Graham Reid | | 3 min read
German pianist and composer Florian Ross has done it all, from solo piano recordings through to big bands with a little organ-fronted trio along the way.
He studied in Cologne, London and New York, has taught in a number of German academies and universities, and has released a dozen albums.
He's played alongside Kenny Wheeler, Vince Mendoza and John Scofield . . . and soon comes to New Zealand for the Auckland Jazz Festival which kicks off on October 13 (see details here).
Timely then for us to offer him our Famous Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire . . .
The first piece of music, jazz or otherwise, which really affected you was . . ?
SAGA –the Interview
When did you first realise this jazz thing was for you?
When I heard Charlie Parker’s Ornithology in school
What one piece of music would you play to a 15-year old into rock music to show them, 'This is jazz, and this is how it works'?
Well, if they were into rock music, we (the jazz people) would be safe. Nowadays, I would probably play them some rock/pop/funk music played by real people on real instruments. And I would show them that any so slightly talented amateur could reproduce the stuff on the radio in one afternoon using a computer.
Time travel allows you go back to experience great jazz. You would go to . . ?
I would have loved to be in my twens in the Sixties – totally my decade, except for some political issues
Which period of Miles Davis' career do you most relate to, and why: the acoustic Fifties; his orchestrated albums with Gil Evans; the acoustic bands, the fusion of the late Sixties; street funk of the Seventies or the Tutu album and beyond in the Eighties . . .
As a young adult I was heavily into ‘You’re Under Arrest’. Now, I guess it’s the late fifties and sixties. Acoustic bands.
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
The best book on the jazz life you have read is . . .
I haven’t read any books on the jazz life. I wouldn’t even know what’s meant by the term ‘jazz life’. With politicians, I
can understand why biographies make sense, since they usually didn’t leave anything but the decisions they made.
With musicians, it’s different: They leave recordings. If I want to understand or learn off them, it doesn’t help me in any way to read detailed descriptions of how Jazz heroes lived in shitty places and took drugs. I think a good portion of jazz musicians live off this kind of nostalgia. I don’t.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Joni Mitchell. I would play piano and orchestrate.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Me? Understand me better by watching films? Good luck with that. I have seen thousands of films, very different genres, eras ... Analyze this: Laurel & Hardy, Lord of the Rings, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Oh, and I like ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and ‘Little Britain’ and ‘Blackadder’ and ‘The Man in the High Castle’.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Last CDs I bought were Lyle Mays Quartet (live recording from 1993 - for old times sake), a Charlie Parker boxed set, Steely Dan ‘Pretzl Logic’ and ‘Anne Sofie von Otter – Baroque melodies’. Last downloads were ‘Steps Ahead - YinYang’ (because I had to arrange some of those tunes) and a bunch of Sean Wayland albums (I’m a fan).
One jazz standard you wished you had written . . .
In your own sweet way, If I Should Lose You, I Should Care, I Love You . . . I like tunes that begin with an ‘I’.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
Album cover? No way. Piece of art... hmm, I think a Turner or Constable would be nice. Definitely landscape with play of light. I am more into photography - no portraits, though.
Three non-jazz albums for a desert island would be . . ?
‘Joni Mitchell – Travelogue’, ‘Max Reger – Mozart Variations’, ‘John Ireland – Piano Music’
Your dream band of musicians (living or dead) would be . . ?
If I could have them in my band? Jack deJohnette, John Scofield or Ben Monder, Palle Danielsson
And finally, is there a track on your most recent album you would love people to hear. And, if so, why that one?
Maybe ARP I. It’s based on a synth arpeggios but also goes into a very jazzy acoustic section. It’s energetic, but also somehow sad and dark.