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Music Memory - Renee Rosnes

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project": a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

Canadian born, Renee Rosnes is one of the premier pianists and composers of her generation. She has recorded and toured with a "who's who" of jazz, being the pianist of choice for such legendary musicians as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, JJ Johnson, Buster Williams and Bobby Hutcherson and James Moody. 

In 1988, not long after I moved to New York, I received a phone call from Wayne Shorter, who was asking me about playing with him in a new group he was putting together. Needless to say, I was thrilled at the prospect of playing with such a master, and told him that. His next question took me off guard. He inquired, "Have you seen the movie Alien?" and went on to express that it was a "prerequisite" to being a member of the band. I was a bit perplexed at what that film could possibly have to do with his music.
A few months later during rehearsals in San Francisco, the band watched Alien together. When the scene arrived where the creature bursts out of the chest cavity of John Hurt's character, Wayne immediately paused the movie. He pointed at the screen and exclaimed, "You see that?! That's how I want my band to sound!"
As I processed his words, I realized, ah...the drama, the unknown, the element of surprise - that's what he's looking for in his music, and you know, that was a life-changing moment for me. On tour, Wayne played -- and encouraged us to play -- with an incredible spirit of spontaneity and wonderment. We never knew what direction the music would take from night to night. That was exciting, and like nothing I'd experienced before.
What a great and unforgettable musical lesson he gave to us.

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