Adam Rogers Discusses His Imminent Debut Release and More
AAJ: Can you tell us about he intensity of the New York scene...so heavy with gigging and recording possibilities?
AR: It depends. If you're an independent contractor in any field, there are times when you're incredibly busy and times where you're not as busy and it can happen all at once. When that goes on you have to use your judgment as to what's the best thing to do based on 25 different parameters, you know. I've been pretty lucky in that what look like scheduling train wrecks have worked out in some way.
There have been times that were tough, schedule-wise. When I first started playing with Michael I did a month long tour with Regina Carter and then came back for a few days, and right before the tour started with Michael I had to go to LA with Regina for five days and come back, rehearse with him for two days and then do a three week tour. I once had a gig in Washington and I was doing a movie soundtrack in New York with the St. Luke's orchestra at 10 the next morning. I opted to drive down to Washington, and when the gig was over drive back to New York, sleep for a couple of hours, and then do the orchestra session, which was a real union recording session. I overslept for the session and, thank god, Jeff Mironov, an incredible studio guitarist, was also on the date and covered the first session. I was so tired after I got there I fell asleep during it and knocked something over. Somehow I managed to get out of that with my career relatively unscathed.
I mean, last year I did a two week tour, came back for four days, went back out for a week, came back for three days to do two records, went out or three days and came back and did a record. Things do happen at the same time and luckily, if people really want you to do stuff they will try to make it possible..
AAJ: Do you memorize all this stuff for all these different projects?
AR: It depends on how important the project is. I don't try and freak myself out with that pressure.
AAJ: Any other famous folks we'd be surprised to know about?
AR: I did a whole bunch of dates with Elvis Costello last fall, with the Mingus Orchestra. We played at the Beacon and then at UCLA for a couple of nights. I also worked with him on a project we did with Roy Nathanson, the saxophonist/ leader for the Jazz Passengers. He had a record called 'Fire at Kenton's Bar and Grill' (www.sixdegreesrecords.com/artists/nathanson), so we did a bunch of dates for that with Elvis and Debbie Harry. Marc Ribot is on the record. I was out of town for that recording. Recently, I've done a bunch of playing with John Zorn-in '92 I was on one of the Cobra releases.
AAJ: The thing with the numbers?
AR: I was in a couple of versions of that. We did a couple of gigs recently in a version of the group Masada'electric Masada. We played on New Year's with Perowsky, Cyro Battista, Greg Cohen, and Jamie Saft, at Tonic. That was really fun. I also played with the Gil Evans Orchestra, the George Russell Orchestra, John Patitucci, Jack McDuff'.
AAJ: You did organ trio gigs with McDuff? I want to hear that.
AR: I did a couple of gigs with him in Charleston, South Carolina. I was there doing a show, when I was 22, and he was playing in the roof restaurant of the hotel that I was staying in. He actually wanted me to go on tour but I was doing a theatre piece.
Mike's thing with Larry and Idris is a pretty cool organ band, by the way.
AAJ: (laughs) Yeah I guess so. Killing.
AR: We actually did some gigs with Larry, Clarence and myself only, when Mike had a back problem, at the Jazz Alley in Seattle. We did two nights. It was really great, with swinging tunes and then, sound stuff, which was really great because Larry is such an amazing musician. The sounds he gets out of the instrument are amazing.
AAJ: Does he play bass lines with the feet?
AR: He seems to do that more on the ballads.
AAJ: Anyone out there you haven't worked with you'd really like to?
AR: Oh yeah. Dave Holland. I played with Dave minimally a couple of times with Cassandra, but I've always wanted to work with him., I've always wanted to play with Elvin. He doesn't use a guitarist currently in his band, but I'd just like to play with him in some capacity. Keith Jarrett, who also never uses guitar players. Charlie Haden in some way. Joe Lovano'
AAJ: How do you approach composing?
AR: How I compose really varies. Sometimes I think, 'I need a fast tune'. Like, with Lost Tribe I've said, Well I really want to write kind of an angular, polytonal, fast tune.
AAJ: Oh, I see. A polymetric, polytonal, slammingly funky masterpiece, which is a lot of what you guys wrote actually (laughs).
AR: But the point is, sometimes I start from an arbitrary idea of writing a certain kind of tune and then write that. And I use certain techniques, like contrapuntal techniques I learned through studying classical composition or from playing a lot of classical music. Other times, I come up with a groove, like a bass line I've had sitting around for a long time that somehow is compelling to me and I've waited for or worked on a melody that is somehow just as compelling. Or sometimes I come up with a melody in need of a continuation or a bass line. Usually, I'll come up with an element that's compelling, which is the easy part. What's more difficult is getting the rest'you have to reach deep to find the other pieces you feel as strongly about. Then there are times I write songs from beginning to end without thinking about it. They write themselves.