Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: Some of Bartok's stuff was based on the series to every bar of music. Not only did it adhere to that mathematical formula, but also it sounded great and was emotionally happening- totally. To be able to put that together, to decide, well, here's a mathematical law of nature I want to incorporate into my music, and to make it beautiful the way he did- unbelievable. The Fibonacci is an additive number series. If you take one and add it to itself it's 2. 2 added to 1 is 3. 3 added to 2 is 5. It goes on 8, 13, 21, and off you go. If you then take all the ratios of pairs of numbers, like out to infinity and average those ratios you come up with the 'golden section,' which is phi, the basic ratio all the Greek architecture is built on. This is part of why his music exudes nature. It makes you feel like you're outside and there are beautiful things happening around, with creatures around, maybe at night. He wanted to get a law of nature to be consistently part of his music and thought that it might work. And it did! It's one thing just to write a good tune. Then to be able to write good music, but constrain yourself to a very tight mathematical schedule throughout every aspect of the music is just way beyond genius. The first movement of 'Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste'- even the bar numbers- it's 89 bars long and the climax happens at bar 55 -both Fibonacci numbers. After 55 the whole thing mirrors down and goes quicker because it happens two thirds of the way between the piece. In those days I was fascinated by that and it was deadly, because I was trying to get those kinds of things happening in groove oriented jazz. I should have been learning how to play more rhythm guitar at that point, y'know! (Laughs)
AAJ: How'd you hook up with Bill Frisell?
RR: I met Frisell through Kermit. They were roommates from the Midwest going to Berklee. We were playing at Michael's Pub in Boston every week and we were looking for a new bassist, so I invited Kermit down. We had a good night. He brought Bill and they both completely loved the band. Frisell called me up to do some lessons. I gave Bill Frisell lessons for about half a year.
I couldn't-I mean we'd play some tunes and it would just be so great-so I was like, 'Well' what?' It was like he was hiring me and paying me to teach him stuff, so I would assume the role of the teacher and say, 'Here's some stuff to work on that maybe you don't know.' And he didn't know some of the things I knew so I'd give him those things.
AAJ: Maybe it was like Mick, because you wound up playing with him too.
RR: Oh, no. I knew nothing when I started with Mick. We had the student- teacher roles very much intact when I studied with Mick (laughs). But Mick became a great Orchestra Luna fan. He was doing these group lessons and a few times he'd bring his entire group down to like, Paul's Mall to hear us. Every time Mick came to hear us we had a great night. And I had no idea he as there 'til the end or near the end. I'd probably have played like crap if I knew he was there. I was glad he heard good gigs when he brought his group. He was into the whole Gurdjieff thing then. I was in one of the first group-student things he did. We'd meet like 4 hours, one night a week. He had projects for us to do and we'd work on stuff together and present stuff to each other. He's totally one of the great music teachers- ever.
AAJ: So back to your band