Richard Reiter

Name ID 2067

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Arusha Times
Extract Date: May 2005

American Jazz Master to Record Album of Maasai Songs

(This clip came from Ejazz News - see link)

He is likely to get his backing singers from Ngorongoro.

The famous US jazz musician, Richard Reiter who visited Arusha last March, has expressed his wish to return in the region and record Maasai songs in an album compilation which is to be pressed onto a special CD release.

Reiter revealed this recently in America, explaining that the idea struck him after a night of unplugged performance with the Maasai people in Ngorongoro area. It was a rather hilarious music session where pans and pots were used as drums.

In 1999, musician Richard Reiter traveled to Senegal in West Africa, hoping to play his saxophone and flute with local bands, as well as studying traditional drumming. He didn't know what would happen, but his trip was successful beyond his wildest dreams.

He played with three bands in their homes, nightclubs and hotels. This in-spired him to form a new band, the Richard Reiter Afro-Jazz Project, and record the CD, "I Hear Africa" with 12 new Reiter compositions.

He returned to New Jersey with authentic djembe and djun djun drums and a knowledge of African rhythms that motivated him to become a leader of drum circles, including his monthly "Spiritual Drumming" circle sponsored by the Outpost in the Burbs at First Congregational Church.

So it was no surprise when Reiter decided it was time to return to Africa and last March he and his wife, Susan, traveled to Tanzania where once again his experiences surpassed his hopes. While browsing in a craft market in Arusha, he was shocked to hear music from his second CD, "Point of No Return."

It turns out that one of his safari guides, named Kiago, had the CD and asked an employee to play it, hoping to discover that this was the same Richard Reiter. A friend in Denmark had sent the CD to Kiago. Reiter felt very successful internationally.

But the most emotional events lay ahead. Reiter visited a Maasai village in the Ngorongo Crater area. At night, three Maasai warriors came to help guard Reiter's camp. They looked like men you wouldn't want to tangle with, Reiter said in a release.

Reiter started playing his flute and the three men started smiling and laughing, looking at the flute trying to figure out where the music was coming from. Reiter let them push the keys (to change notes) and try to flow the flute. Then Susan gave them pots and pans and Reiter taught them a basic rock drum beat to accompany his flute playing. The most fun was when they sang songs and Reiter joined in on the flute.

Reiter stated, "I was so moved by now music instantly bonded us together. These Maasai men live so differently from us, yet we hugged each other like brothers and they said they would hold us in their hearts until we returned."

The next day Reiter accompanied a group of Maasai girls as they sang songs. They also loved trying to play the flute. Happily, Reiter recorded all this music-making and plans to use the recording to inspire his next CD project of new compositions.

Reiter, an Emmy Award-winning composer, also plans to return to Tanzania and record enough Maasai singing to fill a CD, then experiment with over dubbing his flute, saxophone, and perhaps instruments such as bass, guitar and drum set.

Richard Reiter is a nationally acclaimed jazz performer and composer, whose music has also reached international audiences. Reiter performs ten woodwinds: saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone), flutes (C-flute, alto flute, bass flute), clarinets (Bb soprano, Bb bass clarinet), and piccolo.

He improvises exciting solos that are emotional, adventuresome and thoughtfully structured. The four CDs by his contemporary jazz group (originally called Crossing Point, now called The Richard Reiter Afro-Jazz Project) received rave reviews and steady national air play.

The fourth CD "I Hear Africa" and the recording "Swing This!" by The Richard Reiter Swing Band are both on Reiter's label City Pigeon Records, as is his latest CD "Live at China Gourmet."

"Music brings people together and proves how much we all want to trust and care for each other," Reiter summed up later.

Extract ID: 5086