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Ras Moshe

1.What brought you to music?

I always loved music.Jazz especially,but many kinds of music. Its hard to describe why. It was just always there..its still like that!

I heard Jazz everyday in the house..that's not too unique because lots of young black children grew up around Jazz,but maybe they didn't like it for themselves even though they know about it.

2. Describe your role models, muses and mentors.

Hmmm...one good model for me was/is John Coltrane. He overcame certain personal issues and because he devoted so much time to the music he was able to make a living from it...and playing some very creative music as you know already! Politically some of my role models are Malcolm X and Amiri Baraka..they had/have the ability to move forward and recognize that Things Have Got To Change.

Billy Bang was a kind of musical mentor in that he taught me about dynamics and playing the personality of the composition. He had a song called "The Softness Of Light" and I was barreling through the thing like Ascension or something. He said"man,what's the name of the piece?" I said "The Softness Of Light",and he said "so what the hell are you doing?" It improved my playing doing workshops with him.

All the artists I listen to are muses and mentors for me..just by listening.If I name them all,that would take a loooooong time!

3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences.

There are a group of us who play in different combinations. As far as my own bands I have a few. One with Jackson Krall,one with Rashid Bakr(Charles Downs) and Shayna Dulberger. One with Tor Snyder..and other formations with Hill Greene, Andre Martinez..Dave Ross,Tom Zlabinger,Kyoko Kitamura,Dafna Naphtali,Todd Nicholson.

The audiences are composed of many people of different cutural backgrounds and ages. I still have an audience from my Brooklyn days when I was playing Reggae too. Cultural Roots Reggae that is.

4.What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition?

Sometimes I use composition,and sometimes I dont use any..I just start playing. Both are important directions. At times,I can't get some people to play the pieces I write,because they think composition is not free enough. Or they intentionally play them the wrong way..I'm still not quite sure why,but I always have a lot of fun when I play anyway.

5.What role does teaching have in your work?

I'm currently preparing myself to be able to pass this music on to young people..this music is a cultural legacy and passing on what you've learned yourself is one of the main functions of cultural/political/artistic activity.

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