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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT- Playing Jazz with Robots' help!-Spotlight on Trowzer Boa - Sandy Demina Reporting...

Staff Reporter
• Monday, April 26, 2010
Trowzer Boa is rl saxophonist/composer Dave Renz.

Dave Renz performs on the east Coast, playing mainly acoustic jazz. In Second Life he plays his jazz with the Robot Band that symbolizes the music programs used to create the sounds we can hear at his gigs.Trowzer sings and plays sax live, while any other sound is created through a series of software packages.

Working with the robot band allows Trow to provide a great sound inworld, yet still play his instrument live and spontaneaously.

Trow hopes that as he gains comfort with the technology he will be able to bring a variety of jazz related music to SL, including cooperative projects with other live SL musicians from across the globe.


SANDY:Where are you from?

TROWZER: I am from the suburbs of Philadelphia Pennsylvania...I have lived in this basic area my entire life. Born north of the city, went to college west of the city, and now live south west of the city.
SANDY: How long have you been playing music?

TROWZER: I have been playing saxophone for about 30 years now...taking it seriously for about 25 years...professionally for about sl for about 2

SANDY:What instruments do you play?
TROWZER: I mainly play saxophone, and mainly alto and years pass i find myself moving back and forth between which one i would describe as my "main" horn...20 years ago I'd have said alto...10 years ago I would have said i would say alto again! I love them both, and when I play i try to draw on the other as a way of giving myeslf a more unique sound. I also play flute a bit and keys, mainly as a tool for writing.
SANDY:How would you describe your style? 
TROWZER: I am primarily a jazz musician, but I draw on a variety of styles, including blues/rock/world music. I like "groove centered" music typically, but I like to search and probe in the tradition of post-bop jazz.
SANDY:You are a composer too,how long does it take to write a song/piece of music? 
TROWZER: Usually a matter of minutes to actually write it, but the idea may stir for months. I few have just been "born" in a moment. Metro Paris came to me as I was traveling back to my hotel...the colors and rythm of the city...very film noir, and this earthy dark medium jazz swing number was "born". I had no instruments to actually do the composition on, but when I got back to the hotel i was able to scratch down enough information so that when I got home i could remember the song and actually write it down. Right as Rain was the similar...a melody came to me...a gospel rock type sound. I sat down at a piano and figured it out quickly. Usually my writing involves an idea, and then a "gestation period" and then the composition finds itself. The two previously mentioned songs were a little different in that they were instantaneous.
SANDY: How prolific are you? 
TROWZER: Ever since I started studying jazz (about 1985) I started writing. I would always study the song I was learning and try to write my own melody. My teacher insisted I write solos, and i just took it one step further. Then I would write "in the style of"...a certain standard or composer. I probably have written about 50 songs, maybe a bit more at this point. SL has helped me as a composer, by giving me an audience to write for. As time has gone on, I have evolved as a composer who wrote for an exercise, to one who truly writes to express a feeling or emotion.
SANDY:What do you spend the most time on; music or lyrics? 
TROWZER: I have written songs with lyrics...and those I labor over. I have a brand new cd coming out with a group called The Sixth Street Quaternion that features a great vocalist named Deborah Billups, singing my compositions. Most of those songs began as instrumentals, and I was encouraged to write lyrics for the singer, by bandleader Art Stephano. Because I had a specific person in mind who would be singing them, it was almost as if I could "write for a character". So i just kind of envisioned this smokey jazz singer, and what she might sing and the songs again pretty much wrote can purchase the cd here:

SANDY:Which acts have most inspired you? 
TROWZER: My main influences are Wayne Shorter and Kenny Garrett. I love both their styles of play, their sound, and their writing. Many of their songs are very simple, hummable tunes, with some sort of simple obstacle for the improvisor to overcome. They also both have a deep passion in their sound and their style of play, and the colors they refer to in their music are rich and complex. Wayne's stuff, like on the JuJu album is so dark and rich and evokes this jungle image, and Kenny just uses contast so well...very simple pentatonics vs. complexed scales. Ironically I also LOVE the other extremes...Paquito D'Riviera and Maceo Parker. Both have this extremely happy sound, and Paquito's playing is just manic. I was lucky to be in Toronto and stumbled on a street concert and Maceo was there playing...I couldn't believe my luck!!!
SANDY:Where do you get ideas for songs/pieces of music?

TROWZER: All over. Often I write to fill a need in a set...we need a tune that will contrast some of my others we are playing...something similar too (insert standard). So then I will write to fill a need. I look at my music for any one band as a global thing...almost like a suite, but one that can be played in any order and still provide contrast but relevance. Other times, I just get ideas from experiences. More of my tunes lately are simply memories of great times I have had, or a need to express something that words won't do justice to.
SANDY:Except for other musicians what else inspires you?

TROWZER: I love visual arts and writing. I have written a whole series of songs inspired by the stories of Rudyard Kipling. I also have a series of tunes based on just using that as an idea starter...they all have a mix of island influences and urban influences...and even other world music influences. Cigars are a parallel to my music. The tobacco starts in one place, is shipped through other places and settles near this urban center. That is my music. It is seeded in africa/brazil/cuba, it travels through other ports, and finally settles somewhere with me. My ears select the parts that seem relevant to me.
SANDY:What has influenced you to get your to where you are today musically?
TROWZER: Mostly people. My parents were supportive but I always needed a "responsible" career to "fall back on", so i did not consider going to a conservatory. Instead I took the slow and steady route. I taught school full time for years and played on the side. When my daughter was born, I stayed home for a few years and played out more at nights and on weekends, while my wife continued with her career. That was pivotal. It showed me we COULD do fine without me working a full time job. Now I work in schools just 3 days a week, and have time to also seriously pursue my music career.
SANDY:Which song would you most like to have written?

TROWZER: Oh my gosh...too many to chose from. What a great question! Probably Everyday Sunshine by has a great melody and lyrics filled with optemism, and grooves hard and has all those gospel colors, and great contrasts...just a wonderful song, but really, such a hard question!!!
SANDY:Let's start talking about SL. How did you discover it? 
TROWZER: My wife read about it in a blog and said, "hey this sounds like we might have some fun here!"
SANDY:what brought you inworld?

TROWZER: TBH, it was just a chance to "get out" without leaving the house. We had a 7 year old at the time, and I played out enough that when off for the weekend we did not want to get a sitter etc. We were like, "Look! we can go listen to music or dance or whatever", so we did.
SANDY:Did you ever think to use your real name for what you usually do in Second Life? 
TROWZER: Thought of it, but now I am established as Trow. My SL name is simple to remember (although admittedly sophomoric). I have my RL website in my profile and all, so I don't hide it, but in SL, I am just Trow, and I am comfortable with that.
SANDY:What you like to do here in Second Life when you are not playing?

TROWZER: Mostly I spend time listening to music and laughing. Because of SL I have become better as a player and gained focus in my RL career and am now extremely busy. Most of my SL focuses around my music...but I enjoy interacting with people at my club and at concerts and also get time to escape to my simple SL home for some occasional peace and quiet. It is a complete escape and I love that aspect of SL.
SANDY:Do you like shopping or going to music concerts or art exhibits?
TROWZER: I love both the music and visual arts scene in SL. I have found so many creative and amazingly talented people! It is a wonderful community in that sense. I typically don't shop alot but it is fun to see all the things people have designed!
SANDY:Do you think SL can be a valid showcase for your RL works?
TROWZER: Absolutely. It allows you to interact with people around the world. It keeps you thinking about new ideas. I think it can not be that all by itself, but is a valid ASPECT of promotion of RL work.
SANDY:In SL you have opened a live music venue:can you explain to us why did you start this virtual adventure and what are your aims, business or just fun? 
TROWZER: Mainly fun. The opportunity presented itself, and truly I feel blessed to be able to share my music...I think in the US there is just not enough support of jazz, even within the jazz community. There is this elitist quality. There are hundreds of festivals and little local representation, yet there are some amazing local talents. I wanted Firehouse 59 as a model for what could be. I base my monthly budget on a portion (LARGE PORTION..hahah) of what I made in SL the previous month, and stress quality over quantity, and really try to gear towards the music of jazz and blues. I view it as my way of giving back to the community. I have no venue tip jars, but I use the group to promote my SL shows and sell RL mp3's using a vendor at the club.
SANDY:Do you use other kind of digital promotions?

TROWZER: Facebook and email is mainly it! I use them more effectively as well, modeling my RL promotion after SL Notices and Group IM's.
SANDY:Where do you see yourself a year from now:will Second Life still exist? 
TROWZER: A year from now, I will be beginning to push some RL projects hard as a number of players graduate from conservatories around the US. Mostly my only goal is to continue to play the best music I can, with the best musicians I can, and keep my mind open to creative opportunites. I sure HOPE SL still seems to be going through a growth phase now, and other virtual worlds are starting to appear...hopefully all these worlds can coexist. Performing in SL has been great for me, and I hope to begin doing RL clinics soon to help others launch there virtual careers.

Visit  for more on  Trowzer Boa aka Dave Renz

-Sandy Demina Reporting...


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