This Saturday, April 29th, versatile,and high-flying saxophonist Jason Rigby returns to The Jazz Gallery to release One, his latest CD on the Fresh Sounds label. The new album features Cameron Brown (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) in a configuration they’re calling the Detroit-Cleveland Trio. Known for his ‘inside-outside’ style of playing (which we discussed at length), Rigby strives to sound at home in many styles, leading to an authoritative and multidimensional sound. Rigby also teaches at Towson University, where he maintains a saxophone studio and premieres new music. At the Gallery this week, Rigby will perform new tunes from One, as well as music from a brand-new unnamed suite of music in response to our volatile and mercurial social climate. We spoke about all of the above in a recent phone interview.
The Jazz Gallery: I know you’ve been on the road for a while. Have you been getting together with the guys in the trio to work through the material from the latest album?
Jason Rigby: I’m going to get together with Cameron to work on some unison stuff that we have together. But I actually try not to rehearse too much with this group. I feel like it’s better to just let it happen.
TJG: Interesting—was there a time where you felt like you killed the energy by rehearsing too much?
JR: I don’t know if ‘killed it’ is the right phrase, but I chose these two musicians because I feel like I have a strong individual and musical connection with them. Putting the band together, it was a situation where intuition would be crucial. The times we have rehearsed, I immediately knew that we should just learn the structures and ideas, and not go too deep for rehearsal purposes.
TJG: It’s good to know how to rehearse to sound your best.
JR: Yeah, it took a little while to figure that out. The default is to think, “Oh, we gotta rehearse all the time to sound great.” That sentiment goes hand-in-hand with composing. I’ve learned a lot about how to compose for this group. After a few performances I realized I had to change some things. It’s about writing enough of a structure and themes to give the piece an identity, maybe multiple sections if it happens that way, but the group is so improvisation-based that if I over-write, it can get in the way.
TJG: If you were introducing your newest album to an uninformed listener, how would you say One follow your previous releases, Translucent Space and The Sage?
JR: First of all, for tenor players, the trio is one of the historically favorite formats over the last sixty years of recorded jazz. There have been a lot of awesome collaborations in this format. One of the first recordings I’d ever heard was Sonny Rollins Live at the Village Vanguard, which I think was actually the first live recording of a show from the Vanguard, sometime in the mid 50s. It has a couple different groups and sets, so it’s sort of a mishmash of different groups. But I think that’s the first live recording from the Vanguard. So, to an uninformed listener, the format stems from a long tradition of tenor trio albums. It differs from my earlier stuff because, on the previous two records, there was a lot of focus on composition and orchestration with the band. I feel like I’m a fairly different player now than I was on those recordings. This project is more about stretching out. I don’t feel like I allowed myself a huge amount of space on the first two records, and that’s the focus of this group. We’ve played together a bunch, I never know what’s going to happen. It’s really cool.
TJG: It’s kind of your playground then?
JR: [Laughs] Yeah, it kind of is! I trust them a lot, too. (more…)