NBJB: How old were you when you first played in front of an audience (beyond your family) ?
RV: I performed in school as early as I can remember, but one of my first professional appearances was when I was 12 years old and my sister was 8 year old. A guitarist/singer named Carl Stevens who was a very popular country and western singer down south presented “The Vitro Sisters” on Nashville, Arkansas radio. We sang, “Jambalaya” , by Hank Williams and “Sad Movies Make Me Cry”, an old song that was a hit for Sue Thompson.
NBJB: What would you want to be if you weren’t a jazz musician?
RV: I’ve been teaching vocal jazz and designing programs for jazz singers for about 15 years now. I love working with young singers who love music and are interested in being the best they can be. Sharing the history of blues and jazz, along with Tin Pan Alley material brings me joy to pass along the torch. I’m also a very creative cook, although I’m not sure I would become a chef for a living.
NBJB: What food can’t you resist?
RV: A dish of sole meuniere cooked to perfection with sauteed spinach and a small sweet potato. I’m also a salmon fan, but I love to cook and the possibilities are endless.
NBJB: Who’s your favorite, non living composer?
RV: Antonio Carlos Jobim. I own about 1000 charts amazing songs from our greatest composers and I have to say that Jobim’s music is very special. Compositions such as “Wave” which is not an easy melody and extremely rangy, through “Impanema” which sounds so simple, but isn’t actually that easy if you sing it correctly, the romance, lyrics, rhythm, chord changes and melodies are a study in composition.
NBJB: You are a musician, is there another art in which you’d like to be accomplished?
RV: When I was younger I enjoyed painting and working with charcoal. I love to draw expressive faces. My daughter Sarah has become a great painter, animator and film maker, so I think I was detoured watching her success. When I retire to the Caribbean someday perhaps I’ll start again by painting the white sand, flowers and the aqua water. I used to imagine I’d own a restaurant/hotel/jazz club on the island of Anguilla someday.
NBJB: What’s the worst job you ever had?
RV: Oh my, I’ve had all kinds of jobs in my journey. I started working at a very early age. I think working for Al Goldman’s print shop was right up there with being fired from a pizza store for putting too much on the pies! I worked on Wall Street when I first came to NYC. and also a few years as a successful Geophysical draftsman. The ‘ 9 to 5’ world was not where I wanted to be, after all musicians like to stay up late at night.
NBJB: Finish the sentence:
RV: If I can, I try to avoid—- sticking my foot in my mouth or hurting someone’s feelings.