AL: You seem to have a desire for arranging and producing all-star records. This is not an easy thing to do and be successful, but you have been. How do you manage all these guys together?
JR: Thanks for the compliment. It kind of all has happened organically. I love playing at the Baked Potato here in LA. I would call the best players I know and I recorded some of the gigs. This is how “Live At The Baked Potato Vol. #1” & #2″ came into being.
AL:“Guitar Supreme”– (A Tribute to John Coltrane) released by Tone Center was produced by you. Tell us about that project.
JR:Mike Varney at Tone Center released the Potato CD’s. I guess he liked my work and the way I put it together. He called me and asked me if I could produce this CD. The Coltrane concept was his idea. He asked me to re-arrange 12 songs- get in touch with the rhythm section and guitar soloist and put it all together in the studio. Some of the guitarists picked tunes they liked. Greg Howe wanted to do ‘Giant Steps’ and Frank Gambale expressed his desire to do ‘Naima’. I have always wanted to do ‘Afro-Blue’. My solo guitar tracks were live, everyone else overdubbed. Alphonso Johnson, Tom Brechtlein and myself recorded the basics. We then add Larry Goldings. All the soloists came in later. I’m very happy with the turn out – it all just seemed to fall into place! It took me a couple of months to pre-produce all the music and then another four months to finish it up.
AL: You have released some acclaimed solo records yourself.
JR: I have been writing my own tunes for a while and enjoy coming up with my own ideas. Here in Los Angeles, I was lucky to perform with Danny Gottliebb on drums and Jimmy Haslip on bass for the CD ,“Trio Loco”, which was also a live CD. My latest CD “One Two” is a mostly studio track with two live recordings with a variety of great players. I personally am attracted to strong musical concepts, which mostly revolves around the compositions. Weather Report was one of the first bands that I was really turned on by. It is hard to make that happen because it takes a lot of thought, preparation, patience and time to evolve into an original musical sound as a unit.
AL: You seem to like live records a lot. Most of your own records are recorded live.
JR: The truth is in the finances. Its much cheaper to record something live than the studio. However I finished a studio record record recently. The name of the band is Chatterbox and it features Dean Taba on bass, Mitchel Forman on keys and Joel Taylor on drum. Half of the record is compositions and the other half we came up on the spot by jamming.
AL: You mentioned a Mahavishnu Orchestra tribute CD. Give us some insight.
JR: Yes. Mike Varney will release it. We are doing some of his classic tunes, – ‘Meeting of the Spirits’, ‘Celestial Terrestrial’, ‘Birds of Fire’ etc. It will feature Vinnie Colauita on drums, Anthony Jackson on bass and Mitchel Forman on keyboards. Should be very interesting. I am listening to the original music now. Just great stuff!!
AL: Do you sometimes think that you never got the attention you deserved like some of your peers did?
JR: I don’t feel like I can answer that question with a yea or a no. Everyone has a different perspective. But honestly, I think I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now and that feels good.