Canadian Musician - July-August 2022 - Page 40

RON KORB ’ S BEGUILING WORLD OF FLUTES

The Renowned Flautist May Be the Most Successful & Interesting Canadian Musician You Don ’ t Know
By Alan Hardiman
RON KORB RECORDING THE BASS FLUTE AT KUHL MUZIK IN TORONTO

WhatGrammy-nominate Canadian musician played a dozen different flutes on 2020 ’ s top-grossing film worldwide , The Eight Hundred ? Who played with Stewart Copeland and Ricky Kej on this year ’ s Grammy-winning Divine Tides , gave flute coaching to a Sex in the City cast member , participated in a humanitarian music project in Cambodia through a personal introduction from Peter Gabriel , and can trace his family history back to a medieval Japanese warlord in the seventh century ? Meet Ron Korb , the Toronto-based , globe-trotting flautist who has released some 30 albums , toured extensively throughout Europe , North America , Central America , Australia , Taiwan , Thailand , Vietnam , Hong Kong , mainland China , Singapore , and Japan , and amassed a personal collection of more than 260 flutes from around the world .

“ On The Eight Hundred , I played not only the Chinese woodwinds — and there was quite an array of them , including the xun , dizi , xiao , and bawu ,” he says . “ The xun is a clay vessel flute ; quite a bit of the score utilized that for the icy crystalline sound it produces . And because the movie is about the 1937 Japanese attack on Shanghai , they wanted me to play all
40 CANADIAN MUSICIAN the Japanese bamboo flutes , too : the shinobue , misatobue , ryuteki , and shakuhachi . The music scoring team in Hollywood also had me play the classical western flutes with the orchestra : the silver flute , piccolo , alto flute , and bass flute . I had never done that before : usually as a session player I get called to do either the orchestra parts or overdubs of world flutes . You don ’ t usually do both ; that ’ s just the way the contracting business works . But the person in Los Angeles who recommended me for this job told them I can play everything and they wouldn ’ t have to hire anybody else . To me it ’ s an honour to be on such an important film when there are so many amazing Chinese flutists they could have chosen .”
It was obviously not a quick or simple job . “ It was very time-consuming . On one given cue , I might be playing five different parts . It ’ s pretty complicated to get all these things working . After I got in the groove it was fine , but it took a couple of months , unlike the typical three- or six-hour TV or film session ,” Korb says .
His involvement with Divine Tides began in 2015 when his own Asia Beauty LP was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Age Album . “ I met Ricky Kej at the Grammy Awards ceremony in February 2016 and he invited me to play with him on stage in New York , Vancouver , and
India . I played on some of his recordings , including Shanti Samsara that Stewart Copeland also played on . Stewart has been very active with a project called The Police Deranged , playing with symphony orchestras , and the band Oysterhead , with bassist Les Claypool of Primus and guitarist Trey Anastasio of Phish ,” he says .
Although it didn ’ t win a Grammy , Asia Beauty garnered the Best of Show honour at the Global Music Awards , first prize for Best Instrumental at the International Acoustic Music Awards , Best World Album at the 2016 ZMR Awards , and Best World Fusion at the One World Radio Awards . Korb also received The BrandLaureate International Personality Award in 2016 along with Adele and actors Keanu Reeves and Andy Serkis .
Like many session players , Ron collaborates online , recording flute tracks in his home studio and transferring them digitally . “ I resisted doing it this way as long as possible because I really love the human interaction and immediate feedback you get working together with people in the studio . I have such great memories of recording in McClear Place , Manta , Sounds Interchange , Inception , Le Studio , Kuhl Muzik , and other studios where I learned so much from the other musicians and engineers . Yet , before the