More Sugar Magazine interview by Roger Zee 4/19/18
Roger Zee: Talk about starting out on piano and then picking up the sax.
Baron Raymonde: My father brought me at age six to piano teacher Dr. Del Terzo at Carnegie Hall Studios on 57th Street in Manhattan, NY to see if I had any talent for the instrument. She took me on as a student and had me playing Mozart by the time I turned seven years old. It came natural to me. I took lessons on Saturday morning at 8:00am. I remember Vladmir Horowitz coming in once to pay her for renting a studio. She told me that he practiced twelve hours a day for his comeback concert at Carnegie Hall. I started on the saxophone when my elementary school offered band instruments in the fourth grade. My best friend signed up for sax so I did too. We played in the school band together. I loved the band and playing with others.
Roger Zee: Who provided your early musical inspiration?
Baron Raymonde: When I was twelve, my father brought me to see Duke Ellington in concert at Lynhurst Castle in Tarrytown, NY. The band's saxophones blew me away. I knew then that's what I wanted to do. My dad bought me the "Charlie Parker with Strings" record and that influenced me greatly. Also, Paul Desmond on Dave Brubeck’s "Take Five." As a kid, I went to a Stan Getz concert. I bought some of his disks and played along to them. I even tried to get a sax lesson from him. A friend of my mother, Stan Getz's accountant, gave me his number. I called. His wife answered and said Stan does not usually give lessons. But he got on the phone and asked me why I wanted to study with him. I told him I had been copying his licks. He told me to get my own licks! That taught me to develop my own style. Performing on the road with Matt "Guitar" Murphy for eleven years really inspired me. He played great every night, always giving 110 percent. Sax players John Coltrane and Michael Brecker also moved me.
Roger Zee: You've worked with so many big names. Tell me about a few.
Baron Raymonde: Working with Rod Stewart was great. I met him though my friend Chuck Kentis who played keyboards with him at the time. Stewart wanted a blonde, female sax player and asked me if I knew one. I told him I would look around. I was asked to gig with him at Cipriani’s in NYC at a benefit. At the rehearsal, he really liked my playing and said he wanted me. I thought he's joking because I wasn’t a blonde woman. But right after that, his musical director asked me to play with them on the Rosie O’Donell show. Following that, his manager told me Stewart wanted me on the road. So in 2001, I did the "Human" tour. I loved working with Levon Helm. My old sax player friend Erik Lawrence called me to sub for him with Helm at the Midnight Ramble. So I went up to Woodstock and immediately fell in awe of the man. He glowed whenever he performed. The sound and audience was fantastic at the Ramble.
Roger Zee: Where do you mostly play these days?
Baron Raymonde: I work all over. I played the last couple of summers in Europe with the Original Blues Brothers subbing for “Blu” Lou Marini. I had a lot of fun. I also play the tri-state area with "Forever Ray," a Ray Charles tribute band, as well as with Vincent Pastore and the Gangster Squad. I work with a lot of groups at the Cutting Room in NYC and that's always fun.
Roger Zee: Describe your favorite venues and gig.
Baron Raymonde: As to venues, playing at the Ramble in Woodstock's one of my favorites. I also love performing at NJPAC in Newark, NJ. It's a great sounding concert hall. One of my most pleasurable gigs occurred with the the Lester Chambers/Harvey Brooks band. We toured the Caribbean in 1988 and worked at a club in St. John's called World Headquarters. It overlooked the ocean and other islands -- all visible from the stage. So serene. We played there for two and a half weeks!
Roger Zee: Do you teach music?
Baron Raymonde: Yes. I've taught private sax and piano lessons for years. After 9/11 though, things slowed down a bit. A trombonist friend, Jeff Dieterle, who had a band called Total Soul that I worked with on occasion, told me about a part-time music position available in his school district to fill in for a maternity leave. I had gotten my Bachelor's and Master's in music at the University of North Texas and earned my certification to teach music from William Paterson University. I gave the job a shot and really enjoyed it. That February when the teacher returned from leave, an instrumental music teaching position opened up in my home town of Nutley, NJ. I got the job and have taught there ever since! I love giving back. It's so rewarding to watch students grow.
Roger Zee: What advice do you give young up-and-coming musicians?
Baron Raymonde: Be disciplined in working your craft. Show up early for gigs. Be prepared. Look good and have fun.
Roger Zee: How do you see the future of the music business?
Baron Raymonde: I’m not encouraged by the small amounts of money the streaming services pay to musicians but I hope that legislation will change that. I’m hoping people will get tired of electronic music and want to hear live music. I just played a gig in Monaco opening up for Pitbull. He just used tracks which I found a little monotonous, though his dancers were great.
©2018 Roger Zee