I am pleased to have found one such artist, Ragan Whiteside, she is set to release her newest album called Treblemaker. She joins me today for a Candid Conversation about the album and her music.
Cliff T.: Ragan thanks for taking some time out to do a Candid Conversation.
Ragan W.: Thank you so much for having me!
Cliff T.: Treblemaker, interesting name for an album, is there a theme behind this title or is this album featuring music that has a strong emphasis on Treble?
Ragan W.: I wish I could say it’s related to a theme, but really it was just a cool pun. :) Although I am a flautist, I am all about the bass.
Cliff T.: I have to admit I am a drum kind of guy myself but bass does move me too. Is the flute the centerpiece instrument?
Ragan W.: Yes, the flute is definitely the centerpiece, with a few guests joining throughout the album with various instruments: Tom Browne (trumpet), Marion Meadows (sax), Kim Waters (sax), Frank McComb (keys and vocals), The PR Experience (Marvin Pryor – trombone, Nelson Render – trumpet, Travis Kimber – sax), Rich Harrison (drums), Jorel “JFly” Flynn (drums), Derek Scott (guitar), and Phil Casagrande (keys).
Cliff T.: In the press release it is mentioned that your music is intended to shake up perceptions of what a flute and Jazz artist can do, can you give us a sense of what perceptions you see need to be changed?
Ragan W.: There is a general perception that flute is a soft, flowery, background instrument. While it can be that, the flute can also be very percussive and funky. I always set out to show that the flute can be a mainstream instrument, just like sax and guitar.
Cliff T.: Ragan, you’re no stranger to the scene, this is your fourth album, what do you think sets Treblemaker apart from your earlier work?
Ragan W.: When we started working on this album, we set the intention of creating songs that focused on making people feel good. That type of focus really opened us up creatively and allowed us to expand more.
Cliff T.: Is there a favorite track on this album, and if so which one and why?
Ragan W.: That’s a tough one – each one is close to my heart for one reason or another. I guess if I had to choose, I would say “See You at the Get Down” since it fulfills a long-time dream of mine to have a full horn section on a tune. I am a huge fan of bands that feature horns like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. I’m a sucker for a good horn line.
Cliff T.: I see that you actually worked with Patrice Rushen, wow that is cool. What was it like to work with her and the likes of Bob Baldwin and did they help out on this album?
Ragan W.: Patrice Rushen is such an inspiration – she is doing all of the things I aspire to do one day. On top of that, she’s a nice person. She wasn’t involved with Treblemaker, but Bob was. I’ve worked with Bob for many years and have learned a lot from him. His ear is absolutely sick, so you can’t get away with anything that even hints at being a wrong note!
Cliff T.: At age 5 you got into music, have learned to play piano, violin drums but in the end choose to play the flute as well as sing. The flute, what drew you to it? And, what about Jazz drew you to this genre.
Ragan W.: Believe it or not, I did not want to play the flute. When it came time to choose an instrument in the 4th grade, I wanted to play the drums but they didn’t let girls play the drums at the time. So I said, “ok, I’ll play the trumpet” but they ran out of trumpets. The only instruments they had left were the flute and the clarinet. The flute was shinier so I went with that. (smile). As for what drew me to Jazz…it’s the freedom of expression that is most appealing to me.
Cliff T.: I know the feeling I wanted to play drums in high school, instead I took up the Euponium, trust me I am a better writer than a musician. Randis Music is your label, since 2007, congratulations on that as well.
Ragan W.: Thanks! Dennis Johnson (producer/songwriter/engineer) and I formed it when it seemed like Smooth Jazz opportunities were drying up. (Randis is a combination of our names). It feels good to know that I have an opportunity to release music on my own. Thank goodness for technology!
Cliff T.: Will you be going on tour to promote this album?
Ragan W.: Yes – we are in the process of lining up dates now.
Cliff T.: Excellent, Ragan thanks again for doing a Candid Conversation. I really appreciate your time, and wish you much success with Treblemaker and Randis Music.
Ragan Whiteside, flutist singer. Her newest work Treblemaker on Randis Music debuts this month. She spoke with us from Atlanta, GA.
Treblemaker (2017) – Hear sound clips at www.raganwhiteside.com/music
Quantum Drive (2014)
Class Axe (2007)
Interesting fact, Ragan Whiteside holds a degree from Harid Conservatory, where her sound was honed with the tried-and-true classical training, graduating with a Bachelor of Music Performance degree.