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Take Five With Bob Ross

Bob Ross By

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Meet Bob Ross:
My career in music began when I was 11 years old. I started playing trumpet and continued for seven years. At 14, I began playing guitar and have been doing so for 12 years. In 2008, I graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor of Music degree. In 2010 I earned a Master's Degree in Jazz Studies from University of The Arts in Philadelphia, PA.

Instrument(s):
Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?
I have had the opportunity of studying under several great teachers including Ray Ross, Glenn Ginn, Gordon Towell, Steven Snyder, Tom Giacabetti, Mike Kennedy, Ben Schachter, Don Glanden, Richard Lawn, Jimmy Bruno, and Pat Martino.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I knew I wanted to be a musician when I couldn't image doing anything else besides picking up my guitar and performing.

Your sound and approach to music:
My sound is a culmination of influences from rock and jazz. This comes across through my compositions and in my style of playing. I work to create an alluring sound from the guitar in order to give the listener an experience of imagery.

Your teaching approach:
Music is all around us. We find comfort, motivation, and a sense of understanding through listening and performing. With all the genres and sub genres that exist, we cannot deny the longing we feel to communicate. As an instructor/mentor of music, it is my role to guide my students in the best direction that suits their needs and individual pursuits. In order to do so, my students are expected to gain facility with their instruments in order to be well-rounded musicians that are prepared for a myriad of situations. My experience in jazz has taught me the importance of listening in order to effectively communicate. Not only do I put my students in this contextual learning environment to grow musically, but also personally. Music is a great source to communicate our own interpretations of what and how we feel, but it's the relationships that we create through performance and teaching that solidify our pursuit.

Your dream band:
My dream band is a group that listens and communicates. I don't want the musicians to go on autopilot, but rather engage and create an experience for the listener.

Favorite venue:
I do not have a favorite specific venue, but I enjoy those that are smaller. This creates a more intimate setting and allows me to feel more engaged to the audience.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
My favorite recording is my current album, Arriving (Self Produced, 2013).

The first Jazz album I bought was:
The first jazz album I bought was Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Musically, I am continuing to keep the jazz tradition going for the next generation. My approach to composing allows the listener to grasp easily to the melodic content while creating an awareness of the jazz idiom. If you make the music more accessible to the everyday listener then you have a better chance of bringing them further into the jazz world.

CDs you are listening to now:
Martijn van Iterson Quartet, The Whole Bunch (Munich Records, 2004);
Ari Hoenig, Bert's Playground (Dreyfus Music, 2008);
Matt Kane Trio, Suit-Up! (Self Produced, 2013);
Peter Bernstein, Solo Guitar (Live At Smalls) (SmallsLIVE, 2005);
Jonathan Kreisberg, One (New For Now Music, 2013).

Desert Island picks:
Jimmy Bruno, Burnin' (Concord, 1994);
Jonathan Kreisberg, Trioing (New For Now Music, 2002);
Peter Bernstein + 3, Heart's Content (Criss Cross Jazz, 2003);
Bobby Broom, Upper West Side Story (Origin, 2012).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Jazz is continuously moving forward, but I would say that the label does not describe this ever flowing and ebbing style of music. We need to stop trying to put these limiting labels on the music. I do feel that the music is almost becoming too academic, therefore losing the passion it once proclaimed. Both technically and harmonically, the music is continuing to push forward.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
To keep jazz alive you must keep the music acceptable while still pursuing your inner creativity. Because of the current music scene and limited listening focus, it is easy for the everyday listener to zone out when listening to jazz, especially if there are no vocals. We must be true to ourselves but make sure not to forget all of those who support our journey.

What is in the near future?
Currently and in the future I will be continuing to perform in the Greater Cincinnati Area. However, in the near future I do plan on pursuing a solo guitar album of original, improvised pieces.

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