What is the inspiration behind Triumph and how easy or hard was it to put together such an all star lineup as you have done here?
F.N. - "The inspiration for this album was conceived to express the experiences of our lives, my life, the experiences we live and how we feel. I wanted to capture those things and express them through music. It took me quite some time to put together this band. I think I was planning it for all most a year. Finally, Lionel and I, all most missed the recording date, because we were on tour in Europe and the day before we flew back, the volcanic eruption in Iceland started. So, we just went to the airport in Rome, and got ourselves tickets hours before the flight and came back to New York via Morocco...that was crazy, but we made it. (Of course our luggage didn't).
According to the press release the compositional approach was similar to that of a more traditional Classical symphony. As a jazz drummer was it or is it more difficult to score music in this fashion?
F.N. - "I think composing does not make any difference, because the concept came later. I wrote the songs according to what I felt and later I decided that I wanted to connect them, to make it sound like a symphony. As a drummer, I think I compose a bit differently that other musicians, but not necessarily because of the instrument. I studied piano for about 15 years, I can also play basic guitar and bass. But the difference is that I studied classical piano, so I do not write as a jazz improviser and think about what chord progression would be fun to improvise on. I think about the songs and most importantly the melody. Everything else comes later."
Having reviewed well over 800 recordings this year, Triumph sticks out with perhaps one of the most unique sounds for 2012. What do you hope the listener takes away from the experience? There is an incredible organic warmth to this recording. Can we expect more in the future in terms of conceptual content from you?
F.N. - "Thank you for the compliment, I really appreciate it! The sound is the first thing we hear, before rhythm, melody, harmony ...etc. I wanted to create a very specific sound with this recording, something that has not been done much before and I am planning to get deeper in this. I hope that the music will take the listener on a journey. I wrote the songs with this specific emotional state in mind, but in the end, everybody has to feel what they want. And actually, as long as I make the listener feel something, I am happy. I think that's one of the most important aspects of music."
How did you view your roll in this jazz collective? You play with a great deal of finesse and allow the music to literally drive itself. Am I on to something?
F.N. - "Well the first thing and most important thing is the music. I feel that music is bigger than any of us, it exists and we are just lucky to be able to tap into that pool, where we can get our share of it. Do you know what I mean? Even thought this is my band, I wanted to let everyone express themselves. I wrote the music, I created the opportunity for us to record and perform...but really all the musicians are incredible on this album. So, when we play/played, I feel like I did not have to do much. With a great band, the music tells you what you have to do."
Finally...Will there be some sort of follow up and who are your favorite drummers across any genre?
F.N. - " Yes, there will be a follow up and I am all ready planning things, so next year again it can be realized. I have a few different plans, but right now they are all secrets :)
It's hard to name my favorite drummers, because there are different things that I like about different drummers, but I'll try to give you a short list. Do not be surprised, I love all most all the drummers that everyone does. Some are: Tony Williams ( for his creativity), Elvin Jones (for the amazing sound), Jack DeJohnette (for the incredible feel), Jeff "Tain" Watts (for his rhythmic complexity), Brian Blade (for his touch and for his sense of when to play and when not), Steve Jordan (for his grooves), Will Kennedy (for adapting the African rhythms and making them his own), Steve Gadd (for playing the same groove for 5 minutes and always making it sound different). I could go on and on, but I think this gives you an idea.
F.N. - "Thank you again for the opportunity to interview with you and thank you for listening to Triumph!"
I do want to publicly thank Ferenc Nemeth and you can check out my review of Triumph below: