AAJ: Flash of the Spirit, written by Professor Robert Farris Thompson?
MR: Yes, exactly. He said that seemingly different traditions are characterized by common principles. In the case of the musics that stem from Africa, there are a lot of things in common. I always think about the subtlety, the mastery, the creativity, the discipline. This music teaches us the higher principles of life.
AAJ: I couldn't agree more.
MR: One is called on to deal with so many things and the key is balance. Balancing limitation and expansion; form with freeform; respect for and acknowledgment of tradition with a drive for creativity and evolution; aggressiveness with receptiveness, how to react and listen at the same time, incorporating the voices around you, taking the initiative. If you can get that stuff together, then perhaps there is hope that it will carry over into your overall persona. Of course, that's not always the case. There are people that have their stuff together when it comes to their instrument, but don't look too close at their personal lives!
AAJ: Any parting thoughts?
MR: With Quintessence I really strive for a unique rhythm section sound. I don't always achieve it, but there are a few tracks where the interplay is exactly what I am striving for.
AAJ: Coming from a perfectionist such as yourself, that's saying quite a lot!
MR: There is something that I look for that is very organic and there is only a handful of drummers and bass players with whom it comes together in that way. I think that "Link, "Advance Dance and "Guapo (in the solo sections) are good examples of a unique rhythm section approach. This aspect of our sound helps to define the group and makes us rather untraditional, because I am not looking for a time-keeping approach.
AAJ: Is The In Side Out available in stores?
MR: It can be purchased at my website and also at CDBaby. North Country Distributors makes it available to retail outlets.
AAJ: Your music is a feast for the ears. I have no doubt that it will appeal to anyone who appreciates good music.
MR: Someone told me that people have a tendency to respond to diversity in one of two ways. In the past I have been praised for being diverse, but I have also been told that it makes it difficult for the market to define me. I can't wrap my head around the idea that I should calculate a way to get over, as opposed to continuing to grow and create music that expands the mind and the musical language.
AAJ: At the end of the day, is the material just too deep for commercial radio?
MR: I'm saying that it is not going to fit the traditional jazz format. The only one that might fit that format is the one for Duke, "With You in Mind.
AAJ: The fact that "Eshu Laroye is receiving quite a bit of airplay is a good sign. Two of my favorites are "Warm and "Life is for Learning.
MR: Aha, so you like the "fonk !
AAJ: Moi? I love the funk! It's been a pleasure. Thank You.
MR: And I thank you Tomas.
Michele Rosewoman and Quintessence The In Side Out (Advance Dance Disques, 2006)
Michele Rosewoman and Quintessence Guardians of the Light (Enja, 2005)
Michele Rosewoman, Spirit (Blue Note, 1996)
Michele Rosewoman, Occasion to Rise (Evidence, 1993)
Ralph Peterson, Art (Blue Note, 1992)
Greg Osby and Sound Theater, Greg Osby and Sound Theater (JMT/Winter&Winter, 1987)
Courtesy of Michele Rosewoman