Studio Visit: Chris Reyman


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Studio visit appears first in print, on Sundays. On Oct. 9, in The News-Gazette, Studio Visit will feature Kathleen Everingham. Here, a visit with artist Chris Reyman of Champaign.

Q: When did you start playing the accordion?

A: Just a couple of years ago.

Q: Why?

A: It's a family instrument. I had a grandfather who played it well. I played piano to start out, so I just kind of morphed into it when people started asking.

Q: Was your grandfather Italian, perchance?

A: No, Czech. He lives in Iowa, and there's kind of a Czech community there and some accordion playing going on over in that area.

Q: Are you in grad school here?

A: No, not any more. I just finished up.

Q: In what?

A: My doctoral is in jazz performance.

Q: Are you going to stay around here?

A: I don't know. We'll see what happens. If there's a reason to leave, I'll probably leave, but I guess I don't have one right now.

Q: You gig around town a lot. In what bands do you play?

A: I play in (a) band (with Dorothy Martirano and Armand Beaudoin). I play in a klezmer band called Don't Ask. I have my own trio. I do jazz pickup gigs here and there, and I play in bands out of town a lot, like a Latin jazz band in Springfield.

Q: Is that Craig Russo's?

A: Yeah.

Q: What did you think of your studies at the University of Illinois?

A: They were good. It was long. It took me awhile. It was great, definitely. I was doing mostly piano.

Q: Did you study with Chip Stephens?

A: Yeah, I did.

Q: Do you also teach piano?

A: Yes, lessons and group classes on piano and accordion at the Community Center for the Arts. I also teach at Millikin University in Decatur.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: That's where I'm from: Decatur.

Q: What kind of career would you like?

A: Kind of what I'm doing now. Playing and teaching. I do a lot of writing too. It would be nice to get handsomely rewarded for that. I think I'll probably end up doing more work in academe at some point, hopefully. I don't know how much accordion playing I'd do at a college.

Q: What kind of music do you write?

A: Anything, really. I did a lot of writing in jazz for a while. I've also done commercial work. I do whatever I can.

Q: By commercial work, do you mean ads?

A: Yes, some of that, and music that goes along with video. I did small-film scoring projects.

Q: How long have you been playing piano?

A: Decades.

Q: How did you get started?

A: We had one in the house. Music was around in my family. I played a few instruments, and I gravitated toward that one.

Q: Are your parents musicians?

A: Yeah, my dad. He plays trumpet, and he's a professor also.

Q: At Millikin?

A: Yes.

Q: What's his name?

A: Randy Reyman.

Q: How often do you play the accordion at the farmers' market in Urbana?

A: I do the Community Center for the Arts booth every week. Sometimes, I play here with the klezmer band. We usually try to be here every Saturday unless it's too hot. I think accordion is best outdoors. A little accordion goes a long way.

Actually, I just started an accordion class at the Community Center for the Arts. We're going to be playing in the Folk & Roots Festival on Nov. 5, a Saturday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Community Center for the Arts at the Independent Media Center in Urbana will have an open house, with free performances and workshops, from 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 11.

Melissa Merli