Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pheaturing Richard Nelson

Hello, welcome to the little blog I like to call the Peverett Phile. How are you? So, Anthony Weiner was photographed this weekend dining with his wife and texting from his cell phone. Maybe he should put the phone away for a few years. Another politician, Rod Blagojevich, was convicted of extortion, wire fraud, bribery, and criminal abuse of styling mousse. Some of the counts Blagojevich was convicted of carry 10- to 20-year sentences, so he could be facing up to 300 years in prison. That’s a long time, even for a leprechaun. A hot dog company in Chicago is suing a rival for stealing its secret recipe. Just what we need — another weiner scandal. A first-edition Charles Darwin book was returned to a library in Australia, 122 years late. You could tell it was a Darwin book because it actually evolved into an iPad. A new study found that 10 percent of toddlers are overweight. That explains the most popular new stroller on the market: a wheelbarrow. The author of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” is releasing a new book that takes place 10 years later. You can tell the characters are getting older because now, the traveling pants have an elastic waistband. So, what do you think of this Michele Bachmann? She is kind of like Sarah Palin but without the charisma — or marksmanship. Bachmann didn’t know John Wayne Gacy was from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. The town is about the size of the Wayans family. The next-most famous person from that town is the guy that grew the biggest pumpkin at the town fair. Apparently, a pipe with marijuana in it was found buried in Shakespeare’s garden. That’s amazing. Shakespeare had a garden? If they dig up Shakespeare and he’s buried in a tie-dye shirt with a pint of Chunky Monkey, we’ll know it’s true. If Shakespeare knew this was going on, he’d be rolling in his grave — rolling a huge joint. The Pope tweeted a few days ago. If you had told me the Pope tweeted five years ago, I would have said, “Why? Does he think he’s a bird?” Sarah Palin says she should be ready to make a decision on running for president by December 2012. The new Transformer's movie came out this week, and I was excited when I saw the Transformers themed inspirational poster. here it is.

And here is a new pheature on the Phile, kids, it's the Philosoraptor!

And it's Sunday, so here is my wife's least favorite thing about the Phile.

That's a very good point, isn't it?

Okay, let's introduce the second artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. It's ChrisRWK and this is one of his pieces of work.

Chris will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's guest is a jazz musician and composer whose new album "Pursuit" is now available on iTunes. He'll be appearing next at on October 14th at Colby College, Waterville, Maine where he'll premiere the performance of Deep River suite by Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. Please welcome to the Phile... Richard Nelson.

Me: Hello, Richard, welcome to the Phile. So, did you know there's a playwright name Richard Nelson?

Richard: Hi! Nice to be with you. I am indeed aware of that Richard Nelson, hope to meet him someday! And there was another Richard (Ricky) Nelson in music, I think... had a hit or two... "Garden Party", etc. It's actually kind of a tricky name for a guitarist.

Me: Anyway, how are you, sir?

Richard: I am well, thank you. Another crazy-busy day in beautiful summertime Maine.

Me: You've been in the music business for a long time, right? How old were you when you started to play guitar?

Richard: Started playing in fifth grade, never looked back. Beatles, Hendrix, you know. And on from there.

Me: Do you play any other instruments, or sing?

Richard: For fun, I sing a bit, play some keyboards and bass. But professionally, I'm wise enough to stick to playing guitar and writing music.

Me: Did you grow up listening to jazz, sir, or did you get into other genres as well?

Richard: Like a lot of jazz musicians, I started out playing and listening to popular music, in my case, rock and blues. Then the web just kept getting bigger: jazz of all kinds, plus traditional and modern classical music. I still love recent creative rock music... Pavement, Dirty Projectors, Sonic Youth, "Foxtrot"-era Wilco. I think what distinguishes me as a musician and composer is that I have substantial experience in all of these genres and I'm able to blend them effectively, without watering them down.

Me: Let's talk about your new album "Pursuit". It's described as having a five-movement work. For the readers that don't know what that means, I am not sure I know what that means, can you explain what a five-movement work is?

Richard: Sure! Basically, "Pursuit" is kind of like a jazz symphony. It's made up of five separate pieces that all go together to make up the whole thing. The five pieces relate to each other, but they also each have their own identities. They express different perspectives on contemporary jazz.

Me: You recorded the album with a 13 piece band, is that right? Do you tour with 13 people?

Richard: I wish! Unfortunately, kind of impractical. We did do several concerts here in Maine.

Me: Is this the same band that's in The Richard Nelson Imaginary Ensemble?

Richard: The Imaginary Ensemble is a smaller version of the group on the CD. The instrumentation can vary, that's part of what's "imaginary" about it. Right now it's guitar, saxophone, bass, drums and a guest vocalist on some jazz-meets-folk numbers.

Me: That's a great name for a band by the way, but not easy to remember. Did you come up with it?

Richard: Indeed I did, looking for something I could use that would flexible for creative gigs of all sorts. And I like to think of music as existing in a sort of imaginary world, transporting us from our constant commonplace preoccupations.

Me: I read you play John Lennon songs in concert. Have you ever recorded any? You said you listened to the Beatles, are a you a big fan?

Richard: I got started on the Beatles and I continue to be amazed to this day by the brilliance of their creativity. I haven't recorded any Beatles songs yet, but my drummer, Steve Grover, has a very nice album of jazz takes on Beatles songs titled "Flying."

Me: Richard, where are you from originally, sir? Do you still live there?

Richard: I grew up just outside of Berkeley, California and I lived in the Bay Area for quite a while. Now I live in Maine, and I teach music composition and jazz improvisation at the University of Maine at Augusta.

Me: I thought Augusta was in Georgia. Where abouts is Augusta, Maine?

Richard: We've got everything in here Maine: China, Mexico, Rome. Augusta is the state capitol, about three hours north of Boston.

Me: I have to ask you about the band the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra... that's another group or band you played and recorded with, right?

Richard: Yeah... Aardvark is a wonderful 18-piece jazz band led by Mark Harvey which is based in Boston. I've played with them for over 20 years. We run the gamut from very progressive, experimental improvisations to the music of Duke Ellington and it all fits together very nicely. A wonderful family of musicians.

Me: What a great name, and an odd and obscure animal to name yourself under. Do you prefer to play with this band or do your own thing?

Richard: The two are a great balance. Of course I like to put my own vision and creations out there... but it's also nice to just be "part of the band" with Aardvark and let someone else worry about the production and the big picture. The two experiences reinforce each other in positive ways.

Me: I have to ask you what make of guitar you play. If I had to guess I would say... Fender. What do you play?

Richard: Well, you are half right... almost! One of my guitars is a Suhr, which is closely modeled after the Fender Stratocaster. But my main axe is a mid-70s sunburst Gibson ES-335. I've been playing that guitar almost my entire career.

Me: Richard, thanks so much for being here, sir. I hope you will come back again soon. Go ahead and mention your website and take care.

Richard: Thanks for the invitation! Great to talk with you. And you can find me on the web at

Well that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Richard for a great interview and to Ann Braithwaite for hooking it up. The Phile will be back tomorrow for a special Independence Day entry which will have the 200th interview with reggae legend Toots from Toots and the Maytals. And then again next Sunday with a band I have been wanting to be on the Phile for 2 years... Oh, Hush! Until then, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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