RICH FRANKS HEARING BEAUTY FROM WITHIN!
The sixties was a great time to be a young musician like RICH FRANKS, living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the ocean being so inspiring. “Alex Darqui the pianist and I along with Jaco Pastorius started playing together in 1968 says Rich. We became very dear friends. Jaco wanted to record an album with the three of us but unfortunately it didn’t happen, however I had a chance to record my own CD, together with Alex and John called “For Our Friend” which I dedicated to Jaco Pastorius. John Patitucci was the perfect choice, not only had he been Chick Corea’s bassist for 10 years, spiritually he was the perfect one.”
Rich stayed in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area playing all the clubs and hotels and cruise ships for many years. He is now semi-retired, living in , Georgia and playing jazz three nights a week.
The video of the week at the bottom of this page features a song from that CD.
Rich, thank you for taking time to do this article with me and answering my questions.
No. 1) What is music to you?
Childlike… early beginning’s… music in the air… sounds of nature… old records left behind… a gift given… joy… expression…
No. 2) What Inspires you?
Love and compassion, nature, poetry and art, smiles, kindness. Thinking of others first. Love for one another. Hearing a musician who has worked hard for perfection. Knowledge and understanding… always seeking the unknown… Sensitive musicians who do not dictate or demand… that hear the beauty from within.. Musicians who take time to play and share without putting a $ on it… To give thanks to God everyday that inspires me. To play music to calm, heal and bring happiness to others.
No. 3) When you are playing, creating, for yourself, not performing, where does it take you, where does your mind travel.
When I am playing and creating, there is always my desire to play from within… back to the source from which all creativity flows. This is an infinite expression that will go anywhere you feel, hear or envision it to be. It can be more than a human experience… a spiritual journey. Thru many years of hard work, searching, living, practicing, creating and believing in ones self and ability for perfection…
No. 4) Do you think music, visual art and health are related and if so, how?
Yes. I have seen this with my own eyes in the after school care of a severely handicapped 15 year old child, who has been a prisoner of her own body since birth. Her name is Hayley. I have written a song for her along with a dear friend of mine Ray Peterson called “Hayley’s Waltz”. Hayley will play the chimes on the recording. If we take time to listen to music, if we go to that special place… be it inside your heart or a visit to the Grand Canyon… we will hear and see music and art in its purist form. Relaxation,. Calmness, concentration, confidence are all important ingredients for health, they all relate to music and art.
No. 5) When you are playing how do you feel?
At home, in my element, though my first love was the piano, I found the drum set to be my musical expression… in accompaniment…color and sound…
No. 6) Do you identify with your music, and if so, on what level?
Yes, you reach a point where your touch and sound, placement of beats, phrasing, color and shading become identical with your very own thoughts. Even though millions of musicians play the same song, no one plays identical. The level you can reach is infinite in variations. Depending on your thoughts at any given moment, you equalize your mind, spirit and body to openness, selflessness… to a divine source of understanding…
No. 7) When do you do your best work? (what environment, night, day, alone, with others )
Upon awakening as long as I have my health and energy to think creatively. I try to play a little better each day in any environment… night… day… alone… or with others… My best work is yet to come though… maybe I will know it… when I hear it..
No. 8 ) Does playing music help you connect with your higher self, whatever that may be for you?
I feel that music is my higher self, my goal to connect with. I believe everyone has a higher self and certainly more important things to connect with in this life than I do. I mean playing music is a beautiful thing, but when I think of doctors, fireman, police, just to name a few, it put’s the picture in focus. We are all into this life together, reaching for that higher self. If I can make someone happy playing music for one moment, I feel I have connected to a higher source then mine..
No. 9) Why do you like jazz or what is it to you?
Being the youngest of four children, the unexpected, not knowing I was meant to be. I inherited my brother and sisters old records left behind. They listened to Bird, Coltrane, Classic Blues, Rock and Roll. My mother loved Frank Sinatra, Big Bands, Musicals, like South Pacific… My favourites were West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffanies. And of course there was TV and radio. This would be my foundation to work from. We were poor and could not afford a piano. In my elementary school orchestra I found that I could bring home a snare drum to practice… so it was to be.. I found my voice… It came natural to me. I listened and played… it all just seemed to flow. I taught myself to play and read music. From there it was all about listening and being open to all styles of music. I came to a point of realization jazz music would be the most spontaneous and creative, not better, just the point of no return… there was no going back. I happen to like jazz. What is this to me? The final equation of a musician’s life, and dedication to his art form, complete knowledge of rhythm, harmony, melody, composition, improvisation, and live performance. The practice and study of everything before and after… always reaching in the direction of the unknown… you then begin to hear yourself as for the first time… as never before… as if you were going home after a long journey…you finally found your way.!
No. 10) How do you feel about improvisation?
Improvisation is the essence of Jazz music. It’s my favorite place to be when playing music, whether I’m soloing or accompanying I’m in deep conversation within the spirits involved, we can take it as far as we choose or till we said what needed to be said. I also enjoy playing music that is written note for note without any improvisation creating another kind of challenge all together.
No. 11) How do you feel about creativity in the public school system?
Well this is a sensitive one for me, only speaking from my personal experience in the public school system. The Dean of my high school called me into his office one day and began to lecture me on all the negative things about being a musician, “you will never amount to anything” “musicians and artist are all drug addicts and alcoholics” etc. etc. and when he finished I said: Mr Meyers I have been working 6 nights a week all through high school till 3 am being at school on time every morning at 8 am, making 350.00 a week, this was in 1967 my senior year. And I said to him “could a drugged out alcoholic do that” A few years later still working 6 nights a week making a good living and being creative in music, one night I was playing a set at a fine restaurant when I noticed a disturbing man stumbling toward the stage drunk and drugged out of his mind, and as he fell into my drum set I stood up and caught him in my arms and said, “hello Dean. Meyers”. This is a true story, and I have had a great career ever since, so if this kind of mentality still exists in the public school system where is the creativity being taught.
No. 12) In your opinion, what could be a simple solution to improve creativity in the public school system?
I can only speak from a musical point of view, the public school system could simply start by teaching students who Duke Ellington was, that’s a good start. Teach the young how to and what to listen to, and why certain music exists. Youtube should be home work assignments everyday for every young musician. Listening to music, questions and answers, response to all forms of music. This should be in every class room along with an in-depth demonstration and discussion on improvisation. This could be a start to a simple solution to the creativity that is lacking in the world today.
Rich Franks, I want to thank you sincerely for this most inspiring and enjoyable article. Your music is without a doubt something I could paint to and I do. So until we work together again my friend, be blessed!
TO THE READER :
Please be sure to listen to Rich’s music on the video of the week. Your comments are always appreciated , thank you and enjoy!Mail this post