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Take Five With Mike Rood

Take Five With Mike Rood
Mike Rood By

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Meet Mike Rood:

Born into a musical family, Mike has always been immersed in music. He has been playing guitar since he was seven, and his early influences include Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. Mike also studied classical piano for 13 years, performing in dozens of recitals and competitions. He won the Nicolas Flagello Piano Competition in 2000 and 2001. Drawn to improvised music from an early age, studies with legend John Patitucci during late high school sparked Mike's interest in jazz.

A self-taught guitarist for 10 years, during the last several years, Mike has studied primarily with Bruce Dunlap, John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Vic Juris, Jamie Begian and Ethan Mann, and also with Marc Copland, Kenny Werner, Claudia Villela, John Abercrombie and Oren Fader. Mike recorded original music on multiple occasions with renowned producer Bob Thiele in Los Angeles; those recordings led to his national television debut in 2004. In 2007, Mike performed original compositions at the Pelham Music Festival, at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, and at Bruno Walter Auditorium in Lincoln Center.

Mike currently leads The Mike Rood Communion, which performs avidly in the New York area and has featured such musicians as Mike Bjella, Colin Stranahan, Rick Rosato, Chris Tordini, Tommy Crane, Alex Spradling, Goh Izawa, Arthur Hnatek, Rogerio Boccato, and Glenn Zaleski. The group has appeared at such New York venues as Iridium, Fat Cat, Tea Lounge, Puppets Jazz Bar, Spike Hill, Sweet Rhythm, The Triad Theater, Shrine, and The Living Room, as well as GiG Performance Space, Vanessie, and Vernon's Jazz Club in New Mexico, and the Bern International Jazz Festival in Bern, Switzerland. Since its formation in 2008, the group has developed a captivating and provocative sound and style, with influences ranging from contemporary jazz, classical chamber music, progressive rock, and an array of world musics.

Instrument(s):

Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences? This could be a few pages long, but off hand I'd say Strauss, Ravel, Egberto Gismonti, Pat Metheny, Bruce Dunlap, Chopin, Mozart, Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, Joni Mitchell, Debussy, Brahms, Rage Against the Machine. Julian Lage, who is about my age, has been an inspiration since we were both about 16.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I honestly always knew I wanted to be a musician—my parents are musicians and my home was always completely full of all things music. I knew I wanted to be a guitarist around age 12.

Your sound and approach to music: Specific to guitar playing, I always strive for an acoustic, "real" sound on electric guitar, which I play mostly—not effects-ey and processed. This definitely comes from playing a lot of nylon-stringed guitar—there are so many possibilities for inflection, dynamics, tonal colors, etc. My general approach to music is to never get stuck in one particular genre, constantly surprising myself and trying new things.

Your teaching approach: I always put a strong emphasis on tone quality and good rhythm—with younger students, not even showing a student a written note until they can play some scales, arpeggios and simple tunes with a good sound and in good time. I like to push students to raise their own standards and always strive to improve. I also think it is important to have a balance between learning composed music and working on improvisation.

Your dream band:

Tough one—I could say Jan Garbarek on sax, Egberto Gismonti on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Zakir Hussain on tabla; that would really fun, but I might rather just get some good friends together and hide out for a month in New Zealand or something and just write, play, and breath some clean air.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Playing in Switzerland, I got really sick right before the hit and had to miss the first set on my own gig! Made it back for the rest of the show, though.

Favorite venue:

I guess Carnegie Hall is my favorite place to hear music—I've never played in the big hall but I'd love to!

The first Jazz album I bought was: John Patitucci's Communion, and it's still one of my favorites.

Did you know...

I'm deathly afraid of fish. It's called ichthyophobia.

Desert Island picks:

Joni Mitchell, Blue;
Richard Goode & Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Mozart Piano Concertos 18 & 20;
Bruce Dunlap, The Rhythm of Wings;
André Previn & Wiener Philharmoniker, Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathrusta & Death And Transfiguration ;
Egberto Gismonti, Jan Garberek, Charlie Haden, Folk Songs.

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