A New Face - Make Mine an OliRockberger Please- with Zero Cheese!
Most composers and songwriters say that the natural and instinctive process previously described, once attained through hard work, is continually interrupted in moments where the tool box needs to be opened to solve a specific problem such as, "How do I modulate here?" or "How do I get back to the original key?" or "What are the same chords in this new key?" or "How should I re-harmonize this section?" or "Why does the movement between these two sections feel jerky and how I do I smooth it over?" etc.
Understanding that composition requires the use of different parts of the brain- the left and the right, the creative and the analytical, and learning to balance the two, has been very important to me in my development as a writer.
AAJ: Who are some of the great young fellow students and players you've met and gigged with at Berklee?
OR: There have been so many. Tony Grey (who plays bass in my band) is a phenomenal bassist, a musical and creative spirit, who is at once exciting and adventurous, tasteful and hard grooving. His technique is remarkable and playing with him is always experimental, dynamic and interactive. Tony finds and creates his own place in each song, and understands on a deep level when to adapt himself to the song, and when to adapt the song to himself, which is a rare skill.
Chris Farr, who now plays drums in my band, is one of the only drummers I have worked with who could make me cry with his playing. He is a musician who deeply understands the notion of playing the song and not just his instrument, or the specific section at hand. He is one of the most creative drummers I have worked with, balancing impeccable taste, soul and groove, with exceptional listening and support. He is very mature in his approach to music-making and this separates him in my mind from many top quality young drummers out there. I am constantly moved playing with both of them at the level of communication and dialogue which goes on during a performance.
Mitch Cohn is another great young bassist- we've worked on my material and on his original music. He has been a very important and positive influence on me as a writer and as a player. Jordan Perlson, a young Berklee drummer with whom I have worked a great deal, was one of the first drummers who I worked with on my original music and is a hard-grooving, extremely versatile and tasty drummer. He set the benchmark high in my mind for what I would like a drummer to bring to my music.
It was an honor to share the stage with Hiromi Uehara in the Berklee Performance Center for the 2002 Commencement Concert. She is one of the finest young pianists around, a great friend and is very supportive to me. Other young Berklee pianists/keyboardists to look out for are Ruslan Sirota, Romain Collin and Davy Nathan who are great inspirations to me whenever I see and hear them play. Performing with electric bassist Mark Kelly [note: Kelly is now with John Scofield] at Boston's Wally's was another period of immense growth for me and he is one of my favorite young musicians too.
Gilad Ronin, a young saxophonist from Israel on his way to the Monk Institute, is another favorite as well as tenor player Walter Smith III. Japanese drummer Akira Nakamura, guitarist/producer Josh Sadlier Brown from Canada, and vocalist Nia Allen are also favorites of mine. So many superb musicians come to Berklee every term and I'm convinced that I went to school with some of the best young musicians in the world.
AAJ: How did you find the current guys in your band?
I met Tony half way through my first term at Berklee and Chris in my second. We played together for a while on other people's projects, and regularly at Lucky's Lounge, a club in South Boston. During this period the three of us have developed a deep personal and musical connection. We've been playing my original music since February ?03.
AAJ: So you just came off some gigs at a pretty major English jazz festival. How'd that happen?
OR: A friend of mine who is from the town where the Festival is held (Brecon) had the details for the man who books the groups. I sent him an email and a disk and he really liked it. We then entered negotiations.
AAJ: I understand you've recently completed a demo. Can you explain some of the concept and focus behind it?