One summer night in the Lower East Side at a club called Detour, I played a gig with tenor player named Rick Margitza. Detour was one of those door gigs that you were really lucky if you made over twenty bucks. I had heard Rick on records before moving to NYC and thought that his playing was quite interesting. He was definitely out of the Brecker, Berg, Grossman, modern tenor school. Rick was a three-tonic maniac, he could work them over anything. He had definitely worked out a lot of his own shit too. I think he was recording for Blue Note around that time, though he seemed a little down about the scene when I talked to him after the gig. At Berklee Ed Tomasi had always talked about Margitza, he thought that Rick was one of the only NYC tenor players to be breaking new ground. The modern Jewish NYC tenor thing (Berg, Brecker, Liebman, Grossman) wasn't exactly my bag, but Rick was a very impressive guy to play with. He played a lot of saxophone. As I was dinking around on MySpace the other night I ran into Rick's page, his new recording project is called Gyphop. Apparently Rick has sought greener pastures in Paris. His page says this about the Gyphop project:
- His 10 albums as a leader document the evolution of his playing as well as his growth as a composer. Margitza has also composed music for orchestra including two symphonies and a saxophone concerto. He currently lives in Paris and his most recent recording Bohemia, on the French label Nocurne, is his most personal to date. Recorded after moving to Paris in 2003, this project is completely different in style and content from any of his other recordings. The instrumentation ranges from violins, tablas and sitars, to harmonicas, voices and ethnic guitars. Margitza explores his Gypsy roots by tracing the origin of the Romany people from India across Eastern Europe. The music is programmatic in nature with each instrument and theme being a character in the story.
After all, the Gypsies did migrate from Northern India/Pakistan in the 10th century. For a thorough introduction to the wonderful world of Gypsy music, check out the film called 'LatchoDrom'. It's a breathtaking flick that covers Romany music from the Indian sub-continent, and ends with modern Spanish Gypsy Flamenco and Parisian Hot-Jazz. Rick has a wide range of styles to draw from as he delves into his roots. I'm sure it must feel good to him to be recognized as a Gypsy instead of people always assuming that he's Puerto Rican (as I did). The French love their Gypsy Jazz and Rick must be blowing the lid off a scene where some players don't ever even use Major seventh chords (because Django never played them). Gyphop really stuck in my head and made a strong impression on me. The blend of strings, voice, harmonica, and saxophone is lush and rich. I hope Rick's having fun over there, it sounds like he is.
- Here's what Rick has to say about the passing of Brecker, from his MySpace blog:
growing exponentially as a result. I, like all of us feel robbed of the opportunity to hear what he would have come up with next. I feel like a huge part of me is missing and will always feel blessed to have known him. Dearest Michael, I'm glad that your suffering is over. Rest in peace knowing that you and your music helped make this world a better place."
Heart of Hearts