The percussion community is buzzing with excitement about the highly anticipated forthcoming solo CD by virtuosic Multi-Percussionist/Composer/Educator River Guerguerian titled 'Grooves for Odd Times'. River has been inspiring audiences with his ecstatic and versatile percussion for over 30 years, and has performed and recorded with such groups as the BBC Concert Orchestra, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Tan Dun, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Paul Winter Consort, Chuck Berry, Sophie B. Hawkins, The Billy Sea and Ziggy Marley/Gipsy Kings. He also co-founded the world jazz group Free Planet Radio and Talujon Percussion Ensemble. The music on his new CD 'Grooves for Odd Times' represents a body of work that spans five years. This time period includes: 1) composing music for solo and mixed ensembles, 2) performing with inspiring artists, 3) recording/archiving the process of these creative cells.
"The inspiration for 'Grooves for Odd Times' was to create a sonic palette in the same way a painter might approach canvas," River explains.
"The album's roots are heavy grooves mixed in with the lyrical side of percussion. There is a dance in the odd time rhythmic structures."
And Magazine: What are some of the things you experience while creating your highly anticipated CD 'Grooves for Odd Times'?
River Guerguerian: The compositional and recording process of this CD was very inspiring because I was able to tap into new parts of my creativity. I was able to combine a variety of my eclectic tastes influences into one form. The ability to collaborate with some of the amazing artists on the CD was also fulfilling.
And Magazine: What are the benefits of living in the mountains of Asheville, NC instead of in the city of NC?
River Guerguerian: Being in touch with nature inspires me in a very different way than the concrete jungle does. In a place like NYC, where there is no outer nature, people go into their inner nature and discover themselves in very innovative ways, and that is why the arts are so high there. In the woods, there are vibrations and frequencies I pick up on that are very evocative, nurturing, and even sensual. Since I enjoy both kinds of inspiration, living in Asheville, NC address both of those. It has a cosmopolitan feel yet nestled in the mountains.
And Magazine: As a respected music educator, what is your number 1 rule of ethic on education that must be applied to your student?
River Guerguerian: Treat every human as a unique individual and be willing to become comfortable with their ways, so that you can better facilitate their journey.
And Magazine: Which is your favorite to do, making albums or film soundtracks?
River Guerguerian: When making an album, you have total artistic freedom to create any tone, colour, form, or duration of piece. Sometimes that freedom of barriers is overwhelming, and therefore creating a beautiful soundscape or soundtrack to a film or art piece becomes refreshing.
And Magazine: Describe the moment when you first learned that your compositions had been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and new music festivals?
River Guerguerian: It was thrilling and intense. I grew up playing in front of audiences, and that was never a problem for me. But I don't think I was ever as nervous as when a band played one of my compositions. You feel much more exposed.
And Magazine: In 1994, you sold all your possessions, left civilization for five years, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalayas. How did that help you grow as a person and musician?
River Guerguerian: Yes, I was mostly in the Indian Himalayas for those five years that I was off the grid. I was also in Morocco and Northern Maui. Living in the woods, no electricity, fetching my water in buckets, etc....After being raised in big cities most of my life, being in touch with raw nature taught me how to "BE" without any hidden agenda. I slowed myself down to be able to enjoy the everyday moments in life. I now apply that philosophy to music. I try to be present behind every tone I make, no matter the tempo, frequency, or duration. I also delivered my first daughter up in the Himalayas. That was a mind-blowing experience.
And Magazine: Do you think you will ever get into acting? If so, what role would you like to play?
River Guerguerian: I don't think so, but I do love a good dancer/movement artist, I try to incorporate that into my music making. I think it's the ultimate way to express yourself in front of an audience.... no words, microphone, or fancy set-up, just the human body.
And Magazine: You have a Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory and graduated with the school's award for Most Outstanding Percussionist. For people who want to be a part of the entertainment business, do you feel school is relevant to have the type of succeed you achieved?
River Guerguerian: There are people who are making a lot more money than me with less schooling! :) For me it was awesome, because I was able to learn and research whatever kind of music my head was coming up with. There were vast resources of knowledge at our fingertips. I got to play with a huge variety of musicians from all over the world. It was so exciting! One of the main things I got from that setting was the drive to come up with art that was of the time and even innovative. There was a constant sense of experimenting, as well as those who had a strong dedication to history.
And Magazine: When creating your music, how do you prepare to get into your mind set that helps you develop the inspiration that has been keeping audience ecstatic for over 30 years?
River Guerguerian: One of the most important things I learned from living in the Himalayas was how to "empty" myself. Before I begin to write a piece, or get up in front of an audience, I go through that process so as to better serve the music, and perhaps channel the muse. And that helps me get in the moment of what it is I am supposed to be doing. Because when I am not doing that, I am practicing a lot.
Whether playing with world-class symphonies or studio musicians, partnering with Grammy-award winning composers, or creating dynamic plays of rhythm for his own projects, River's passion and attention to the vibrant life off the drum reverberates throughout the crowd.
"I will be doing many performances in the southeast area, some in NYC collaborating with composers from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at the City University in New York, and a tour of Spain," says River.
In closing River instills a message to his listeners, "Try to listen to the music with your whole body and not just your mind. There is a message in the sound."
For more information visit: www.sharethedrum.com
To Purchase River Gurguerian - 'Grooves for Odd Times' CD: