Tag Archives: Bernard Purdie

On the 72nd Birthday Anniversary of Charles Earland, An Interview From 1998

In 1998, Joe Fields gave me the opportunity to write the program notes for a terrific Charles Earland recording called Slammin’ and Jammin’ [Savant] with Carlos Garnett, Melvin Sparks and Bernard Purdie. The man known as “The Mighty Burner” died the following year; in recognition of his 72nd birthday, here’s the verbatim interview that I conducted with him towards writing the piece.

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Charles Earland (Ted Panken):

TP:    This seems a little different than your last number of records in terms of the way the band is set up, because you seem primarily to have used working bands on the last records, particularly in terms of rhythm sections.  Why is this one set up in this way?

EARLAND:  Well, sometimes you need to change your taste.  I’m used to working with my band all the time. Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Greg Rockingham, Vince Ector and Bob DeVos, we work together as a group all the time.  On this particular date, I just wanted to do something different, just to change the pace a little bit.  We don’t want to keep giving the people the same thing all the time.

TP:    What’s the difference between coming into the studio with a band like this and let’s say going in with your own working band?  There seems to be quite a bit of care taken and thought given to the material you’re using.  You’re using a different groove on each one, each one has a little different structure.

EARLAND:  Well, when I go in the studio with my regular group, we’re more serious-minded.  It’s just the complete opposite of what you said.  When I go in with the quintet, we go in with the attitude to really come out with something more serious than the normal organ group sound or the way the organ groups play.  A lot of times organ groups play slammin’ and jammin’ music all the time, and they never play anything serious.  With the quintet, we usually do different time signatures and different kind of material.

On this particular date it was more fun.  Four guys got together, and we did stuff that we all knew.  It was nothing that we put together with any…

TP:    Was it all pretty impromptu?

EARLAND:  This was all pretty impromptu, and we all had a lot of fun doing it.  Like, it was good to see Melvin Sparks and Purdie, we slapped hands and went in the studio and had a good time.  We got together the day before and worked out the things we were going to put down.  It was just like that.

TP:    What was the criteria for picking the tunes and using the tunes?

EARLAND:  I already had an idea of what I wanted to do.

TP:    Let’s talk about each tune, a little capsule on each thing.  Your relation to the tune, why you took the approach you took.  “Honky Tonk.”

EARLAND:  “Honky Tonk” has a lot of history with it.  We had just lost Bill Doggett, and I loved Bill with all my heart and I love his wife.  I just wanted to keep his spirit alive.  He was a definite hero as far as the organ instrument is concerned with his life.  He helped us as young guys find our way to where we are today with the music.  He was always in the trenches.  He never really got the recognition that he deserved.  People only know him by the one song “Honky Tonk,” but I feel as though this one song… If you can just write one song that will follow yo for the rest of your life, you’ve made an accomplishment.  Bill Doggett was definitely one of the innovators who I feel needs to get a certain amount of recognition, and whatever I can do to say that he’s a great man, I will.

TP:    When you were getting your organ chops together, was he someone whose solos you studied?

EARLAND:  Oh, yes.  When I was coming up as a kid, he was someone I definitely admired.  I loved his group.  I loved him and I loved to hear that saxophone of Percy France.  Oh, man, those were the good days, especially when I lived in Atlantic City, and these cats used to come to town.  Oh, they used to just knock my socks off.

TP:    Let me step back with a little bit.  I gather you’re from the Philly area.  When did you live in Atlantic City?

EARLAND:  Well, every summer I lived in Atlantic City!  As a kid, I was playing saxophone in school, in the school band at South Philadelphia High School.  I went to school with Frank Avalon and Lew Tabackin and Chubby Checker and people like that.  So I was always being inspired musically by somebody.  Frankie Avalon played trumpet.  A lot of people don’t know that.  He played trumpet in the band.  As a matter of fact, I played baritone saxophone in the South Philadelphia High School dance band, and Lew Tabackin played tenor and Frankie Avalon played trumpet.

TP:    Was baritone sax your first instrument.

EARLAND:  No, alto saxophone was my first instrument.  During the summer vacation, everybody got a job in Atlantic City.  We could read music, so we played in the pits, where they had the girlie girls dancing, the shake dancers and the strippers.  So as a kid, at night I played in the pit, and then during my off-time I was running around to the different clubs checking out the bands, like Willis Jackson and Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff, and cats like that around town.  And of course, Bill Doggett was one of my favorites.

TP:    So you were 15-16-17 around then.

EARLAND:  Yes.

TP:    Was that the first time you got a dose of live music?

EARLAND:  Well, I was always big for my age, so I looked much older than I was — because I was a big kid.  But that’s when I really got my fill of organ.  I just fell in love with that instrument.  Then I was lucky enough to land a job playing tenor saxophone with Jimmy McGriff, and I worked with Jimmy for about 3½ years, and that’s where I learned to play the organ.  I used to watch him play every night, and then on intermissions and breaks I would sit down and try to imitate what I heard Jimmy McGriff play.

TP:    Did you have a keyboard or piano background before that?

EARLAND:  None.

TP:    So you developed your technique through watching him and trying to apply what he did.

EARLAND:  Watching him, right.

TP:    So you’re totally self-taught.

EARLAND:  Yes.  It’s a blessing from God, what I do.  I’m not what you call classically trained.

TP:    Do you have a musical background in your family.

EARLAND:  Yes, my mother played piano in church, but I never had any kind of piano training at all.

TP:    When did you start playing an instrument?

EARLAND:  I started in elementary school on alto saxophone.

TP:    Who were the jazz saxophonists that you liked?

EARLAND:  I used to babysit at my aunt’s house all the time, and she had this great big James Moody collection, and I used to play James Moody records and try to imitate what James was playing on alto.

TP:    With the Johnny Acea arrangements.

EARLAND:  Yeah, the big band, “there I go, there I go,” all that stuff.  My aunt had all these on 78’s.  Of course I scratched them all up trying to learn the solos!

TP:    So James Moody was your first big influence on the alto.

EARLAND:  Yeah, he was my first influence on saxophone.  There was also Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, of course Trane.  I lived around the corner from the Heath Brothers, from Percy, Tootie and Jimmy.  Jimmy was always having some kind of musical rehearsal around his house, and one afternoon, man, they had Cannon and Nat and them cats over there.  I used to hang outside the window, Pops, Jimmy’s father, used to chase us from under the window!  I used to see all the greats.  When they came to Philadelphia to play, they would look Jimmy Heath and the Heath Brothers up.  I used to take saxophone lessons from Jimmy. [HE WAS ON CHARLES’ THIRD RECORD]

TP:    Let’s talk about “Sugar.”

EARLAND:  “Sugar” was a tune I fell in love with when I was coming up as an organ player, listening to George Benson and Stanley Turrentine and Freddie Hubbard.  It was a tune I always liked to play.  They used Ron Carter when they recorded it, and they couldn’t have used a greater bass player, but I felt like I could record it and do it with my own bass.  I always wanted to do it, and I finally got the chance.

TP:    Anything particular about what you put on it?

EARLAND:  No, we just had fun playing it.  We did it as a trio with Melvin Sparks and Bernard, and the three of us always clicked whenever we played.  It was like old home week.

TP:    When did you first start playing with Melvin Sparks?

EARLAND:  That was back when I played organ in Lou Donaldson’s band.

TP:    That was the late Sixties, and you did some of those Blue Note records.

EARLAND:  Yes, I did some of those Blue Note records with Lou Donaldson.

TP:    How about Purdie?

EARLAND:  Oh, I used to watch Purdie back in the R&B days.  He played with everybody.  We did a couple of LP’s together, though I can’t remember how far back.  We were always jamming and always on sessions together, and when the musicians get together and do jam sessions together, they get a feeling for each other.  Matter of fact, we just did the Playboy Jazz Festival Together, me, Bernard, Joey De Francesco, Stanley Turrentine and Lou Donaldson and Kevin Eubanks.  Bill Cosby put together what he called “The Cos of good music thing,” and we were the “Cos of good music.”  He likes them Philly boys.  Plus he likes Kevin, too.  Kevin is a real nice cat and a good guitar player.  That was the first time I had a chance to work with Kevin, but I had played with everybody else before.

TP:    Talk about “Mercy, Mercy,” your association with the tune and what you put on it.  You have that long sort of building solo at the end.

EARLAND:  We kind of changed it up and put another groove to it.  More Funk.  I don’t use bass players, but I did on this tune.  I wanted to get a more funky sound.  I was really kind of experimenting, working with a bass player; I’m my own bass player, because I’m my own bass player.  Joe Zawinul is one of my favorite players, and it’s his tune, and you reach back into your history, Cannon and Nat… [LAUGHS] Then living out here in Chicago also, where they made it live, so I hear it quite a bit.

TP:    “Mercy, Mercy” is popular in Chicago.

EARLAND:  Oh yes.  I live in the south suburbs, out in Madison(?), about 30 miles south of Chicago.

TP:    “Johnny Comes Marching Home”.

EARLAND:  I could say that was one of my favorite organ albums with Jimmy Smith and Donald Bailey.  That was some group he had.  I just loved that “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and I thought I’d stick that in here and people will remember it.

TP:    Was Jimmy Smith pretty much of a first-hand influence for you?

EARLAND:  Oh yeah.  He was one of the cats, man.  I loved Bill Davis and Bill Doggett.  You know what I liked about these guys the most?  They could groove!  Man, when I would come down Kentucky Avenue in Atlantic City, I could hear them organs screaming all the way at the end of the block.  As soon as you hit that block on Kentucky Avenue (and Kentucky Avenue looks like a ghost town right now, man, when the casinos came and put everybody out of business), I could hear those organs, and you would automatically… We had a certain kind of walk in those days anyway, man, and as soon as you’d hear them organs on Kentucky Avenue you’d go into your bop walk!  You’d start to struttin’ with the groove, man, because you could feel the pulse all the way a block away.  You’d just groove right on up to Club Harlem, or across the street to the Little Belmont.  Usually they’d have Chris Columbo and Gatortail playing at the Harlem Club, and Wild Bill Davis or Bill Doggett playing at Little Belmont, right across the street.  Right down the street from that was the High Hat, where there was Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff.  All these orsgan players in town at the same time.  Then down at the Glass Hat you’d find the Don Patterson Trio with Billy James on drums.

TP:    So you learned from watching Jimmy McGriff, but you were studying the nuances of everybody’s style.

EARLAND:  Oh, yes.  I loved the way Jack McDuff voiced his group.  I still voice my group similarly today, to make my little group sound like a big band.  Jack McDuff was using a quartet then.  I use a quintet because I like a brass sound, so I have a trumpet player in my band.  Jack had Georgie Benson and Joe Dukes and Red Holloway, and I used to follow this quartet around Jersey.  If they went to Newark, I would be in Newark; if they were in Trenton or Atlantic City, wherever they were, if I could be there, I went to see this quartet.  The way Jack arranged his band was phenomenal.  He’s a great arranger and a great writer.  He’d have that little quartet so dynamically rehearsed and the voicings were just incredible!  That’s the only thing I could say.  I loved the way Jack voiced and structured his band, and I learned from that how to voice a band, how to make a little organ group sound like a big band.

That’s one of the advantages of an organ, too.  Because it has so many voicings, you can add to what you already have, and all you’d have to do was put a lead voice on the top and an organ underneath and another voice in between, and you had a full orchestra sound.

TP:    Well, you really put the moan on the organ.  I know your phrasing comes from your saxophone background, but I hear a lot of that Don Patterson single-line approach.

EARLAND:  Yes, I play staccato.  Cats with Classical training have a tendency to play legato.  But since I don’t have Classical training, I play staccato.  My attack on my notes is completely different. I play like people play typewriters.

TP:    “Organic Groove” is where Carlos Garnett starts making his presence felt.  A bit about him and his participation in this, and that tune.

EARLAND:  Joe Fields recommended Carlos Garnett, and I remembered him from the days he played with Norman Connors and people like that.  He was always a fascinating player.  He wrote this tune called “Organic Groove,” and we said, “Let’s do it.”  That’s what it was.

TP:    A few words about the tune.

EARLAND:  It’s just like what it is, a groove.  I guess he was thinking about something organic at the time he wrote it.  I can’t really elaborate on it, but we liked it.

TP:    How do you like his sound?  Did you know him in the ’70s?

EARLAND:  Oh, yes.  I knew him back when he played with Norman Connors.  Plus, you know how Norman was; he was playing a bit of everything back in those days.

TP:    Well, the thing that really got me of the whole album was “Let The Music Play,” because of the way it built.

EARLAND:  Man, I love playing that song.  Randy Miller, who produced one of my albums back in the ’70s, and was the bandleader of Brass Construction, wrote it.  I recorded it once before on electric piano for Mercury Records, back in the ’70s.  It was a big hit.  It never was a hit in the United States, I believe because I did on piano!  But every time I go to London, if I don’t play that song, I get shot!  It’s like a European hit.  But I never did it on organ.  So I figured if it’s a hit in Europe, now I can try it out in the States.  We had fun doing it.  I love that tune.

TP:    Here’s the time to say something about what Purdie is like as a drummer.  He just takes those grooves like a pit bull with some meat, and he doesn’t let them go!

EARLAND:  Oh yeah.  Bernard Purdie is one of the greatest drummers that ever played the instrument.  He is super-versatile.  It doesn’t matter what you come to play.  He’ll play heavy metal, he’ll play R&B, he’ll play Gospel, he’ll play Jazz, and then he’ll play the intricate way-out Jazz.  It doesn’t matter to him.  All you have to do is let him know what you want to play, and Bernard Purdie will play it.  I don’t know any other way to describe this man but saying that God has blessed him with a super-talent and he has used it efficiently.

Melvin Sparks is an organ player’s guitar player.  Not only that, but he’s also a virtuoso in his own right.  Melvin Sparks can play it all, from R&B right down to the heaviest Jazz.

TP:    Talk about your composition, “Sheila’s Blues.”  You do that locked-hands Milt Buckner thing at the end.

EARLAND:  See, I had those influences all my life.  I have a whole lot of Milt Buckner and Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett still locked in me that I haven’t released yet.

TP:    Do you think the loose nature of this record let you put some of that out where it might not have with the quintet?

EARLAND:  Yeah.  A lot of that stuff is like groove stuff, and you get into one of those Bill Doggett grooves or one of them Wild Bill Davis grooves or one of them Milt Buckner grooves on the end, and it’s just automatic.  I never know what I’m going to play.  It just becomes automatic.  It’s just like a computer; before you know it, something just poppped up on the screen.  You get into one of those feelings, man… If I can’t feel it, man, I won’t play it.  If I can’t feel it, I have a problem with it.  That’s how I describe music.  Anything that I listen to that moves me emotionally or touches something in me is good music.  If I listen to something and I don’t get no kind of reaction from it, to me it’s not good music.  Now, it might be good music to somebody else, because it’s a matter of taste, but that’s how I judge music.  And I listen to Classical music, I listen to R&B, Heavy Metal; it doesn’t make a difference to me.  If it moves me, I like it.

TP:    I interrupted you when you were talking about “Sheila’s Blues.”

EARLAND:  Sheila is my wife, and there’s just something about the way that she walks.  So this is more like describing how she walks.  She has this sexy litle flair about her that just knocks my socks off.  We’ve been married now going on eight years, and it’s still there, man.  Sometimes you write about those things.

TP:    What’s that riff on the end of it?  The call-and-response thing you do on the end.

EARLAND:  That’s that old Jimmy Smith groove.  That’s my Jimmy Smith interpretation! [LAUGHS] SPOON-SKRANK… Jimmy used to play that kind of stuff all the time, where the guitar player would automatically go into a 4/4 thing, CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP.  We used to even break it down from a 4/4 to a 2/4, but I think I played in four on that.

TP:    One of the things you like to do to keep yourself interested is play with time signatures.

EARLAND:  Yeah.  I do a lot of different time signatures.  I’m the only organ player who plays in 10/4.  I like to do things like that.  I just produced an album by my guitar player, Bob De Vos, and we did a couple of 3/4 things in there.  I also produced an album with Eric Alexander where we do some 3/4.

TP:    One more tune, “Mr. Magic.”

EARLAND:  All right.  “Mister Magic Man” was always a Funk favorite of mine, and the only cat I knew in the world that I could play it with wad Bernard Purdie.  So we just did it for the fun of it.  I don’t know that it sounded as good as Grover and the guys, but Grover’s a good friend of mine, and…

TP:    His first recording was on a record of yours.

EARLAND:  His first record was my second record.  I think it was Living Black: Live At the Pea Club.  I had a young Grover Washington on there.  His brother Darryl was on there, who plays drums with Darryl right now.

TP:    When did you leave Philly?

EARLAND:  Oh, I left Philadelphia at a young age, when I was in my teens still.  Still about 17-18 years old.

TP:    How long have you been in Chicago?

EARLAND:  I’ve been out here now about ten years.  I got married out here about 7½ years ago.

TP:    Does being in Chicago have an effect on the way you play?

EARLAND:  Yes.  I got a chance to relax, I got a chance to plant some roots, and I came out here and slowed my life down, and I found Jesus Christ, and I turned my whole life around.  I’m going to school now.  I’m studying for the ministry.  I’m giving my life to Christ, and I’m completely dedicated.  I just love living now.  I’m glad that I met this young lady I’m with.  I couldn’t be any happier than I am right now.

TP:    Do you play a lot locally around Chicago?

EARLAND:  At least once a month.  I’ve got two clubs I do, and a third I do every now and then.  I play the Cotton Club, at 1400 S. Michigan, and I play Green Dolphin Street at 2200 N. Ashland, at least once every month that I’m in town.  My drummer, Greg Rockingham, lives in Chicago, so I’m fortunate to have Greg wherever I go.  Now, I broke in Eric Alexander, who lived here before he moved to New York, and he worked with me a long time before he got to New York City.  I broke him in…how can you say it, man?  I don’t want to say like I did something great, man.  But I just pulled him through.  I got another little young cat, tenor player that I’m doing the same thing with now.  His name is Frank Catalano.  I see he just did his first CD with Willie Pickins and a couple of cats from out here.

TP:    Who did that for you?  Who were your mentors?

EARLAND:  Lou Donaldson.  Lou Donaldson was like a father to me.  And not because I didn’t have a father, because my real father was a great father.  Lou taught me not only music, but he taught me about the business end of music.  The musicians today are much more intelligent than the cats were when I was coming up.  When I was coming up, all the musicians wanted to do was play and make a record.  But Lou Donaldson told me that music wasn’t only to be appreciated and enjoyed, but it was also a business.  He taught me how to make a living playing music.  A lot of musicians die poor, or they never have anything, because they don’t treat it as a serious business.  The treat it as having a good time.  And the good time runs out when the gig is over, and then you don’t have anywhere to go afterwards.  But now I have a home and a wife and roots and a career.

TP:    And Lou Donaldson helped you set that foundation.

EARLAND:  Oh, Lou Donaldson definitely helped me set that up.  He taught me that it’s a business.  He said you can still enjoy playing music, but you’ll even enjoy it more if you’re a secure person.

TP:    Who were your influences as a tenor player?

EARLAND:  Oh, Trane, of course.  Wayne Shorter.

TP:    So you were into the Modernist sound on tenor.

EARLAND:  I always loved the good players.  That’s why I love Eric Alexannder so much.  Don’t get me wrong, now.  When I first started playing tenor, I listened to cats like Gene Ammons and Red Prysock and Willis Jackson and I imitated them, too.  But I kind of matured, and I started listening to cats like Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane and Benny Golson — always Jimmy Heath!  I always listen to Jimmy.

TP:    It sounds like you had a really top-shelf musical education in high school, like that prepared you for anything you’d have to do later.

EARLAND:  Kinda-sorta.  It was kind of rough for me in high school.  That’s why I left.  I was getting a fair deal over there where I was at.  They made me play baritone saxophone because nobody else wanted to carry it.  It was a great big Buescher, weighed a ton… [LAUGHS] It was one of those kind of things.  I just wasn’t getting what I wanted to get out of high school.  I was around a lot of people, and everything that I got, I got it because I wanted it.  Nothing that anybody took any time with me in high school and sat me down to try to do anything.  Lew Tabackin showed me a few things.  He was always a nice guy.

TP:    I won’t try to paint a rosy picture of high school days.

EARLAND:  No, high school wasn’t that great. I got all my real street training from Atlantic City and places like that, then being with Jimmy.  As a matter of fact, Jimmy had a big influence on me switching to organ.  I used to watch him play.  Jimmy McGriff is so dynamic.  He plays with so much feeling.  He just rocks you.  Jimmy rocked me for a long time, and I just had to do that.

TP:    You’re talking about being into Coltrane and Jimmy Heath and Wayne who put very advanced and cerebral harmonies on top of the groove.  Talk about that in terms of the function of being an organ player in the type of venues that you play over the years, that balance of keeping yourself interested but pleasing the people as well.

EARLAND:  That works perfect with organ, see, where piano groups can’t particularly do that.  With the organ quintet, we might just play, for instance, a song like “Cherokee.”  A piano group will play “Cherokee,” and say we play at the same up tempo.  When they play it, it will sound really far out there, but when the organ group plays the same song, the same arrangement, the same tempo, it will swing harder.  So whatever we played with the organ group, the groove is always going to be there because the instrument is such a percussive type of instrument.  It’s hard for any player, unless they don’t use the bass pedals, to not be able to swing.  And Jimmy McGriff was one of the hardest-swinging organ players.  He had the most dominant bass line, man, of all the players.  Now, Richard Groove Holmes had the trickiest bass line of all the players.  His bass line was more intricate than others.  But if you wanted a steady pulse, a real hot beat that never skipped a beat, Jimmy McGriff was the guy.

TP:    And you got your conception of the bass function of the organ through him?

EARLAND:  For sure.  The groove that I use today came from cats like Jimmy McGriff and Bill Davis and Milt Buckner and even Jimmy Smith.  Jimmy Smith’s bass line is good.  Jimmy Smith was one of those kind of players where everything he did was good.  He didn’t have any one particular part of his playing that stuck out more than the other.  He was a well-rounded player. But you take a cat like Jimmy McGriff, his bass line was outstanding.  The walls would shake!  When we played little clubs, everybody sitting at the bar or the tables, if their heads wasn’t moving, their feets was pattin’.  That’s the kind of thing he had over people when he played, and he still does today.  As a matter of fact, we just played the Blue Note together, Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and myself.  I had a chance to see all of the guys again, and those guys still have it.  And Jimmy McGriff was still kicking like he always has.

TP:    A few words about your feelings about this date.

EARLAND:  It was good being with my friends again — Bernard, Melvin and Carlos.  I had a great time doing this album.  It was a lot of fun, and we shared a lot of good music together.  God blessed us with the serious groove.  I know that people will like this record because it was definitely slammin’ and jammin’.

TP:    Is that your title?

EARLAND:  Yes.  And that’s really the kind of feeling we got from it.  We came in slammin’ and jammin’, really having a good time and laughing, slapping hands.  Like a good time!  God blessed us with a real seriously musical good time.

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Filed under Charles Earland, Hammond B3, Interview

Matt Wilson’s Uncut Blindfold Test From Ten Years Ago

A day late for Matt Wilson’s birthday, but hopefully not a dollar short, here are the complete proceedings of a Blindfold Test that I conducted with Matt in 2001, at the offices of Palmetto Records.

 

 

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1.    Marcus Roberts, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” (from COLE AT MIDNIGHT, Columbia, 2001) (Roberts, piano; Jason Marsalis, drums; Thaddeus Expose, bass) – (4 stars)

This is great.  I really like it.  I don’t hear any hi-hat, so I think it might be Leon Parker.  But that’s not the only reason it might be Leon.  Just sort of the feeling.  But I heard this recording of this trio from San Francisco, and Jaz Sawyer was playing, but I don’t think it’s Jaz.  Oh, this is swinging.  It’s “What Is This Thing Called Love.”  That’s obvious!  The bass sound is great.  Is it Jacky?  The answer is no!  I like this, though.  I’m trying to feel…just by the sound of the piano player.  I like the environment.  They set up this nice environment, and they keep this nice vibe.  Also, there’s sort of this backwards Ahmad feel.  I don’t like to describe music usually in terms of somebody else, but it has that kind of left turn there.  I dig it. Great selection. It’s a newer recording. I know that.  I have to say it was Leon Parker.  No?  [Because there wasn’t the hi-hat?] Yes, but also just some feel things I heard that reminds me of Leon.  But just the great upbeat vibe.  Leon to me has that great sound on the upbeat, plus it has a great 1 and 3.  There’s this great feeling of the upbeat and downbeat.  It’s like nice balance. 4 stars. To me, the great thing about playing a standard is that it’s a barometer in a certain way.  That’s the great thing about playing them.  That’s why I love playing them.  It’s this way of seeing what someone can do with common material.  It’s like someone who wants to go see someone else play a role in an Arthur Miller play, for example, who wants to see Brian Dennehy’s interpretation or somebody like that. I think that’s really great, especially somebody knows the tune and can do something with it, and again, maintain a vibe.  It wasn’t like they were playing “What Is This Thing Called Love” to play over the changes of it.  They were really trying to play a thought, a shape of a composition. [AFTER] Wow.  I heard this trio live about three or four years ago at a festival, and the vibe wasn’t anything like this on the tunes that they were playing that night.  But I totally dig Jason’s playing.  When I heard him before in other instance and in this case… He’s got that great feel, obviously, but also it has a lot of depth.  I also like Jason’s playing on Los Hombres Calientes.  In fact, once, when we were playing the same festival at Lawrence University, Jason peeked his head in at my band, the wild band, and we were in the middle of some kind of freakout kind of tune, and he appeared to really dig it.  I know he’s into a lot of different things.

2.    Charles Earland, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” (from SLAMMIN’ & JAMMIN’, Savant, 1997) – (Charles Earland, organ; Bernard Purdie, drums; Carlos Garnett, ts; Melvin Sparks, g) – (3 stars)

This is a great old jazz tune!  I know there’s versions of this.  I’m trying to go by the sound.  I know the vibe of the drummer.  I can’t quite place him.  It’s definitely an older player because of the cymbal sound.  Also it has more of a 2 and 4 oriented vibe to it.  Nice.  Sort of a Grady Tate-esque vibe, in a certain way, but a little… [DRUM SOLO] This part is great.  Yeah!  I can almost always tell how generations are.  I know this is a different generation by how they’re playing swing.  Swing is changing.  But I can’t quite pinpoint who it is.  Could it be Louis Hayes?  It has that crispness and that nice sort of surge to it when he goes to swing, and his snare drum ability… I wouldn’t even venture to guess on the guitar player. Because people have done this one before (Jimmy did it, etc.), it seems to me like there’s other tunes that you could do this same… It seems a little recreative rather than creative.  But that’s cool.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In this instance, the organ trio doing that tune with that vibe seems to me… I’ll give it 3 stars just because the feel was cool, especially from the drum end.  Whoever was playing there has a lot of depth.  Especially with the second-line, the march feel.  It made me wonder who it was, because they switched cymbals at certain spots, in the middle of the form. [AFTER] Wow!  The other thing that made me think it might be someone with more of a funkish… I knew it was not Idris.  I know Idris’ playing pretty well.  But in this case, Bernard, the cymbal sound was smaller.  I know he uses a smaller ride.  The swing in Bernard’s case has definitely… Jason has a great 1-and-3, and Bernard’s feeling is similar, but during the swing part it was a pretty heavy 2-and-4.  It’s a good connection with him and Charles.  “Deacon Blues” to me is one of the greatest drumbeats ever!  Anything he plays on with Steely Dan.  And I heard him play by himself once at this workshop, and just play that upbeat shuffle feel.  It was amazing.  I would like to have heard another cut of this record where he was playing a shuffle.  You can tell that his feeling comes less from the ride cymbal than from the bottom.  His ride cymbal was sort of less defined.  I knew it was an older drummer by the sound of the cymbal, but by the feeling of it, it was hard to tell.  But man, it was great.  Bernard rocks, man!

3.    Dafnis Prieto, “B. Smooth” (from John Benitez, DESCARGA IN NEW YORK, Khaon, 2001) (Prieto, d., composer; Luis Perdomo, el.p.; John Benitez, b) – (3 stars)

This kind of playing and this kind of music is something I really respect.  But years ago, out of survival, I realized I was never going to be able to play like this.  I just didn’t have this ability.  Sometimes I think you just have to realize things you can do and can’t do, and this kind of music or this style of approach with kicks in this sound is something I realized I was never going to be able to do!  I respect it, though.  It’s really great, and I dig it.  But I don’t hear this sound either for myself. I’m trying to figure out who it might be.  Is it my man Mark Walker? [It’s the drummer’s composition.] I had a feeling it might be.  I mean, it’s very Chick Corea influenced, especially the Electrik Band period, which when I was settling into hearing great acoustic drummers, Blackwell and Higgins — that’s when I was studying that stuff.  The tune has some very hip rhythmic concepts.  I hear stuff more from a melody concept always.  Even rhythms I hear as melodies, so sometimes the stuff becomes a little busy for me.  The sound is dry also. [AFTER] All those beats in there that I didn’t know existed!  I have respect for all people’s efforts, and again, like I said, there was a point in my life when I realized that this is something I didn’t have the capability of doing, or even feel I could even get close to.  So I went in a completely different direction, when my friends were sort of into this vibe in college.  But it’s funny how — fortunately and unfortunately, I guess — there are any number of people that this could be.  Because there’s people who have played in the Michel Camilo school of playing.  There’s Dave Weckl and there’s Joel Rosenblatt and people like that.  They’re all brilliant players. [You think it might be somebody in that area?] Yeah.  Am I totally wrong?  [First you have to give it stars.] 3 stars, just because the musicianship is so great. It’s hard for me to be a critic.  But if nothing stood out to be that unique to me in this vein.  I mean, if I heard the opening and then all of a sudden I heard it go in the middle to a completely different departure, then I would go, “Wow, this is a really…” It’s kind of like playing a standard again.  But this is the kind of thing where to me they sort of stay in that vein, and it’s hard to discern from other things I hear in this style of music.  Again, it’s more of a personal affinity.  I don’t really hear that sound perception.  But I’m curious to see who it is. [AFTER] Wow!  He’s a bad… If I heard him live, it might be a different vibe.  The recording, to me… I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about him, and unfortunately he came to town around the time that my boys were born, so I haven’t been able to get out.  I know he’s got so much together.  It’s nothing against the playing on the record per se.  Who else is playing?  Oh.  Again, I have to attribute it to my personal ignorance.  I’ve played with Luis, and I love Luis Perdomo.  I’ve called him to do my Arts and Crafts band.  Again, if I heard an acoustic version… Again, it’s my own prejudice.  It puts me into that feeling, and it’s hard for me to discern, because… Again, the playing was great and the composition was great, but nothing really… Probably if I heard the spectrum of the record, I’d understand it more.  I had a feeling for a second it might have been Luis, because it shifted differently than most people who play electric keyboards.  I want to hear Dafnis again.  Also, Benitez is someone I’ve always been fascinated by and have always wanted to play with.  I hope some day I can, because I would like to be part of that sound.

4.    Hank Jones, “Allen’s Alley” (from Ray Drummond, THE ESSENCE, DMP, 1990) (Jones, p.; Drummond, b; Billy Higgins, d) – (3-1/2 stars)

The cats are going for it!  Wow. [LAUGHS] Well, I like it when people improvise, drum-wise, over changes like that.  He or she plays over the bass, and that’s something I’m really into.  I like accompaniment, and I like hearing people play over that architecture with accompaniment. It got strange in a spot, but still it had a lot of feeling, and then when the person blew by themselves… But nothing stuck out to me, nothing overall that made me really get up from the seat.  It was a nice version of “Allen’s Alley,” but I’m not sure who it is.  Sound-wise, it’s hard for me to tell.  From the recording, it’s hard for me to tell who the drummer might be.  There were parts that felt amazing, and other parts didn’t feel so great to me.  3-1/2 stars.  The feeling I get is that this probably was one take, and they just did it and it felt great to them, which is what’s important. I get the overall feeling, and I’m not a very good analyzer.  Again, I’m curious to see who it is. [AFTER] You totally got me there!  I would never have thought it was Billy.  I’m not saying I’m an authority on any of these guys.  I felt I’ve checked out enough Billy Higgins… I didn’t know it was Ray, but I had a feeling it might be Hank.  Again, it might be more of just the recorded sound for me, from where I’m used to hearing Billy’s sound be.  But man, I’m such a Billy Higgins fan… I screwed up!!! But it was a real stumper.  Sound-wise, the way the hi-hat didn’t sound as much to me as Billy does usually.  It wasn’t a good representation of his sound. He’s one of my true heros.  But again, the overall feeling of the piece is what they were going for, so they probably heard it back and thought, “Man, that’s cool.”  That’s what I listen for in records, is that feeling of, hey, man, it’s a version, and it’s a great version at that time.  To me, Hank Jones is one of the reigning kings of the music still living.

In hindsight, you think you know something, then you’re not sure.  To me that’s also a great compliment, that I didn’t know somebody that I had checked out so much.  But I didn’t even hear the things I would identify… It’s great that I had heard something I didn’t know was him, and that makes me even more excited I think than if I got it.

5.    Donny McCaslin, “Mick Gee” (from SEEN FROM ABOVE, Arabesque, 2000) (McCaslin, ts; Jim Black, drums; Ben Monder, gtr; Scott Colley, bass) – (4-1/2 stars)

[IMMEDIATELY] Jim Black. I’m not sure which band this is.  But I’m sure I’ll figure it out. [LAUGHS] This is great.  My man can shift on a dime!  I’ll probably be wrong!  It won’t be Jim.  No, it has to be.  If it’s not, I’m going to leave!  I’ve known Jim for so long, and he has a very identifiable concept.  To me, sound is the king in music.  When you can identify someone’s sound, like you hear Mel Lewis or you hear Elvin Jones. Also, turning on a dime, making these shifts, and he does it with such artistry.  That’s acoustic bass.  It sounded like it could be Chris Speed on tenor saxophone.  I like this piece a lot.  I like changes that grab your attention, not necessarily always for… This had a lot of episodes in it.  I call this episodic composition.  I sort of compose this way, too, where I think more about episodes.  And when you have great players like this who can make great transitions, or they all of a sudden… From the drum standpoint, that’s a real key to this kind of playing, that Jim does so well, and other guys like John Hollenbeck, Mike Sarin and Tom Rainey.  They’re able to negotiate the transitions so it can have that fluidity between sections that are really disjointed.  Or not.  That’s the other thing, that they made these shift sometimes, and they did it so it was a real surprise, almost as if it was edited.  Overall, I can tell that these dudes have checked out and are open to a lot of different kinds of music, and they’re trying to figure out ways to integrate this all into one sound.  They made a good sound together.  That’s what I was digging.  I heard it more really as one, which I thought was nice. The music was really meeting in the middle.  I liked it.  4-1/2 stars, because it was exciting.  Again, it had these mood shifts.  I don’t know how it falls in the rest of the record, but hearing that composition would intrigue me to see what they could do to border around that or what other kind of textures they could explore, and whatever kind of… But again, his identifiable sound is amazing. [AFTER] I was going to say Ben Monder, but I wasn’t sure about Scott’s thing.  That’s the record Donny did for Arabesque.  I’ve wanted to get it, but haven’t checked it out.  It’s fantastic. I know Donny’s sound quite a bit from playing with him and from past things, and this is totally different.  His vibe is so amazing.  All these guys have such a great, positive vibe.

6.    Edmond Hall, “Royal Garden Blues” (from THE BLUE NOTE JAZZMEN, Blue Note, 1944/1998) (Sid Catlett, d.; James P. Johnson, p; Ben Webster, ts; Sidney deParis, tp; Vic Dickenson, tb; Jimmy Shirley, g; John Simmons. b) – (4-1/2 stars)

[SINGS ALONG] Well, I know it’s “Royal Garden Blues.”  And I know it’s somebody who made the transition from traditional music to swing on the cymbal.  To me, that’s one of the most interesting things about jazz drumming that not a lot of people talk about, the people who were able to go from where it wasn’t much ride cymbal to where the ride cymbal is.  Because in the beginning he plays ride cymbal.  I love this music!  When I hear this stuff now, the collectiveness… It didn’t feel so separated.  It was really togetherness music, where they were there, creating that sound together.  To me, this is what really great improvisers do, is make that team feel.  I hear some hi-hat in there, too. [AFTER] The person I’ve been checking out lately in this vein is Zutty Singleton, but it’s not my man Zutty.  Zutty had this vibe… I was expecting the China cymbal.  But also the up feel…it had a more Chicago feel to it.  And the little breaks… Was it Gene Krupa?  The way those snare feels…those upbeats… [You’re on the right track.] Was it Davey Tough?  No.  It has a Chicago feeling to me because it was less Charleston oriented and more upbeat oriented.  4-1/2 stars.  I love collective improvising.  To me, the whole buzz of this music is the playing and hearing of it, and the feeling of people doing it together, more than, “Oh, this guy was great, the way he plays over this.  The feeling of a band.  This music in some ways can lend itself to that automatically.  But this was different to me.  These guys were really throwing it out there to each other.  You could tell their connectedness.  Again, one of the things that I think is interesting in the development that is not addressed as much are those guys that went from earlier jazz styles, even as far back as Papa Jo, that era of guys who went to the bigger cymbal.  When the cymbals got bigger and they went to that ride cymbal feel, that had to be a pretty radical change for all those guys.  And they did it so amazingly.  That’s what Dizzy Gillespie said about Davey Tough… He had one of the greatest time feels ever.  One of the things he thought might have gotten Davey sort of depressed is that he was not able to get that top cymbal feel the way the other guys did.  He had the ability to swing a band with a smaller cymbal, but the bigger cymbal vibe he didn’t get. [AFTER] There was a little something that didn’t make me want to say it was Sid, but I was pretty damn close!  The feeling from these guys is just the liquid sound.  It oozes out at you.  It doesn’t come at you in any sharp sort of way.  Music is making sound with somebody else. These guys made that sound together, and it sounds like this beautiful wave coming at you.  The thing I got from Sid is a big sound perspective. He was a big guy and he got a big sound, but it wasn’t loud.  I couldn’t tell; I didn’t hear him live.  But again, making a big sound with somebody to me is what master musicians do.  They make a great sound with somebody, and their sound will still be true…they make a great sound with whomever, they’re playing with.

7.    Steve Berrios-Joe Ford, “Bemsha Swing,” (from AND THEN SOME, Milestone, 1996) (Berrios, drumset, timpani; Joe Ford, ss) – (4-1/2 stars)

The timpani player is making those changes. It’s great.  Max plays timpani on the Riverside recording of “Bemsha Swing.” Whoa! Go, baby! [AFTER] That’s 4-1/2 stars.  Again, it’s a different perspective.  I’m trying to figure out who the soprano player was.  But whoever left that big space of sound there, man, that to me just made it.  That’s also something that Dewey does so great, and I think sometimes players… This is just a reference to the soprano player.  If you don’t feel something playing it, don’t play til you feel something.  And this person did that.  They waited.  At first I thought maybe it was a strange thing, but then I realized, wow, these people are really playing for that moment.  And whoever is playing drums (because I don’t know), I loved it because it’s pretty open over the bar line in a lot of ways.  I know it’s not, but it has this rough-and-tumble Paul Motianesque kind of vibe where it’s so playful.  The whole thing was very playful.  That’s what I really liked about it.  It wasn’t belabored, it wasn’t long, it was nice, precise… Not “precise,” because that’s a terrible word to use in music.  It said what it was going to say and they played this tune wonderfully.  Wow, that’s wonderfully. [And you have no idea who it is?] I don’t know why I shouldn’t… I was a percussion major in college.  I can play timpani! [Was it the same person playing timpani and drums?] I have a feeling it might be, because it sort of sounded like the drums and the soprano played first.  I don’t know how it was recorded. [AFTER] That’s amazing.  This is the kind of thing that I’m pretty intrigued by lately, is hearing people like Berrios and Benitez, because I feel sort of ignorant of their conceptions of playing. I’ve heard Steve so much, and the colors he can create… And his beat really swings.  You can tell he hears the drums as melody; he hears melody in rhythm.  That’s one reason why I was really drawn to this.  It has a warm feeling.  And he played it kind of wild.  It was pretty loose.  But the beat was still swinging.  The reason I compared it to Paul, which is a great compliment, is it had that sort of rooted…it had a lot of depth, but at the same time anything could happen.

8.    Misha Mengelberg, “Kneebus” (from FOUR IN ONE, Songlines, 2001) (Mengelberg, p; Dave Douglas, tp; Brad Jones, b; Han Bennink, drums) – (4-1/2 stars)

It’s Dave.  Is this the new record with Han and Dave and Brad Jones and Misha?  I had to get one in there!!  I love music that is moving together, but also if you sit and listen, you hear little worlds in it.  Misha has a great world… We did a triple bill last year at Cooper Union with Dave’s quartet and my band and Misha playing solo.  And he creates a zone.  All these guys — Misha, Dave, Han (especially Han) and Brad — have an ability to create worlds, to dialogue within what’s going on.  Sometimes, how music comes together in that way is that the dialogues just cross over. They just got through this masterfully.  One of the great things about Dave, other than just the obvious, is his ability… The roles are less defined.  He’s always just in the music, playing… Han sometimes can be a little over the top…which is cool, man.  The hell with it.  He’s living life.  What the hell! But he swings his ass off.  I think Brad is a good pairing with them. [MISHA SOLO] Whoa!  This feeling of music could only happen with everybody… Which is the true case of any of it.  But it’s carefree.  I don’t think they’re really worried about playing a 5-star record.  They’re just here to play this music.  It’s so for that moment.  It’s almost as if my daughter, who is 4, made music with three other 4-year-olds who all had the ability to make really great sounds on their instruments, they would make music that sounded like this.  To me, that’s the ultimate compliment, where it’s playful, it’s adventurous, but it has a lot of depth.  It’s not cute.  People might think that.  But it’s not.  It’s for real.  Definitely 4-1/2 stars, with an extra half-star for Brad.  You don’t hear bass playing with Han that much, and he’s really playing parallel with him.  It’s amazing.  Dave is one of the reasons I moved to New York.  He’s a real inspiration.  He’s always present, which is one of the main things I appreciate about him.  You can hear in Han within a little bit of time Sid Catlett and all these influences emerging from him.  Things are emerging from him all the time.  I like this. It’s quite not so… I love those Clusone records that they did.  That’s some of my favorite Han stuff.

9.    Steve Coleman, “3 Against 2” (from TRANSMIGRATION, DIW-Columbia, 1991) (Steve Coleman, as; Greg Osby, as; Marvin “Smitty” Smith, d; David Gilmore, g; Kenny Davis, b) – (4 stars)

Wow, I like that.  A twist!  Is it Reggie Washington on bass?  I love Reggie Washington.  It’s surprising rhythmically and texturally.  For a while, I was kind of feeling it would be cool if they went to a different section, but the more they do this cycle, the more I’m digging it!  Just keep cycling this thing and see where it can open up to.  Whoa!! Again, this is something that I knew I couldn’t do a long time ago.  But I totally dig it.  Man, this guy can play over a vamp!  Is it Gene Lake?  I know it’s Steve Coleman.  The percussion setup made me think it was maybe Smitty.  Is this one of those JMT re-releases?  I love to hear Smitty in this kind of vibe!  I listened to those M-BASE records in college, the ones that are being reissued on JMT, some with Smitty but some with Mark Johnson. 4 stars.  Again, it had surprises to it that made me… It’s almost like seeing a movie where you go, “Okay, when is it going to move on?” and then you realize that part of it is the cycle coming back again and coming back again… After a while, you go, “Oh, wow!”  For a while, I thought it would be cool not to go back to that break every time.  I wouldn’t even know how to analyze what that was, with that metric modulation stuff.  But then when Smitty played over the vamp… Again, it’s a departure from the sound concept that… The percussion stuff gave it away.  I kind of knew it was Smitty from the percussion setup.  He was a big influence on me from those records like “Seeds of Time,” where he used percussion stuff.  I think in Jim Black’s case, too, or Mike Sarin, that era of guys started to involve using percussion along with the drums, or different colors with the drumset per se… He was a big influence to all of us on that.  Wow, Smitty! “Tonight Show,” baby.

10.    Bill Carrothers-Bill Stewart, “Off Minor” (from DUETS WITH BILL STEWART, Dreyfus, 2001) – (Carrothers, p; Stewart, d) – (4 stars)

That’s Bill Stewart.  I can tell by the hi-hat lick at the end of the bridge.  Is this him with Carrothers?  I’m doing better!  Bill has a very identifiable sound.  Even though recording doesn’t… I hear a little bit different sound with Bill.  But I can tell by things he does, the way he negotiates sections of a tune, that it was him.  One of the things I really love about Bill Stewart is that he’s totally committed.  Whatever he plays, he’s totally committed.  He just goes for it!  Not that everybody else doesn’t.  But his sound is… He’s a good Midwesterner.  Yeah, this is great.  4-1/2 stars.  It doesn’t sound like a duo.  It doesn’t sound like they’re just playing duo to play duo.  They both have that sense of adventure, that sense of orchestration.  Again, the roles are less defined.  They’re just both playing… It’s almost like an orchestra.  It’s great.  All these guys we’ve been listening to, it’s borderless.  It’s just music.  I don’t think anybody would care if they played “I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry” or a Monk tune or whatever.  They’re going to allow great music to happen with whatever is thrown out there. To me, that’s the sign.  I love that.  It’s warm.  This is a really warm-feeling recording.  He also has a great sense of drama that I love. It’s grounded, but it feels carefree.  It has fringes. I like that. It’s like the Western coats with the fringe on them.  That’s how I feel music should be.  The fringes can fly off the side along with being centered.

11.    Fred Anderson, “Hamid’s on Fire” (from ON THE RUN, Delmark, 2000) (Fred Anderson, ts; Hamid Drake, d; Tatsu Aoki, b) – (4 stars)

For a second, I thought it was Pheeroan Aklaff, but there are parts that make me think it’s not.  The feeling is great; I love the tenor player’s sound.  I feel I should cop this one, but I can’t throw a name out for some reason.  I’m dumb!  It’s powerful.  I like it. Whoever was playing drums definitely has that ability to sort of percolate freedom at the same time of maintaining this pretty deep groove.  Like, dance over the top of the stuff without it being… Like, swing is such a big picture, and they’ve obviously checked out… It’s also music that is seriously committed to that moment.  But you’ve got me.  4 stars. I’m trying to figure the tenor player; his sound is so familiar.  He sounds older to me.  I think they’re all older players. [AFTER] I’ve heard Hamid live and I’ve heard a few recordings, but he’s someone I’d like to check out more.  I said Pheeroan at first, but it seemed a little too melded-together.  I hear Pheeroan as a little cleaner, in a certain way.  I’m not real big on citing who someone has checked out, but in hindsight I can say Blackwell and Andrew Cyrille and that feeling.  Also you can tell he comes from a hand drumming feeling.  Also, there’s a Dennis Charles vibe in there, a little more over the top.  But I knew it wasn’t those guys by the sound of the drum itself.  The sound was looser.  Man, Hamid is great.

12.    Cyrus Chestnut, “Minor Funk” (from SOUL FOOD, Atlantic, 2001) (Cyrus Chestnut, p; Christian McBride, b.; Lewis Nash, d) – (4 stars)

Wow, that’s great!  Again, this is the kind of music that makes me take notice. The piano player is great.  Is it Nasheet Waits?  I love Nasheet, but from the bass drum sound, I didn’t think it was him.  The bass drum sound seems a little dead.  That’s why it’s a little hard for me to get.  Is it Lewis Nash?  Whoo!  I’ve checked him out a lot, and there’s a few things he did… He does a really cool thing.  His playing has a great horizontal feeling and a great vertical feeling. That’s one of my favorite things about him.  Also, he can negotiate these breaks so creatively.  I can also tell by his tom-tom sound a bit.  4 stars. When people play hits together, it can be a little laborious — it feels heavy.  They did it in such a way that it was warm-sounding.  It didn’t sound frantic.  Then, of course, when it opened up, it was great.  I’m trying to think who the piano player might be. [AFTER] Wow, that was really hip.  Both Lewis and Christian have the ability to hug a tune.  When you get hugged, you feel everything, but you also feel those arms around you.  You feel the whole picture.  That’s what Christian can do so well in music, again, that is both horizontal and vertical.  The head was about these hits.  I would never have gotten that this was Cyrus, but I love the sound he gets from the piano.

13.    Herlin Riley, “Blood Groove”  (from WATCH WHAT YOU’RE DOING, Criss Cross, 1999) – (Riley, drums; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Wycliffe Gordon, tb; Victor Goines, ss) – (4-1/2 stars)

The soprano player is great!  It’s moving all over the place.  I love that.  The drummer has a great sound.  He’s dancing, man.  This guy playing soprano is a great improviser.  It’s really expressive.  Talk about rhythmic feel, too.  Wow.  Everybody has a great sound.  I hate to speak like these are all in the same range, but they all give me that same sort of feeling of joy.  When this piece went to the second section, it lost that joyous feeling a bit.  The opening section, with the bass solo was amazing, and the trombone melody with the soprano fills was great.  The bridge sounded compositionally like, “well, we should do something.”  But to me, that didn’t really take away.  Because when it goes back to that vamp vibe, it’s so strong.  And the bass player is giving it that horizontal and vertical motion, that ability to sort of percolate ahead. It’s great.  4-1/2 stars. I’m trying to get it by the sound of the drums and percussion together, which makes it a little hard for me to know who it might be. Is it Adam Cruz? [AFTER] Wow!  I’ve played with Wycliffe a lot lately, but I haven’t heard him in this… And Victor Goines!!  That was really great.  We document this stuff for recording to capture a moment of expressiveness, and in this case, the groove not only is happening, Everyone’s sound and how it worked… I love the dialogue between Wycliffe and Victor.  I’ve never heard Victor live, but I’ve heard him with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on television, and he blew me away.  I love playing with Wycliffe live; I’ve been playing with him a lot with Ted Nash.

It’s interesting that regions still produce a sound.  I’m from the Midwest, and I feel that in some ways Bill Stewart and I have a similar sound.  And Jason and Herlin, being from New Orleans, have a groove underneath that is different from everybody else. To me, the uniqueness of this music is still what makes it really interesting.  Hamid’s feel, when you know that he’s also a hand drummer and you can tell that feel.  Smitty’s feel of being able to play really swinging but also really happening funk; he has a roundness to his funk that straight funk players don’t have because he has that swing feel.  That’s one of the most interesting things to me, are those regional characteristics and the surprises.  Han Bennink’s feel from Europe, a totally different perspective than Lewis’s feeling with Cyrus.  Or Dafnis, from Cuba. It’s intriguing to hear someone like Steve Berrios or Bernard play in these different feels.  They’re still themselves.

I’d like to hear all of these again, not to recreate comments… Not that I have to know who they were, but just to get it out of the way so I can relax and check it out.

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