Adam Rogers Discusses His Imminent Debut Release and More
AAJ: Can you tell us about the compositions on your record?
AR: We did an arrangement of 'Long Ago and Far Away' and eight originals. Two of the songs are from a recording I did a couple of years ago that is not on a label that I hope to have released at some point in some way. The rest are new to acetate, as it were. So that's six 'new' songs.
AAJ: Do these fall clearly on the bop side of things?
AR: It's acoustic, modern jazz. It's swinging, like 4:4, a lot of it. There's one song that's somewhere between a ballad and a medium tempo song, one straight eighths tune. Another has a melody in 5, 4 and then 7 but the solos are in 4:4. There's a swinging medium tempo blues and a fast, minor blues. There's ballad, on acoustic, of one of my originals. One of the songs is almost like through -composed classical music, classical guitar and piano doubling a lengthy eighth note figure.
AAJ: You studied classical formally, right?
AR: I studied classical guitar really seriously, yes. I went to Mannes Conservatory in the early to mid-80s and was a classical guitar major. It's in Manhattan and is now affiliated with the New School but at that point... well, it's one of the three-Manhattan, Mannes and Julliard. Mannes is a little more known for its 'Techniques of Music' department than the performance side. I went there and got a very straight, classical, conservatory music education'probably the same way somebody in the 19th century would have studied music. I really loved it. Before I went to college, when I started out playing, I was a total Hendrixophile. That was my total inspiration for playing guitar and then I got into jazz. When I went to college I decided, because I was interested in it and because I felt I could use a really solid musical education, that I would study classical music. I was always very happy that I did because I got a really solid grounding in music theory'western music theory...everything from species counterpoint to four part harmony, dictation ear training, score reading, musical analysis'a really in depth study of Bach, Beethoven and modern composers. It was invaluable to me. I was considering pursuing a career as a classical guitarist. It was really satisfying to play that music. I did some recitals and was into the repertoire, but I felt like I needed to do one or the other at the time. I love playing with people and improvising so much that I went in that direction.
I would like to make a classical music record, solo classical guitar, at some point. I play it a lot and in the last few years it's become a part of everything that I do. I play electric and acoustic equally, pretty much, on all the records that I do. I play all of them-electric, steel sting acoustic and nylon string acoustic.
AAJ: Now, do you bring the right hand classical technique to the electric?
AR: When I comp I play with my nails and when I play lines, generally, I play with a pick, but I also play with my skin for certain things when I want to coax a certain sound out of the guitar.
AAJ: You're known for the precision, cleanliness and the smooth legato-ness of your picked lines.
AR: People have responded to that, yeah. I mean, my greatest inspirations in the jazz idiom were 'Trane and Bird and pianists like McCoy and Herbie. Wes was a seminal influence. The live record with Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, I think it's called 'Full House', was pretty much how I learned how to ply jazz guitar. Pat Martino was also a big influence. I think the first jazz guitar I heard was Benson's 'Breezin'. That record still completely flips me out. John Coltrane's music was a huge inspiration. The focus and emotional intensity of his playing and music was and is probably the greatest inspiration for me. I think I've always aspired in some way to achieve that kind of intensity in my own playing.
AAJ: I'd say you've achieved that. I mean when you're up there with Mike swapping 64 bars'
AR: It's very inspiring to play with him.