Roger Aldridge is an amazing musician, composer, performer and more. He brings us into his world of many musicical styles. It was our pleasure to get to know him.
At what age did you discover that you wanted to be a musician?
When I was 8, I discovered my mother's collection of Big Band and Jazz records in the basement,.old 78s. I started playing them and that was it for me. Jazz had me from the first note. Then, I started on alto saxophone when I was 9, after a couple of years I added clarinet as a double, and in my early teen years I started on rough attempts at composition. By the time I was a senior in high school, it felt to me that music was the only thing that I knew how to do.
Are there any other family members who are involved with music?
What is the local music scene like in Maryland?
There's a pretty robust music scene in Maryland. Lots happening in Baltimore and nearby in Washington, DC as well as in smaller places across the state . All kinds of music can be found in the area from old-time Appalachian music, to Avant-Garde Jazz and Contemporary Classical. All kinds of ethnic music too.
What instruments do you play?
Alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, and alto flute are my primary instruments. I also play piano but only for working on compositions.
Your song "Blues For Lester", is an amazing tune that is laid back, funky, Jazzy, and makes me bop my head. How long did it take to compose it?
Yes, a lot of things are mixed together in this piece. As one quickly discovers when hearing it, it's not a conventional Blues. Rather, I think of it as being a strange blending of Jazz, Blues, Funk,and touches of Contemporary Classical. It also has a kind of quirky personal humor running through it. The music's playful quality might be a reason why the Hardcoremix Radio audience has connected with it in such a remarkable way. The piece is an expression of my admiration for Lester Young, the great Jazz tenor saxophonist, who had lots of quirky things in his music. Blues for Lester evolved through several versions over a period of time. I can't say exactly how long it took.
Where do you currently record the music you compose?
Actually, I don't record....or only rarely. I've found that I prefer to focus on writing new music and have other musicians perform and record my stuff. Most of the recordings of my originals, (including Blues for Lester), were made by music friends who live in the Philadelphia area and New Jersey. Happily, the recordings were done by the same players so there is a consistency among the tracks that I like very much.
Where do you tend to find the other musicians you work with on your songs?
This is kind of mysterious! Most of the connections I have with musicians who are performing and recording my music happened online. In the past few years I've started to do a lot of online networking. I currently use around a dozen sites, incuding Facebook, Linkedin, Reverbnation, EthnoCloud, Fandalism, Youtube, Exstream, Soundcloud, Fiddle Hangout, New Music USA, and several woodwind forums. As a result, I've found a number of musicians who developed a good connection with my music. As an example, the recordings by the players around Philadelphia, that I mentioned before, were a result of me becoming friends with Jason Shapiro on the Sax On The Web forum. Jason is a fine saxophonist and composer. I can't remember exactly how we connected. But, after I talked online with Jason one day an idea came to me to see if he could pull some players together and start making demos of some of my originals. He had the sessions at his house rather than in a studio. That enabled us to have the recordings done on a budget that I could afford. The first batch of tracks turned out so well that we kept at it. This might be surprising.... Everything was done long distance! I've never met Jason or the other players in person. I'd send the music to Jason, we'd talk about it online or on the phone, and the players would come in and do the recordings. Each one turned out beautifully. Currently, I have 30 recordings made by Jason and the group. Most recently, I connected with Keith Calmes. He's a fine Classical & Jazz guitarist who also lives in New Jersey. He performed one of my older pieces in a museum concert in NYC last year. Afterwards, he commissioned me to write a full-length solo guitar composition for him The piece, called Donut Music, is on his new CD of music for guitar. A video version of Donut Music is on Youtube. I've never met Keith either. The music collaboration with him was also done long distance. I'm always looking for more musicians and ensembles to discover and perform my music!
Do you play live anymore?
Not much now. I've played in many bands over the years. I love to play; but, there's something about the creative process of composition that really does it for me. I have a dream of forming a mid-size ensemble (around 9 or 10 players). I've been working on a series of scores for this kind of group. But, I've been so busy with one thing or another that I haven't been able to pursue having a band. Besides the mid-size ensemble, I also have a vision of a Tango-Jazz band. That would be fun. One day hopefully!
Your music is a vast crock pot of musical styles, are there any other genres you have not touched upon yet that you want to compose?
Sure! As you've discovered, many kinds of music interest me. At this point in my life, I compose mainly when either the music comes to me (through my intuition or in dreams) or someone asks me to write a piece for them. It's like being open to the universe and having musicians and new music drop in out of the blue. So, who knows what kind of music will next come to me or in some way get my attention. Keith Calmes has started to talk with me about writing a new piece for guitar that draws upon Indian (India) rhythms. That interests me. I'm also interested in collaborating with other kinds of artists (painters, poets, dancers, actors, etc). Avant-garde theater is of great interest to me. Also, I have a lot of music that has not yet been recorded. Several of these pieces are pretty OUT. I very much want people to be able to hear that side of my writing.
What music do you listen to in your private time?
Many different things, much of it being a result of music networking. Whenever someone fans me on Reverbnation (or other sites), I take some time to listen to their music, just as they've taken time to listen to mine. Most recently I joined the "I LIKE IT!" music group on Facebook. Members of the group submit original songs & compositions on a weekly basis to the group for reviews & comments. There's a truly amazing level of creative talent in the group and I'm hearing a lot of different kinds of things. Of course, Hardcoremix Radio is a great way to listen to and be exposed to many kinds of music!
Do you prefer the ease and clean sound of digital recording, or the warmth of old school tape recording?
I'm ashamed to say that I'm pretty low-tech when it comes to recording technology. I leave that to guys who know what they're doing. But, I prefer to listen to vinyl records when possible for the warmth and depth.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I have a lot more tracks that I'm looking forward to submitting to Hardcoremix Radio over time. Frankly, I'm amazed at how well Blues for Lester has done with the HCM audience....especially, given that it's a rather strange tune. I'm deeply grateful to the many people who have listened to Lester, and voted for it. For the next tune, after Lester as run its course.....? I'm thinking about submitting one of my Tangos. I'm a big fan of new Tango....especially, Astor Piazzolla's music. I've written a series of Tangos. Of course, they are in my personal style. The tango recordings -- made with violin, accordion, guitar, and bass, turned out really well. I'm curious about how a Tango might do on HCM.
Copyright 2012 Hardcorejamz/Mix