bcontitiued f r om page 51.
Whether you might call it 'fusion'or some kind of evolution or like a revisiotr, going back to an earlier form, is something for conjecture. But if anybody can find something that they're in tune with, that makes them feel good, that also relates to what has gone on before and perhaps gives some kind of impetus to something that may occur in the future, more power to them. I niean, Ornette was playing his butt off when he played the alto saxophone. He played the violin and everything, he was improvising. It's just that the form that he chose to place his improvisations in were a little different to what he had been doing before. And I don't see anything wrong in that.
Some people it1 the jazz aunierlce get very nervous about all those electricguitars!
I think the true artist is one who does utilise what is in his environment. The only reason why I myself have not used some kind of electronic apparatus on my drumset is because I can't afford it. And I don't have the place to experiment with that kind of stuff. I live in an apartment and it would be impossible for me to do the kind of experimentation that I would need to incorporate some of this new stuff. And along with that, I have to make a living. So I have to get out there and work in more customary forms.
When did you last work with Cecil? Not in any real quantative way since 1975. Do you find this ittdentificntionfrustratitig or annoying? Sometimes. Of course somebody as great as Cecil and such a key-figure: it's always good to be associated with great people because that means you have some of that greatness about you, too. However, I think it's too bad that those very people who see me or other people who have been related to Cecil, see Cecil first. It's their problem, of course, but because they may be writers or something, then, of course, they write whatever is in their minds. And when other people read that, then they may also make the association.
Then again, others reading the article may say 'does this guy or this woman know what they're talking about? Andrew hasn't worked with Cecil since 1975!' I mean Cecil must have had seven drummers since I left. I've had my own band since then and I've worked with other musicians since then - Leroy (Jenkins), Muhal (Abrams), Carla (Bley) and so on.
It could be considered disadvantageous because sometimes people might think that the music that I'm doing is still very much similar to what Cecil i s doing now. And that's not true. Why should they listen to quasi - possible duplication, when they can listen to the great original still with us? Of course, there are elements there with a similarity but much of the stuff that I am doing now is not in the same format that Cecil uses. What was the most important influence Cecil had on you? Well, I would say the latitude in terms of developing rhythms on drums. The sky was the limit and the parameters of the earth the longitude. So in that light, it was whole. Whatever it was that I heard was always cool. I think only once or twice during the eleven-year period that I worked with him did he ask me ever to play a special kind of rhythm on a chart that he wrote. How it was always done, ninety-nine per cent of the time, is he would play his line, he'd give the notes to the horn players, and perhaps the bass players, and whatever it was that I heard and played in relationship to that was cool. I'd say 'Is there anything you want here?' and he'd say 'Well, YOU know what drummers do' and that was the end of it. We'd go on and play and we'd make it that way.
So, as far as me having the freedom to express myself, whether he was playing as fast as greased lightning and I wanted to play as slow as a ballad by the likes of Errol Garner, it was cool with him and it was cool with me. He'd just deal it that, way. And if he was playing a real slow languishing ballad, and I felt like I wanted to play at a very fast tempo, then that was cool, too. That was the way we made the music and that was the beautiful part of the creativity. But there was no bullshit, the music was always taken seriously.
Walt Dickerson is another person who is also a broad thinker but I didn't work with him as long as I did with Cecil. Initially Walter is as broad in the same sense. I play as broadly as I want, except that sometimes he plays things that are metrical . which Cecil and I never really did. Even though Cecil had done things which are in 414, like blues and standards like 'Like Someone in Love' which he did with Kenny Dorham and John Coltrane. Ted Curson and Bill Barron, Buell Neidlinger and that vibe-player Johnny Lyttle also recorded metrical songs with him. With Cecil I was able to know that I didn't have to do a certain thing a certain way all the time - which, of course, is evident in a lot of the music that I play now. A lot of it can be considered free in that sense.
What would you say yourgoal is? What I'd like to continue to aim for i s something that is artistically excellent, profoundly viable to the point where it touches people, and is intellectually savant, too. At the same time, I would like for it to be accessible. Some people say that my music is very difficult - I still hear that a lot. All right, so even though some of it may be difficult, I still would like it to be palatable enough so that people can say, 'Well, gee, even though it is difficult, I can still get something from it.' That, 'This man has a certain kind of humanity about him that says something to me, gives me something' - whether they understand it in toto or not. If I can be recognised as an artist that pulls no punches, dedicated and sincere in what I do; I think I will have achieved what I had in mind just about all of my artistic life.
In conjunction with that, of course, I must say that I would also like to have a degree of economic stability that goes along with the efforts I make. I would like to be compensated well because in this life most of the people who are celebrated are, for one reason or another, rewarded. W
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wanted to portray in music. Like, what we do, we deal with music as atmosphere, sounds, things like that. We just move freely and arrange these sounds. This is what we would hope to be able to do in music, just move sounds around.'
Suddenly, Lester Bowie leaps into the room, waves his arms wildly around his head and unleashes several bloodcurling Kung Fu yells. For a moment Roscoe Mitchell's intensity vanishes and he breaks into a broad grin. What's happened to your AECO label? I ask him. It seems to have been dormant recently.
'Oh, that's thriving. We're coming out with a new series of things early next year. There'll be a solo record by . . .'
'That's top secret, man,' LesterBowie butts in. 'I've told him it's all top secret.'
'You told him that? Oh, right,' says Mitchell. Just a hint, I plead.
'See, he's keen!' exclaimsBowie. 'He wants to get a scoop.' 'I can dig that,' grins Mitchell. 'Yeah, but oh, man, this is so immense. There's no way we can hint at this. It's gonna be the biggest shit in the history of jazz!' Bowie laughs uproariously.
And it's an AECO? I try to sound casual. 'We got shit on AECO you would not believe.' Bowie shuts his eyes and shakes his head in disbelief. 'We'vegot albums in the vaults . . . see, we stopped work on AECO 'cause we got busy with our current stuff but now - have we got some stuff for you guys!
'I mean, this is gonna shock you. And you'll be the first to know, OK. Just leave your address. The Wire? You guys'll go crazy! This is gonna be front page! You see, you'll say goddam, this is big!'
Big, huh? I say, edging nervously towards the door. 'You got it!' he yells. Well, maybe. Right now I suspect Lester Bowie would try and
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