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A New Face - Make Mine an OliRockberger Please- with Zero Cheese!

By Published: October 3, 2003

The idea behind the music and the band is that singer/songwriting, improvising, group interaction and stretching out are all crucial ingredients in what we do, and in this respect, I have tried to create the ideal environment for my musical skills, which are broadly based, and not specific to one area. I'm in between singer/songwriter, jazz player, and gospel/R&B/funk/pop pianist and in my group, I'm able to be all these things, in what we consider to be one homogenous package. In addition to my work with my own group, I would love to become a first call pianist for pop/rock/folk/R&B/gospel/country studio work. Eventually I would like to teach college level and produce. Songwriting for other artists and collaborating is also something I would like to explore in time.

AAJ: What music holds your most extreme interest these days, and what of it may influence your next project or recording?

OR: Both singer/songwriters and jazz artists. I love Peter Gabriel and want to explore more of his work. I also heard some Vince Mendoza arrangements recently and have to get some of his work too. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and also Oregon interest me as well as Rickie Lee Jones or Michael McDonald. I'm always checking out contemporary gospel and new R&B and pop/rock artists too, in addition to listening to all my old favorites. I think that continuing to explore contemporary music and culture will play a great part in my next project.

AAJ: What's in your CD case at the moment?

OR: I've been listening to this pianist singer/songwriter who was recording in the 90s. His name is Michael Ruff and I really like his music. New Moonshine by James Taylor is also one I've just got hold of and love.

AAJ: Any other musicians you'd like to comment on, or whose playing you particularly respect? Any musicians you would particularly like to work with?

OR: There are so many. Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Pat Metheny, and Maceo Parker are players I would dream about performing on my music someday. I would love to write/perform with artists like Cassandra Wilson or Dianne Reeves, and it would be a dream to play piano on tracks for Sting, James Taylor, or Eric Clapton someday.

There are some artists who I am honored to call friends who have made a big difference to me through their encouragement and support. Chris Laughlin is one of my mentors- the bassist and musical director for Brian McKnight,-super musician and very special person. Saxophonist/singer/songwriter Walter Beasley is a mentor and one of my most influential teachers from Berklee- a consummate performer and artist-? and I learn so much from watching him play and by talking about music with him. These are people I would love to work with in the future

AAJ: To wrap up, please tell us your musical plans, or projects in the pipeline, for 2003 and beyond.

We are hoping to perform at several festivals and big clubs in the UK and Europe this year, which are all promising works in progress. We'll also be traveling to Ecuador several times over the next 6 months through various connections our drummer, Chris Farr, has over there. We hope to record a full record soon and will continue to do everything we can to get out there and be heard by the public. Winning friends, fans and a following is crucial, as is finding the right management and representation. We need to continue working hard and are hoping to have our team assembled in the near future, through getting our music in to the right hands, and by continuing to perform in high-profile settings in the US and in Europe.

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Photo Credit
Suki Cohn

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