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RAMSEY LEWIS , 特別インタビュー - - Interview : RAMS...



exclusive interview : RAMSEY LEWIS


Q. 1

I started out playing with Trio, and that was a lot of fun. We had some good records and everything went well. But what happened, was that we were recording an album, and Maurice White from Earth Wind and Fire, said “I have a song for you.” And the song called for us to have a synthesizer, guitar, percussion, and drums, of course. And the song became a big hit; it was called Sun Goddess. And people wanted us to play it. So, to play the sound right, we needed an electric piano and synthesizers and such. So for the next 10 years, from about 1975, I was quintet and more. And at one point, we had about nine pieces on stage and it was really big! But after the show people would say, “Oh I loved your show, but I would like to hear more piano.” But well, when you have a lot of soloists on the stage, you say, “Ok, you can have a turn, and ok, now you have a turn.” And then there’s not much left. So I broke that group down to a quintet. It was guitar, synthesizers, piano, bass and drum. But about eleven years ago, Chucho Valdes – he was in Chicago and I saw him at the backstage at the Ravinia Festial – and he invited me to play the jazz festival in Havana. And I said, “Of course I’d love to do that.” So, to myself, I looked at the groups that were gonna be there, and they were all acoustic groups. So I said, “I think I’ll just take a trio.” So I called Larry Gray, and Ernie Adams – Ernie Adams is a drummer – and we went down there and we played. And it was such a big hit and people just enjoyed the trio. And then I had so much fun because there was so much freedom – just piano, bass and drums. No guitar, no synthesizers, and no percussion – there’s just a lot of freedom. So after the concert in Cuba, I said to Larry and Ernie, “You guys wanna be a trio? You wanna stay together and go on the road?” And they said “Sure!” and we did that.


After about a year, Ernie Adams, the drummer, he wanted to go to Europe for a while. Al Di Meola invited him to do a long tour – a nine-to-ten month tour. So I was looking for a drummer and Larry found Leon Joyce. And so Larry and Leon now have both been with me for about 10 or 11 years. And I like the freedom of it. I like playing solo piano, too, so sometimes during the sets, sometimes I let them take a break and I play solo. But, the fun of playing with Larry and Leon is that we know each other so well musically that we can take a lot of chances and feel comfortable that we’re safe taking those chances. So I’m happy with the trio.


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今お話の中で登場した、CHUCHO VALDES の魅力とは?

☆ RL :
Chucho Valdes is a great technician. But not only does he have a lot of technique, he has a big soul, a big heart, and is a big man! But he’s a wonderful musician and I always enjoy listening to him play.


→ CHUCHO VALDESの公演詳細はこちらから


☆ RL :
I formed The Ramsey Lewis Foundation with my wife Jan about three years ago. And the whole idea of the foundation was to encourage young people to stay in school. And we found that a great hook to get them interested was music! And I’m a musician. So, we use music in that way. Many of the kids were interested in music and some of them went on to stay in the music field. Some of them used their knowledge in music to enjoy and be an educated consumer and they went on to be doctors or lawyers. But last year I had a bought with my health and I was in the hospital for some time. The work of the foundation is big, so the foundation is no longer that active. But however, my wife Jan and I still make through the foundation major contributions to schools and organizations that promote student well-being through music.


また、そのあなたの中で浮かんだ『JAZZ』は、例えば 10年後にどのようにあってほしいですか?

☆ RL :
Well, when I hear the word “jazz” the first thing that comes to my mind is improvisation and creativity. First thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word “jazz” is spontaneity. When I hear the word “jazz,” I think of being in the moment, and allowing yourself to play what you feel in that moment. When I hear the word “jazz” I think of those people who came before us, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and the list just goes on – it’s a little longer than that – and what they started. And jazz has grown and split and splintered into different segments and styles and genres and that’s good, it’s all about self-expression. But, along the way jazz lost some audience, and I would like to come up with a way to get that back. There was a time when jazz was included not only as an art form but as a form of entertainment. Now many musicians prefer not to be the entertainment side, they wanna just be the art side. And sometimes the music is a little complex. And we lose some of the audience that are not as well-adept, not as well-educated, in the music to understand what a lot of the complexities are. And the music evolves. Ten years from now, for me, it would be great if jazz once again became the music of the people. At one time jazz was the music of “the people”. People danced to it, people made love to it, they had dinner to it. Jazz was the background music – the soundtrack, if you will – of a lifestyle. Maybe it’s only wishful thinking, but I would love if jazz once again became America’s popular music. If not only America’s popular music, but the world’s popular music. It’s probably one of the most important art forms – in fact, it’s the only art form – that is exported from the United States. Everything else from the United States – classical music, opera, and ballet – all came from Europe. But Jazz originated in the United States. Of course now you hear it everywhere and it’s played by everybody from every ethnic background, which is wonderful! But I would like to see it once again become very popular.


I just think of myself as a piano player. And I think that it’s important to have a rapport with the audience. I think it’s important for the audience to feel that you are happy they came to see you. That you owe them that. That if you don’t appreciate the money that they’re spending to sit there or the money they’re spending to buy your albums, then you might as well sit home and play in your closet. But any time numbers of people spend dollars or yen to come and see you or buy your CD, then you owe them the respect to acknowledge them in a pleasant way.


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