Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: Well, I think you're familiar with the record and the band post the record, but the band prior to that point, with Ron Mooradian on sax, was the real next part. I had the drummer from Luna and Ron playing tenor and soprano and a few different bassists, one of whom was Kermit Driscoll. Then toward the end of that period, Bill Frisell joined the band. So for about four months we had Frisell and Driscoll. That was really, really tough.
AAJ: With Frisell and Kermit?
RR: It's like I thought I had this whole charmed existence for Luna and when that fell apart, I still thought I did. I had a guy immediately approach me to manage me, because 'I was the guitarist from Orchestra Luna and everybody loved you and so all we gotta do is continue that momentum into this music and it will be a piece of cake.' He'd successfully been managing the John Payne Group and they had a deal with Arista and did OK for a while. He was hooked up with the right system for a jazz project - he thought he could really make it happen. I had written some tunes, and what happened was, I had written a tune a year, and they were all great! (Laughs) So my batting average was 1,000 and suddenly, I've got a band and I have to write the whole repertoire for that band'like fast! I didn't have it together as a writer. I didn't have an idea what I wanted for direction. I didn't think in terms of what would connect with an audience at all. I was just thinking in terms of what I loved. And the two things I loved at that time were Coltrane and Bartok.
What I learned from that experience was it's great to combine aspects of different musical languages as long as they don't fight each other. It's easy to look at musical languages and see elements where they potentially fight. Suppose you look at Coltrane's music and compare it to Beethoven's music. If you were to consider Coltrane's music from the standpoint of Beethoven's, Coltrane's would be bad. Because Beethoven's music was built on highly organized structure that were adhered to in a magnificent way; tremendous use of orchestral colors, development of themes (which is also a big element of Coltrane's music), development through different uses of color and orchestration. If you look at Coltrane's music, there's no orchestration, there's no sonata form happening-all these things aren't happening, so it's bad music. Similarly, if you analyze Beethoven's by Coltrane's structure-there's no improvisation, no soloing, no drummer, the rhythms are stiff, the rhythm section isn't happening, western classical music is all inside-actually it's not, but' I was trying to combine aspects Coltrane, Bartok and Weather Report, which was the third thing I loved, in ways, that just did not work at times. Sometimes they did. Like I'd say, 'Marcel Marceau' worked. I had elements of Bartok in there- I even used the Fibonnacci series that Bartok was into in some of the compositional elements . That was one where some of these language elements, by chance, worked together. But a lot of the stuff we were doing just didn't happen like that, and it was very challenging for us to play, and we were not at the level where we could play the stuff consistently, and even if we did, it was at a point where audiences just couldn't understand it. We were getting gigs in listening bars where yeah, they could handle jazz, if it had a beat, a melody and hot soloing ' we did a lot of hot soloing - but we didn't have the kind of consistent groove thing and consistent structure thing that people could just understand immediately. That group did very badly. We played a lot of rooms that called our manager back the same day and said, 'Don't ever send that band to us again!'
This was the precursor to stuff that ended up on the Mistral recording, before we weeded it out. I was really struggling with learning how to compose. I'd say I was doing student works and presenting them in public as supposedly professional compositions. Some nights were very good, but we had a lot of bad gigs with that band. I remember meeting Bret Willmott years after that. He said, 'I used to go hear your band. That was a good band on a good night.' I said, 'I know what you mean.' He said, 'I know you know what I mean.'(Laughs)
AAJ: Can you shed a little light on the Fibonacci thing?