10 Fingers: Reuben Rogers

by Ella Campbell

The same evening we posted an article about Eric Harland, we had the opportunity to interview Reuben Rogers after a Charles Lloyd concert.

Here it is: 10-Fingers-Minus-One with Reuben Rogers.

1. What music do you listen to when you’re feeling introspective?
“Wow. Okay. I don’t know. It depends on what I scroll through my iTunes and choose. It could be anything. It could be some Miles Davis, it could be some funky Meters, it could be Calypso. I don’t just listen to jazz. Anything that moves me. A lot of times I’ll just pick a tune that moves me, and then click Genius on iTunes and I just go. I’m inspired by different people that I know a lot of times. If I’m close to the musician, if I at least can touch them and know them and talk to them, I want to hear them. Since I know their personalities, I can feel what they have to say.”

2. What is your favorite music to dance to?
James Brown, Jungle Groove

3. What was the most profound moment you had during a private lesson?
“Wow. I can’t say that there’s one particular thing. Maybe a couple. I had a good bass teacher, his name was Mitt Brown in Boston, and it’s because of him, for the most part, that I have the foundation that I have as a bass player. Cause he was like” – He started slapping his hand – “nope. nope. nope. … I mean, not literally hitting me. But you know, he was straight. And I didn’t know how important him being on me like that was. I only had lessons with him for maybe a year, year and a half, and man, I owe him so much. It’s ridiculous. But also I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to study with a handful of great bassists from Ron Carter to Rufus Reid and countless others. And anything they give, any little advice is good advice.”

4. Who is a young musician we should be looking out for?
“Hm. Eric Harland! I mean the whole crew, Taylor Eigsti, Julian Lage… Those guys I love because we’ve had great history and they are carrying our music to a whole ‘nother thing. Ofri Muhemia. He’s going to be a bad boy, he’s checking all the cats out, Hutch and everybody.”

5. What music did you hear as a child that you still listen to today?
“Gospel music. Gospel music, calypso, reggae music, and I still listen to that still today. All the time. Even though jazz music is what I play every day all day, but all of that music is in me and it stays in me and I can’t get away.”

6. What was the first album you bought?
Jaco Pastorius. And Miles Davis Greatest Hits. I mean, back then you know, I didn’t realize that I needed to know the entire albums.  But I mean, it was a compilation so I was just like ‘Oh shit!’ Oh, it was some heavy music all on one record. I listened to those two records over and over and over. I didn’t have any money to get anything else, but you know.”

7. What song did you have stuck in your head today?
He laughed “That’s funny that you say that. I’m going to tell you right now. I don’t know why I don’t remember it. But you will be very surprised.” He started pulling his iPod out of his pocket. “We were in Memphis these past few days and I was,” he interrupts himself, “wait, you know who Kirk Whalum is? He’s doing wonderful things. He has this wonderful program his doing for kids and he has this museum and it’s a great thing. I knew Kirk over the years but I hadn’t listened to his music in a long time. He was so warm, and so great with us, that I was like, ‘I’m gonna go buy this brother’s album.’ I bought it today, and he has this song, this cover called ‘I Wanna Know’ — Who sings it though? JOE. — He does a cover of this. It’s totally smooth jazz, right? But my god. He does it so well. So, anyway, all day:” – Starts playing it on his iPod for us to listen to. He starts dancing. – “So that’s what I was doing. That’s what I was listening to. It was funny, I was like, dang, have I ever bought a smooth jazz album before? I used to play a lot of that when I was in college. But anyway, this is what I was listening to.” – plays it again – “But you know what else? They got an organ. And the beats remind me of gospel music because he comes from gospel. Strong gospel background. So anyway. That’s what I’ve been listening to.” He started heartily laughing. “Kirk Whalum!” He laughed again. “From Charles Lloyd to Kirk Whalum. You know what I’m saying? It’s all good music. It’s all good music.”

8. What’s your favorite basement album?
“I don’t know. I don’t know.” Eric heckled him to think of something. “I don’t know! Eric Harland Voyager! I can’t think of anything right now! Bump his stuff.” We gave him a second.  “I go back to the classics a lot of times. I love anything from John Coltrane. I’m still a sucker for the greats.” Eric chimed in, “for good music.”  “There’s so much out there that sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the new music out there. I’ll wake up in the morning sometimes and just be like, you know what, let me listen to some Coltrane Ballads for a second. Let me get myself together. And it always hits me still, those classic albums. Then, later in the day, I’ll go back to some crazy hard shit that I’m listening to. But, John Coltrane, Ballads.”

9. If you could see any musicians perform today, who would they be?
“Who would I go see? Damn.” You don’t have to think this hard. These are supposed to be easy questions. “There’s so much music out here now man it’s crazy. Bob Marley.” Eric said, “Oh. Put him on mine too.”  “I wish I’d seen him. You know who I saw recently, that was killin? One of Fela’s sons. Not Femi. The younger one. The newer one. He’s just gettin’ his shit together. Seun? Is that his name? Sum’n with a S. His show was happenin. He was dancin’ his ass off. You know who I wish I had seen? Tony Williams. I wish I saw Tony Williams play live. I could’ve, but I didn’t. Dumb. Ray Brown. I saw him play a lot, but I wish he was still alive today. He was a great, great man, period. On and off the bass.” Eric: “I would have liked to see Tony at like, 20.” “Duke Ellington. I wish I could see him lead a band.”

Until next time,
Swing sisters, swing!


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