Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pheaturing Rick Stone

Hello, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile, where I wish I was at Comic-Con in San Diego instead of sitting in my office doing this blog. One day I will make it there. It's been so hot here in Florida and all over America, except for California. It’s so hot that I saw Rupert Murdoch trying to hack his way into a Cold Stone Creamery. It was so hot that I saw Lindsay Lohan steal a snow cone. It was so hot in New York that vandals were breaking into David Letterman’s studio just for the air conditioning. It was so hot in Washington that Congress had to install a fan on the debt ceiling. The United States’ soccer team lost to Japan, which means we’re now losing to Japan in math, science, and penalty kicks. A lot of guys say women’s soccer is boring, but actually, all soccer is boring. Charlie Sheen will be on a new sitcom called “Anger Management.” Maybe they’re just telling him he’s starring in a show and actually sending him to anger management. What do you think of this whole Rupert Murdoch business? Murdoch couldn’t have had anything to do with the cellphone hacking. Old people don’t even know how to use cell phones. The Murdochs testified before Parliament and did something that not many powerful people would have the courage to do: They blamed others. Is it any surprise that the British police couldn’t stop the high-tech phone hackers? They couldn’t even stop a guy walking into Parliament with a pie. I'm allowed to say that by the way, I'm British. I think it’s cowardly to attack an 80-year-old man with a pie. If the attacker had any courage, he’d go after Murdoch like I do: on a blog from 5,000 miles away. Well, the space shuttle program is now over. The crew of Atlantis brought an iPhone into space to track their experiments. I think that by “track their experiments,” they mean “play Angry Birds.” Still no deal on the debt ceiling. Washington is keeping us on the edge of our seat... a seat that will soon be repossessed. British Airways gave the royal couple a $300 voucher because they weren’t able to watch movies on their flight home. Thank goodness that wrong has been righted. Three hundred bucks is a lot of money. It’s more than Anthony Weiner’s texting bill. Captain America: The First Avenger opened on Friday and Logan and I are gonna go see it later today. I'm not sure I agree who they chose to play Cap though. Take a look.

LMAO. Captain America swings his mighty shield to fight... People are all excited about the last Potter movie and the Captain america movie, but there's one movie I cannot wait to see tomorrow. That is, of course, The Smurfs. I like the way they make them look realistic looking.

Speaking of the Smurfs, I was excited when I found out there was an inspirational poster dedicated to them, but it's not exactly what I was hoping for.

How sad. So, Amy Winehouse is dead. I'll mention her in a minute again in the Someone Phamous Has Died pheature, but I was shocked that Charlie Sheen put out a poster already about her death. I have it here on the Phile.

So, the government is working on a debt problem, and I guess they have to have it done by August 2nd. I don't really understand it all, so I thought I would invite to the Phile who could explain it. So, please welcome to the Phile once again, Reince Priebus from the Republican National Committee in a pheature I like to call...

Me: Hello, Chairman, welcome back to the Phile. So, what's going on?

Reince: They are at it again! The liberal media and the Obama spin machine are furiously laying the groundwork to blame Republicans if the government were to default on August 2nd.

Me: Do you have proof, Mister Chairman? Is this the truth?

Reince: The truth is Obama caved to Nancy Pelosi and his Party's ultra-left wing on Friday and they sabotaged the negotiations with GOP leaders by demanding EVEN HIGHER TAXES at the last minute of negotiations.

Me: Then what is the Republican's stance?

Reince: The Republican Party's stance is clear: We need spending cuts not new taxes.

Me: Chairman, Obama did promise America a better economy when he was elected in 2008. What do you think he's gonna do?

Reince: Yes, but there is no doubt that his and the Congressional Democrats insatiable hunger for ever higher taxes, greater government growth, reckless spending and massive trillion dollar deficits have only made things worse. More job killing taxes are the last thing our economy needs. It's no surprise that the liberal Democrats would now rather play politics than tackle the government's addiction to spending - and the liberal media will be there to support them every step of the way. Even worse, Obama and his leftist allies will be running scare and attack ads against our most vulnerable members and we need to support them now!

Me: So, the Republicans have a solution? Or solutions?

Reince: Republicans are offering serious solutions.

Me: And the Democrats are not?

Reince: The Democrats default on our government obligations.

Me: Chairman, please tell me what exactly the Republicans are doing that the Democrats are not.

Reince: Friend, Republicans are fighting tooth-and-nail to pass commonsense, conservative solutions to cut government spending, slash our debt and get our fiscal house in order, while the Obama Democrats demagogue and distort our agenda.

Me: So, you mentioned a solution... how can you truly enact your reform agenda?

Reince: The only way we can truly enact our reform agenda is to elect a Republican president AND Congress and make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Me: We'll see. Thank you, Chairman. Now I hope to hear from someone on the Democrat side.

And now for some sad news...

Amy Winehouse
September 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011
Tried to make her go to rehab, but she said no, no no.

The third artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Max Carmichael and this is one of his pieces of work.
Max will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Today's guest is one of the finest straight-ahead guitarists on the current NYC jazz scene who has a new album out called "Fractals". Please welcome to the Phile... Rick Stone.

Me: Hello, Rick, welcome to the Phile. Man, you have a great name. Rick Stone. Sounds like a detective on a 70's TV show. If you were a rock singer you could of called yourself Rock Stone. How are you?

Rick: Very good thanks! Not a detective on a 70's TV show, though I did watch plenty of them. You know there actually IS a rock musician named Rick Stone, but that's not me!

Me: Where are you from, Rick?

Rick: Parma, Ohio, a West-side suburb of Cleveland.

Me: Have you lived in Ohio all your life? What is the music scene like there?

Rick: I grew up in Ohio, but left when I was in my 20's. There was a big local rock scene there and a smaller jazz scene. I started out playing rock and blues. I was into a lot of different things initially and even played with Peter Laughner for a minute. He was really instrumental in Cleveland's punk scene at the time, but died very young, and I played in a kind of psychedelic folk-rock band with a guy named Rich Parsons for awhile at places like the Yippie Smoke In and WMMS Coffee Break Concert.

Me: You grew up listening to the Blues, like my dad, Rick. You could of easily been a blues musician, what turned you on onto jazz?

Rick: Around 1974 I heard saxophonist Sonny Stitt perform at the Smiling Dog Saloon which used to be on West 25th Street. Like I said, I'd been into all kinds of things, but the quality and feeling of bebop was just so much stronger than any of the other stuff, that it just kind of called me.

Me: When you first heard and paid attention to jazz, was it then you decided to be a jazz musician?

Rick: Definitely, and at first it was difficult. I grew up on the West side, which was this huge haven for Eastern European immigrants. Parma was kind of like the Polish capital of the Midwest and Polka music was really big when I was growing up. NOBODY that I knew was really into jazz until I got to college. Then I started meeting guys in the music program at Cuyahoga Community College and my professor there Dr. Joseph Howard was a jazz pianist. We stayed in touch and I visited and sat in with whenever I was back home, up until his death last year. I studied classical guitar with George Bachmann and was improving my technique and reading but I wanted to play in the stage band and really didn't know anything about chord symbols or improvisation, so I started taking some lessons with Jose Pochedley. Jose was another student of George's and he was a couple years ahead of me and had played in the stage band, so I would take copies of the charts to him and ask how he'd play certain passages. He also helped me a lot with learning how chord symbols and alterations worked.

Me: How old were you when you first picked up the guitar and started playing?

Rick: I started playing guitar at about age 8. My friend across the street played guitar and most of the kids in the neighborhood playd some instrument.

Me: What brand of guitar do you play, Rick?

Rick: Mostly my Comins which is handmade by luthier Bill Comins ( I have two of those; a 17" and an 18". I've also got a little 15" D'Angelico Excell-SS which Bill redesigned for them last year. It's the one pictured on the new CD cover and I used it on about half the tunes on the new CD. I actually got several of the Korean made D'Angelico's last year when I was doing endorsement for them, but I'm not sure what's going on with the company now. Too bad, since they were really well made and affordable guitars.

Me: Let's talk about your new album "Fractals". If it was my album, it would be called "Phractals". LOL. What does the name represent?

Rick: Yeah, we thought about "Phractals" as a title, but we didn't want to make it difficult for people to find us if they were to search the internet. We also thought about using my tune "The Phrygerator" as the title track, but again figured people wouldn't know how to spell it and only musicians would get the joke. "Phyrgerator" alludes to the Phrygian mode vamp that the tune begins with and the title was suggested to me by one of my former students Eddie Haber. So the title song "Fractals" is based on this very cool displaced arpeggio pattern that my good friend and practice partner Peter Mazza, an AMAZING guitarist, showed to me one day. I'm kind of obsessive, so I started practicing this thing all over the guitar, in all keys, using different scales, etc., and then started playing it through the changes of some jazz standards. "All the Things You Are" is a tune that ALL jazz musicians love to play. I'd been playing "ATTYA" in 5/4 with my trio, so I worked the pattern out over that and in the process realized that it made a pretty hip tune. It's kind of repetitive but complex and reminds me of those intricate kinds of fractal patterns I've seen. I used ideas based on this arpeggio on several other tunes on the album as well, so it just made sense that it should be the title and hopefully everybody knows how to spell "Fractals" if the go looking for it.

Me: I listened to the album and have to ask you about some songs. As your album is an instrumental, how did you come about naming one of your songs "Key Lime Pie"? I know there must be a story behind it. Do you like key lime pie?

Rick: Who doesn't like pie? LOL. But seriously, I wrote that tune as a dedication to Emily Remler who as most of your readers hopefully know, was a wonderful guitarist who died way too young. The melody is based on the rhythm of one of her tunes, and as I thought about a title, I spelled her name backwards on a piece of paper "ylime." At that point, the title became obvious to me.

Me: The album was recorded with your trio, Rick, who is in the band with you? Do you also have a quartet and a duo, and septet like other jazz artists?

Rick: This represents what's been my working band for the last couple years. Marco Panascia is a wonderful bassist who's played with just about everybody in New York. He's got a really great tone. Tom Pollard is a really talented and rhythmically complex drummer, who's played with George Colligan, Eric Person and many others. He's been a regular with my group since I reformed it in 2007. Together these guys have an impeccable sense of swing and a totally solid groove, which makes my job a lot easier! I certainly work in other configurations when the opportunity and/or need arises. In the 90's I did concerts with a quintet that consisted of guitar, saxophone (Junior Cook or Ralph Lalama), piano (Kenny Barron, Barry Harris or Richard Wyands), bass (Dennis Irwin) and drums (Leroy Williams, Kenny Washington or Tootsie Bean). But those were concerts that had support, and when the NEA stopped funding jazz musicians, I had to scale things back. I tried to maintain a quartet for a long time, but nowadays most gigs only allow for a trio or duo.

Me: I interviewed artists from all different genres that went to Berklee. When did you go there, and what did you study? Was it a good experience?

Rick: I went to Berklee from 1978-80. I had a lot of transfer credits, so I was able to earn my Bachelors Degree in only two years. Berklee was a great school and I learned a lot there. I had an excellent jazz harmony teacher there Ken Pullig, and Orville Wright for ear training. Ed Tomasi taught a great jazz improv class and that really got me transcribing which is really the best way to learn. Because I was doing an accelerated program and taking private instruction from two different teachers each semester I was interested in getting a lot of approaches and perspectives so I moved around quite a bit and took lessons with Bret Wilmott, Al Defino, Jon Demian, Bob Harrigan and Larry Baione. Each one of them showed me some really valuable approaches to studying the guitar which I spent the next 10 years or so to really digest.

Me: You teach as well, right? A lot of jazz musicians do that. Do you like to teach, and where do you teach?

Rick: I've been teaching since before I went to Berklee. When I finished at the community college, I wanted to go to Berklee, but my father didn't support that idea initially. So Dr. Howard helped me get a guitar teaching job at the Parma Community Arts Program and I did that for a year and saved the money to go to Berklee. After Berklee, I lived in Cleveland for two years and was playing gigs very steady, but still had a few students. Later, when I came to NYC I found getting steady gigs here much more difficult and started teaching a lot again, first at American Institute of Guitar and Pace University, and later at Jazzmobile, Boys Harbor, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Hofstra University. I still teach at Jazzmobile, BCM and Hofstra, and occasionally get some students from Hunter and City College.

Me: Rick, thanks so much for being on the Phile, sir. Please come back again. I wish you continued success. Go ahead and plug your website if you'd like.

Rick: Sure, please visit and you can get a free track from my CD!

Well, that's about it. Thanks to Rick for a great interview and to Chairman Priebus for once again not clearing things up. But for some reason phans of the Phile, being Democrat or Republican love when he's here which is kinda good. Anyway, the Phile will be back tomorrow with musician Luke Temple, the lead singer in the band Here We Go Magic, who has a really good solo album out. Then next Sunday it's artist Max Carmichael and next Monday it starts Alumni Month with Marc Savoie from the Infinite-Lane Highway. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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