I had been admiring Melissa Aldana’s playing and music for many years, when I suddenly received a message from her, saying that she really liked the podcast. I was flattered and amazed that she would reach out to me. We made plans to do an interview and here it is!
We talked about learning from Melissa’s heroes Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath and Mark Turner and how she incorporates these influences into her world, about leading a band, practicing creativity, her latest album 12 Stars and the process behind it, self-doubt/self-acceptance and much more.
After following Melissa’s musical journey from afar for a long time, it was great to now get a more personal and deeper view into her process. It felt like we were hanging out. Come and hang out with us!
Master drummer Jochen Rueckert is a personal hero of mine. I’ve been checking him out since my teenage years, when I discovered Achim Kaufmann’s “Weave”, Paul Heller’s “Kaleidoskop” & Jochen’s own “Introduction”, three massively influential records for me. He is an outstanding drummer and a great guy who always speaks his mind, and this conversation is no exception. We talked about him coming up in the Cologne scene and then making his move to NY in the late 90s, winding up playing with Kurt Rosenwinkel & Marc Copland, his clarity, dynamics, what he expects from bandleaders and fellow musicians, self doubt and much more.
I still remember when I first heard Kurt Rosenwinkel’s epic album “The Next Step”. In the early 2000s I was visiting my guitar friend Riaz Khabirpour in his apartment in Amsterdam. When he went out to practice, I stayed in his place, going through his record collection. I can still tap into the feeling I had when hearing Kurt’s intro to “Zhivago” for the first time. I was mesmerized by his otherworldly, fluid and big sound. Lines and harmonies like I hadn’t heard before quite like that. Since then, “The Next Step” remained an important album to me and made me check out as much of Kurt’s music as I could.
In our talk, we get in to his relationship with Ben Street, Jeff Ballard & Mark Turner, memories from his steady gig at Smalls, thinking of other instruments while playing the guitar, the development of his sound, learning other people’s music, playing Paul Motian’s EBBB… and then he went over to the piano and demonstrated the process behind his song “Cycle 5” and much more.
I’m grateful to Kurt for all the inspiration and for everything he shared so candidly in our conversation.