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Meet Pianist Manuel Rocheman

By Published: December 21, 2004

AAJ: How did you choose the repertoire on Alone At Last ?

MR: I played many solo piano concerts during a couple of years before recording Alone at Last , so I got the time to work out things and add the final touches to my solo piano repertoire.

AAJ: Your playing is very rich rhythmically and harmonically. How did you develop these abilities?

MR: By practicing at home. It's 1% inspiration and 99% work.

AAJ: Pianist Mark Levine says the same thing in his book on jazz theory.

MR: Absolutely.

AAJ: Do you listen to your work after it's been recorded?

MR: Yes, but only to choose the takes that I like to put on an album. When the recording is released, I stop listening to it. I think it's better to devote my attention to new projects. Recording an album is capturing a creative and inspirational moment and then moving on to something else when it's over.

AAJ: Do you have a specific approach to playing standards?

MR: I try to develop new harmonic progressions while remaining close to the original framework. Sometimes it happens by chance but it's mostly a creative process which involves sitting at the piano until an interesting harmonic progression comes out. The challenge in my opinion is that you have to resist being discouraged on the road. I also try to play standards in all keys, which is very helpful for me and a way to discover and come up with new ideas.

AAJ: How about you quoting one of Monk's tunes in you solo on "Take the A Train"?

MR: Ah, That's Monk "I mean you" which has the same harmonic part on the A section as [Duke] Ellington's "Take The A Train". I did that spontaneously the first time and then it became a habit to mix these two themes when I play.

AAJ: You are going to perform soon a duet with jazz singer Sara Lazarus. Is it the first time you perform together?

MR: No, we actually played together for a long time in the past, I love the way she sings. She is also a very nice person.

AAJ: Do you teach?

MR: I teach at Didier Lockwood's school "CMDL" near Paris. It is very exciting since there is a high musical level. There are many excellent musicians going there to improve.

AAJ: You mentioned the other day in your studio when we met the fact that the musical jazz scene today has become tough for new artists and that the musical technical abilities of musicians got high these recent years.

MR: There are plenty of excellent young musicians now, they all studied in jazz schools and classical conservatories. It is more difficult for them to get noticed because competition is tough. One must own a unique thing that others don't possess in order to get noticed. On the other hand, the work opportunities didn't grow in equality with the growth of the number of jazz musicians.

AAJ: Any future projects?

MR: A solo piano DVD called Live au New Morning was released in mid October this year. Additionally, I would like to record an album with different duets, especially with Olivier Ker Ourio, a wonderful musician who plays harmonica, Sara Lazarus, and others artists.

Selective Discography:

As a Leader: Manuel Rocheman, Alone At Last (RDC records, 2003) Manuel Rocheman, I'm Old Fashioned (Colombia/Sony, 2000) Manuel Rocheman, Come Shine (Colombia/Sony, 1998) Manuel Rocheman, White Keys (Nocturne Production, 1992)

As a Sideman: Caratini Jazz Ensemble, FromThe Ground (Chant du Monde, 2004) Sylvain Beuf, Quintet Soul Notes (Naïve, 2001) Jacques Vidal, Saida ( Shaï Records, 2001) Gil Evans / Laurent Cugny Big Band Lumière, Rhythm-a-ning (Emarcy, 1988) Anthony Ortega, On Evidence (Evidence, 1992)

Visit Manuel Rocheman on the web at .

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