An interview with Charlie Rauh: Music can stir emotions, intellect, physicality … Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Charlie Rauh. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Charlie Rauh: – I was born in Virginia, and my family moved to Huntsville Alabama where I spend my entire childhood (age 4 to 12).  My interest in music began from a love of the music id hear in the classic movies my mother often watched. This is how I was introduced to jazz and composition.  I particularly gravitated to Duke Ellington’s music as a child and began learning clarinet (later adding alto saxophone).  My family moved back to Virginia when I was 13, and I played in school as well as  in a horn quartet through middle and high school that gigged around local spots.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar?

CHR: – My father, Robin Rauh is a self taught guitarist and I always loved his playing.  The combination of that and a growing interest to connect to music I was starting to get inspiration from in my early teens (Radiohead, Portishead, Sparklehorse) that wasn’t jazz or horn related drew me to the guitar.  My dad started teaching me how to play and it just took over.  I started to feel much more connection with the instrument than with horns and also found I could be more versatile and work in jazz, along with all the other kinds of music I was getting into on the guitar

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?

CHR: – My first teacher was my father as I mentioned, and his influence is still the most prevalent.  I learned a lot about space and phrasing from him and also internalized his folk/country stylings very deeply.  The other teacher that made a massive impact on my is Roger Sollenberger.  when I was in highschool he was a few years older and had a reputation in the local area for his virtuosic approach to guitar in combination to deep musicality and tastefulness.  My lessons with Roger encouraged more theory based exploration and equipped me with knowledge that lead me into compositional and improvisational territory I never would have known existed otherwise.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

CHR: – My sound is always developing as is any player who’s really pushing themselves.  A big part of my sound has always been my limitations.  I’ve never been able to play fast, and I’ve also never been good at alternate picking.  When I was young that was a big source of insecurity for me especially trying to play jazz, because I couldn’t play bebop lines at all.  I did two years at Shenandoah Conservatory studying jazz and classical guitar and really hated most of it.  I felt like I was a bad guitarist and most of my teachers were very discouraging.  I did have some inspirational teachers there particularly in music theory studies, which I really enjoyed.  I also gravitated towards more left hand technique since that’s where I could shape harmonies and use more legato technique to compensate for not being able to pick fast.  I started to come into something like my own sound when I embraced my limitations and leveraged them.  I found that hybrid picking, legato technique, and classical guitar/piano voiced chords could be used to make a sound that is very close to what I feel.  And it gave me the ability to fit into a wide variety of genres.  Since I I rely on space and voice leading, I started composing for solo guitar on a serious level.  When I started touring and recording with that music I found that the demands of the style opened up my playing as a studio musician in huge ways. Being able to relate to singers melodically and lyrically is one example that I feel I only learned through playing alone with the intention of evoking lyricism.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

CHR: – I often set a metronome at a modest tempo and give myself the limitation of only playing eighth notes.  Articulation, harmony, and melody are all open.  By doing this I enforce the ability to move in a linear fashion while learning the fretboard in a chromatic way.  This allows me to grab chordal voicings in different positions very quickly in a diatonic or modal setting, which I use extensively both as a session player and a soloist.  For rhythm I also get much inspiration from 50s and 60s country artists, particularly Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline, Bobbie Gentry, and Hank Garland.  On those records the bands are tight, but not stiff – there’s a pocket, but it’s always lyrically driven.  The tightness of rhythm for me is meant to serve lyricism.  By that I mean if there’s a singer what I play and how I move above all has to serve their words, if there are no words or no singer then what I play has to illustrate a sonic intention that can be felt on an individual basis for the listener.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

CHR: – I very much love lydian modal harmonies as well as intervallic movements in 6ths.  I am deeply influenced by early music, particularly plainchant and the lullabies/folk music / sacred music of America and Europe.  In a lot of ways my harmonic  choices are my take on a combination of Appalachian, medieval, and lullaby songs.  I prefer harmonic patterns that are widely voiced and very sparse.  I prefer to move harmonies voiced for 3 notes utilizing passing tones or double stops as opposed to always having a full bass

Картинки по запросу Charlie Rauh viriditasJBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album: <Viriditas>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

CHR: – I am overwhelmed with how amazing everyone that worked on Viriditas are.  That’s what I love the most about it.  Andrea Friggi’s engineering and sensitivity combined with a mutual passion for capturing exactly what happened in the room is the reason this music speaks.  Michael Hafftka’s mystical eye and huge heart combined with our deep friendship and creative connection are felt every time I look at his painting “Lullaby” that graces the album’s cover.  Sarah Cobb’s subtle touch and macrocosmic vision combined with a singular artist’s soul produced a visual presentation in the album design that sets up the album’s intent perfectly.  And of course Cam Mizell, Mike Shields, and Destiny Records took a chance on putting this record out untested and doing an amazing job supporting me as an artist and giving me the opportunity to get my first album out.  Im extremely grateful to be on the roster with so many incredible artists with them.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

CHR: – I think there’s a couple things that are important to keep in mind.  Be ready to work very hard, but be ready to love that you’re working really hard.  By that I mean find your validation internally, and don’t look at what others are doing, or compare your timeline to others.  None of that matters at all in your progression.  The other advice I’d give is to be fearless and open.  If you have a vision, commit to it.  However make sure you know what that vision is and be open to bringing it into every context you have the chance to.  By that I mean don’t close yourself off to genres, venues, or people because they don’t apply to the stylistic approach you’re committed to.  Anytime somebody wants you to bring your sound into their context, it’s an honor.  Make sure you look at it that way always, and be generous.  There is no better way to establish a long lasting career as a valuable and respected artist.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

CHR: – I believe jazz is a lifestyle above all else.  If you live the music : you are spontaneous, you are adaptable, you are curious, you are brave.  With those qualities I believe you can succeed in business or avoid business and still wind up coming out on top.   If you’re none of those things, I’m not sure what I’d call it but business doesn’t seem to be a venue worth exploring.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

CHR: – We can encourage young musicians to be aware of the past, live in the present, and look to the future.  We can encourage a rich history and tradition as a bedrock to push young players to make the new standards.  A quintessential jazz musician and role model in my opinion is Mary Halvorson.  Mary embodies everything about jazz to me  – she’s original, unpredictable, fearless, and wildly knowledgeable while maintaining a relevant and current  position in the music.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

CHR: – I believe music occupies a place in the human spirit whether you’re a musician or not.  Music can stir emotions, intellect, physicality. Whatever the meaning of life is, I believe it is driven by purpose.  By that nature somebody who is a dedicated to making music or any kind of art has the option to tap into that purpose and intention.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

CHR: – I have no idea what to expect of the future.  As anyone does, I have fears and anxieties about a lot of things.  But in the words of one of my heroes, Emily Dickinson – “I dwell in possibility”

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

CHR: – I am currently writing a lot of new music on acoustic guitar – some solo, some with piano, some with voice.  I will start recording for my next record next year and see what happens!

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

CHR: – I believe there are many similarities yes.  Jazz is a type of folk music that expresses an immediacy and layered emotional tapestry to the listener.  Folk music from all cultures can be said to do the same.  Jazz is a very special artform in that it exists to include.  The music is at its core meant to absorb and interpret its surroundings, and the people making it are charged with the wonderful task.  There’s really only one way to deservice jazz – be exclusive.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

CHR: – I have been listening obsessively to these records lately:

Emily Haines And The Soft Skeleton – Choir Of The Mind

Molly Tuttle – Rise

Julian Lage – World’s Fair

Glen Campbell – Adios

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

CHR: – I’ve been doing a lot of acoustic work live and in the studio, often showing up with nothing but my Waterloo WL-14 outfitted with a Trance Audio Amulet pickup system.

For electric I alternate between a custom Forshage Orion, and a custom Island Instruments Traveller through Strymon Flint and Deco pedals and a Hilton Volume pedal.  I often use the studio or venue’s amp selection but my favorite is the new Supro Tremoverb.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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