Sophomore Revi Roza unpacks the “tangled mess of wires” from her Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” backpack and sets up the first guitar she ever owned. Its name is Bambi. She’s not sure why she called it that.
Within a few minutes, the rest of Roza’s band, The Rozatones, joins her at a Thursday evening practice on the first floor of the Whalen Center for Music. The group’s Tuesday and Thursday night practices are more like six people hanging out. For three straight hours, they barely talk between jams.
If the sound emanating from the Brown Family Jazz Chamber Music Room isn’t slap bass, it’s a funky guitar solo or trumpet and saxophone harmonizing in upbeat jazz.
The band reflects Roza’s diverse musical interests. She said she writes whatever kind of music she enjoys listening to at a given time.
“When I’m bored really late at night, I’ll start playing songs that I’ve written or learning other people’s songs, and it’ll turn into something else,” she said. “I’ll just play it over and over again and find different places to go with it. It comes pretty easily.”
Roza, a television-radio major, is soft-spoken when she first meets someone. Her bright red hair fades to grown-out purple dye below her shoulders.
Revi is short for Revital, an Israeli name. Roza’s parents lived in Israel, and she used to spend her summers there. Music has been a part of the Wyckoff, N.J., native’s life since she was a child. Her father has been playing guitar for as long as she can remember.
When Roza was in seventh grade, she asked him to teach her some chords. Influenced at the time by a range of artists from Phish to Fiona Apple, she said she started writing her first real songs in eighth or ninth grade.
“They weren’t that great, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” Roza said.
At the end of high school, Roza played with a group called Winkiss that won a battle of the bands. That band broke up when its members went to different colleges. When she arrived in Ithaca, Roza began looking for people she could play with.
“I [was] playing music last year with anyone I could find that played music, anyone and everyone,” she said.
The other five members of The Rozatones jammed frequently with Roza last year before joining the band permanently. The group started playing under the name The Rozatones at the end of last spring. The band included a guitar, bass, drums and trumpet. Now, The Rozatones has added keyboard and saxophone.
The Rozatones’ popularity has increased since its first two shows last year at Juna’s Café and The Nines. Sophomore bassist Miles Crettien said he enjoys the local fame.
“Kids will just be like, ‘Oh wait a second, you’re in that band right?’” he said. “The response is just phenomenal.”
Part of the band’s popularity comes from its innovative sound. The Rozatones falls somewhere on the musical spectrum between jam rock, funk, jazz and soul. Sophomore Eric Gendron has jammed with Roza and said he is a fan of The Rozatones. He said the band’s ability to connect with the audience and play its own style of music will make it successful.
“They’re all extremely talented musicians,” he said. “They play a really fun brand of funk, rock and soul.”
Senior saxophonist Sam Podell said Roza’s influence is central to the group’s sound.
“We’re funk with a twist of Revi,” he said.
Roza is the creative force behind the band. New song ideas almost always come from her. She writes the initial music and lyrics, and the rest of the group expands on them.
Roza said the band has plans for recording, but still has more work to do.
“We should build our repertoire a little more,” she said. “I’m hoping to get maybe 12 solid songs before we put anything down.”
She said the band now has seven or eight songs, but at the rate she produces new music, her fellow Rozatones expect they could have a full album any day. Though they feel she is both prolific and creative, Crettien and the other members said Roza never praises herself or even mentions her accomplishments.
“With Revi, it’s about the music,” Crettien said. “She’s devoted to the music. It’s not about herself.”