Thursday, October 15, 2020

Adonis Rose "Piece of Mind - Live at Blue LLama"

New Orleans drummer and composer Adonis Rose recently released his latest album of music on the Storyville label, recorded live at the Blue LLama jazz club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Check out his Bandcamp page to download his album here and learn more about Rose's music on Storyville's website: https://www.storyvillerecords.com/products/piece-of-mind

This album was welcome news here at Four on the Floor. Back in the early 2000s while I was still living in Montreal, I really enjoyed listening to and learning from Rose's albums and dynamic drumming on the Criss Cross label on a regular basis: The Unity, Song for Donise and On The Verge.

Adonis was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest recording project (check it out!):

Adonis Rose Interview - Four on the Floor October 2020

1) Tell us about your latest recording! How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen? What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did? Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

Piece of Mind - Live at the Blue LLama is my first live recording as a leader. It was a project that was on my mind to do for a while and finally came to fruition through my partnerships with Storyville Records and Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, MI. I chose a quintet with trumpet and saxophone because that configuration and sound have been constant throughout my career in the various bands that I’ve performed with. I first played with Terence Blanchard, and then had a ten-year tenure with the Nicholas Payton Quintet. I have also played in the bands of great singers such as Kurt Elling, Nnenna Freelon, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, so I wanted to include a vocalist on this recording. I think everything came full circle for me with this project. It is a feel-good record that takes the listener on a musical journey through great times, various styles, and unique instrumentation.

2) Who are your influences, on and off the drums, and why?

When it comes to drummers who have influenced me, I would have to include almost everyone I’ve listened to and studied with so far. My favorites are Baby Dodds, Papa Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Joe Chambers, Jack DeJohnette, James Black, Herlin Riley, Shannon Powell, Billy Kilson, Lewis Nash, and many others.

My non-drummer influencers include so many people that I wouldn’t have enough time to mention all of them! Life is very interesting and has a way of influencing you gradually and unexpectedly. 

Wynton Marsalis has always been a huge influence for me, and he seems to be now more than ever. His relentless passion and pursuit of educating and promoting jazz around the world is unmatched. His ability to lead a large cultural institution for decades while maintaining the ability to perform and compose on a high level has been very inspiring to me, especially now that I have to run an institution and am an artist at the same time.

George Wein has changed my perspective on what it means to be an artist and the importance of dreaming big. I’ve been reading his autobiography, which is very informative. He is clearly an innovator, and the book helps me realize that thinking outside of the box and understanding jazz as a business is vital for artists. His story is incredible, and his accomplishments have immensely impacted our industry.

3) What are you practicing and listening to these days?

I have to admit that it has been difficult to practice consistently during the pandemic. Having so much uncertainty and death has caused the world to be very dark at times. I’m sure many musicians are dealing with periods of ups and downs and are looking for inspiration wherever they can find it. I have always practiced the basics to maintain consistency. Touring helps with this. I still practice my rudiments because it would be almost impossible to achieve what I hear on the drum set without that. I’ve also been composing music, planning tours and concerts for next year, and finishing new recording projects.

4) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I am actually in the studio right now, starting a new recording project that will be released late next year. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a new project with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which features Cyrille Aimee that we are planning to release sometime in 2021. As Artistic Director of NOJO, I curate concerts, develop educational programming, and create opportunities for our orchestra members year-round.

5) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz drummers?

Be the best musician that you can be every time you get behind the drum kit. Educate yourself about harmony and melody to influence and advance musical situations that you are involved in. Learn about the music business and aspire to be a leader. Listen and be patient. Welcome constructive criticism and always be your biggest critic.

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