Interview with Baron Raymonde
From "SMILER" - The Official Rod Stewart Fan Magazine.
Marilyn Kennedy gets the 411 with Baron Raymonde -
Rod's new sax man EXCLUSIVE
Baron Raymonde was born in New York and later moved to New Jersey. He comes from an interesting family. His Grandfather was a magician known as " Raymonde The Magician" and his great uncle Aladar Di Sio, was a gypsy violinist who played for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the 1940s. Baron's father wanted him to be a classical pianist and thought Baron would be a good name.
Baron got the job with Rod primarily through Chuck Kentis. They had been friends for some times they both had used to live in New Jersey. He first played for Rod on February 13, 2001, at the taping of the Rosie O'Donnell show and later that day joined the band for the City of Hope concert in New York.
This interview was conducted under pretty unusual circumstances! Baron drove myself and a friend through New Jersey from Newark to Hoboken, where we stopped awhile for a drink and to take some photos. Most of the interview took place in the car with Baron has a teddy bear strapped into the back seat. When we asked if he had any children he said he didn't and that the teddy was for him he feels safer with it there! MK
Smiler: I know you live in New Jersey, was that where you were born?
No I was born in New York
Smiler: What age did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
I was about sixteen in the tenth grade
Smiler: Did you always want to play sax
I started on piano. I started learning piano when I was three, I started going to music class when I was three. I started taking lessons, with a lady,when I was five at studios in Carnegie Hall. She was a big influence on me. She used to tell me stories about every piece I played. I was her prize student.
Smiler: What made you switch to sax?
I had a friend when I was nine years old and I decided I wanted to play sax with him.
Smiler: Apart from piano and sax do you play any other instruments?
Flute and clarinet
Smiler: Have you had any major musical influences in your life?
Matt 'Guitar' Murphy of the Blues Brothers, was a big influence on my life. Since I was 24 I played with him, he was the first guy to bring me on the road and I'm on one of the CD's 'Please Don't Bother Me'. Another guy from the Blues Brothers Lou Marini. He's like an older brother to me. He went to the same music school as me although he was there before me.
Smiler: How did you end up playing for Rod Stewart?
It was through Chuck Kentis the keyboard player. I've been friendly with him as he used to live in New Jersey and he had a studio in his house. I used to go over and record for him. He called me one day, when I was working with GE Smith, and told me they needed a horn section to play at the 'City of Hope Benefit' for Twistin the Night Away. It turned out they didn't have room for a horn section so they called me back and asked me if I could play solo on one song. I said okay.
Smiler: You were also on the Rosie O'Donnell show
I was. As a matter of fact I thought I was just going to do the benefit and nothing else would come of it but after rehearsal Rosie wanted 'Tonights the Night' so they said could you play on that one. That was my apprenticeship.
Smiler: So you were in from then on?
Yes after Rosie and City of Hope they said they wanted me
Smiler: Did it take you long to learn all the songs for the show or did you know them anyway?
Well of course I'd heard the sax solos, some of them are quite famous. It didn't take me long, but what did take time, because I play six different instruments, was what instrument to play on which songs.
Smiler: Yes, you told me once you play six different types of sax
Four different types of sax, soprano sax, alto sax ,tenor sax, bari sax. I also play clarinet and flute
Smiler: Do you have to learn to play them individually or once you can play one can you play them all?
Well basically they all have the same fingering but they have different nuances and technical differences
Smiler: How did you feel about replacing Jimmy Roberts after he'd been in the band for such a long time?
I'd met Jimmy and he's a really nice guy, he's a sweetheart but it was their decision so I stayed out of it all. I think Jimmy's an excellent player.
Smiler: Did you know much about Rod's music before you joined the band?
I listened to it when I was growing up
Smiler: Wereyou a fan of his?
I think he's one of the greatest rock singers
Smiler: Who have you played with previously?
The Blues Brothers, GE Smith, Sister Sledge, Temptations, Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Artie Shaw Orchestra, Frankie Avalon. I was doing a show at B B Kings in New York last fall and did a National Tour with a Broadway show called 'Ain't Nothing But the Blues'. I recorded a baritone sax solo on a Boyzone song 'One Kiss at a Time' from the CD ' Where We Belong'. I also recorded for Shelby Lynne
Smiler: Do you have any goals you would like to achieve?
Well, playing with Rod is a dream and that's a goal. I'm doing my own CD, writing my own music. I have a five track cd coming out, but I'm pretty happy in this job with Rod.
Smiler: What do you think of the concerts so far, the audience reaction etc.?
I think its great. The curtain goes up and everyone's going crazy. Its just the greatest.
Smiler: What's your favorite type of music to play?
Smiler: Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
Yes I do. I try to find a quiet spot somewhere where I can sit and think by myself
Smiler: What about the hat? Was that your idea or Rod's?
It was my idea but Rod liked it. He told me he likes me to wear the blue one. He preferred that one to the other one's I used to wear.
Smiler: You have a website, do you update it or does someone do it for you?
Someone does it for me
Raymonde was interviewed whilst driving between Newark New Jersey and Hoboken New Jersey in a car by Marilyn Kennedy on the 9th July.