Page Text

S m P JAMES YTheDevilCotnywOmannmmRootsOf RabertloSnsan(raa00) [Listens intently for two minutes]. It's either Robert Johnson or Son House. It's not, is it? Us~not,butitbtdrenfrolnac#np%tknalkmcalled TkRootr Of--, m t r o r n 1927-35. u s Sldp Jwe+ I recognisedthe proximtty of Robert Johnson, definitely. Ks gorgeous. The guitar work is a little more conventional than I would expect from Son House, but it still has that country blues vibe. WhatdoywthhkabcnithkhighpuaVemevoke? I love that. It's an emotional thing, it just throws itself out, becausethat's where the emotion is:just throws itself up there and throws itself down there. It's not a technical thing, it'sjust a question of the sound. I like that with certain male singers. I hear that from certainly At Green and Marvin Gaye, pitchingthe voice up real high, what people call falsetto, but it isn't really - it is, but it's more than that Whendidywstartlktcnhgtobhles? Oh, God, from the very beginning, since I was way high. My father had Fats Waller going and blues guys going and he really liked Art Tatum for piano. Certainlythat's all blues-based, although New Orleans, taking it to another place, you know? But I always played blues piano as well, because in the band that he had, the New Orleans band [Jim And The Flames],we had to play everything from Kansas C i Blues to fucking Tony Orlando and Dawn. Jesus! We had to play everything and we didn't have charts. He didn't need charts and said, 'You don't need charts either'.

This is really embarrassing[laughs]. I used to teach guitar when I was 20. That was a very curious thing. I was asked to do that and I said, 'l can't even fucking play guitar, how do you expect me to teach it? So I used to tell all my students, 'Listen, I'm so advanced with this instrument, I think at this point you should play for me. You don't want to hear me play, you might get discouraged,' which was certainly true. So all these students of mine were playing "Stairway To Heaven" and I said, 'Let's try some rhythm shit, let's get some rhythm stuff.' I remember I thought, man, the only way I'm going to be able to teach this instrument is to sing real loud over it so people won't realise. So 1 was doing a lot of rhythm guitar things and singing over it

It's kind of related to the way I play piano, really. The piano, especially in the low registers, is like the drums in a way, in pitch, especially if you're using a Biisendorfer but even a Steinway, if you've got it EQed in a certain way, it can really be kind of the bass and the drums. That's how I perceive it, because my father was a bass player. How did you go about choosing the bluesand spWtuals matwblforTkSigd? Well, it chooses me in a sense. Of course it doesn't choose me - it doesn't fucking care about me - but the thing is, I'll hear something like "My Love willnever die", I'll think, well, I understand what the words are about, and "After allyou've done 1'11neverchangemy mind, it'sjust that obsessional love that is almost encouraged by poor treatment [laughs]. Kind of like being a conditionedanimal. I do have a tendency to choose these dirges that are kind of minor key-based, like that one ["Devil Got My Woman"] and "Insane Asylum" and "Losing Hand", the Little Milton song.

'Second" fromAlmysA Pkmurp (MP) [Immediately]Cecil, bam! Oh keep it on, I like it Oh I love this. Isn't this the 70s? Ilo.irssrecenr You're kidding me.

ItwasrecordedBwthneyeasago,butWsodyjuSt been released. Wow, really reminds me of the 70s. [Whispers, mockconspiratorially]Hold it between us,don't tell anyone. I didn't say that I saw him play recently in a restaurant in New York It was really funny, he was playing in this fucking restaurant. It was a really polite restaurant Someone one day is going to have to ask him about Henry Cowell, because it seems very, very clear to me that there's a Henry Cowell influence in Cecil's playing. I'm sure that he would have come across him at the Conservatory of Music. I think it would have been unavoidable. I just hear a lot of that [At a particularly formidable piano run] I love that, that's just a bad riff, that's all there is to it. [At a lull in the music] I love it when he starts out with his thing, then he gets into this pensive shit, that's when he gets real refined.And you know like you've got a two minute reprieve. I fs like, 'l have a dynamic range, motherfucker.'[Laughs]That was nice, that was beautiful.

Cecil was such a huge influenceon my piano playing, my God, especially in the late 705. Inescapably.Unit Structures, all that stuff. I love Cecil Taylor, just love him. It's so emotional, that sort of playing, it's so powerful. Going from the Bud Powell thing, suddenly going to Cecil Taylor, it's such an interestingstretch. Although I always think of Cecil Taylor and I think of the way Duke Ellington played the piano, the importanceof that bass, or that Art Tatum kind of thing, I see them as being very related in that orchestralsense. That's why my father always said to me, 'Please don't be a singer, I want you to play the piano then you'll learn about music, you learn about the orchestra. Then if you decide you want to do a hornline or whatever afterwards -which is the singing -then you can do that, but most singers are tone deaf, have no sense of time and can't read music', and whatever and blah de blah blah. He should know, because he had to accompany so many fucking drunk singers.

SISTER IdI&Y MAE L I TT I ZmLD "DwkHowt Of Dimess"fnnn20ZOWoreCospel Greas~Caxade) Sounds like a very young Mahalia Jackson. It's not her, the voice is too high. 1Sounds very influenced by

Mahalia but different. But I could be completely wrong. It's SlsmUlly Hae Uttlelkld. Never heard of her. Is she after Mahalia? Thkwasrecordedin 1950. She sounds so much stylistically like Mahalia, it's unbelievable.Gorgeous, gorgeous. I'm stealing this record. You just tell them I stole the fucking record from you! Can I buy it from you? I'd like to have it because it's great. Yeah, fine. It's very interestingbecause it's so shrill; it's a shrill little sound. It's a very pointed sound. Next to someone like Mahalia it's a small voice. [At end of songl That's very interesting.

I've said before that a lot of this gospel music is like military music. What I meant by it is it's the thing you ride on, it's the shield, the armour, but also the way it's sung diaphragmatically,the power is like. . . [Diamanda gets up from the hotel bed] I don't mean to get personal, but if you feel my diaphragm, just punch it. . . [Embarrased, I deliver a feeble punch to Galas's rockhard diaphragm] See what I'm saying? It's like a shield. A martial artist said, 'If anyone hits you you'll be just fine, but you've got to be in the right breathingposition at the time.' And I said, 'Thank you, I hope you don't volunteer.' But do you know what I'm saying? It's like being surrounded by protective energy. I like that. ThawasawrypditehkkRKsthemtimeI'wever ldt anyoneduringan Interview.

SAINKHO 'Ritual Song"from Out Of Two(Cramworld) [At the end of the songl Oh, whoever she is, I love her tremendously. Now I'm just m going to guess because I don't know who this is. Is it Iva Bittova, because I haven't heard Iva either. It sounds like she would be Slavic. [Looks at CD] Oh, I've heard about her. Sainko. OK; has she worked with Bill Laswell? Quitepossibly. v s worked with Hector Zazou. I really love her sound. I've heard some older [Tuvanl guys singing, but this is different than that This sounds influencedmuch more by Eastern European singing. That's why I was thinking that maybe it's Bittova because I heard that she's a wonderful singer, but this sounds Slavic. Just the other day, I heard some of the Tuvanese singers, the guys, and I heard some stuff I couldn't believe - not I couldn't believe, I thought it was wonderful, this really low. . . I think I liked it because they were all singing together and it was very, very thick timbrally and very beautiful.This didn't remind me of that. I read somewhere, I'm notsure Iit's true, that h l m m throat dnj@# thevery deep notes and the wry ldgh owrtones resonatethe skull so muchthat theyw do some damage to thesinger's brain. Well, I'll tell you, it could be; maybe that's why I've had to take sleeping pills all these years. That's one of my

The Wire 41