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Jeremy Rose: on new music, collaborations and running a label

Friedrich Kunzmann By

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My musical pursuits are driven by a deep curiosity to explore various forms of music that I love. —Jeremy Rose
On top of the highly praised 2017 release The Vampires meet Lionel Loueke (Earshift Music 2017) with his bandmates from The Vampires, Australian saxophonist Jeremy Rose unleashed his, somewhat overlooked, solo effort Within and Without (Earshift Music 2017) in June that same year. Featuring the unique language of American guitar innovator Kurt Rosenwinkel, the album demonstrates a very mature composer in Rose, who seems to constantly be in search of more depth in melody in correlation with unorthodox compositional structures.

Early November 2018 finally saw the saxophonist touring material off of that solo effort in Europe with Josh Ginsburg on bass, Tobias Backhaus on drums and Berlin-based Rosenwinkel joining on guitar as well. Allaboutjazz caught the hard-bopping set at the Reigen in Vienna, Austria, on November ninth, before which Jeremy Rose was kind enough to answer a couple of questions.

All About Jazz: You have so many different formations and musical outlets covering a large field of different genres. The Vampires, The Strides, your solo work, to name a few. How do you organize and manage all of this different musical in-and output? What's your compositional approach concerning the wide array of styles?

Jeremy Rose: My musical pursuits are driven by a deep curiosity to explore various forms of music that I love. To me, jazz is a vehicle for improvisation, a broad-church that allows me to draw from a wide variety of musical styles and traditions. I develop my projects over long periods of time, allowing them to evolve concepts and take on an identity of their own, with their own forms of improvised dialogue, compositional style and aesthetic boundaries. Within that, I can manage my approach to each group by focusing on the particular dynamics and personalities of each group and composing around their style.

AAJ: I'd like to think one can hear what you're explaining on your recent venture with Lionel Loueke The Vampires meet Lionel Loueke. This collaboration sounds extremely natural. How did the recording of that album go?

JR: Well first of all he's [Lionel Loueke] an extremely versatile musician and he's able to adapt his own sound and personality to whatever context. I spent a considerable amount of time checking out his back catalogue and examining his compositional voice in order to develop my compositional ideas and the exciting collaborative possibilities with The Vampires. I think one of the reasons that the collaboration worked so successfully was because we share similar influences and musical roots. But most importantly, we had a great time hanging out with Lionel and getting to know him—he's a really cool guy and we got on very well. That's incredibly important too.

AAJ: The official biography on your website mentions your musical influences being artists such as Tracy Chapman, Herbie Hancock etc... Does there exist one main influence who you'd say has stood the test of time and just sticks out for you? And where does the strong ethno-musical or world-musical influence which is so prominent in The Vampires' music come into the picture?

JR: The sounds that I grew up listening to—mostly hailing from my parent's records—have left their mark on my musical ear and my vision and that also includes music from Ravi Shankar, Charlie Haden, Jan Garbarek and many others. These kind of world-music and collaborations between Jazz musicians and non-western musicians have been big influences on my musical vision. These influences are also symbolic of the musical community in Sydney. I have collaborated with musicians from Iran, India, Korea, Japan and Australian indigenous musicians—it's a an exciting place to be a part of. My other band, The Strides, is a reggae-dancehall group with singers/rappers from Sierra Leone, Barbados and Fiji. I also have a sax quartet, Compass Quartet, that works with a Hindustani tabla player, sitarist and vocalist, which can be heard on Ode to an Auto Rickshaw (Earshift Music 2011). There have been extensive periods of my life where I spent a lot of time listening to music from various parts of the world and this informs my approach to jazz. I hope that all these various sounds come out in an authentic way, not through cultural misappropriation, but through an integration of various aesthetics and approaches to music.

AAJ: Your compositional approach as well as your language on saxophone seem very subtle and in a way, almost universal. Do you compose solely with your saxophone in mind? Is this specific instrument an absolute necessity to your music or is your approach to composition and playing more holistic?

JR: I studied the piano from an early age and this has had a big influence on how I approach music in a compositional sense. I guess I tend to visualize and hear harmony as a pianist rather than as merely a 'single-line' saxophonist. Many of my favourite players are also accomplished pianists, which doesn't surprise me, such as Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, even Miles Davis. So yes, when I go to play the saxophone, it is often based on a 'holistic' or a more complete picture of how I want the whole band to sound, rather than on an ambition just to be a saxophonist.

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