Rick Margitza’s singular sound on the tenor sax has been a staple on the jazz scene since he first emerged in the late 1980s. Yet many still consider him somewhat of a “young lion,” a title he now dismisses since he recently celebrated his 36th birthday. “I think I’ve reached the cut-off point for that,” he said.
In reality, the Rick Margitza of today is a somewhat different breed of cat than he was a few years back, including those days when he played with high-profile groups such as Miles Davis and Maynard Ferguson. “I think I’m more relaxed with who I am and with my playing,” he said. “I don’t want to lose the energy of youth, but there’s a fine line when it comes to balancing this energy with a more mature and relaxed outlook.”
The latest addition to Margitza’s discography is Game of Chance on the Challenge label, a live date from Amsterdam where Margitza alternates between the tenor and soprano with Jeff Garner on piano, Lars Danielsson on bass and John Vidacovich on drums. “The good chemistry we enjoy comes from four guys who basically like hanging out together,” he said. “We’re serious about our music, but there’s plenty of humor.”
Margitza states that his standards and ideals as an artist are “incredibly high” and that he looks to a player like Coltrane, who kept learning and exploring his music until the day he died:
“I’m more confident, and I know a lot more about my music and my personal aesthetic today—about what I want to present, as opposed to heading in a lot of different directions. But I also know that I can never be totally satisfied with my work, because there is always so much more that can be achieved.”