Ryan Keberle: Multicolored Tapestry
Another important thing in the formation of Keberle and his musical mindset is willingness to take non-jazz gigs, not just for sustenance, but to see what they have to offer. Two of the most valuable experiences, he says, was playing with the Saturday Night Live band occasionally (subbing for his former teacher Turre) and touring with indie rocker Sufjan Stevens.
"Steve rarely misses ["Saturday Night Live"] because it's such an incredible gig. I've been fortunate enough for the last seven or eight years to get that call. I've gotten to know Lenny Pickett pretty well, who's become a bit of a mentor to me in terms of the music business. He's kind of a genius. His IQ is off the charts and it shows in his musical endeavors. Amazing composer, not just writing R&B stuff. He's also interested in contemporary classical electronic music. He's got an amazing mind, a very analytical mind. He taught me a lot about a lot of different things."
Of indie rock, Keberle says unabashedly "some amazingly interesting, emotionally moving, drama-filled, deeply spiritual artists are emerging from that world. A lot of crap, too, like anything. But Sufjan Stevens is one of the forefathers of that movement. He's been around for over 10 years now. He's always been a hero of mine. I knew a lot of the people playing with him and told them, 'Hey, if he ever needs another trombonist, let me know.' I know the music. I love the music. I got the call to do a world tour over about nine months, off and on. About three years ago. That was a real learning experience. He has a brilliant musical mind and is a brilliant artist in general."
Getting gigs has never been enough for Keberle. if he started taking the gigs to keep making a living in New York City, he grew to realize there was much more to it. "I learned over time that it was informing me," he says. "It has the ability to inform you if you're willing to take the time and analyze and think about what these different musics are about. That diversity is important."
"To make a living, you have to be as diverse as possible. But just because you know more styles doesn't give you a free pass to be as deeply knowledgeable about each of those styles. It takes a lot of time and dedication to each style and it takes a lot of listening. In the end it comes down to a lot of listening."
Keberle stays active and successful in New York. He's engrossed at time in teachinga situation where he learns many invaluable things in the process. He freelances frequently and gets to play with great artists. He hopes to keep Catharsis busy and continue to relish those pleasures.
"When people ask me what I do, besides saying jazz musician, [I say] I'm an improviser. That's what I'm best at. Even before the trombone, I'm an improviser. I sing and I think I take my best solos when I'm singing, because I don't have the trombone to get in the way. It's an incredibly difficult instrument. That's why I like playing the piano too. It's a different way to express my thoughts. Any setting, regardless of the style and background, that I can improvise, I'm happy. And of course jazz is where improvising is the focal point of the performance. That's where I'm most happy."
Ryan Keberle + CatharsisMusic Is Emotion (Alternate Side Records, 2013)
Ryan Truesdell Centennial, Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (ArtistShare, 2012)
Joe Fielder, Joe Fielder's Big Sackbut (Yellow Sound Label, 2012)
Ryan Keberle Heavy Dreaming (Alternate Side Records, 2010)
Ryan Keberle Double Quartet (Alternate Side Records, 2007)
Alicia Keys, Superwoman (J Records, 2008)
Maria Schneider, Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007)