This weekend the guitar world reeled with the news of the passing of the great guitarist/composer/arranger Roland Dyens. Few have done as much for the instrument in the last 50 years as Dyens, and as some of you will know we were in the process of publishing some videos of a concert we held with Roland last year. Quite appropriately, the piece I was in the process of mixing and editing when I heard the news was Berimbau, his arrangement of the Baden Powell piece that Roland used to close his concerts. So here’s Roland Dyens, saying goodnight at the end of a fantastic concert.
David Collett, president of GSI, also wanted to share some thoughts about his recent experience hosting Roland last year the weekend of his concert:
“Absolutely shocking news about Roland. When he was at GSI last year, he spent 3 nights as my guest in my home and so I got to spend some great quality time with him – including having dinners, breakfasts, etc. He was a genuinely, deeply artistic person who was still very busy composing and arranging. While he was staying with me he was working on some Piazzola arrangements. There was one piece in particular (can’t remember exactly which one) that had him stumped and it was really eating away at him. About 15 minutes into breakfast one morning, he stopped mid-discussion with a blank look on his face, eyes glazed over and went silent. After a few seconds I had to say “Roland, Roland – are you OK????” (not sure what was going on!) and he looked at me and said “The notes! The notes! They’re coming!!!” Then he abandoned a half-eaten breakfast and hurried himself upstairs and said he had to write the notes down before they left him! I checked with him later and he said the piece finished itself. That’s the sign of greatness – grabbing inspiration when it comes! Anther story – after he left – Andrew Lee (from GSI) was driving him to LAX to catch a connecting flight (he was flying up to San Luis Obispo to perform a concert at “La Guitarra”) and I got a frantic phone call from him – he was missing his “magic pencil”! I asked what his magic pencil was and he told me it was the only pencil he ever had that wrote notes down on paper before he thought of them in his head. So given the seriousness of this pencil, I searched my home and my car – and I found it in a crack in the backseat of my car where his bags had gone when I dropped him off at the office. He was so happy. But then I had to call an Uber car to pick up the pencil and drive it across Los Angeles from Santa Monica to Kai Narezo’s house in Hollywood, and Kai left early the next morning by car for the festival. After this last-second stealth operation to rescue the magic pencil, I received a text from Roland telling me he had been re-united with it. Close call! One other small but fun detail: his favorite color was purple. He loved all things purple. So for the concert he gave here, he wore all purple – and I mean ALL purple including a purple leather belt with matching purple leather shoes. Purple shirt, socks, trousers, etc. Even the stiching in his belt and shoes was a matching darker purple. Really fun character.
I could go on with several other fond memories, my wife really liked him and I even introduced him to my parents. He had an inexhaustible amount of deep creativity, had a fun sense of humor – one night at dinner with just my wife and one of her close friends (just 4 of us) Roland came back from the bathroom and he was wearing a funny pair of clown glasses with spirals in the eyes, etc. It was really silly but very fun since he caught us all by surprise – he was really fun.
So I’m deeply saddened not just for the loss of a great guitar personality (which I haven’t even mentioned anything about) but also someone who I felt was my friend. I’m sure many others who knew him feel this way too.”
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