|Letters from High Latitudes|
Q.1. Ed Roman’s music appeals to fans of a wide variety of genres, but what was his original genre?
Ed. . . Thanks for having me today and it's a pleasure to speak with you. This is a very difficult question for me to answer as there are so many styles of music that I love. As a child, I was moved by the imagery in music along with the lyrics of songs, it’s what intrigued me as a young listener and what guided me in a direction to pursue music with the same emotional intensity. So many genres of music have these veins and capillaries running through them; more like a bioelectric entity which illustrates and exudes the true passion behind human art. With that said, I greatly relate to music that has pushed me as a player, not only on a technical level but on a philosophical level. I started to pursue music like jazz and progressive music; which for me exercised my enthusiasm and interest in that field. At about the age of 14, I was introduced to Jaco Pastorius and Miles Davis. “Kind of Blue” and Jaco's first album “Jaco Pastorius”, led me down the road to pursue music as an education and career. I spent countless hours of time practicing and playing with other musicians, pursuing the craft to the best of my ability. I guess for that reason jazz music and improvisational music for that matter is my original genre. To me it is one of the most ultimate forms of self-expression that has limitless possibilities and endless future. For that matter, many of the musicians from that idiom all consider the music that they play as music. They define it as a whole, not in a category but as an entity of its own with no borders or boundaries.
Q.2. Letters from High Latitudes is an intriguing title for an album. It suggests messages. Where did the inspiration for the title come from? (side note… I know it came from Ontario, but blog readers may not)
Ed. You are 100% completely correct. Hand out the cigars. Letters From High Latitudes was chosen as a title for a multitude of reasons. I live at the second highest elevation in the province of Ontario, Canada in the rural farming community of Melancthon. I moved up to this area about nine years ago as I was looking to lay down roots in an area that was very similar to where I grew up in the Township of Markham, Ontario. As a child I was fortunate enough to grow up on a large farm with extremely wide open spaces and the ability to live off of the land. Melancthon has those attributes that I remember being so fluid in my memory and now at my age; important to rekindle. I realize it is so much a part of my being. Around the same time, I was passing through an antique market the city of Toronto where I came across a book written by Lord Dufferin which curtailed his North Atlantic journeys from many years ago. As the songs started to come together for the record, so many of them were speaking to me and suggesting that the words and the messages are suggesting a sociopolitical commentary on the day and age that we live in, the things that we hold true and dear to our hearts, and the things that we may miss as they slip through our fingers. Letters From High Latitudes denotes that someone is looking from afar at a situation which is clouded and running quickly out of control and speaking of the great beauties that we all seem to pass by every day.
Q.3. How does Ed see the progression from his early days in the music business to his latest album?
Ed. It's funny as I listen back to all the music that I've recorded over the last 25 years. I always hear progression in a multitude of ways whether it be in the recording process, the musicianship or the abilities in the writing itself. I could sit and judge every recording and tell you what was right and what was wrong about that moment in time or even ways that I could perfect on it today, but recordings are captured moments in time like a painting or a photograph. The pallet, colours and the quality of the paint may change over time. The brush strokes and the abilities of the painter grow as the artist learns to hone their craft, but the most important thing is that we've taken the time to capture those moments without letting them pass into the ether. With that said an artist is always in a stage of growth. In time, artists take on new abilities, illustrate different forms of thinking and refine their abilities to present. Oscar Peterson once said he will never stop learning until the day he dies.
Q.4. Name three other musicians whose work agrees (philosophically and in sound) well with Ed Roman’s.
Ed. There is so much music that has influenced me and I love to listen to; and much of it falls on the same lines and categories of what we just mentioned. If I may be so bold as to add living and nonliving artists to this three musician list. I am by no stretch of the word in any way shape or form Jamaican, nor would you classify me as a reggae musician but the era of music encompassing Bob Marley is very close and philosophically similar in approach. Bob's lyrics can be loving like a warm embrace, at the same time his lyrics can punctuate a political statement with a huge bang. Bob was one of those artists that was not afraid to be outspoken and he carried out his message with intensity and fervor. Another artist from the passed on era would be Jaco Pastorius. Simply put, I was a Jaco head as a young kid and he really pushed me as a player to be better at what I was doing all the time. His first album features music that comes from a wonderful palette and array of styles. It features artists like Sam and Dave on the classic track "Come on Come Over”, or people like progressive jazz musician Herbie Hancock on the track "Kuru Speak Like a Child". As I mentioned before, he was one of those artists who wasn't afraid to dabble in a multitude of genres and that alone for me would open the doorway to my own musical way of thinking and pursue the electric bass as a leader in a band. And from living folks, Derek Trucks is definitely someone who's thinking on the same wavelength and latitude as far as music goes. I fell in love with Derek's music about 10 years ago. I always knew that he was playing at a young age with the Allman Brothers and his virtuosity and prowess and emotional feeling behind his instrument was present then. I later got turned onto the Derek Trucks Band with tunes like "All I Do" and “Volunteered Slavery”. All in all I'm really driven by music that has a lot of passion behind it and a funky, jazzy soulful edge.
Q.5. How does Ed see the future of the music industry? Will the digital side overpower the live and unplugged performances?
Ed. I'll consult my crystal ball. One moment please. The music industry was built over a long period of time and it grew hand-in-hand with the types of technologies that not only artists but the listeners of music had at their disposal. Certain performers were sought out by smaller record companies, signed small deals and went on to bigger and better things. The medium which provided the consumer the ability to purchase this music was simply by buying a radio and tuning into your favorite station or heading down to your local record shop to purchase the latest 45, 78 or LP of your favorite artist. For years this method worked and created a whole industry and foundation for what we today call the music business. As times change so has technology. Musical artists now have at their disposal the same kind of technology and abilities that 25 or 30 years ago they would've had to pay for when going into the studio. With the transmission of information moving from the analog age into the digital age the concepts of CDs took over the vinyl manufacturing industry and offered higher quality listening at a reduced rate to its consumers. In time, the computer era and the advent of the internet once again opened up a whole new genre of possibilities not only for the consumer but for the purveyor of music. Bands can now micromanage themselves, create online distribution and music forums for their fans to listen to at any moment in time. This has essentially removed the record store and/or even online buying of music for any artist across the whole world. Shareware and music sharing has made it very easy for listeners of music to not have to pay for artists that they want to listen to. This has in turn created a very slippery slope that is difficult to navigate and in turn extremely costly for any artist that is out there. More time and energy is being put into the manufacturing of merchandise, marketing tools and a plethora of other musical navigation devices for artists to try to get their music into the hands of their fans and to get their fans to participate in actively buying and coming to shows. This is consequently why so many people in the industry over the last 10 years have found it next to impossible to compete with the influx of the amount of music, social networking sites and navigation tools for fans of an independent nature. This scares the hell out of the big industry despite it is the Leviathan and dying overweight financial refugee that it is. The independent industry in my opinion is where it's at. There are many wonderful management groups, radio stations, TV stations an independent artists all over the world. We are creating something very unique and special that is born out of the Bell curve of the former industry that we have. Many artists know the importance of getting out and playing and meeting and talking to all of your fans and this is one of the things that helps us connect with people all around us. You can micromanage yourself as a small company and make up to 50 or $60,000 a year provided you do things correctly. Big record companies have signed bands before, given them $100,000 to record a project and then shelf it, so it doesn't compete with other things that are already on the label. Most artists just want to create and work and to practice our craft and the independent industry gives us the ability to do this every day of our lives.
Thanks again and it has been a pleasure talking with you today. Don't forget to check me out at edroman.net, iTunes, Reverb Nation, Sound Cloud, Amazon and all over the world wide web. Pick up my new album Letters From High Latitudes today. You'll be glad you did.
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