Take Five with Tomisheep

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Meet Tamas Barany (aka Tomisheep):

I am a pianist/keyboardist, arranger and sound designer, based in Montreal, Canada, working predominantly as a composer of theme music and soundtracks for cinema, television, and advertising. I am also an independent artist/composer—just released Rhodes Trip under my own name—and perform sometimes as a guest pianist-keyboardist for other artists.

I inherited my love of music and performing from my mother, Gizella Dallos, a Hungarian folk singer, and from my father, Gyula Bàràny, who played the Hohner clavinet as a hobby. My dad was an agent of the Hungarian Secret Service—(shh, don't tell)! When I was a child, I toyed with the clavinet and listened to my folk's old records—many of which were forbidden by the Communist government at the time. At eight, my dad brought home a used grand piano, with which I immediately fell in love. I enrolled at the Bartok Béla Zeneiskola, (Béla Bartok Music Academy), in my hometown of Szolnok, Hungary, where I studied music performance, theory, and history. Bartok, Chopin, and Liszt are still some of my main inspirations.


Piano, keyboards.

Teachers and/or influences?

My mom, a traditional Hungarian folk singer, was my main influence from early on, and my father, thankfully, supported us both. When he brought home the grand piano, I was about eight. I started taking lessons from an 80-year-old lady, who sometimes fell asleep while I played. When I hit a wrong note, however, she'd wake up and whack my hand with a wooden stick. "Continue from there!" she'd bark—it was more like a kung- fu class. But let me tell you, I soon learned to move my hands really quickly! The old lady's method helped me a lot, so I stayed with her for awhile. And boy was I proud when she introduced me to the director of the music conservatory as her best student!

Then there were the gypsies from my mother's band, who also kicked my ass. I learn the hard way, but it worth every second.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I played the first piano pieces to my parents and friends and saw their faces. I felt like I was a magician!

Your sound and approach to music:

You can't (un)fortunately buy good ears and talent. If you have it and you learn to use it, you then have to find the people who understand your sound, or your style. Life usually shows you the way. Then, you need patience, a lot of it. I've always believed that good musicians and good music will find their way—and if not, then there is something wrong. And hey, that won't necessarily be the audience's fault.

Your teaching approach:

I think it all depends on the student: if he or she wants to learn and practice, then it can work. If not, then too bad. Teachers should do their best to keep their students interested in music, but they also should be honest and not create fake dreams just to keep their income.

Your dream band:

Once, I would like to work with an orchestra or a big band. I love listening to the powerful energy of so many well-arranged instruments together.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I was traveling once with friends to play at the Gronau/Germany Jazz Festival. We started from Budapest, Hungary with a minibus; the road is about 10-12 hours. Our driver was slow, who never went faster than 80km/hour even though there is no speed limit in Germany. It took us 18 hours to get there—we all took turns sleeping on the only flat surface, my Rhodes piano. Two, three hours each in the fetal position on the piano, we were quite a sight. We arrived to Gronau late of course, and since it was raining there were no outdoor shows. We were sad but decided to head to nearby Amsterdam to cheer up, where we had a great time, (no details). The ride home was a little faster; I took over the wheel.

Favorite venue:

I recently played at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The sound at the festival was excellent, and it was very well organized—a super entertaining event with nice and happy people from around the world!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I adore my latest album, Rhodes Trip, because it was so spontaneous! None of us even imagined what would come out of it. Listen to it and you'll see what I mean.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Herbie Hancock, Jammin' with Herbie.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

My album is instrumental because I wanted people to be able to close their eyes and imagine whatever they want. There isn't that concrete dimension sometimes created by words. Also, I made Rhodes Trip for people who aren't necessarily jazz lovers, in a more "digestible" format and style, with lots of variety to enjoy. I hope it's "intelligent" music, one that people will connect with. Like a good book or a film, or even a tasty dish—you don't need to have it every day, but once you've had it, you feel more complete.

Did you know...

I love to cook traditional Hungarian food.


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