Interviews

Rod Best Brings His Story To You

Rod Best Brings His Story To You

Rod Best the piano virtuoso from Australia has a lot of talent, and a great story to tell, and teach, for all jazz lovers out there. Rod makes beautiful music, that we couldn’t resist not to play on our station. And we decided to get to know better this outstanding artist.
How did your musical journey started?Screenshot_1

I started to play piano when I was about 8 years old. I had such a love for music that as a boy I would often get up in the middle of the night and start playing the piano. Then late in my teens I decided to give it up because of peer pressure. My wife encouraged me when we first were married to start playing again. I started then on organ which I learnt for 4 years. After that I branched over to piano again and for a number of years I learnt classical piano. But there was deep down, a love for jazz and blues.

I commenced leaning contemporary style piano from Tony Ansell, one of Australia’s best jazz piano players and then from there, I had lessons from the likes of Kevin Hunt, Mike Nock, Judy Bailey and Vince Genova. Although I play some guitar and was playing alto sax at some stage, piano is still my main instrument.

Screenshot_3Why do you love smooth jazz?

I do love playing blues and jazz but most of all I like smooth jazz because of the great grooves and melodic lines you can create. I find that there is more diversity in smooth jazz. You can add in blues licks here and there, hand independence, experiment with different sounds and event use chords here and there that wouldn’t normally be found in a jazz genre. To me there is more flexibility in rhythm patterns, chords, and possible instrumentation than there is in straight jazz.

When I am writing a new song, I first of all start with selecting a groove I like. I will pick out a particular drums and bass smooth jazz groove that is appealing then I start to get creative ideas of what chord structure to use, what intro I will write, how I will end the song, what instrumentation I will use, what dynamics I will incorporate (loud sections and soft sections) and then, what name I will give the song. Being an arranger, this part to me is exciting – being able to create a song from a minimal framework.

Who or what is your Inspiration/icon?

Being a piano player, I have always been inspired by great jazz and blues players. I started out by admiring some great rock piano players like Keith Emerson, and Rod Argent. Then I was inspired by the players that my piano teachers would suggest.
Also, I would often go and see my teachers performing in local venues. This was a great inspiration.

One of the first jazz albums I had was “Heads” featuring Bob James but I also listened to a lot of jazz players including Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Errol Garner and Count Basie. Of recent days, players that have influenced my style, have included David Benoit, Joe Sample, Pat Coil, Brian Culbertson, Bob James, Tom Schumann (from Spyrogyra), Brian Simpson and Gregg Karukas.

What is new in your career now?Screenshot_2

At present I am in a season where I am no longer doing gigs. I am located in a small town in Central Queensland, Australia and there are no jazz venues locally and hardly any competent musicians. My wife and I are heavily involved in a local church and at present my role is to help encourage and develop the musicians there. I still travel from time to time to conduct music seminar including working with a band, the role of the rhythm section, keyboard styles, building good dynamics, practice techniques etc.

I am also busy in my home studio creating. I try to release a single or CD every couple of months, depending on my schedule. I do hope to get back to regular gigs once we move back to Brisbane or to a much larger town than where we are now.

How did you come to the idea about your new album?

The first CD I produced was “The Best of Smooth“. This was a collection of songs that I had written of the last two to three years. Since then I have written many singles including “In the Groove“, “Turn Up the Heat“, “Smooth Groove“, “Drifter“, “Lasting Impression” and “Besty’s Bossa“. My latest album is called “The Best of Rod Best“. This is a collection of what I consider the best songs I have written over the last few years. The album includes 16 tracks. Apart from that I have also release a number of new singles lately including “Going Places“, “Lazy Days“, “Move ‘n’ Groove” and my latest, “High Energy“.

What can your fans expect next?13263808_100562220367224_2758213816407014978_n

I will continue to release that hopefully will be an enjoyment and blessing to listeners. In the near future I will be collaborating with other great musicians to produce songs that are creative and hold the interest of those listening. Listeners can obtain my music from www.rodbestmusic.com. All my music is also available at iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, Apple Music and Spotify.

What is you advice to the young musicians that choose jazz?

For those starting out in jazz, listen to as many players as you can. Try and copy their licks, analyse their music (chord structures used, rhythms used, what are the main features of their playing etc.) and watch them play live if you can. Be always prepared to learn from anyone. Even the simplest player can give you ideas. Practice, practice and more practice… Develop your sight reading skill and improve your aural skill so you can easily identify a chord or sequential pattern when it is played.

One of the best things I found was to take a fully written jazz score and analyse what chords they used, what patterns they incorporated, how they introduced the song and the type of ending they used. To improve you improvisation, listen to players on other instruments Eg. Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, John Coltrane. I started by analysing a lot of Paul Desmond’s saxophone lines and found this very helpful.

Also, look at always improving yourself by doing courses in jazz. Berkeley have a lot of great courses that are relatively cheap to improve your skill level. Play as much as you can with other musicians and try to play with players that are better than yourself. This will inspire you to reach for the level and beyond.

Milena Staniskovska

March 12th, 2017

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