Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: Not really. I had a midi synth in '87 and I started scoring right away when I got that. I did entry-level stuff for a company that did industrial videos, like product releases, called Cambridge Studios. I went in and met with them and said, 'I'd love to write to picture.' I said, 'Give me something you've done and I'll write some music to it, just for fun.'
So they had a product release thing for Lotus Manuscript, their attempt at a Word Processor. They liked the music a lot. About a week later, they said they had shown the version I'd done to the Lotus people and they loved it. So they said they'd pay me for the music. Then they described another project to me and I worked up a piece of music I thought might be useful to them. Instead, they ended up using some of other music I did for the first project, and it worked perfectly. I ended up getting paid twice for music that I'd done for free. I was paid enough to realize, 'This is good!'(Laughs)
I did their stuff for about a year. Then a friend called to help out with a PBS special, and I got hired as a staff composer for a while. I was doing the New England Telephone radio ads. A lick from that made it onto my Liquid Smoke record. Sheldon Mirowitz is the guy's name. You think about musicians you know in Boston-he's one of the most active musicians in the town and people don't know who he is. He's done feature films and advertising. I'm sure you've heard hours of his music over the years. He had a deal with Narada, and he kept telling me to send them my stuff. He wrote them a whole long letter on my behalf. I did finally send stuff to Narada and the number two A and R guy, right away, called back and asked for more. I didn't send him anything until he called me again- so I did. I had plenty of stuff because I hadn't done a record myself in two years.
Actually, during those two years I did two solo projects with George Jinda, and I wrote half the material for those. George was great. I kept all the publishing on that, half the royalties, and it was his deal. Plus he paid me a session fee on top of that. I met him through the Photogenic Memory production company guy. During that time period, I had rented a room in New York and tried to hook up some stuff. But what ended up happening was - I ended up hanging out with George. The Hungarian pianist that always worked with George, Szakcsi , did the demos with him on a cassette playing piano and singing melodies- that was the demo. The producer for Special EFX told us to work up some demos. So I worked on it really hard, and they decided to put it on one of their records. Part of their deal with JVC was George was supposed to turn in a couple solo projects, so it worked out that four of their tunes and four of my tunes were on each record. The first one got a lot of airplay and sold very little. The second one-well, we got too musical with it so it didn't get any airplay.
AAJ: So that's the one to get huh?
RR: No, not really-it's not musical enough to be really serious-it's still smooth jazz
AAJ: Which brings us to your records for Narada, which are classified as New Age-great music!
RR: Well, Liquid Smoke, definitely. Primal Vision came next. Liquid Smoke was at the end of '93. Material I had for two years after Photogenic Memory. I did three records in a two-year period, which for me was major. It was, 'We like your demos. We're going to put this out. Here's this guy who pays guitar and is creative-here's his music-not really new age and certainly not smooth jazz-see if you like it.'
AAJ: How did you veer off from fusion music?
RR: I was not even thinking about it. I think the things I wanted were beautiful melodies and nice grooves 'there's a tune called 'Ferry' that was the most definitive. 'Copan' and 'Not so Far' were also very cool tunes that were more adventurous. As it was, this turned out to be older tunes that I had composed. I was not thinking of beautiful melodies as falling into any category in particular. I was hearing stations playing instrumental music and thinking, 'Well, if this were good and had value, what would it be?' Just like you could have a crappy Top 40 song or a really good, well-crafted, heartfelt, Top 40 song- instrumental music that could be listened to by someone other than a jazz player that had some value.
RR: Then there was the Raz record, which was unfortunate..that was me doing standards in the style of Primal Vision (laughs).
AAJ: I read a great review for that record somewhere.