giovedì 20 ottobre 2011

Intervista a Rhoda Scott

Sul sito dell'emittente radiofonica canadese Jazz FM 91 è stata pubblicata un bella intervista all'organista Rhoda Scott.
Organista di stampo classico, Rhoda Scott nasce nel New Jersey nel 1938, figlia maggiore di un prete di colore e madre tedesca. Rhoda scopriva la sua passione per l’organo molto presto, mentre accompagnava il coro gospel nella chiesa del padre. 
Rhoda impara a suonare l’organo classico e contemporaneamente suona nei nightclub per guadagnare dei soldi. Qui molto presto entra in contatto con famosi jazzisti, che notano il suo talento e la promuovono. Alla fine Eddie Barclay e Raoul Saint-Yves, che successivamente diventerà suo marito, la convincono ad andare in tourneè con loro in Francia. Nel 1968 Rhoda si trasferisce a Parigi, ottenendo grandi successi, fra l’altro in spettacoli con Gilbert Bècaud all’Olimpia. Le tournee la portano in tutta Europa.
I numerosi dischi, la maggior parte dei quali registrati a Parigi, la lanciano nel firmamento jazzistico, presentando un’incredibile eccletismo musicale, originato dalla sua solida educazione musicale. Accanto ai classici standard troviamo i Negro Spiritual, gli Evergreen, ed anche molte sue composizioni originali. Una degli album più interessanti è certamente "Rhoda Scott and Guests".
A proposito della Scott, Arthur Rubinstein, il grande interprete di Chopin ha detto "The Barefoot Lady" com’è soprannominata, perché suona il pedale sempre con il piede nudo, "è una grande, grandissima virtuosa".   

Ecco un estratto della bella intervista:

JazzWax: Where did you grow up?
Rhoda Scott: I was born in Dorothy, N.J. My family lived there for five or six years. My father was a minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was sent around the state to different churches. Whenever he got the call to move, we’d pack up. As a result, I attended five different grammar schools and three different high schools.
JW: Tough when you’re a kid.
RS: Yes, but such abrupt change renders you flexible to different environments. But you’re right, it was a challenge losing friends all the time. There were seven children in my family—four girls and three boys. I was the oldest girl, but I had a brother who was older than me. Every time we got to a new town, we liked to see who would get to the top of the social scene first. We knew we didn’t have much time before moving again.
JW: What did your mother do?
RS: She played piano in my father’s church. But she died young—at age 38. I was little when she died. As a result, we all grew up like weeds [laughs]. My dad was a great father. His aim was to keep all seven of us together, a promise he had made to my mother.
JW: How was he able to cover the family’s costs as a minister?
RS: He was a minister on the weekends, which provided us with housing. During the week he had to work. He had a job as a janitor at DuPont in Deepwater, N.J. He loved DuPont. He used to keep us wide-eyed with descriptions of what he had seen and what the company was doing.
JW: Did your father commute?
RS: Depending on where we were stationed, he would either sleep down by his job or come home on the weekends. We didn’t need to be supervised. We were good kids, and the oldest looked out for the youngest. Dad was married briefly, but I think we were all too much for his new wife to handle. My dad played piano and encouraged me to become a musician. He was supportive of me, no matter what I wanted to play.
JW: How did you wind up playing the organ?
RS: I started on the piano tickling the keys at home or in church. When I was very young, my mother would play piano while holding me on her lap. Family legend has it that when we’d come home from church, I’d reach up to the keys and play the same things my mother had played in church.
JW: And the organ?
RS: I discovered the organ around age 7. It was in our church and available to me. I used to walk up and down the organ’s pedalboards to see what those notes sounded like.
JW: Did you have a teacher?
RS: No, I picked up the organ on my own. I was in the church playing the organ day and night, figuring out what all the stops did. Gaining access to the church was easy. We lived in the parsonage next door, and I could play the church organ for as long as I wished.
JW: Did you listen to records?
RS: We didn’t have any records. We had the radio. I’d listen to soap operas and black stations that played R&B, like Ray Charles. When I was a kid, I could play all the soap opera themes. The reason I can’t dance today is that I’d always play the latest radio hits at dances for friends. I never got up from the bench [laughs].
JW: When did you start playing professionally?
RS: Around 1955. A guy in my church choir asked me to fill in for the piano player in his band. I told him that I didn’t know how to play that kind of music. He said it didn’t matter, he just needed someone.
JW: What happened?
RS: I went on the gig. They played blues, a lot of standards and Broadway tunes. It turned out I knew all of the songs in their book from listening to the radio, so I had no problem. I stayed with the band until 1960.
JW: What was the group’s name?
RS: Originally, we were Lee Smith’s Satellites, which he soon changed to Lee Smith’s Hi-Larks. It was quartet. After the name change, he added singer Larry O'Neill.....

Continua a leggere l'intervista sul sito originario

Ecco un video di Rhoda Scott che presenta una magnifica versione del classico April in Paris:

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