Josh Roseman: Reimagining the Constellations
"I feel accountable to my community, my environment,." he says, pausing to select his phrases. "I've received so much, not just from the masters, but people who are younger than me. Students. The exchange that's going on in this town, nationally across the states ... Things you pick up and the way you see people investing in trying to create something, that's what drives me. There are so many examples of it. Before I moved to New York, there were artists, forms of music, that gave me a sense that things made sense. Ornette Coleman (Coleman) or Coltrane. Sun Ra. Sonny Rollins, for sure. The sense that these people are able to present solutions. Illustrated in the music with such clarity. And they're also able to articulate the human condition in such vivid, precise terms. I always got the sense that you're not alone, dealing with whatever stuff you're dealing with, trying to balance, or trying to contend with."
When he moved to New York, he also encountered a community of enthusiastic musicians who wanted to support one another. "It transcended generational boundaries or anything like that. It was a cross generational deal. To move to a place like this and work with people who have been doing it for many years and had an established body of work in other cities. People like Lester Bowie and Oliver Lake. People on the straight-ahead side as well. You could come here and learn from people who had seen everything and got all this information from the horse's mouth. That's a big charge to walk around with. I feel like I have this bond to do whatever I can do in my meager capacity to pass it on."
That communal spirit is a common thread for this engaging musician. In talking about influences or relationships that may have helped shape his thing, Roseman is selfless. His view is different. He mentions pleasure derived from watching colleagues blossom rather than pinpointing how so-and-so helped him personally grow. Even when those positive influences, in fact, would occur.
"The beautiful thing," he says in earnest, "has been to watch people find themselves. Put it together ... put out some conclusion in terms of what to do with what they've built. Living in this town for a while, it's inspiring seeing that happen. It's happened time and time again. Touring early on, opposite Joshua Redman, for example, when he first came out. Watching somebody like him find himself in the midst of his career, musically. Figuring out how he wants to articulate his persona. Or Don Byron. I had the opportunity to work with him early on in his career. Watching him do the same. It was very impressive watching Kurt Rosenwinkel go through his thing . I've had the opportunity to be close to that much harmonic information. Dynamic information. That level of intent in music, regularly, is a lot."
Roseman has also been influenced by the people he is still cavorting with, musically, like Apfelbaum. "I've been studying and working with Peter Apfelbaum on many different levels for years. Applying myself to his music and putting together situations where we're both reacting in a very intuitive fashion. He's been good enough to work on my music as well and that's been really expansive. My close friend [Australian pianist] Barney McAll is an astounding strategist and musician. It's nice being onstage with somebody and you have no idea what they'll come up with at any given moment, but you know it's going to be really expansive. This is a guy who fashions his own instruments and plays amazing jazz piano. Can sequence things really well. He ends up sounding like a DJ with bebop chops; a DJ with a highly developed chromatic awareness and a lot of technique."
Holland's award-winning big band is also an experience Roseman treasures.
"His band is unbelievable. I've been playing in Dave's big band for around 10 years or so. It's run like a family. There's such a tremendous vibe in the group. That's been an inspiration all around. It's also been a great learning experience because he's been something between an antennae and a lightening rod throughout his whole career. He writes and plays at such an astonishingly high level. But as a bassist and a bandleader and participant on the scene he's been a catalyst for many different movements and kinds of expression for people. For me, as a musician, that's your post-finishing school. And it's the best thing in the world because you're forced to evolve. You're forced to expand because it's real. There's nothing academic about it. You're shaping this music dynamically with colleagues you respect and it's happening in real time. It might be a night by night experience, but every night you have one shot at it. Longstanding working bands, those are very special situations.