Tina Raymond is an accomplished drummer and composer, currently based in Los Angeles. She recently released her new album Divinations and she was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her new music.
Visit www.tinaraymond.com to learn more about Tina and her music.
Tina Raymond Divinations - Four on the Floor: October 2023
1) Tell us about your latest recording!
Divinations is a collection of six original songs inspired by tarot cards from various decks. It features Andrew Renfroe on Guitar and Karl McComas Reichl on bass.
2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?
I wrote these pieces in a very short period of time on similar subject matter, so they all fit together almost like a suite. I've played with both Karl and Andrew for a few years, and both have similar approaches to music in that they're fearless in their approach, but meticulous in their concept of sound. It also helps that we all live within ten minutes of each other - which is rare in LA. Two summers ago we were able to get together to play just for fun a few times, and I really loved the synergy among the three of us.
3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?
The instrumentation made sense with these two musicians, and I felt that trio format gave all of us enough room to stretch. The vibe came together organically. As I was mixing the record, I realized that the song, "The Emperor" really needed to be mixed more like a rock tune than a jazz tune, and that then set the tone for how the whole album was set sonically.
4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?
This album was a whimsical journey for me into my own voice as a musician and writer. The messages are less for the listeners and more for me - but if the listeners also walk away experiencing the emotional embodiment the music was trying to connect to - even better. Each song sits in an energetic space that the tarot card it was inspired by describes. For example, The Emperor card describes unwavering power that is fair and firm, and even in nature unless provoked. My creative process was then, "what does unwavering power... maybe provoked a little.." sound like? It would be great if listeners connected on that.
5) Who are your influences with regards to your style of writing?
Wayne Shorter, Monk, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Bobby Bradford - these artists wrote some memorable melodies. To me, the mark of a good song is one that gets stuck in your head.
6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?
I'm working with a student on some Roy Haynes transcriptions right now, so going back to We Three and Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. I've got another student working on Philly Joe and fundamental language, so we're listening to Everybody Digs Bill Evans and marvelling at the lack of toms - you don't even miss them!
I'm also loving some new music that's coming out of LA right now. Billy Mohler's new album Ultraviolet with Nate Wood on drums is fantastic, as is Anthony Fung's new album Fo(u)rth.
7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?
I'm on Rachel Eckroth's most recent release on Sam First Records called Humanoid. We've got her album release shows in early November, as well as some tour dates for that in the new year. A band I co-lead, Esthesis Quartet, has some shows coming up, as well as an album featuring our Chamber Music of America Grant Mentor, Bill Frisell, that is still in the production phases.
I also teach full-time at California State University Northridge, and am working on a whole lot of projects involving my students. We've got end of semester concerts in November, as well as all the plans for next semester productions. We're VERY excited to have Helen Sung coming in to play with the big bands in early March - that should be very exciting.
8) How does the drums and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?
As a drummer, my partner in crime is the bassist, so when I'm writing my ear frequently goes straight to a bass line. I think I also write using space in my forms and melody for the drums to interject.
9) What drummers do you consider as influences?
Art Blakey, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Mel Lewis are probably some of the biggest influences. I love Art Blakey's energetic space - you know it's Art Blakey immediately on recordings. Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones are where jazz solo language really comes together for me - I'm constantly working on transcriptions of their solos with students and discussing the thematic development and vocabulary. Mel Lewis' ride cymbal pattern and ability to keep a band in line with the most simple gestures is also something I admire.
10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and jazz drummers?
Learn the rules before you break them, but getting to the point of breaking them - or manipulating the guidelines to fit your aesthetic - is paramount in finding creative freedom and your voice on the instrument. Also - be mindful of your posture and technique. This whole endeavour has potential for repetitive stress injuries, and being conscious of moving and sitting in a healthy way will help your longevity.