My name is Roger Ebacher, and as they say, this is my story...
As a participant in today's rapidly evolving musical universe, I wear alot of hats. I believe that a musician's ablility to do more than one thing well is a necessity these days. Fortunately I am able and willing to do so, and happy to as well, since I do tend to get bored easily! I'm a stage and studio multi-instrumentalist, a composer, a teacher, and the owner/operator of a small recording business. Among these identities, one for which I am often known is that of "jazz flautist". Actually, the word "flautist" somehow seems a bit lofty to me. And as for the label "jazz", I'm not entirely certain what that means. I believe it was Duke Ellington who addressed this question best when he said, "If it sounds good, it is good." That's the kind of music I like to play...
For better than three decades, I've had the good fortune to be able to immerse myself in a wide variety of musical contexts and styles, and to share ideas with some very talented people. And for the record, jazz has often been the thread which ties these sometimes seemingly disparate experiences together. As a player of wind instruments, I've been heavily impressed by musical people such as YUSEF LATEEF, for example, who also has a bit of an issue with the label "jazz". Or the virtuosic CHARLIE MARIANO, who once attempted to explain the complex classical Indian musical scale to a bewildered me. And I think I will always love the music of artists like STAN GETZ and CANNONBALL ADDERLY. I've been influenced mostly by horn players, in fact, though it's difficult as a "flautist" not to admire the work of other "flautists" like DAVE VALENTIN, JOE FARRELL, or HERBIE MANN. From a composer's point of view, the influences have been numerous and diverse. The early music of PAT METHENY and LYLE MAYS is an oasis for my ears, as is the sweet and elegant simplicity found in the works of ABDULLAH IBRAHIM. As a listener, I've explored relentlessly, and my own music hopefully reflects that.
This music has taken me lots of places physically and spiritually, but perhaps no place has made a deeper impression on me than BRASIL. In RIO DE JANEIRO, Samba is the heartbeat, and everybody has one. Playing live Samba in the streets with musicians who breath that music was an experience I'll always cherish. I truly cried on the plane coming home...
I began playing professionally in Montreal in 1971, performing mostly folk and light pop music as a singer in colleges and downtown clubs. After returning to the States in 1973, I found my way into blues and funk, earning my living on the road as a leadsinger. I eventually became restless, started dabbling with some wild "experimental" music on both vocals and wind instruments, and finally around 1975 fell headfirst into jazz when I was asked to join the CHARLES BECHLER GROUP. Charlie was perhaps the closest living thing to THELONIOUS MONK in New England, and I was honored (and a bit scared) to join the ranks of an ensemble whose members had included the great and world famous sax icon CHARLIE MARIANO but a few years prior to my arrival. At the time, I was playing "electric" alto recorder...seriously!
In the years following, with CHARLIE B.and others, I composed scores for the theatre, even did a little acting, and I renewed my interest in what became my primary instrument, the Melody Flute. Unless you've heard me before, it's very unlikely you have heard this instrument. To the best of my knowledge, I'm the only musician in the world who plays it professionally, and to this day I often get a pretty puzzled look from other horn players when I bring it out of the case!
During this time I began performing primarily under my own name, and as a freelance "gun-for-hire". I also made a number of guest appearances on the recordings of New England acoustic artists such as MIDNIGHT SNACK, singer/composer LYNNE TAYLOR, and numerous others. I jammed onstage with guitar great RONNIE EARL, composed and recorded an original score for a production of Shakespeare's "ROMEO AND JULIET", and continued to receive European royalties for a bebop tune I wrote back in 1982, as covered on ROUNDER RECORDS by the late legendary New Orleans jazz/R&B crooner JOHNNY ADAMS.
In 1998, I recorded my first CD as a leader,"FLUTATION DEVICE", released on the J-BIRD record label. The results as well as the reviews were quite favorable, and I myself still enjoy listening to this musical snapshot of my working Quartet at that time. Joining me on keyboards was NYC native SAM BARRIOS, whose grasp of the Latin Jazz idiom is well evident on this recording. In the rhythm section, drummer MATT TAYLOR locked solidly and tastefully with bassist extraordinaire THOMAS HEBB to create the kind of support many soloists only wish they had! This was a fun CD to make.
2001 marked the release of my second CD as a leader, and the first for my then current Quintet. This recording, entitled "BACKYARD CARNEVAL", represented a major step forward in the evolution of my music and my working ensemble. Whereas my first CD included just one original work, this newer recording featured exclusively original compositions. Style-wise, I drew from a fairly diverse palette of influences, resulting in an overall sound that can best be described as Afro-Cuban Brazilian Latin Jazz. And while that might make for an interesting time deciding which box or bin to put it in, I'm thrilled with the fact that this ensemble had what it takes to explore and create within these genres.
This Quintet was loaded with talent and know-how, and from a composer/flute player's perspective, simply a dream come true. Pianist MICHAEL SHEA, with whom I'd worked since late 1998, soars on this recording, contributing world-class taste and chops as a soloist and in the rhythm department. Michael intuitively knew where I was going with the new music I composed for BACKYARD CARNEVAL, and he helped greatly in making my ideas come to life exactly as I conceived them. He is a genuinely gifted and remarkable pianist...a musician's musician. This recording is also very big on drums and percussion, which is fully intended to showcase the powerhouse combination of DENNY PELLETIER and MICHAEL WINGFIELD. I've known and worked with Mr.Wingfield for many years, and the significance of his addition to the ensemble is inestimable in the percussion section, and the musical direction of the group. Michael knows his craft from the bottom up, and on live dates he's a show all by himself! As for Denny, even a casual listen to BACKYARD CARNEVAL confirms that this is a serious drummer at work. His arsenal of rhythmic ideas is endless, surpassed only by his judgment and taste in what to play. Denny and I go back quite a while, back to around 1976 in fact, when we were part of a once-in-a-lifetime group called Timestream who took New England by storm and blew the roof off every venue we visited. It was a great feeling personally and musically to be working with him again on something that meant so much to both of us. In the bass department, I was fortunate enough to have two heavies to help complete the rhythm section on BACKYARD CARNEVAL. Once again THOMAS HEBB, whose grooves and solos figured greatly in the sound of FLUTATION DEVICE, laid out the foundation on three tracks from this CD. Thomas is a consummate pro, and it's no wonder he's such a catch for anyone needing a bassist who can do it all. At the time of this recording, in fact, Thomas' schedule allowed only one session with the Quintet. The remaining void was more than filled by PAUL BEAUDRY, who had worked extensively with Quintet keyboardist MICHAEL SHEA. Paul came in cold and did his part with heart and soul in abundance. Again, a very satisfying recording to make!
The influences of the past thirty something years now finds me in a place where I feel that I am truly capable of expressing myself as a composer and player in a very wide variety of musical settings. I have expanded my musical vocabulary to the point where I am comfortable within numerous genres on many instruments. This is nowhere more evident than in the context of my World Music project, THE AIR DEPARTMENT. Continous experimentation with various genres, styles, and instruments over the years finally reached a fever pitch, and by 2008 the concept of THE AIR DEPARTMENT was born. The idea was to compose without limits, and to utilise everything I could do and all that I had learned to create music that reflected my years of listening, studying, and playing music of diverse styles. Joining me once more was drummer Denny Pelletier, who again demonstrated a sympatico understanding of the statement I wished to make. THE AIR DEPARTMENT now has a recorded discography of four releases, including two new recordings from 2010 alone. The music contained in these recordings represents what I consider to be perhaps my best work ever, bringing all that has come before into a cohesive whole, indeed to a musical destination where, as our motto states, "the sky's the limit". It's an accurate reflection of where I am now as an artist, and that sense of artistic fulfillment is something I am deeply thankful for. But lest I continue to gush over it all, let me simply suggest that you see and hear what it's all about by clicking on THE AIR DEPARTMENT link from the links page on this website.
Thus far, THE AIR DEPARTMENT is primarily a vehicle for recorded output, as the concept was originally intended. The music has been presented in a handful of concerts over the past year or so, with plans to move it more into performance settings in the year ahead. In the meantime, I am fortunate to be performing as a percussionist with several ensembles in the New England area. As a result of connections made while recording here at my project studio, it's my pleasure to perform currently with the delightful bluegrass/folk/new acoustic duo of WILD MAPLE, the wonderfully original and eclectic DOC ZIG & BENNY Z group, and the superbly spicy flamenco group THE LATIN QUARTER. Between doing shows with these diverse groups and also being a hired gun session player, I'm happy to report that I am thankfully seldom bored as a musician!
MY MUSICAL PARTNERS:
REVIEWS AND KUDOS
ROGER EBACHER DISCOGRAPHY
REBACH MUSIC RECORDI NG
THE ROGER EBACHER QUINTET