Sunday, April 12, 2009

Word with Ras Moshe.

Ras Moshe is another of the younger players who keep the music alive, well and robust, a semi heroic thing in this day and age.

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. 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.

6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work?

I was on the bus once and an older friend got on and she told me that the 60's represented a "great depression" in Jazz. I couldn't help but wonder,depression for who? The club owners or the musicians? Its been a damn depression already for many jazz musicians..since the music started!

I mean there have always been those who worked a lot and those who didn't..within any part of the music's evolution.
Actually a lot masters of this music have been through crazy things in order to play..not just in the 60's.

I think its better to say "i didn't like some of the newer music happening in the 60's" instead of saying the "60's was bad for jazz". In a lot of ways it was a good time because of the expansion of consciousness among the people. But that consciousness is seen as bad by those who want to conservatize Jazz. They think Bird and Louis Armstrong were going to vote for Rudolph Giuliani.

So,I said all of that to say that the Jazz musician(swing,be-bop,free,fusion etc.) has always been in a precarious situation regardless of all the econmic changes in America. I just think postive and make sure I have a day job. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how well played the "free music" your playing is..if its different it takes a little longer to get your voice out there.

7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time?

I haven't been overseas yet..but that's coming soon! Its always been a great reception and great turnouts when I play outside my NY/Brooklyn region .

8. How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work?

Its easier to produce your music yourself and put it out. One of the catches is that sometimes there's tons of music out there that's not that good just because the technology is there. I really don't like to judge,I want to record too,but that's what I've been seeing/hearing.

9. Describe your current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do.

I'm developing my writing my large ensembles..I want to do that often in the future. I like large and small groups.
I would also like to play with Rashied Ali,Sunny Murray,Milford Graves or Cecil Taylor!

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