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A Fireside Chat With Tim Ries

By Published: October 1, 2003

TR: It is funny because the last day, we were in India and there was a flight that couldn't make it from India and Bangkok, so one of the gigs got cancelled in Bangkok. We had another day or two in India and we had nothing to do, so we were sitting out by the pool and I was sitting next to him and he was talking about all these doctors telling him that if he didn't change his life, he would only live for six more months and the next thing he knew, he looked in the obituary column and that doctor had died.

He said that people have been telling him for twenty years that he is only going to live another six months. I think he is so strong as an individual and he has lived life, certainly, to its fullest. He is just one of those people that is full of energy every second. He is listening to different kind of music from Africa, from India, jazz, everything. He checks out every single thing he can get his hands on. When you walk by his hotel room, there is music constantly in there. It is amazing, all the music he has checked out over the years.

He's a brilliant man and business wise, he is very smart. His constitution is amazing and in his head, he is so strong, he could live to be ninety. He just has that will of life. He loves life.

FJ: Has the tour been augmented to accommodate concerns with SARS?

TR: The only place it was cancelled was China, three concerts and that was it. So it was about a week worth of gigs and that was it. I think it was at the point that SARS was getting pretty sticky at that point, so they just thought why take the chance. We had done Japan for three weeks and we went to Singapore. Basically, we were traveling with a doctor who was in touch with the people and four or five times a day, he was calling to get the latest updates. The view was that it was certainly overkill because any given day in the world, if you look at the amount of people who die from regular pneumonia, it is more than SARS. They are freaked out that you can catch it so easily like the common cold.

FJ: The Stones do it first class.

TR: They charter a plane. Every country that we were in, they would just charter a plane there. But it is nice because they really take care of us extremely well. They are really very generous with how they treat us, great hotels. I can't complain at all. The gig is one of the highlights of my life. It is just a thrill.

FJ: Touring with a jazz group or rock band, either way, it is still touring and all the burdens that come with it.

TR: I think it is. It is different stuff on stage. I am not improvising on every tune, but I didn't come on the gig thinking that way. There are tunes that Sonny Rollins recorded with them and Wayne Shorter recorded with them and when they choose those tunes, it is great. People see you on stage and think that you have a great life. They don't realize that you are traveling around the world and you are not home. You miss your family. It takes a few weeks to decompress when you come home to deal with that reality.

It's great. I am not complaining. I am lucky to have the gig and it is a thrill, but the breaks are nice too, to be home and have time so you can appreciate both.

FJ: And the future?

TR: Of course, I have always been heavily influenced by Brazilian music and last summer, everyday, I was putting on Astor Piazzolla and totally submerging myself in his music. I wrote a whole series of songs. I have ten songs to record. It is not copying his music, but just being inspired by that music. I did one gig with that before I went off with the Stones. I am looking forward to putting that stuff on tape and recording that. I have a hundred other compositions that are ready to be recorded. I have a lot of stuff ready to go. I am trying to concentrate on the Stones project right now and have this released and do some nice concerts with this music.

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