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Rez Abbasi

Rez Abbasi Interview

 

For better or worse we use labels, catch phrases and sound bites to categorize things not only for the purpose of describing, but also for the sake of convenience. If we put something under an all-encompassing category we don’t have to concern ourselves with the details about what it actually is. However, this lack of knowledge and understanding usually creates inaccuracies and falsehoods that become accepted as fact by the general public.
Music is one area where the “convenience” of labels does more harm than good. Some descriptive terms might be necessary for the media and some music listeners. But the casual sweeping of stylistic and cultural musical differences under misleading generic umbrellas is when music suffers the most.
Guitarist and composer Rez Abassi is keenly aware of the ignorance caused by calling music something it is not. He also knows that new and innovative forms of music are undeservedly thrown into music genres of the past. His latest recording, Things To Come , is a truly original work that defies quick and easy categorizing. And while Rez is mindful of the past, he is inspired by his influences, he doesn’t copy them. Things To Come is a unique musical statement of complex ensemble arrangements; intricate rhythms that make your body move; and very tasteful and expressive guitar playing.

The music on Things To Come is the result of Rez stretching himself as a composer to write pieces that incorporate Indian vocals and rhythms in jazz; and colors the ensemble with orchestral-like textures. The result is music that is sonically cinematic in its scope, richly detailed, and seamless in its execution.

Additional biography info, complete discography, touring schedule, articles and interviews are available on Rez Abassi’s website at http://www.reztone.com and at MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/rezabbasi.

This interview is the first time Rez Abassi and I have talked at length. Throughout our conversation, Rez was spontaneous, engaging, thoughtful, funny, and refreshingly candid and honest. These qualities, and more, can also be discovered in the music on Things To Come .

Rez Abbasi

Rez Abbasi

 

PART 1

Rod: One of the things I like about Things To Come is it’s very, very deep; very original. I couldn’t just give it a cursory listen because there were a lot of different layers to it: the use of extended time; the ensemble playing; the complex arrangements I don’t’ know how you came up with some of this stuff, man.
Rez: I’m glad to hear that.

Rod: It wasn’t just, uh…
Rez: It wasn’t just one-dimensional.

Rod: Yeah! That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s not one-dimensional.
Rez: Exactly. That’s the way I was thinking about this project, more “orchestral” instead of simply being another jazz record where the melody is stated, everybody blows, then the recap of the melody. I was really focused on all that stuff you just said.

Rod: It comes through, believe me. The first couple of times I listened to it, I kept trying to break it down and analyze it. It wasn’t until the third time that I just listened to it and enjoyed it as music.
Rez: I know, I know. I’m trying to balance it between both those states of mind.

Rod: As a starting point, did you come from a musical family?
Rez: I would say as hobbyists, yes. There were a lot of aunts and uncles that sang at weddings and other gatherings. My father still sings poetic songs from Pakistan and India and a few of my relatives play flute and whatnot.

Rod: Did you take any formal lessons?
Rez: I was playing piano a little bit. But just like most 9-year-olds having fun with the piano, it wasn’t serious. I think when I hit 11 is when I started really gathering consciousness of what music can be. It’s kinda interesting how that came about. My uncle brought home some guitars. They were electric guitars, so that was even more stimulating to me as a child. And that’s really how I got my start.

Rod: So when did you kinda know the guitar was IT for you?
Rez: Strangely enough, I remember in detail how that felt. It’s kind of weird, because being 11-years-old, there’s not much I recall from that period. One day my brother was practicing guitar and we would compete: “Who can play this the best when the lights are off?” We played that Led Zeppelin song, I forgot the name of it [starts singing]…

Rod: [recognizing the tune] Oh, “The Ocean”, from Houses Of The Holy!
Rez: Exactly! That got around the guitar a bit, so we played it. And I just felt my time and feel were right on the money. I remember thinking, “God, I’m pretty good.” I won that contest and my brother even admitted it. So that was my first eye-opener. Of course, that was back then and I’ve been through many challenges and doubts ever since [chuckles].

Rod: So when did you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
Rez: I was in rock bands until about 16. But that was actually the time I discovered jazz and classical guitar; not classical orchestral music, but guitar.
My friend took me to a Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald concert. Of course, I was into Van Halen and all those virtuosic kind of guys at the time. So when I saw Joe Pass I said, “Maaan, here’s an old guy that’s playing circles around Eddie!” [chuckles]. So that was alluring. It made me think, “Wow, there’s a lot more I can learn here.” The same friend also introduced me to classical guitar. So when I was 16 is when I realized I could take this seriously and that it’s not simply about playing parties and trying to become a rock star.

Rod: Did you feel that playing guitar was your way of personal expression, that you could speak through music?
Rez: Yeah. Not only “speak”; but I could actually go to college and study. Because what do you study in rock-n-roll? By the time I was 16, I’d played all kinds of Rush tunes, Van Halen tunes, etc. I had the vocabulary under my skin.
But when I met with jazz and classical music, I realized “Wow, I don’t have this under my skin at all.” So here’s something I could actually study for the next, well, for life really. And that’s when it just went right over the top. My mother still can’t believe the significant change of mind and change of heart that sort of happened over night. She said; “You used like that heavy metal and suddenly you’re sitting home practicing jazz and classical guitar six hours a day!”

Rod: [laughing] Rez: I’m serious [chuckles]. I had a serious agenda goin’ on.

Rod: I understand that George Benson, and Pat Martino were some of the guitar players that you liked.
Rez: Yeah. It was them and Wes Montgomery. But that was a certain kind of stylistic way of playing the guitar. And I still hear it like that: Especially George Benson/Pat Martino, that kind of heavy staccato-burn, kind of blues-ish guitar. I loved that; and I still do. I learned a bunch of solos off of records and played along with them. And I also dug into Robben Ford and Larry Carlton for a different thing.
But the real seminal person for me, really, was Jim Hall. And I kinda discovered him when I was more like 18. I was really into technically proficient players in the rock realm, which led me to people like Benson, Wes, and Martino who also “burned”, so to speak. But then I heard Jim Hall, and again I made another sort of over night discovery of “Wow, you don’t have to play so much.”

Rod: Aaaw man. He really epitomizes that “less is more” approach.
Rez: It’s really funny ’cuz people are kind of surprised that Jim Hall is my biggest influence. I tend to play a lot of notes on occasion, too. But it’s not about only the notes. It’s about the conceptual aspect that’s really behind the notes, beyond and behind the notes. It’s not necessarily what the audience is hearing, but what I’m hearing and what I’m thinking. In a nutshell, I’m trying to develop motifs rather than playing lines and patterns.

Rod: It’s more from a compositional viewpoint.
Rez: Yeah, there you go. That’s a better way of saying it: from a compositional viewpoint.
Then of course from Jim Hall came all the players that we know these days: Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie and John Scofield. I think those four were like my next kind of schooling step: how you can use this conceptual/compositional approach surrounded by modern, original music.

Rod: I read that you went to college to continue your studies?
Rez: I went to The University Southern California. At USC, not only was I studying guitar, I was studying all kinds of other orchestral elements. I took courses on conducting an orchestra; composition of classical music; history of classical music.
Now the only thing I did miss from USC and the California experience was actually playing with people. So that’s why I left and came to New York, ’cuz I knew that that was the place to go if you wanted to get your feet wet, really start playing and hit the street, so to speak – the rawness. And that’s what I did. I went to the Manhattan School of Music. At MSM, there was a lot of emphasis on jazz but I was actually a little disappointed with one aspect of the Manhattan School of Music: that it wasn’t enough about 20th century classical music that I also loved. When I look back on the whole thing, it was a fine balance. I am glad I went to both.

Rod: When did you arrive in New York?
Rez: In ’88.

Rod: I’ve read interviews where musicians have said that New York will eat you alive if you’re not up on it. Did you feel that way when you first got there?
Rez: Yeah…I kinda still feel that way. I mean, when I go anywhere in the world and come back to New York , I still feel that underlying urgency. It’s never really laid back for me. Just because the amount of people who are outside all the time, and the amount of cars that are goin’ by. I suppose it would be like living in Bombay, Madrid, Paris or London.

Rod: So it was a bit of a shock moving from California to New York?
Rez: Yeah, it was. It was pretty unbelievable. I gotta say the first, probably four years, were consistently incredible. Just in terms of like, “Wow! I still can’t believe I’m here.” And then you get used to your lifestyle…the five coffee shops that you go to [chuckle]. All that stuff becomes similar after a while.
Yeah, there’s just nothing like it. But on the other side of the spectrum, I can see myself maybe desiring nature a bit more and not so much cement.

Rod: I hear a bit of a “city vibe” in Things To Come .
Rez: Yeah, I would suspect that. Well, especially the players add to that. If I took those compositions and used other musicians from a different area of the world, it would have been an entirely different record. And not the sound I was particularly going for. Even within New York, there are so many varieties of players. So this group, as a unit, made this record possible.

Rod: Gotcha.
Rez: Again, it’s a combination of all the parts and elements. And that, to me, creates the whole.

Rod: Let’s talk about the early phase of your career up to the Snake Charmer recording.
Rez: That is an interesting stage, actually. Snake Charmer was the first record that prompted a bit more overt Indian influence within my music. The three records before that (Third Ear, Modern Memory, Out Of Body) definitely have Indian elements in them, but under the radar.
I’ve studied Indian music earnestly ever since I was probably 20. I think when I was 18, my parents took me to a house party and you wouldn’t believe who was actually playing there. Three feet away from me was Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussain!

Rod: No Kidding!?!
Rez: Yeah!

Rod: Wow!
Rez: I guess I am lucky to be in the community or else I wouldn’t have been introduced to this music at that age. So I hung out with Zakir a little bit and of course I was blown away…

Rod: He’s just a monster, man!
Rez: Yeah. You can’t help but go “Oh my God!” Your jaw just drops when he plays.

Rod: Had you seen Zakir with John McLaughlin and Shakti before that?
Rez: No. I’ll tell you before that, honestly, I always thought Indian music was for older people because my parents were the ones who were listening to it. I was listening to American/European rock, and then jazz. I hadn’t discovered Shakti at that point.
So when I was 18, that experience cemented for me just how powerful music from India is. I soon started studying with one of Ravi Shankar’s disciples who taught me things about rhythm and melodies. And when I moved to New York, I continued to study tabla.

Rod: I understand you studied with Ustad Allah Rakha [Zakir Hussain’s father]?
Rez: It was very loose; I didn’t even play tabla at the time. I went to India and sat in on a number of classes he was giving. And after that, I studied with one of his disciples named Ray Spiegal from the east coast. But if one were to truly study that art form from a master, they would spend months or years in the room. That’s the way it’s done there and also nothing much is written down. I just felt like a sponge, learning by feeling the feeling.
After a year of pushing myself with the tablas, I realized that I needed to get my act together with other things like composition and playing better guitar. So I basically stopped playing tabla.

Rod: Did you go through a period of trying to absorb more Indian classical music at that time; doing some woodshedding in that area?
Rez: Yeah. At that time I did a lot of listening. After that I sort of went through a time when I was not particularly interested in incorporating Indian elements. I felt they would come out naturally because I started playing with Indian musicians more. And I was playing with jazz musicians who also actually studied Indian music. So it wasn’t something I had to go out and search for anymore; especially living in New York.

Rod: Did you feel you had made a “reconnection” to something?
Rez: Maybe not a “reconnection”, but a “magnified connection”. Because I was always somewhat connected to it.

Rod: Maybe that’s the wrong way to put it. The music was already in you, but did something happen that got it out of you?
Rez: Yeah, a number of events I would say. One was that house concert experience I mentioned. The other was simply going to India and witnessing, absorbing the land and people that this music came from. The affect of that can’t be overemphasized. It’s very important to study the land as well as the music. That’s why so many European jazz musicians come to New York to visit or live.

Rod: So Snake Charmer brings us to 2005 and you’re incorporating Indian elements into your music.
Rez: An important event that took my music in a newer direction, starting with Snake Charmer, was that I met my wife at that time (vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia). She actually asked me to play in her group.

Rod: [laughing] Rez: [chuckles] Yeah, I know. It’s weird. I was just looking for a girlfriend [laughs]…

Rod: [still laughing] Rez: I’ve always had this open-ended idea of incorporating my roots into the music. So when she said, “Hey do you know about ghazal music?”…“Do you want to perform in my band?” or “Are you interested?” Well, first of all I said, “Heck yes!” I then asked her to be on my record. I was putting together the trio for Snake Charmer at the time and was considering an Indian female voice, but wasn’t happy with what I had heard up till our meeting. It was very serendipitous really. And so I said, “Okay, sure. I’ll be in your band. But I would love to have you on my record.” So that’s the way it happened.
And when I incorporated her in some of the music, I realized how naturally it was unfolding. So she’s been on the last three records of mine, adding a true element of Indian music. That was sort of a branching off of my previous work.

Rod: Ghazal singing seems very improvisational.
Rez: Definitely, yeah. She studied classical music a lot as well; classical singing and so she improvises. I think the voice sometimes works better in jazz hybrids than the instruments of India. I mean, I love the sitar and sarod but in terms of bringing them into jazz, they can often sound forced.

Rod: That’s one of the unique things about Things To Come , the way the voice blends with the other instruments. Kiran’s voice is like another instrument in the arrangements.
Rez: That’s part of an underlying strategy I had for Things To Come , specifically. And her improvisations really add to the sonority of the whole record.

Rod: Do you think of Snake Charmer and Bazaar as a “Part 1 & 2” set of recordings?
Rez: Yeah. They were with the same group except for the special guests. Snake Charmer had Dave Liebman, which was great because his soprano is almost snake-like. So it was really interesting to have him on the record. And I hope to do something with him in the future ’cuz he’s a startling musician.
There’s a variety of guests on those two records. Rudresh Mahanthappa and Marc Mommaas are two horn players that were on the Bazaar record. But for the most part, those records are organ-guitar-drum trio with Kiran’s vocal on a few tracks. So that’s really kinda like a trio/quartet. And with Things To Come , of course I expanded that.

Rod: What was the evolution from Bazaar to Things To Come ? Were there any life events or musical influences that pushed the music in that direction?
Rez: Yeah. It could have been all that stuff. I’ve already done two records with the organ and I felt I wanted to expand my writing a bit and incorporate the piano. That way, I could really separate the bass function with the chordal function along with myself doing counterpoint and melody. And having the saxophone on top of that just enabled this larger landscape; a larger orchestration. I really wanted to create the illusion that the listener is hearing a larger ensemble than simply a quintet or septet.

Rod: Awww man, that comes through. Believe me.
Rez: Yeah. One of the engineers stopped by the mix session and said, “Man, how many people are in this band? Is this the same band you recorded the other day?” That was a big compliment because this guy records hundreds of records and for him to sincerely say that was great. And as it turns out, when most people hear this record, they think it’s a larger ensemble.

Rod: You mentioned in the liner notes that the writing for Things To Come was very intense. Were these sounds that you heard in your head already? What was the inspiration?
Rez: Well I think I said the writing was done mostly away from the guitar. That was a big step for me because the guitar contains decades of history on it, either from me practicing thousands of hours or the many guitaristic records out there. And your brain is just not going to stop you from falling into the same patterns. I mean, that’s not the way the brain works. So how are you going to actually convince your brain to change on a dime? I needed to take myself out of my conscious mind and get into what I would say is the subconscious mind.
Consciously I might be hearing similar things that I’ve heard all my life. But subconsciously, there might be things in there that I’m not aware of. It depends on how you feel about reincarnation. Subconsciously I might be hearing things in there from past lives, but let’s forget about that. That might be too grandiose at this point.

Rod: No, no. Go with it.
Rez: Well, either that. Or things I’ve heard in my childhood in this life. And all the thousands of records I’ve heard. That could be all stored in that heavy storage room called the subconscious, right? So what I did is I used a basic computer program to help me blossom my ideas. Some ideas were written on the guitar but then I would transfer them into the computer, and just write on a staff from that point on.
It was like sculpting as well as painting, in a way. I heard colors and sounds but didn’t care what they were: a Gminb5-9 chord or what. In fact, I figured out all of the harmonies after I wrote them.

Rod: Those are some pretty heavy harmonies! For them to come organically like that…
Rez: Some of it was organic. When you are sort of sculpting this music it’s not like it’s just thrown up there. The whole computer idea is that it doesn’t actually do anything for you, but it’s an amazing tool to come up with music that’s sort of under your own radar. You still have to make a hundred-and-one decisions on every composition. I put in dozens of hours on each tune over the course of about a year, I guess. And still changed a few things a week before the session.
So that was like the new paradigm for me in terms of composition. Now I feel like I’m kinda on par with piano players in that the entire keyboard is my tool. I tried to learn piano and I did it successfully for a while but it was too difficult to keep that up for me; just like the tabla was. But the piano is really an incredible tool for anything.
Just to give you an idea: when I was in conducting class at USC, the teacher would have a score of Mozart or Beethoven up. He wouldn’t play us a record of the orchestra, he would actually play all the parts on the piano. He’d say, “Now in this section” and was reading all the clefs and playing both hands; basically playing these huge orchestral pieces on the piano. That was the day I said, “Oh my God, guitar is so limiting.” And ever since, I still go with the belief that yes, it is limiting as a compositional instrument.
Another source of inspiration for Things To Come was a great bio on Beethoven. I only read a few pages a night because I wanted to save it for the duration of my writing. I’d read a couple of pages and the next day I would write. This was goin’ on for months at a time and it really helped me to realize even a master like Beethoven struggled to come up with the goods. And if he struggled, what’s my excuse? Like, am I really here just to come up with some quick music, or am I here to really do what it takes, which is struggle, to come up with some substance in my music? And so that’s why it took so many hours to get it right.
Rod: Gotcha.
Rez: Or I might have quit [chuckles]. Easily.

Rod: Which notation software did you use for Things To Come ?
Rez: I used Finale. I just used the staff and started writing. And in moving notes and hearing which direction I wanted to go, like I said, the sculpting process, it’s an enormous help but only in the right hands. A lot of people throw things up and then say, “Naaw, I don’t hear anything.” Well then, that’s what it is; you don’t hear anything. So it still filters through your hearing and writing abilities.
And then, of course, I would bring things back to the guitar, too. I wouldn’t call it a balanced thing. It was more like 70% on the computer side and 30% guitar.

Rod: Were you hearing specific instruments in the pieces as you were writing?
Rez: I heard the instruments tone. Like acoustic bass: I couldn’t do this with electric bass. If I try to compose with electric bass in the MIDI file, it just wouldn’t have been the same music.

Rod: Did you compose parts with the musicians that are on Things To Come in mind?
Rez: Well, when it comes to personalities, I eventually had all these players in the back of my mind when I was composing. But it’s strange, I’m not from the school of “Oh, I composed specifically for this band”. Duke Ellington seemed to start that whole phase; and for that time it was great. But with me, I compose for the music and not for anybody’s strengths or limitations. Because I think peoples strengths are gonna come out anyway, and their weaknesses shouldn’t be accentuated by what I compose but rather, should be challenged.
I had an impression of what I wanted when I started writing the material away from the guitar. I definitely wanted piano, horn and the rest of the orchestration. The first couple of tunes I didn’t think of these particular guys per se. As I continued writing, it sort of called upon the players I thought would be the best to interpret this.
For instance, Dan Weiss, the drummer. I literally heard him when I was writing some of the parts because I’ve played with him for six years and kinda know how he plays. I mean he’s very creative, so you can’t really know all the way, but I know what he goes for. And I would write those kind of grooves on the bottom of the music so it would groove as if Dan was playing. That was kinda the way I approached it.
Then I started hearing Rudresh on some things, and Vijay, and Johannes and Kiran and so it just happened like that. By the third tune I kinda knew this was the band.

Rod: You wrote the tunes away from the guitar. Was it difficult to learn to play them on the guitar?
Rez: Yeah, man! You have no idea! I was like, “How am I gonna play this on the guitar?” But that’s where the phrasing came in and it was a whole other level of stuff I had to shed. There’s multiple ways, multiple directions that you can phrase on the guitar. So I wanted to phrase to the strengths of the material and had to try out a lot of ways.
I wanted the compositions to tell me how to phrase. So that’s what I did. I studied them for a long time. In fact, I just played my first gig in a while with this material. It took me a long time to get it back, pumped up to normal, and I still made a couple of mistakes. This is just the way it is. If you’re not playin’ this material all the time, it takes a lot of ingenuity to get it back up. It’s like being a boxer, or something. You have to take all these almost scientific steps to be up to prime level. It’s crazy.

Rod: Speaking of “crazy”, the bass player on Things To Come ! Maaaan, he’s just knockin’ it out the park on the whole CD! This is the first time I’ve heard of him. Can you give me a little info about him?
Rez: Well, he’s from Germany. His name is Johannes Weidenmueller. I don’t know much more about his background. I played with him about fifteen years ago. Then the name kept poppin’ up. He was playing with Kenny Warner’s trio a lot and was in a couple of my friends bands.
We did a project together about a year ago with a wonderful saxophone player named Dave Pietro who got a grant to do The Chakra Suite. He took each chakra’s energy and made a composition based on that with influences of jazz, Brazilian music and Indian music. There was some interesting writing going on, and again, Johannes threw down batted it right out of the park. So we had a good experience hangin’ there.
I also remembered that he went to south India to study mridangam for a month. I thought, “Wooow, this guy’s open. He’s into all kinds of metric modulations and whatnot.” So when I thought of who would be good for this record, the bass choice was the last choice and it was a simple one.

Rod: He just seemed to be so simpatico with the music. He’s really holding it all down and killin’ it!
Rez: Yeah, yeah. He’s got a beautiful sound, really organic. So yeah, he’s definitely sort of a grounding force to the band. And I like that.

Rod: And also, for the rhythm section to be burning, and not have to play at a loud volume to do it is something, too. Had Dan and Johannes played together before?
Rez: Well Dan actually hired him as a sub for his own trio just two months before I was thinking about him. And I thought, “Okay, they hook up and Dan said he loved it.” I don’t think Rudresh or Vijay have played much at all with Johannes but I knew it would work.
Here’s an interesting thing, it’s a circular kinda band: everybody in this band has a connection with another member in some deep meaningful context. Rudresh and Vijay have a ten year relationship of playing with each other. I played on Rudresh’s last two records; which means a lot because we had a lot of rehearsing, a lot of going on the road. I’m tied to Johannes through this other project of Dave Pietro’s. Dan’s on my other records; he’s on Rudresh’s records that Vijay also plays on and he’s also played with Johannes. I play in Kiran’s group as well so it’s like a big circle. Not to say that it’s totally necessary in all bands, but in this band there is an underlying history.

Rod: The liner notes say the CD was recorded in two back-to-back days. Was there a chance to rehearse much? Rez: We rehearsed about four or five times.

Rod: How did you feel at that point, from a composer’s point of view?
Rez: I was scared [laughs]. I was actually scared in the first two rehearsals because things were just all over the place. I still can’t believe how much progress we made and how strong the band sounds on the record. Not individually, I‘m not saying that, but as a whole. It came out really tight and loose on the record; which is my favorite thing. Like the solos are somewhat loose and the melodies are tight and loose at the same time.
We did two gigs back-to-back, in fact; took a day off; and then went into the studio for two days. The first day everything was done. The second day I wanted to retake a few of the tunes…

Rod: Lemme interrupt you. You did the whole project in the first session?!
Rez: Yeah…

Rod: WOW!
Rez: We did all the takes. But then the second day, I wanted them to come back for a couple of hours. I already had the studio, so I said, “Let’s just start fresh.” The first day is always a little tough anyway because you’re trying to get sounds for two hours. So I really wanted that kinda fresh excitement the second day carries with it.
And I was right. I ended up taking 2 of the 3 cuts we did from the second day. It was just like, okay we got everything in the can, there was no pressure, let’s just hit; let‘s just play. I counted off the tunes, everybody remembered the music, no questions; and there it was. And some really dramatic stuff came out. I think that’s probably the best way for me to do my records.

Rod: The sound on Things To Come is amazing!
Rez: I’m glad you like it, man.

Rod: There’s a beautiful balance between the instruments of the ensemble. With all the stuff you have going on rhythmically through the tunes, it could just be a big wash-out if you didn’t have a great mix. The “sculpting” you did in the studio sounds like it took more time than the “sculpting” you did in the writing.
Rez: Well, not quite as much. But it’s interesting because the studio can be seen as another instrument; another musician. I think if people see it as that, it’s just gonna help their output in terms of what the music is tryin’ to say. The proper reverbs, panning, I don’t know too much about all these technical aspects of the studio, but I definitely know what I want to hear. So if I can tell my engineer, “Well, I went home and listened to it and the guitar needs a little more high-end on it, or the piano has too much reverb.” I did a lot of that push/pull kind of thing. I do that on all my records, I get a little bit obsessive about that. But hey, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. Financially, it’s not great [chuckles], but what are you gonna do, you gotta live with this. I mean, I can pay off the money some other day.

Rod: That’s a commitment that few people are willing to make these days.
Rez: You’re right, but it’s important. That’s what’s gonna portray your vision, too. How is it gonna affect a listener when they turn on the thing? You’re shootin’ yourself in the foot of you think “Oh, we just have to get a decent mix” and put it up there. Man, I’ve heard plenty of records ruined by that. I didn’t want to ruin the potential of the recording by not going in the studio for a few more hours.

Rod: How was it to write for a cello?
Rez: Well, that was fun. That was simply an added ingredient on a couple songs.

Rod: Were you hearing cello in the arrangements?
Rez: Oh definitely. That’s in the score. I wish I could’ve given him [cellist Mike Block] a little bit more improvisational room, but it just wasn’t the call of duty for this time around. There’s so many great soloists in this band that the cello was a color more than part of the ensemble. I really like the cello with Kiran’s voice on the tune ‘Air Traffic’; that really comes out.

Read the Part 2 of this Interview

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