outside music better?
BR: For me, and this goes with not just music but all sorts of art forms and even different cultures, it's just having a really open mind. If something is done really well there is just some sort of inherent quality, a reason why it is good. I think that eventually people can understand it. I know it's really subjective too but there is good jazz and there is not so good jazz and there are reasons for that. It's the same way with anything, all kinds of art, and those qualities shine through eventually. I think people will understand it if they can keep their minds open. If you don't understand something try to ask somebody that does it or performs that type of music and try to find out about it, find out the reasons behind it. Learn more about it. The more you understand the more enjoyable - the more you can appreciate it. It kind of reminds me of my wife learning to appreciate free music and improvisation. She has a really open mind and when I first met her it was like she didn't really understand - she hadn't really heard the music anyway, and she was able to understand it more just asking more questions and figuring out what was going on. She actually enjoys a lot of it now. And she is also able to say what she doesn't like or what particular style of music she doesn't like or why she likes this and why she doesn't. I think people can evaluate that.
AAJ: I was going to ask about Wally Shoup a little bit.
BR: Wally is a good guy to play with. He respects drummers, I'll say that. It's just been a good experience to work with him. He comes over about once a month or we try to get together about once a month and just stay up on what we have as a duo and a trio when we have a bassist or whatever. But he has just been a good guy to help me understand the art of improvisation a little bit better because he is so dedicated to that one style of music. That's a totally different perspective than what I have so it's good to bounce ideas off of each other. He is good about explaining why he either wants to be part of something or why he doesn't and he has enough knowledge and has spent enough time studying that kind of music for people to respect his opinions.
AAJ: What do you suggest for musicians who are learning and are playing free improvised or outside music?
BR: You mean like people who haven't really played the music before?
AAJ: Yeah, or even like people who do play the music. I mean, you would be amazed at what you can teach somebody who has been playing it for 30 or 40 years.
BR: Well, I'm just sort of learning it myself. For me, when I first started, it really helped to play with a lot of different people. In doing that you sort of learn a lot of different ways that people approach the music. Also, you are in different situations, you know, different instruments, different configurations and that kind of changes the way you play. That was the biggest thing that helped me, to get out and play with as many people as I could, you know, just saying yes any time somebody wanted to get together and play, just saying yes all the time. Eventually you just become more sure of yourself as to what sort of improvising you want to do and the kind of improvising you want to do with other people. What happens to me is eventually I get to the point where it's either I have to take a break from it or I need to reinspire myself in a different way. And then I totally get turned on to maybe another type of music that I haven't either played or listened to and then I totally dive into that. For me, eventually it always comes to an end but I still have a love affair with improvised music, for sure. And I always go back to it because it is such a release and it is such an enjoyable way to express myself. But I have noticed that if I don't have like a Flowmotion or a more structured setting, eventually I'll go crazy and I've got to go back to that and do something in that setting. So I need balance. Being involved in a lot of different things makes me happy. Too much of one thing doesn't.