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Bobby Bradford & John Carter 1975

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BOBBY BRADFORD & JOHN CARTER 1975

Now that his gem from the vaults has been released on CD by Dark Tree Records under the title No U Turn (DT-RS-05) I thought to ask Bobby to explain what these compositions are about. We sat down in his studio in Altadena early afternoon of August 13, 2o15 and talked, forty years after this great concert took place. The KPFK jazz radio host John Breckow produced the concerts (there were two others in the series: BB & JC were the 3rd) and Bobby says he got the call and asked John to join him on the date. I wrote extensive liner notes for the release which explain everything. Bertrand and his team did an exemplary job of producing this CD package: graphics, engineering, and feel are all perfect.

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Bobby Bradford Interview — Love’s Dream — Track 1 

MW: How is the tune “Love’s Dream” constructed? What’s the form?

BB: Well now, if I understand the question, often when we talk about form in jazz, we’re talking about groups of bars, and so many of the tunes that we do are often 32-bar form, often referred to as AABA or ABAC or something like that. Well, this tune doesn’t fit any of those. It’s just a little melody that unfolds but you can’t put it in any of those song forms. (Just to make it go really fast here), we play it twice, we repeat it when we play it.

MW: In the opening?

BB: Yes, in the opening, and going out, too, I believe we do, too. But, sometimes when I’m playing that . . . I mean, when I say “sometimes,” I don’t play it that often, but when Trevor Watts and I used to play it, some nights we’d be really wired, man, we’d only play the head once, we were so anxious to get playing we’d go right into the improvisation. We’d go: [scats the melody]. So it’s a very short thematic piece, and it doesn’t break up enough to call it an A and a B part. But you could if you had to. You could make the A part [sings the melody calling out possible bar lines], but it’s not worth it, it’s too short.

MW: How many bars is the piece, how many measures?

BB: Gawd, I don’t know, I couldn’t even tell you right now. We could sit down and figure it in bars, but that doesn’t have a lot of mean, because we often stretch it out over bar lines. [Demonstrates it in a strict manner] But we never play it evenly like that, see what I mean? So, if you sit down and try to notate it so that someone in Tibet could read it [laughing] and put it in bars it’d sound really funny, if you forced it into bar lines, that takes some of the flexibility out of it. See what I mean? It’s like about a ten bar tune.

MW: So, is it just a line?

BB: Well, you could call Charlie Parker’s tunes “lines.” Now, it doesn’t have chords but it’s such that if you wanted to you could sit down and put some chords underneath that melody. But, it wouldn’t work, you see, when we were playing because you wouldn’t know when to play them. That’s the idea of playing a free melody like that. You couldn’t ask a piano player to second guess you about when you’re getting ready to move to the next section.

MW: Is there a tonal center, there’s no home?

BB: There’s no tonal center that you could keep using, like if you’re going to play Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology” or “Anthropology,” that has a basic tonal center that you could play all through the tune, even though it goes to some different chords, what we call secondary dominants if you want to. But you can see that when Charlie Parker is playing “Ornithology” that it’s in the key of G and you can relate to that all the way through the tune. But you can’t do that with this tune.

MW: Did you write this in England? 1973-ish?

BB: Yes, I wrote that while I was in England.

MW: Did you first write it with bar lines?

BB: Uummmm, yeh, but they weren’t bar lines. I would just have a group of notes and I might have had a bar line some place but it wasn’t like I had 4 beats in every bar. It’s like “H.M. Louis,” I don’t know how many bars that is. Now, I have some tunes that I could tell you how many bars it is because it’s about bars, like “Sideman,” see that’s 32 bars because that’s the form and it’s AABA and you keep playing that over and over when you’re playing that tune.

MW: And your “Birdzeg” is based on “Confirmation.”

BB: Right. Now, I wouldn’t play “Birdzeg” and then take it out, or, what’s that other phrase you use?

MW: Open it up?

BB: Right. I don’t use that phrase but I know what people mean. When I play “Birdzeg” I will play those “Confirmation” chords over and over.

MW: Is “Confirmation” rhythm changes?

BB: No, no, no, that’s Charlie Parker’s flag waver, that’s his masterpiece, even he said that. Oh man, that’s brilliant. There’s lot of amazing tunes, even Tin Pan Alley tunes that have lovely chords, but in jazz I don’t think there’s anything before it. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t other tunes just as complex, do you know what I mean? “Prelude to a Kiss,” Duke Ellington ain’t easy (rueful chuckle).

MW: So, you were using the same “Confirmation” chords when you wrote “Birdzeg”?

BB: Yes. I would sit down at the piano and play those chords [plays “Confirmation” on the piano]. I played those chords over and over because that helped me hear the line. “Birdzeg” wasn’t intened to be played without the bass and the piano playing the chord sequence, I enjoyed that, but I wouldn’t want to play like that all night. See, when I play blues, most of the time I play it like 12-bars, but sometimes I play things that are blues-like, that are not 12 bars, but it has all the tonal properties of blues music, but it’s not 12 bars.

MW: What does the title mean, Love’s Dream?

BB: Oh man, whew. That’s, whew (laughing). One of Trevor’s friends asked if it was like that tune by the classical musician, I think Franz Listz, who wrote a piece called “Liebestraum,” which is Love’s Dream. I wasn’t thinking about that then, at that point I was thinking of a romantic kind of thing, like what people mean when two people fall in love. It’s like you know better but you fall in love. My mother, and my elders used to say Yeh well you were just climbing fool’s hill, that’s what the old people say. You just go gaga, there’s no explanation for it, it’s just the dream of what love is about.

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Bobby Bradford Interview — She — Track 2

MW: Let’s talk about “She.”

BB: Okay. Well that was originally recorded as “Woman” and that’s on one of those records with Bob Thiele, and they kept moving the publishing around to different people, and right now, you see, when that record is being played some place, I never get a nickel of that, it’s been screwed around, it’s been subletted to Hokey Dokey, and that’s the way they do and I never see a nickel of that. So, anytime that I have recorded or played it since, like when I play it on concerts in Europe where you have to itemize what you played on the concert, I call it “She.” And the money comes right directly to Gethsemane Music. I said something to Bob Thiele about it when I made that record Dedicated to Malcolm X with David Murray and I said Hey, what’s happening? and he said Well it doesn’t amount to much money, and I said I don’t care what it is, I want it! If it’s a nickel, I want it. And he got pissed off, we were having a conversation and he walked off, it really ruffled his feathers.

MW: So, “She/Woman,” what’s the form?

BB: It doesn’t have a form, either. It’s a very short melody. You couldn’t call it AABA or any of that, it’s only about ten bars long. Now, let’s look at the melody [he pulls out the sheet, and counts the bars] Oh, it’s twelve bars long, but it’s not a blues.

MW: So, when you originally wrote it you didn’t put bar lines?

BB: I don’t think I had bar lines, I just had phrases. See when I copyrighted it I put in the bar lines, because you have to send them something.

MW: At one time was this tune called “Omen”? You told me that, ages ago.

BB: Oh, yeh! At first it was “Woe-man,” I don’t know who changed it, maybe somebody at the record company. I had it written down, you know, like in the Bible it says Woe unto you or whoever. I was just being silly, but that’s what it was. And then when it came out they had it changed and so everybody would ask me what woman was that you were thinking about, (laughter).

MW: When did you write it?

BB: I probably wrote it six months before we made that first record on Flying Dutchman FLIGHT FOR FOUR. See, if I had written it earlier we would have used it on our first record that we made that came out on Revelation.

MW: And when you write a tune like that, do you specify the instrumentation?

BB: No, I play that whatever. Of course, most of the time when me and John were going to do anything I wasn’t thinking any bigger than a quartet, ever, you know? We always wanted some material that we could get off on. Like when I was working with Trevor, all those tunes I wrote in Europe were tunes that two horns can play and generate some feeling and just bang.

MW: You once told me that “Woman” was your best effort as a composer.

BB: That’s one of my better tunes, just in terms of a melody that I didn’t have to keep chipping on it, trying to change something, you know, how you edit and change it and change it, I didn’t change a note of that. It came just right out. Like “H.M. Louis.” I wrote “H.M. Louis” in like thirty minutes.

MW: But, you do have tunes that you chip on for awhile?

BB: Oh yeh! Like “Ornate,” I chipped on that for over a year trying to get out of that.

MW: And you still rewrite bass lines for it.

BB: Well, sometimes if a bass player hasn’t played with you before, I write something out for them to get them going. But that tune, man, I kept getting trapped in this one place where it wasn’t working and the more I worked at it the worse it got! that was a motherfucker!

MW: And you also write new counterpoint lines for the other horn on that.

BB: Yeh, sometimes. I get tired and want to hear something new. Now, going back to “Woman,” Tom Williamson played something underneath that with some smears, that’s really good. Eventually, I changed the bass to that ostinato.

MW: Does “Woman” lend itself to having a counter melody?

BB: Well . . .it depends. Let’s just say you were going to do that in a duet, with just me and another horn. I wouldn’t want a horn to play that ostinato. See, because on the bass it has a certain percussive quality that you don’t get on the clarinet. That’s the beauty of the bass, where you’re plucking it, it’s percussive and it’s tonal. Like the piano, you hammer it. But you can always have another line.

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Bobby Bradford Interview — Comin On — Track 3

MW: Okay, tell us about “Comin’ On.”

BB: Right. Okay. Let’s see, I’m trying to think if that has a form in the way that you mean it. No, that’s just a short melody, too. But now this is a tune where if I’m playing with people I haven’t worked with a lot because it takes you into the free form really easy. When you get done playing this melody it’s easy for you to get out there, without thinking about a key. But I do have some things that people can play behind “Comin’ On” or can play while the soloists are playing, what I call an obbligato. And everybody’s got something different to play on their parts. The main line is [sings] see, that’s a short line, it’s only [looking at the sheet] one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, uh, ten bars. But then I have some written stuff, something different for everybody, and [ruffling pages] . . . see, here’s the trombone part, and Michael (Vlatkovich) can play any one of these lines lettered A, B, and C. And I say You play those at will, any place you feel the urge to play, you could play those while I’m soloing or I might play them while you’re soloing.

MW: You wrote “Comin’ On” a long time ago?

BB: I think the first record that I used “Comin’ On” was LOST IN L.A. (June 1983)

MW: Really?

BB: Yeh, with me and Kousakis.

MW: But, you wrote it a long time ago? You wrote it back in the New Art Jazz Quartet days.

BB: No, no, no, we didn’t have that then. The Revelation period? I hadn’t written that then. I didn’t play this with John Carter, see, if we had that, it would have been a part of our regular repertoire, because we used it a lot later on.

MW: When you were singing it right now it sounded kind of boppish.

BB: You could say it’s boppish. You could say “His Majesty Louis” is boppish, just based on the articulation. See, when we play “Comin’ On” we never play it even like that, I was just singing it [straight] to bring the tune into focus. Sometimes we speed it up or slow down, we never play it in that bop mode.

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Bobby Bradford Interview — Come Softly — Track 4

MW: So, on this November 17, 1975 concert you sit out on John’s composition “Come Softly,” but you’ve played this tune many times over the years.

BB: Oh yeh, I’ve played that lots times with John, as a duo.

MW: So, what’s the form on that.

BB: Well, pretty much like a lot of John’s, it’s a very short tune, it’s not long enough to have, like a bridge, you wouldn’t call it that. If you had to, though, you could break part of it and say this is the A part and this is B, but that would be pushing it. But you could. But, you see it’s not long enough to even worry about the form, there’s not enough bars . . . see, when you say “a form,” well that’s like what people say when you write in the longer forms, it’s more difficult. See, if you were going to write a piece like a symphony, that’s more difficult than writing a march, because the form is so long you have to have some ideas that you develop, like an A section, and then an A2 and then B and C and D and as it gets longer, you know? You can’t write a novel that’s only eight pages (laughter)! A lot of John’s tunes were short, they were intended to be a duet piece. So, a lot of this is dictated by what and who is going to play it and when. So then, when John started thinking about that octet stuff, when he started writing things that were longer, then they do have these sections. Very deliberate. Sometimes the form might be AB or ABCD or ABCAD or three A’s and two B’s, so you could keep track of the form.

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Bobby Bradford Interview — Circle — Track 5

MW: And the last track on the album is John’s “Circle.” You and John played that for years. (Appeared first on the fourth album SECRETS, that track recorded November 11, 1971)

BB: Yes. Now, “Circle,” is a very short line, too. That was designed where you play first, and then you play the head afterwards. We didn’t play the head in the very beginning, you blow, and then you play the head at the very end of it. We played that a lot. And we’d play it lickety-split, but if you’re not listening carefully you’ll miss the head on this because we’re just blowing until the very end until we start slipping the head in there.

MW: How do you know when you’re going to go to the head, between you and John?

BB: Well, it depends, if we’re playing in a group, like a quartet, one us might lead back to it, and in duo where we’re standing shoulder to shoulder there, it’s just instant. You know when you’re standing there playing a duo the contact is instantaneous. But if you add drums and bass then you have to cue each other some kind of way. Sometimes, you know, each of us is going to play a long solo, which we did, and then if you’re going to give a solo to the drum or bass, usually we just look at the drum or the bass, so the form for that particular tune was solo + solo + solo + solo + the head at the end. But ordinarily, you play the head, then solos, then maybe group improvisation, then back to the head at the end. Going all the way back to New Orleans, the Swing Era, cool jazz, bebop, post-bop, and it gets to be kind of a habit, that’s why I avoid it now, sometimes, because it sets you into a place where pretty soon you get fixed in the thing and you can’t get out of, you’re trapped into that. This forces you to re-group in your head.

MW: And that was John’s compositional idea all along with “Circle”?

BB: Yes. And I’ve got a Charlie Parker tune where he comes in blowing and doesn’t play the theme until he goes out. So, what I’m saying is, that is not a completely new idea of John’s, like nobody had done that before. Gerry Mulligan has a couple pieces where they start blowing and they don’t play the head till the end. He and Chet Baker would be playing over the changes and then work up to the head. But, by and large, the idea is to play this thematic piece and then try to develop the improvisation based on that, so that’s why you work hard on a piece, so that it has a lot of goodies that’ll catapult you into improvisation.

MW: So, why did John call this piece “Circle,” does it relate to something in the arrangement?

BB: I guess, because sometimes he’d say, we would all improvise in a circle, he’d play, I’d play, then the drum and bass would play, and then maybe we’d go around again. And then we’d go to the head finally.

MW: So, are you just supposing that might be the reason he called it “Circle”?

BB: Well, I don’t remember him saying that, but that’s a good way to describe what happened.

This is the uncropped photo for the Lp cover of SEEKING (Revelation 9) released 1969 -- photo by John William Hardy from the collection of Bobby Bradford

This is the uncropped photo for the Lp cover of SEEKING (Revelation 9) released 1969 — photo by John William Hardy from the collection of Bobby Bradford

New Art Jazz Ensemble: Tom Williamson, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Bruz Freeman -- circa 1968 photo shoot for album cover of their first album SEEKING (Revelation 9) -- photographer John William Hardy -- at the old Watts Local stop at 103rd & Grandee (the Red Car went out of service Sept 1961) -- from the collection of Bobby Bradford

New Art Jazz Ensemble: Tom Williamson, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Bruz Freeman — circa 1968 photo shoot for album cover of their first album SEEKING (Revelation 9) — photographer John William Hardy — at the old Watts Local stop at 103rd & Grandee (the Red Car went out of service Sept 1961) — from the collection of Bobby Bradford

Stanley, William, and John -- November 17, 1975 concert -- from the collection of John Breckow

Stanley, William, and John — November 17, 1975 concert — from the collection of John Breckow

Stanley Carter, bass; William Jeffrey, drums; John Carter, soprano; Bobby Bradford, cornet; Robert Miranda, bass -- November 17, 1975 -- photographer unknown -- from the collection of John Breckow

Stanley Carter, bass; William Jeffrey, drums; John Carter, soprano; Bobby Bradford, cornet; Robert Miranda, bass — November 17, 1975 — photographer unknown — from the collection of John Breckow

Bobby Bradford outside his practice room at home -- August 12, 2o15 -- photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford outside his practice room at home — August 12, 2o15 — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter: Some notes about ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’s

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John Carter: Some notes about ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’s

John Carter grew up in the country way out on the grassy prairie outside Fort Worth, mostly small farms and fishing holes.

He was a bright and precocious kid who graduated high school early and onto college taking a degree in music (1949) by age 19 at Lincoln University, Missouri, followed by his M.A. (1956) from University of Colorado at Boulder.

By the time this record was made he had been living in Los Angeles 15 years. Arriving in 1961 he worked around town with a Ray Crawford Quartet that included Philly Joe, he joined the union and tried to find work in the Hollywood film, tv & pop music machine, he played all the woodwinds: flutes, saxophones, double-reeds, and when that didn’t come to pass he took employment with the L.A. public school system as an itinerant music teacher responsible for half dozen elementary school’s music curriculum, traveling to a different school each day of the week in his Porsche. May 1967 Ornette hired him to conduct his “Inventions of Symphonic Poems” at the UCLA Jazz Festival, it was during this residency that Ornette brought to John’s attention that Bobby Bradford had recently relocated to Los Angeles and was out there somewhere in the vast 300-square-miles of suburb that make up greater Los Angeles metropolitan cosmology. Ornette had the telephone number and John called Bobby who was living in Pomona at the time and working in San Bernardino. A long stretch of road: Culver City (where John lived) to Pomona to San Bernardino, but these guys were used to the long stretches of road in Texas. This was 1967, the Civil Rights Movement had made itself fully felt, as well, the philosophy of self-determination was the watchword, racism was at an all-time high, or all-time low depending on how you looked at it. John and Bobby were young men with families and a vision of what they wanted to do in music and so they got together and formed The New Art Jazz Ensemble. (You cannot leave race out of the picture when considering this music. The Watts Riots of the summer of 1965 were still reverberating in a great big way.)

In the 60s & 70s jazz was all about New — not that jazz hadn’t always been expanding in all directions over its history, but in the 60s there was an element of anarchy, because you must remember, by the 60s the pop music industry had grown into a behemoth (and some good music was being made in that field) but they smothered all other forms of musical expression. For those interested “serious” music you were working against this giant elephant in the room, and it was quite daunting. Jazz almost died in the 60s because of it. So the anarchy was reactionary. There was a lot of bombast . . . . John and Bobby kept their cool. Their music was always considered and intellectual and deeply about culture.

Rudolph’s Fine Art Center (aka Rudolph’s Chamber Music Recital Center) was at 3320 West 50th Street just off Crenshaw (less than 2 blocks from where Horace & Celia Tapscott lived). It was a small place, used to be a dentist office, you parked in back or on the street and either walked along a skirt sidewalk from the parking lot, or up the stairs if you parked on the street, entering from the front was the recital room with a few rows of folding chairs, counting the band and Rudolph (who lived there) there would be no more than 30 souls in attendance and some Sundays much less than that. It was my first encounter with such low expectations, a music of a limited audience, so different from the mass convocations of the rock world I grew up with, here was intimacy, you could actually talk with the artists after the performance, that would never happen with Joe Rock Guitar God, and there were no drugs, it was purely wholesome, and deeply about the music, it was at Rudolph’s that I learned about recital spaces designed for presenting an uncompromised music, that was so outside the direct focus of money, that it took a minute to readjust, this was L.A., after all . . . . Piatigorsky and Quincy Jones lived in spacious abodes up in Brentwood and Stravinsky lived above Sunset Blvd and Nelson Riddle lived in Larchmont Village and all the rock stars lived in Bel Air and Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon — the Hollywood pop world could not imagine that down here in Watts a saxophonist was transforming himself, on his own terms, into a clarinetest, and on his own time, taking his time to do it right (John wasn’t fully committed to the clarinet until at the age of 49 in 1977 he added the solo track on RUDOLPH’s that marked that evolution).

The raised stage (6 inches) was at one end of the room and at stage right was the green room, which must have once been the doctor’s office. At stage left was the door to individual rooms and the bath. In between was the little table for the wine & cheese. John wore denim a lot these years: pressed blue denim pants with a center crease with a Levi jacket with sailcloth buttons. He’d park his immaculate yellow 1963 bathtub Porsche in back and once inside start getting his horns ready, he was very relaxed, that was his nature. I was there with my crew almost every Sunday during it’s 2 1/2 year reign and happen’d to miss the Sunday that Burt Lancaster, the Rainmaker himself (!) showed up. (Burt’s daughter had been flirting with the idea of getting into artist management and she had brought her father.) When I walked in the following Sunday, John said, “Where were you? Burt Lancaster was here wearing his sailor cap.”

In fact, there was no way John could have known, even as thoughtful as he was, that he was becoming a supreme clarinetist, it happen’d to him naturally, as he stripped away elements he no longer needed, as he poked around modes and scales (having long since dispensed with chords) the last saxophone he’d play was the soprano and then one clear smogless day it hit him like a bell that the only horn left to him was the clarinet, and he had the resolve to know that that was the way it was to be. And then set to work boiling everything out of the clarinet, long roiling solos ten fifteen minutes running up & down, testing corners, learning where the cul-de-sacs were, finding the sweet spots, the alternate fingerings, the overtones, the echoes of culture that reached back to Africa, all of everything that reverberated in his memory under a Texas sky out in the country, maybe it was a dirt road sound he found? I remember he once told me about the MG he had before he graduated to his dream car Porsche, how it had been in an accident and thereafter never tracked right until one afternoon on the highway it caught fire and John said he pulled over, calmly grabbed his briefcase and saxophone and stepped away and watched it burn, didn’t bother one inch to stop it, and in Texas, out on the highway could mean miles away from anywhere, standing under all that sky. John said it takes a long time to find out what horn is suitable, but he seems to be the extreme, having run through a lot of woodwinds over the years, but once he got there he went right to work, and what a torrent emanated from his pen, the Roots & Folklore suite and hundreds of individual pieces, he was quite prolific, and all the younger players were starting to come around and warm to his fire, John never wavered, he went straight into it, and this record ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’S shows that interesting time within mysterious self-knowledge and transformation, if he was Arthur, then he had just pulled Excalibur from the stone. This record is within the very cusp of that transformation.

ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’S was released late October or early November 1977 in an edition of 550 copies + ten test pressings on John’s own label Ibedon Records. The word Ibedon is a southern idiom in Black culture from Bobby and John’s time. Bobby explained that it translates to: “I be done” as in: I be done go upside yo’ haid. Etcetera. John used it tongue-in-cheek because out of context it had an exotic ring to it, maybe African.

I should also mention that the summer he started his weekly Sunday series at Rudolph Porter’s place (Rudolph is a bassoonist) John on summer break has traveled to Paris on a reconnaissance mission, to see what his possibilities were for Europe. He sat in with the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band. When he returned to Los Angeles it was later in that summer of 1973 that the series began it’s two and half year run.

Regarding this music he played those years at Rudolph’s: “Amin” was played many Sundays at Rudolph’s — this was before we found out Idi Amin was a tyrant and a homocidal maniac — I believe John looked to Amin as a return to sovereign rule in the African countries — (John wasn’t overly political) —- but you can tell by the time of this release the bad news was out and John says in his one-liner: “What can you say about Amin . . .” Elipsis dots were his and no question mark.

As to the track “To a Fallen Poppy” that Melba sings and John’s youngest son Chris plays finger cymbals. John wrote the lyrics “To a Fallen Poppy.” I did not know John to write poetry — and I’ve never completely understood what this poem was about, and embarrassed to reveal where some of my thoughts have ranged as to its meaning. I suspect that it was something he wrote when he was in high school (this is only a guess) and means all the things a young man means at that age. What is that thing we say in poetry?

: It means what it means at the time that it is saying it.

TO A FALLEN POPPY

My sweet, sweet poppy
It grows and grows
From first its start, one
purpose clear
To steal my heart . . .
My sweet, sweet poppy
Its fragrance warm and bright as day
Melts all my cares
And floats away . . . .
My sweet, sweet poppy

Other tunes played on Sundays were: A vastly different version of “Enter from the East” than what eventually appeared on album DAUWHE (1982) —- Stanley would play this on electric bass with an ostinato figure.

“Come Softly” – “How About a Little Dance” – “Sunday Afternoon Jazz Society Blues” – “Ballad of Po’ Ben” – “Wonderlust” – “Run John” – “In a Pretty Place” – “Over the Rainbow” (all tunes by John except this and Bobby’s “Love’s Dream” one Sunday when BB showed up) “Blues for Ruby Pearl” — this tune was a composition for soprano saxophone and on the original acetate master for the album — the album was minutes away from being pressed with this track included when John decided his path was with the clarinet and returned to the studio on July 14, 1977 to record the solo clarinet piece that replaced “Ruby Pearl” and signaled his decision.

Another memory: As John worked on this album he gave both Bradford and I each a cassette of the master as it came along — I was still somewhat unsophisticated in the ways of making records — Did I say “somewhat”? Let’s be honest: I was totally unsophisticated in these processes. So, my only contribution was enthusiasm. Although, when John said he was intending to add a little reverb I was quite dismayed and voiced my apprehensions about the inorganic idea of reverb, John said, “I only want to add just a little to warm it up.” Of course he was right. This was the first record I was ever involved with during its coming into existence, pretty heady stuff. That’s the way John was: Very generous to allow a young guy like me be a part of his thing.

*My generation had grown up with the relative starkness of ESP records. They sounded cold & of the big city scuffle, instilling romantic visions of penurious dedicated artists living in 4th floor walk-up cold water flats in the East Village — there was nothing warm about those records, they were stark.

A lot of other musicians came and sat in at Rudolph’s but mostly it was just John and his trio. I do remember one Sunday he had surprised us with a young adult orchestra he had assembled to play a few sketches of what was to become his magnum opus, the Roots and folklore suite.

Mark Weber | June 2o15 Albuquerque

 

John Carter -- January 3, 1978 -- Los Angeles -- photo by Mark Weber + Chris Carter who plays finger cymbals on the track "To a Fallen Poppy" -- photo by Mark Weber -- May 1977

John Carter — January 3, 1978 — Los Angeles — photo by Mark Weber + Chris Carter who plays finger cymbals on the track “To a Fallen Poppy” — photo by Mark Weber — May 1977

John Carter & Bobby Bradford -- April 24, 1977 -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter & Bobby Bradford — April 24, 1977 — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter at The Little Big Horn -- April 17, 1977 -- photo by Mark Weber -- it must have been cold that April afternoon for John to be wearing his knit cap.

John Carter at The Little Big Horn — April 17, 1977 — photo by Mark Weber — it must have been cold that April afternoon for John to be wearing his knit cap.

Stanley & John Carter in duet at Ibedon First Annual Festival in the Performing Arts, Studio Z, 2409 W. Slauson, Los Angeles -- May 22, 1977 -- photo by Mark Weber

Stanley & John Carter in duet at Ibedon First Annual Festival in the Performing Arts, Studio Z, 2409 W. Slauson, Los Angeles — May 22, 1977 — photo by Mark Weber

William Jeffrey & John Carter in duet (we have a recording of this afternoon and it is  incredible) -- October 3, 1976 at The Little Big Horn -- photo by Mark Weber

William Jeffrey & John Carter in duet (we have a recording of this afternoon and it is incredible) — October 3, 1976 at The Little Big Horn — photo by Mark Weber

Melba Joyce & Ernie Andrews -- Watts Towers Jazz Festival -- July 16, 1983 -- photo by Mark Weber

Melba Joyce & Ernie Andrews — Watts Towers Jazz Festival — July 16, 1983 — photo by Mark Weber

Azar Lawrence & John Carter at Ibedon Festival -- May 20-22, 1977 Los Angeles -- photo by Mark Weber

Azar Lawrence & John Carter at Ibedon Festival — May 20-22, 1977 Los Angeles — photo by Mark Weber
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I was out of circulation for awhile and John decided to write me a letter and catch me up on all that was going on ---- June 22, 1982

I was out of circulation for awhile and John decided to write me a letter and catch me up on all that was going on —- June 22, 1982

John Carter & Echoes from Rudolph’s

John Carter and his yellow 1963 bathtub Porsche -- June 16, 1984 Hollywood Bowl -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter and his yellow 1963 bathtub Porsche — June 16, 1984 Hollywood Bowl — photo by Mark Weber

JOHN CARTER & ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’s

Liner notes for a Re-issue

Bobby would show up in his Camaro. John’s 63 yellow bathtub Porsche would already be parked in the little parkinglot out back — this is another reason why BB & JC were Southern Californians: they are both car guys.

You can’t be a car guy and live in NYC. They both had sharp cars, always. And both of them can talk cars. I was a mechanic those years and was kept around on that level alone, forget the music, or that I was all ears. They wanted to know if they should re-jet their carburetors. What was my opinion on glasspacks? (too noisy). Did I know anything about throw-out bearings on the clutch? (Yes.)

This record shows the absolute cusp of John’s decision to completely dedicate his life to the clarinet. In my CODA interview (1976) he talks about how it took till he was almost 50 to realize that he was purely a clarinet player. John played the entire woodwinds family. But, somewhere immediately after the first recording session for RUDOLPH’s he arrived at the finality and the decision. He had been in contemplation regarding this path for maybe a year. I started hanging around Bobby & John in 1974 and I never saw John play anything but the soprano saxophone and the clarinet (oh, I saw him comping on piano a few times at gigs, and another time I saw him pick up Vinny’s flute) and he played them both equally on gigs. On the original sequence & master for RUDOLPH’s there was a gutbucket soprano blues called “Blues for Ruby Pearl,” that John removed so that he could add the solo clarinet piece. That was the turning point. You only saw a clarinet in John’s hands after that.

John Carter at home -- 3900 Carol Court, Culver City, California -- August 31, 1976 -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter at home — 3900 Carol Court, Culver City, California — August 31, 1976 — photo by Mark Weber

Rudolph’s wasn’t quite a house, but it was the size of a domestic house, set back one lot away from Crenshaw, down 50th Street. Horace & Cecelia Tapscott lived just around the corner. I think it used to be dentists office? It had a promenade entrance up a modest set of brick stairs and once inside there was the tip jar and directly across the room was the table with the wine & cheeses & bread & cookies. Rudolph Porter was a bassoonist and lived in a side room. Another side room served as the green room, stage right. I was there almost every Sunday for those two years and the average attendance was around 20 souls. 75% of the time it was just John and his Trio. On occasion young musicians from the neighborhood would drop in — I remember Eric Ajaye playing electric bass, once — but, usually they’d hear that John was way way out there, and would keep to themselves. Not too infrequently Bobby would show up. Bobby lived clear up in Altadena and that’s a long haul across Los Angeles to 50th & Crenshaw so he wasn’t a regular.

Mark Dresser would drive up occasionally from San Diego where he was enrolled (in school, not the military) (San Diego has a lot of military “presence” ) Dresser grew up in Los Feliz up alongside the Los Angeles River behind Silverlake, (Silverlake was the 60s boho neighborhood of L.A.) and now he was a student at UCSD. Quite often the John Carter Ensemble would include Roberto Miranda plus Stanley for a double double-bass thing (I have a stunning recording of Bradford directing the two basses in a sort of bass choir arrangement of his “Woman” while JC played bells) and of course James Newton dropped by now & again still dressed his Sunday church best. Stanley Crouch, never. I don’t think John represented the sort of radical politics that Stanley was involved with those years. John was a family man with a day job. So was Bradford.

William Jeffrey keeps several drumsets, but when I caught him with BB’s Mo’tet at a gig at Claremont Colleges in April 2o12, he was using the old 18″ bass drum he had during his Rudolph’s days! Still has it. (He keeps several drumkits.) William was raised in Dallas, born there June 23, 1949. Flutist Bobbi Humphrey went to the same high school and they formed a group The Jazz Informers. During those years he caught Sonny Payne with Basie “twirling his sticks,” Ellington, Brubeck with Morello, Osie Johnson “but I can’t remember who he was with,” and Roland Kirk “sounded like Basie with those three horns in his mouth, and the nose flute. I think it was Burton Greene on piano. And Clifford Jarvis was so good and he was unknown and I was thinking How am I ever going to get that good. He was so great I almost quit playing! That was at the Green Parrot.” Other than that, “there was no jazz in Dallas, except Red Garland, but he was ancient to me.

John Carter -- January 7, 1977 ---- Century City Playhouse, Los Angeles -- photo by Mark Weber ---- this is the original uncropped photo that we used for the cover of album ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH'S -- John was part of this concert entitled David Murray Trio + Guests -- Trio was Roberto Miranda(bass) and Oliver Johnson(drums) and the guests were James Newton(flute) and John Carter(clarinet)

John Carter — January 7, 1977 —- Century City Playhouse, Los Angeles — photo by Mark Weber —- this is the original uncropped photo that we used for the cover of album ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’S — John was part of this concert entitled David Murray Trio + Guests — Trio was Roberto Miranda (bass) and Oliver Johnson (drums) and the guests were James Newton(flute) and John Carter (clarinet)

I had that album NO ROOM FOR SQUARES and I was amazed, here was the pianist on that album playing near my high school, at the club Arandas. ” On a visit to L.A. with his family summer of 1967, “it was right around the time Coltrane died. And I heard this music from our motel and I thought Man, I never heard a stereo this good before! It was middle of the day, 11 o’clock or noon, and I walked over.” They had taken lodging in a motel adjacent to the renowned jazz club Marty’s on the Hill and Oliver Nelson was rehearsing his big band for what became the album LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES (Impulse!), the drummer was Ed Thigpen. Back home in Texas William enrolled at Texas Southern University, Houston (1968-1969) but when TSU received funding to have construction improvements to the music department, classes were suspended and he wasn’t interested in transferring to academics, so he went back to Dallas, shortly thereafter departing for Los Angeles September of 1970 “With only 150 dollars cash, no place to live, no job prospects, I’d never drove more than twenty miles, in Dallas there was no place to go!” He drove his beloved white 1962 Oldsmobile 98 “I could fit my entire drumkit into the trunk, I lived with Onaje (Woody Murray, the vibist who he worked with in Houston), and hooked up with Charles Owens. I lived at the Lighthouse and Shelly’s in those days.” He can not remember when or what the circumstances were that he met John Carter, “I know I took over for Ndugu. I had a call for a rehearsal, somewhere.” There are a lot of Texans in southern California. He became music director for Ronnie Laws, a position he held for many years.

Of Rudolph’s: “I remember Mark Dresser, the principle bass player for the San Diego Symphony sat in, he was the first guy that made me realize I should be eating more oatmeal and cornflakes! I’d never heard the bass played with such a full sound, it was like going from monaural to stereo!” Regarding the spelling of his patronymic I asked why you see it spelled Jeffery or Jeffrey. He grew up under the name Jeffrey but after some research found an earlier variant used by his family and now he prefers Jeffery, although “both spellings are correct! [laughter] For awhile I had two names!” William still lives and works in Los Angeles and is still in the drum chair in Bobby’s Mo’tet (alternating with Chris Garcia) and on the day of this telephone conversation he and his wife celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary. [telcon 27june14] *In 2002 JLo recorded another mega-hit and used part of a song (sampled) that William had co-wrote for Debra Laws (Hubert & Ronnie’s sister) and he made some money on that.

Besides John’s Sunday Afternoon Jazz Society at Rudolph’s (that tune was written a few years before the Rudolph’s era but John played it at Rudolph’s — there were a group of regulars that made it appropriate) I know of a presentation there by Harold Land and I know Rudolph gave a recital on his bassoon. Mostly it was John’s trio on Sundays.

Dresser was driving a red 1970 VW bus those years “that Paul Maddox aka Pheeroan ak laff dubbed The Kidney Bean.” Mark confirmed that he was indeed a member of SD Symphony bass section, but was not the principle. Bertram Turetszky was teaching at UCSD at that time, Mark’s mentor. This was also during the time when MD was member of Stanley Crouch’s band Black Music Infinity based out of Claremont.

My other big memory of Rudolph’s is that every Sunday as the audience arrived he played “In a Sentimental Mood” — I still cannot hear that track by Coltrane & Ellington and not think of Rudolph’s Fine Arts Center. (Bobby confirms that it used to be a dentist office.)

John’s playing was vast and coruscating and luminous. Huge long solos pulling the rhythm section along behind him. William was still investigating how to play this sort of music, a very intelligent man also from Texas, he was the MD for Hubert Laws [and a couple pop bands–?] < Stanley is John’s 2nd son and was a college student these years also, as well as home studies in music under his father’s tutelage. He no longer plays music and is involved in security guard outfit, now, after a short stint in the LAPD.

8 1/2" x 14" poster -- 1973-1974 Los Angeles

8 1/2″ x 14″ poster — 1973-1974 Los Angeles

Those years John worked for the L.A. public schools as an itinerant music instructor going around to several grade schools. He practiced at all the stops. His daughter Karen told me that after dinner every night he’d get out his horns and practice in the living room of Carol Court (the TV was in the kitchen, so the living room was cool for music, where they kept a spinet. This living room has large plate glass picture windows in the northeast corner that looked directly at downtown L.A. about fifteen miles away, and on smogless days you could see the San Gabriel Mountains, as southern California was blanketed in smog those years.

There are 3 photos of John that circulate that I took of him one afternoon sitting on the couch with his clarinet in that room, with his characteristic big Texas smile. John was a measured talker, he chose his words carefully, and he was thoughtful about what he said, often ending a large global statement with a laugh, to remind us that there are no absolutes, that he’s just speculating. He was one of these guys that graduated high school at age 16 and shipped off immediately to college. I think he was even at North Texas State for a minute. But most of his music conservatory was done at Lincoln University, Missouri, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Upon graduating conservatory he was back in Texas with a growing family and a job as a high school music teacher, in Fort Worth, where Julius Hemphill was a student.

Those photos were not staged or posed. They’re actually what photographers call “lucky shots.” They’re good, and real. We were just hanging out and I snapped them while we talked.

John Carter released ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH’s himself. John hadn’t been in a recording studio since April 1972 when he and Bobby recorded the second half of SECRETS (Revelation 18) and a lot had been going on in his music. Gone were the alto and tenor and flutes. He spent the entire 70s on the soprano saxophone and the clarinet. If not for RUDOLPH’s this period would be undocumented. John’s next session under his own name wouldn’t be until August of 1979 and things really started to heat up then. RUDOLPH’s was the only release on Ibedon Records. (Only last month I thought to ask Bobby whatNheck does “Ibedon” mean — and he said that it’s southern Negro dialect for “I be done go upside yo’ haid if you don’t get that rent money together” or “I be done go to the store,” and that John gave it an African look and used it for his record company name.) The Ibedon release was vinyl long-player in an edition of 550 copies.

Bobby & John were a flagship to all the younger players coming up who were interested in the avant. We called it “avant garde” in those days, or “New Music.” John approached the clarinet like a legit player, he was very serious. You could watch him assemble this instrument like someone who paid dearly for it. Master clarinetist Bill Payne, who reveres John’s playing, says he never heard anyone play as aggressively as John. Kenny Davern was aware of John and appreciated where he was going, they both had a repository of alternate fingerings and notes not found on a conventional Bb clarinet. John loved to do that warbling thing in the chalumeau as a launch pad to a stratospheric burst of carefully worked out lines. James Newton says that between students at The Wind College (c.1982) that you could hear John in his room working over a figure for an hour or more. John was concerned with the sonic possibilities of the clarinet, in retrospect I think of him more as a 20th century composer than purely a jazz guy. By the time of RUDOLPH’s he had left chordal music far behind. In fact, to my young ears I sorta thought of him as Coltrane-derived with those long ever-widening solos on soprano, but of course, with a little more education one realizes John had a completely different thing. Bradford says that the only chordal things John condescended to play on were some of Bobby’s compositions (BB writes in several formats: rhythm changes, blues, various song forms, omens, non-tonal, marches, free & open, bebop, spontaneous composition, etc).

John was an intellectual, he had a touch of the academic about him, and he was a nice guy, something we always attributed to his Texas upbringing, which was in the deep woods way outside Fort Worth in a community that was from other times. John’s mother was visiting with them for awhile and John tried to introduce her to me and she was so shy he had to hold on to her to keep her from running away, she was laughing, but I got the feeling she hadn’t spent much of her life around white people, or worse, that her experience with white people had not been good.

Rudolph’s Fine Art Center (sometimes also known as Rudolph’s Chamber Recital Center) was in Watts — probably why there were so few whites in the audience. Watts was still smoldering these eight years later after the 1965 riots (more properly known as The 1965 Insurrection)(and what we called “Watts” in those days is now more properly known as South-Central L.A.). Still economically depressed and still the availability of work disproportionate if you happen to be black in Southern California. Still a lot of racial tension. In fact, I remember one time as I came in the door to Rudolph’s and bypassed the honor-system entry fee tip jar and headed straight to the men’s room a guy tackled me intent that I pay my share (I had to pee bad) and John had to pull the guy off me from the floor. Watts was a tinderbox. L.A., to this day, is still a racist city.

John Carter & Gerald Oshita -- February 13, 1981 during the New Jazz Festival at the New College in San Francisco, produced by trumpeter-educator George Sams -- photo by Mark Weber -- If anyone finds the recordings of poet Anne Sexton & Her Kind I'd sure like to hear them, Gerald played woodwinds in that group

John Carter & Gerald Oshita — February 13, 1981 during the New Jazz Festival at the New College in San Francisco, produced by trumpeter-educator George Sams — photo by Mark Weber — If anyone finds the recordings of poet Anne Sexton & Her Kind I’d sure like to hear them, Gerald played woodwinds in that group

John also liked sports on tv and kept in shape as a member of an Akido dojo. Los Angeles is a working man’s town. Sundays take on a different aspect in a city that works Monday through Friday. Sunday afternoons are set aside for cooling down and recharging for the week ahead.

Bobby Bradford is not on this record because he was in London the year John asked Rudolph if he’d care to co-produce a Sunday afternoon family-oriented concert series. Thereafter they always kept separate bands even as most of their public performances were together.

Speaking of families, it seemed to me to be a Texas thing: Charles Moffett kept a family band, and Ornette kept his family close, and one time at Rudolph’s John had a gang of kids playing his earliest renditions of what became his masterwork, the Suite of American Folk Music.

You have to hear the note before you can play it. At least, in the wide-ranging harmony that John & Bobby employed in their art. They never play a spurious note, even as they enjoyed and approved of their contemporaries forays into free blowing, throwing everything they have at the wall and seeing if anything sticks, with John & Bobby there is a uniformity to their out harmony. I’ve often thought of it as listening to three-dimensional chess.

When I first met John I was still driving my turquoise (factory color!) 1963 Volks hippie van with the tie-dye curtains. Then I got into a 1965 blue Volks bug with a sunroof for a few years. John loved Volkswagens. The counterculture thrived on Volkswagens.

22&23une&4july2o14 | Mark Weber


Mark Weber’s 1963 Volks van — 1972, Upland, California — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter at Rudolph's Fine Arts Center -- June or July 1975 -- photo by Mark Weber

The John Carter Ensemble:  John on soprano saxophone &amp; clarinet; Stanley Carter on bass and electric bass; William Jeffrey, drums ----- June or July 1975 -- photo by Mark Weber ---- directly behind John is the door to the green room

Even though I worked with cameras from 1970 forward -- the cameras I used in high school were borrowed from Jeff Cole, my teacher -- and it really hadn't crossed my mind to take photos of jazz events, yet -- these pix were taken as a momento ---- only 4 photos exist from all those Sundays -- June or July 1975 -- photo by Mark Weber

I was in between cameras at the time of these shots -- and I think this is a Kodak Instamatic camera ---- I only took 4 photos ---- that's the back of Brad Fisher's head, my good friend ---- and note young Chris Carter whispering into one of his cousin's ear ---- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter sits in with Art Ensemble of Chicago -- June 26, 1976 Los Angeles -- Joseph Jarman, John Carter, Rasul Siddik (also sitting in), Lester Bowie -- Studio Z on Slauson Avenue -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter sits in with Art Ensemble of Chicago — June 26, 1976 Los Angeles — Joseph Jarman, John Carter, Rasul Siddik (also sitting in), Lester Bowie — Studio Z on Slauson Avenue — photo by Mark Weber

Roberto Miranda & Stanley Carter -- John Carter Ensemble -- June 21, 1976 at The Speakeasy (not Southerland Lounge West as the neon signs says in some of these photos) on Santa Monica Blvd, just west of LaCienega) -- I believe this venue was a showcase for VeeJay Records -- photo by Mark Weber

Roberto Miranda & Stanley Carter — John Carter Ensemble — June 21, 1976 at The Speakeasy (not Southerland Lounge West as the neon signs says in some of these photos) on Santa Monica Blvd, just west of LaCienega) — I believe this venue was a showcase for VeeJay Records — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter Ensemble: Roberto Miranda, Stanley Carter, JC, William Jeffery -- June 21, 1976 -- photo  by Mark Weber

John Carter Ensemble: Roberto Miranda, Stanley Carter, JC, William Jeffery — June 21, 1976 — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter Trio ------ October 24, 1976 ---- Stanley Carter(bass), William Jeffrey(drums) at The Little  Big Horn, Pasadena, CA -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter Trio —— October 24, 1976 —- Stanley Carter (bass), William Jeffrey (drums) at The Little Big Horn, Pasadena, CA — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter -- June 21, 1976 ------- John called these trousers his "happy pants" ------- these were the years he'd retired all of this other horns except the soprano saxophone and the clarinet ---- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter — June 21, 1976 ——- John called these trousers his “happy pants” ——- these were the years he’d retired all of this other horns except the soprano saxophone and the clarinet —- photo by Mark Weber

John kept a spinet at home in his living room but here he is on grand piano during a break at the soundcheck  for the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble at UCLA Schoenberg Hall -- March 14, 1982 -- photo by Mark Weber

John kept a spinet at home in his living room but here he is on grand piano during a break at the soundcheck for the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble at UCLA Schoenberg Hall — March 14, 1982 — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter and his son Stanley -- May 28, 1976 at Garden Theatre Festival, USC -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter and his son Stanley — May 28, 1976 at Garden Theatre Festival, USC — photo by Mark Weber

John Carter family visit my home in the alley (400 1/2 Laurel Avenue, Upland) -- young Chris, wife  Gloria, and daughter Karen, and John sitting on floor talking cars with my brother Brian (out  of the frame) -- October 23, 1976 -- photo by Mark Weber

John Carter family visit my home in the alley (400 1/2 Laurel Avenue, Upland) — young Chris, wife Gloria, and daughter Karen, and John sitting on floor talking cars with my brother Brian (out of the frame) — October 23, 1976 — photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford-John Carter Quintet: James Newton(flute), Roberto Miranda & Noah Young(basses), JC(clarinet), BB(cornet) -- Avery Auditorium, Pitzer College, Claremont, California -- October 27, 1980 -- photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford-John Carter Quintet: James Newton (flute), Roberto Miranda & Noah Young (basses), JC (clarinet), BB (cornet) — Avery Auditorium, Pitzer College, Claremont, California — October 27, 1980 — photo by Mark Weber

The Coda interview with John Carter | 1976

John Carter at home, 3900 Carol Court, Culver City 90230 | August 31, 1976 (during the CODA interview) | Photo by Mark Weber

MARK WEBER: Ornette’s early music sure caused a stir, how did you observe that? Looking at it now it’s obvious how blues based it is.

JOHN CARTER: Yes it’s real folksy music. Well in 1960, the post bop period, the jazz crowd generally catered to the organ trio, which grew out of the club owners’ efforts to hire three people instead of four, the organ kind of cut out the bass player. So the characteristic group was tenor, drums and organ. That was just one thing that was going on in the sixties. In an art sense, you know the evolutionary process hadn’t quite come around yet so that there was an acceptance of what Ornette was doing. The sound was too revolutionary, and people just hadn’t come to a point of even wanting to understand what that music was about. By the mid-sixties things were a little better, more musicians were playing that kind of thing and people were beginning to listen a little more.

Mark: Recently I was reading a treatise on “tempered intonation” and “just intonation.” Now I was led to believe that “just intonation” is like the way a piano is tuned, 440 cycles per second at A above middle C. And “tempered intonation” is like the way Ornette plays, just color it, take it up a little….

John: Ornette’s intonation is what this music has been about all the time. For one thing, this music stems so much from African music that it’s very difficult to establish guide lines for criticizing the music. What the’average western “critic ” does is to apply western standards to the music, where the intent is not always completely western. Now I don’t mean that jazz is not a western art form, I mean that some of its roots go back to eastern sources. You read in books about the blue 7th and so on, now I don’t even know what that is. Eastern music is taken from different scales, from scales that are different than scales generally used in western music that make the music sound a certain way, so when you start to justify this or that which has its roots as eastern by western standards, well then you run into a lot of problems. And western critics used to, and some now, say that jazz is one of the illegitimate forms of music. The fact that musicians don’t play in tune, you know? And musicians are playing what they want to play, so that it is very properly in tune. But not in tune to what they, the critics want to listen to.

Mark: For my own edification; when you play a tune you’re not necessarily in a key, right? You improvise on a theme or “head arrangement”? Like what Bobby (Bradford) says in a previous interview that harmonically it’s not in any one key, what structure do you work within? What’s the harmonic base? Is it fluctuating?

John: Well, there’s no structured harmonic base. Well academically there’s no harmonic base. If there are three or four people playing, the harmonies that come together are extemporaneous harmonies, they come together at that particular time, generally they are not intended harmonies, generally players do not set about to listen to see if such and such harmonies come about. Like when we started to play, the night I sat in with The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and the three of us came out (Roscoe and Joseph), well, we had gotten together on what we were going to use as material for a head before we came out and we adjusted as we went along to suit ourselves, but here again the harmony was extemporaneous, we didn’t sit down and say we’re going to play the Bb major chord and the Eb6th and so on and so forth, we just said we’re going to use this certain set of ideas, the harmonic base of which would be free.

Bobby Bradford Quintet | April 14, 1979, Pasadena City College | Glenn Ferris – flugelbone; John Carter – clarinet, Bobby Bradford – cornet, Bert Karl – drums, Noah Young – bass | Photo by Mark Weber


John Carter sits in with the Art Ensemble of Chicago | June 26, 1976 | Studio Z, Slauson Blvd, L.A. | Photo by Mark Weber


James Newton Wind Quintet + koto |  @ Pasquales, Malibu, California | September 28, 1980 |  John Nunez, bassoon; John Carter, clarinet; James Newton, flute; Red Callendar, tuba; Charles Owens, oboe & English horn; Alan Iwohara, koto | Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: Did you set up any kind of bar structure?

John: No, you see that music wasn’t written. Now if we were to go back and listen to that and structure it all out, it would be pretty difficult to write the solo parts but it could be done. That (the head) wouldn’t be hard to write at all, because of the way it was put together. All you do in that situation is figure out what note each of the musicians is playing and put that in big whole notes and put a hold on top, that would only take about five minutes. But now other things are much more difficult to do, you know of course that the Art Ensemble perform some very difficult music and some of Bob’s music, and some of mine gets to be very intricate, like the thing we did on the first Flying Dutchman record, Call To The Festival is a very intricate piece of music. We must have taken a dozen takes on that one just to get the head played correctly. Even though we played it all of the time, very intricate. I was commissioned to write that music. Commissioned! (laughter) The only music I was ever commissioned to write.

Mark: What festival was that for?

John: During that time I was working for the Studio Watts Workshop, it was one of the post-riot things they had set up, like the writers’ workshop and the teen-posts that were like community centers, and other pacifying activities for the youngsters to get into so they wouldn’t be out on the street fightin’ the policemen. Now this thing we were doings’ emphasis was on art; pottery, painting and music. So as part of the studio outlet the workshop coordinator, Jim Woods, set up the Los Angeles Art Festival, the first year it was music and the second it was dance. Most of the festival was done at Shelley’s Manne-Hole, we played there three nights, and were paid through the studio. One of these days I’ll be commissioned to write some more music. I hope.

Mark: How’s your new record coming along?

John: The music is ready. We’re going to record Echoes From Rudolph’s Suite. I would like to record Plantation Songs From The Old South, I think that’s a good suite too.

Mark: You seem to have more unrecorded music than recorded.

John: Well all my music is new, because nobody’s heard it. Material is no problem, the problem is elsewhere.

Mark: Have you thought about recording or performing solo?

John: Yeah, I’d like to record an album of ballads, of free ballads, solo. I’m going to record one ballad on this latest thing solo, well ninety percent of It’s going to be solo, everybody else will come in on the end.

Mark: A Little Dance, Boy more or less throws you into a solo position.

John: Yeah we might not record that, 1 haven’t figured out how to put that into a good record format. Actually there are two pieces in there that I was going to re-write, A Little Dance, Boy and At The Big House. At The Big House is a duet for two basses, actually I’ve written four duets for basses, and none of them have ever been played, really. I wrote a couple for Henry Franklin – it was going to be a duet but Henry was going to play both parts, you know? Over-dub the second part for an album he was going to do last spring but it never came off. My thinking now is, I feel very strongly about putting out a record myself.

Mark: From your early days in Texas, do you remember any blues players around Fort Worth or any of the popular records of the day?

John: There were a good many blues singers and guitar players during that time, but not any players that would be nationally known. As far as records we listened to all of the regular things, Bird, Diz, Lester Young, Ellington and Basie.

Mark: How about this Red Connor that Ornette talks about in his early interviews?


John Carter & Buddy Collette (Red Callendar in background) | September 28, 1980 | Photo by Mark Weber


John Carter & Gerald Oshita | February 13, 1981, San Francisco | Photo by Mark Weber


Vinny Golia & John Carter listen to a playback during recording Vinny’s album SPIRITS IN FELLOWSHIP | October 18, 1977 | Photo by Mark Weber

John: Yeah, we went to high school together, played in the high school bands, and played at the local clubs, all of that. We were very good friends, all of us that were coming up together. The reason Ornette is always talking about Red is because he was so much farther along than most of us were, although we were all about the same age. Like when we were in high school he already knew the blues form, the 32-bar form, the I Got Rhythm type of thing and all of that, and was just about to go into the early bebop things, while the rest of us were still playing high school-type music. He was really on the threshold of professional-type things. He would show us the things he knew about playing, this riff here and how that one fits, and this is the 12-bar form rather than so and so, so that years later when all of us had started to find out what it was all about, Red was already a really fine player.

He died – in the mid-fifties, at the hospital where my wife worked. He had just used his body up, he was about 29, and he had just dissipated and used his body up. I would go out and visit, and he was doing fine, we’d laugh and talk about what he was gonna do when he got out and the pretty nurses who were passing the medicine and, you know, things like that that cats would talk about, and one day he died, just flat out. But he was quite a player. Played with a number of blues bands, stuff like that. Played with a fellow named Bobby Simmons, he and Red were really good friends, he was a trumpet player. Bobby’s still alive and used to come around to our concerts at Rudolph’s (Fine Arts Center). He moved back to Arizona or something like that, Bobby even played with Bird for a little bit. But Red, man listen he would have been one of the finest players that you would have heard in your life, you know what I mean? Of all the fine players that you listen to, he would have been one of those players, one of the finest that you would have heard in your life.

John Carter checking the time | Rudolph’s Fine Art Center | June or July 1975 | Photo by Mark Weber

John Carter Trio | June or July 1975 | Rudolph’s | Stanley Carter, bass; William Jeffrey, drums, John Carter, clarinet & soprano sax | Photo by Mark Weber

John Carter Trio | June or July 1975 | even though this is quite fuzzy I wanted you to get a picture of what the recital room looked like at Rudolph’s Fine Arts Center, 3320 west 50th Street, Los Angeles (near Crenshaw) (around the corner from Horace & Celia Tapscott’s home) | I was between cameras at the time and was using some cheap Instamatic job, in fact, even though I trained in photography in 1970 I had had no eyes for photographing jazz | I only took these as a memento because we had been attending so many of these Sunday concerts at Rudolph’s to hear John’s trio | these represent very nearly the first photographs I took of jazz players at work (the first being a Stanley Crouch ensemble in May 1975) | Note the little table with the wine & cheese! | Sunday afternoon jazz concerts were a tradition in Southern California those years | This was bassoonist Rudolph Porter’s place | Photo by  Mark Weber

Mark: Charles Moffett was in those groups?

John: Yeah, at that time Moffett and Red used to play together, we all used to play together from time to time, have jam sessions and that kind of thing. Back in those days there were really true jam sessions, where musicians just came together and played. We were a little beyond the cutting contest era of the ’20’s, ’30’s and ’40’s, but still basically the same kind of idea, you know? If you pulled your horn out and got ready to play, it’d be good if you kind of knew what you were going to play, (laughter). And so at one time or another we would all play together, Ornette, Red, Lasha, “Ditty” Moffett and Dewey Red-man, and earlier LeRoy Cooper, who did not live in Fort Worth. LeRoy plays baritone sax with Ray Charles, he used to play alto, I can remember one time I heard him play How High The Moon beautifully on alto. David Newman who lived in Dallas used to get over sometimes too. So eventually we all played together.

Mark: Do you know anything about when Ornette was with PeeWee Crayton?

John: Well PeeWee would come through there from time to time, he tried to get me to go with him one time. Red Connor played with him one time, and Bobby Simmons. He was always trying to get good saxophone players to go with him.

Mark: From what I’ve read PeeWee took Ornette around 1950 right after Ornette got back from being stranded in New Orleans by a carnival. Then PeeWee stranded Ornette in Los Angeles after firing him.

John: Yeah I don’t know the conditions surrounding Ornette’s playing with him, but I know it probably had to be like that. I wouldn’t be surprised, Ornette probably was not playing what PeeWee wanted to hear. You know PeeWee lives here in L.A.? It was very difficult to be on the road with a blues band, living conditions were bad and the money wasn’t very good, whatever money there was wasn’t definite. You know it was very difficult to find places to stay back in those days because you just didn’t go to a motel. If you went to a little town that didn’t have a Black motel, then you wound up sleeping at the hall or with somebody, at somebody’s house, and you would have to eat at little hole in the wall cafes, things like that.

Mark: Did you do much touring like that?

John Carter entering The Little Big Horn, 34 N. Mentor, Pasadena, California, USA | October 31, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber


John Carter @ Little Big Horn | January 1977 | Photo by Mark Weber


William Jeffrey, drums; Chris Carter, bongos; John Carter, clarinet | @ Little Big Horn | September 5, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber


William Jeffrey, drums; John Carter, clarinet | September 5, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford, flugelhorn; John Carter, soprano sax?; Roberto Miranda, bass @ The Little Big Horn  | November 28, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

John: I did it, but I didn’t like it very much (laughter), so I didn’t do it very much. Between the years ’45 and ’49 I was in college and when I came out I began to teach, so I didn’t have to go on the road with a band. During the time I would have been on the road, say between the years ’45 when I got out of high school and the early ’50’s I was doing something else. I left Kansas City with a band once, on our way to New York City. We were going to work all of the middle part of the country, that was the time of the territory bands. So we left for the first job, and the station wagon was using oil so badly that they had to.. .well they didn’t have enough money, so the guys were ripping off the oil when we stopped at the stations. So we finally got to Omaha and got a place to stay, our accomodations for the night. We were going to be there three days it seems to me. But the club owner wouldn’t let us play because we were late, so we had no way to pay for our motel. So we went back… now I remember this place as having a porch all around it, with windows leading out to the porch, (laughter), stealing our own stuff, right? (laughter), so we wouldn’t have to walk past the desk, because we didn’t have the money to pay.

Then we got into the car and left for Wichita, Kansas. But I went home that summer, eventually. That group was led by a guy named George Baldwin, out of Kansas City. PeeWee used to be or is one of the old style Kansas City blues shouters, it seems to me I’ve seen him do battle with Big Joe Turner. Those guys in the blues cutting contests would stand up and sing one verse after another, oft times just making verses up as they went along, and listen man, those were really blues singers! Boy they don’t sing blues like that any more. That’s a Kansas City type blues. Kansas City used to be quite a crossroads for the music.

Mark: What about your teaching Julius Hemphill?

John: I was not really teaching him “jazz” as such, at that time. You see I had just got out of college and was nineteen and I remember Julius as being one of those first people that I was teaching. I was teaching him at the junior high level.

Mark: When did you meet Bobby Bradford?

John: I met him when I got out here, about ’65, Bob was living in Pomona and teaching out there, and I was teaching out here (L.A.). I was very frustrated with what I was doing. I had come here in 1961 and had aspirations for playing my music and I thought I could get as much studio work as I wanted to do when I got out here, that’s what Frank Kofsky talks about in his book (referring to “Black Giants”, The World Publishing Co.). I play good lead alto, tenor, soprano, good flute and clarinet of course. I can play oboe and bassoon, all well enough to do session work. And as I said in that interview, the same is true now, playing well isn’t what it’s about, not only do you have to be a really fine player, but ah… the right people have to know you.

Mark: You work exclusively on clarinet now, and some soprano saxophone.


Lester Bowie, John Carter, unknown, Bobby Bradford | June 25, 1976 Los Angeles | Photo by Mark Weber


Left to Right: John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Rudolph Porter, Lester Bowie | June 25, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber


John Carter, clarinet; James Newton, bass clarinet | Century City Playhouse, Los Angeles | August 7, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

John: Yes. I think that certain personalities go with certain instruments. While I have known that all along it took me a long time to associate that with myself – because it takes a long time to try and see yourself, and I’m still trying. Like I know that I am not a tenor player, but I’ve spent a lot of time fooling with the tenor saxophone. I played tenor in college because that was the only way I could get into the dance band. In those days I couldn’t read as well as other fellows could but I could solo better than they could so they needed me in the band for that, (laughter) So I got in on tenor.

Mark: Where was that?

John: Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri).

Mark: Was that the celebrated jazz band school?

John: You’re thinking of North Texas State, I went there too. They were one of the first schools and one of the few now to offer a degree in jazz performance. Man, they have all kinds of bands there, the one o’clock band, the two o’ clock lab band, the thursday night band, all kinds. Their musicians regularly go from college into the big time bands. At any rate, during my first years here in L.A. I was trying to get somebody to play with me, you know I wanted to organize a group but the cats were playing other things, they weren’t interested in playing the kind of music I was going to play. So in a conversation with Ornette about it Bob was mentioned. Bob had been with Ornette up to ’62, then went back to Texas and taught for a couple of years, and then moved out here. Well so Bobby really wasn’t doing anything either, on any kind of regular basis so we got together, it was very natural for us to try to get a group together. We got hold of Bruz (Freeman) and Tom (Williamson) and started to get it going.

Mark: I was reading last night that Bruz played with Bird, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins.

John: And Sarah Vaughan. Oh man, he was playing good way back, Bruz was one of the first really free players. One of the forerunners of the free drum thing.

Mark: You conducted for Ornette at the UCLA Pauley Pavilion in 1967.

John: It was a suite that Ornette had just done for the Guggenheim Grant that he had just got, whatever year that was. A very difficult piece. The band was in the festival house orchestra, whoever was playing brought along their charts and we played them. Carmen McRae was on that and Clark Terry. Ornette’s piece was written for big band against his quintet.


John Carter & Oliver Lake | solos & duets concert Tuesday, January 3, 1978 @ Century City Playhouse | Photo by Mark Weber

Bobby & John at Smudge Pot, Claremont Colleges — November 17, 1978 — photo by Mark Weber

Mark: How big was the group?

John: Full group, five trumpets, four trombones, five reeds and a full rhythm section, and violins and cellos. He played that music a lot of times, he played it with the San Francisco Symphony, he played it in Europe and back in New York.

Mark: About 1973 you went to Europe, how long did you stay there?

John: Only about three weeks, 1 did a lot of running around and some playing there. When I got to London Bob came over and we played several places, played with all of the guys who played with him on that record he did for Emanem. You know Trevor Watts and John Stevens and those guys. I think Trevor and John are probably two of the real free players that I heard around London, both fine players. Then in Paris I played a couple of times, the highlights of that were one night when I sat in with Jaki Byard and one night with Kenny Clarke, strictly bebop. Or I just played what I could play, they probably didn’t think it was bebop, but we had a good time.

Mark: And when you got back from Europe you met Rudolph Porter to form the Art’s Center and your Sunday concerts.

John: Yes. We did that for two years before we had to move on, now of course we have Bob’s place (Bradford’s 34 N. Mentor, Pasadena).

Mark: Burt Lancaster even came down to Rudolph’s once, how did he like the music?

John: He really liked it. We were very surprised, we walked in one day and there he was with his skippers cap on and looking like Burt Lancaster. Oh, quite a few people used to drop by from time to time. During the first year Black Arthur Blythe used to drop by quite often. He and I have played a lot together over the years.

Mark: Do you make very much money off your records?

John: Very little. Made a little off the Revelation records this year. Never made any money off the Flying Dutchman records. Just got some front money, but that wasn’t supposed to be all, we were supposed to get a regular percentage of the records as they were sold wholesale.

Mark: How do you straighten out things like that?

John: Well, you have to be where the record company is, and you have to get a lawyer and a CPA and you have to request to audit their books, and it has to be done at a certain time during the year. So you see there are very few cats who can do that. Once you have done that you’ve got to sue, and you have to pay the CPA, and the lawyer. Well the average performer does not have the time or the inclination to do that, and then on top of all that you cannot be sure that they will show you the correct set of books anyhow.

Mark: There has to be a way that artists in this country can be subsidized regularly on a federal basis, because you cannot rely on the public to follow the artists exploring music on the vanguard and therefore getting enough money into their hands so that they can further develop and sustain themselves and their families. If people treated it like the “commodity” that it is, things would be a little different and so would their lives.

John: Well the government is doing a little better, I mean a little more than they used to, but I haven’t seen anything myself. There are the grants, the NBA and the states are giving a little more, probably led by New York state. So the government is starting to help out a little bit but it’s still far from really setting out to develop an artistic climate, far from it.

Interview taken August 31, 1976 at John’s Culver City home, a suburb of Los Angeles where he and his family have lived since 1961 when they moved here from his birthplace Fort Worth, Texas.


John Carter at home, 3900 Carol Court, Culver City 90230 | August 31, 1976 (during the CODA interview) | Photo by Mark Weber


John Carter & son Chris | @ The Little Big Horn, 34 N. Mentor, Pasadena | either December 1976 or January 1977 | Photo by Mark Weber


Gloria and John had 4 children: John Jr, Stanley, Karen, and Chris | here’s Chris, Gloria, Karen, and John Carter visiting my little alley pad in Upland, California | October 23, 1976 | John had drove out ( I lived an hour east of Culver City) to drop off one of his Porsches with my brother, who was his mechanic) | we also were discussing his album ECHOES OF RUDOLPH’S which was then in production | Photo by Mark Weber

John Carter at home, 3900 Carol Court, Culver City 90230 | August 31, 1976 (during the CODA interview) | Photo by Mark Weber

The interview was taken from CODA Jazz Magazine Issue October 1977

Dick Barnes | John Wallace Carter II, 1929 – 1991

Dick Barnes in his office at Pomona College, Claremont, California | March 11, 1995 | Photo by Mark Weber

wallace

John Carter at Little Big Horn, Pasadena, California | December 1976 | Photos by Mark Weber

John Carter at Little Big Horn, Pasadena, California | December 1976 | Photos by Mark Weber

John Carter at Little Big Horn, Pasadena, California | December 1976 | Photos by Mark Weber


John Carter & his beloved yellow Porsche | June 16, 1984 | Photo by Mark Weber

NELS CLINE & OUR AFFINITIES

I remember this photo very well because you gave me a print of it long ago! I think this may have been taken after a Quartet Music concert at the L.A. Press Club. We're sitting in Alex's old Chevy van. ------------------photo could have been taken by Eric Von Essen – May 15, 1982 ---- That’s Nels Cline & Mark Weber

I remember this photo very well because you gave me a print of it long ago! I think this may have been taken after a Quartet Music concert at the L.A. Press Club. We’re sitting in Alex’s old Chevy van. ——————photo could have been taken by Eric Von Essen – May 15, 1982 —- that’s  Nels Cline & Mark Weber

January 31, 2o19 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

Nels Cline & Our Affinities

I have no memory of when I first met Nels, it’s buried back there in the haze and smog of 1970s LA. Probably in the halcyon days of concerts at the Century City Playhouse every Sunday night where all us Out cats, and kitties, depended on for our sustenance.

We grew up in the days of Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island , Hogan’s Heroes, MAD magazine, Maynard G Krebs, Rat Fink, girls with beehive hairdos, summer vacation, Beatles, Motown. We were a shade too young for Monterey Pop Festival (1967) and Woodstock (1969) was too far away. Among everything else coming over the radio airwaves, Nels was into Roger McGuinn & the Byrds, and Jimi, among others. I was into Dylan, Judy Collins, and KPPC. Then I got deep into Jackson Pollock and Nels was into Robert Motherwell, we both read as much Henry Miller as we could find, his uncompromising nonconformist bohemian starving for his art appeals to young artist types fresh out of high school. Capt Beefheart was our God. Is it any wonder that when we first heard Cecil, Sun Ra, Ornette, Dolphy, Coltrane, we did a cannonball off the high dive right into Avantgardesville, we went bats. I always said we came into jazz by the back door: via Free Jazz.

By 1976 I was the Los Angeles correspondent for CODA and also a monthly tabloid called FOLLIES (edited by the great Terry Cannon). I want to thank Nels right here, that, over the years I’ve wrote the liner notes to only two-dozen albums, but Nels’ duet record with Eric Von Essen (ELEGIES, Nine Winds) was the first. A real vote of confidence in that meat grinder called Los Angeles, back when I thought I could make it as a professional writer. And now I have bragging rights that I wrote the notes to Nels’ first album. His concert with his quartet here in Albuquerque February 8 at Outpost Performance Space sold out months ago, I guess he’s famous now? and more power to him, as we used to say.

I sent Nels a whole gang of photos and he wrote about them.

The Century City Playhouse, on Pico Blvd. near Prosser Ave. and almost next to the Cheviot Hills golf course, where Lee Kaplan put on Sunday evening concerts by local improvisers/jazz artists as well as by some of the most important and/or obscure but now-legendary improvisers of the day. As a sort of extension of Rhino Records, where Lee and I both worked, I often worked the door and thus heard almost every concert. A partial list would include Wadada Leo Smith, Charlie Haden, Bobby Bradford, John Carter, James Newton, Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, Henry Kaiser, Eugene Chadbourne w/ John Zorn, Sonny Simmons, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Wayne Horvitz (with White Noise), Kurt McGettrick, David Friesen w/ John Stowell, Marty Ehrlich, Baikida Carroll, Horace Tapscott, Michael Gregory Jackson, Vinny Golia.... It was where local upstarts like yours truly/Quartet Music could start to play out, develop our music. And they did have plays there. I am actually surprised that "Bleacher Bums" and/or Jules Pfeiffer's "Little Murders" aren't on the marquee in this photo, since those productions ran there for eons. I was a little black box inside with a few theater seats and some folding chairs for closer views on the floor. A man named Ivan Spiegel ran it. It was the 70s! Interestingly, I learned in around 1983 or 84 when I met Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth/Free Kitten/Body/Head fame, among other things) that she and her family lived about 2 blocks from there then. -------------photo by Mark Weber ---- October 28, 1979 Los Angeles

The Century City Playhouse, on Pico Blvd. near Prosser Ave. and almost next to the Cheviot Hills golf course, where Lee Kaplan put on Sunday evening concerts by local improvisers/jazz artists as well as by some of the most important and/or obscure but now-legendary improvisers of the day. As a sort of extension of Rhino Records, where Lee and I both worked, I often worked the door and thus heard almost every concert. A partial list would include Wadada Leo Smith, Charlie Haden, Bobby Bradford, John Carter, James Newton, Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, Henry Kaiser, Eugene Chadbourne w/ John Zorn, Sonny Simmons, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Wayne Horvitz (with White Noise), Kurt McGettrick, David Friesen w/ John Stowell, Marty Ehrlich, Baikida Carroll, Horace Tapscott, Michael Gregory Jackson, Vinny Golia…. It was where local upstarts like yours truly/Quartet Music could start to play out, develop our music. And they did have plays there. I am actually surprised that “Bleacher Bums” and/or Jules Pfeiffer’s “Little Murders” aren’t on the marquee in this photo, since those productions ran there for eons. I was a little black box inside with a few theater seats and some folding chairs for closer views on the floor. A man named Ivan Spiegel ran it. It was the 70s! Interestingly, I learned in around 1983 or 84 when I met Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth/Free Kitten/Body/Head fame, among other things) that she and her family lived about 2 blocks from there then. ————-photo by Mark Weber —- October 28, 1979 Los Angeles

This is a rare shot of what Julius called The Janus Company -- a trio of Julius Hemphill (alto saxophone, maybe flute), Baikida EJ Carroll (trumpet), and my brother Alex on drums. They played a mere handful of concerts in the U.S. -- in Los Angeles (seen here at the Century City Playhouse), in Berkeley at a place called Mapenzi, and later in Philadelphia (at The Foxhole maybe?) with Abdul Wadud added on 'cello. I think this photo may portray the first gig Alex ever did with Julius. As was often the case, when someone asked creator/curator of the concert series Lee Kaplan who in Los Angeles should play drums on a concert, he recommended Alex, and Julius LOVED Alex's playing right away, which led to those future gigs. I think Alex was about 22 years old at the time (which means I was, too). They actually recorded an album for Lee's emerging Aten label which was never released. But they went on to tour Europe -- a tour which did not go especially well as I understood, owing to Julius' self-destructive impulses and some other complications. Alex and I had already been made aware of Baikida's playing from Julius' recording "Dogon A.D." from his St. Louis years, and Baikida was phenomenal on trumpet as well as being a sweet human. He also made some really fantastic records of his own around this time. Years after The Janus Company, after Julius had had to have one of his legs amputated at the knee (an alcoholic/diabetic gang green scenario), Julius took some down time at his aunt's in Oakland CA and got himself together, and during this time he contacted Alex about his desire to start an electric band with him, along with Jumma Santos (percussion), yours truly on guitar, and a bassist. Julius asked Alex who he recommended, and he suggested Steuart Liebig (who eventually started calling himself "Steubig" around this time for some reason I have never understood, in spite of his repeated explanations). This became Julius Arthur Hemphill and the JAH Band (as in Julius Arthur Hemphill...). We played some gigs in Hollywood, San Francisco, and Minneapolis (Minnesota arts funding!) and went to Europe -- my first time playing there. In fact, our very first concert there was recorded and was released in a severely edited form as "Georgia Blue" on the Minor Music label out of Germany. Perhaps it's unnecessary for me to say that this is NOT my best work on record -- I was extremely nervous and still trying to figure out how to play Julius' music -- and even Julius' chops were not quite up to speed yet after his break. But that was kind of typical in some way, as much of Julius' recorded work and career doesn't represent his strengths all that sufficiently. Julius could very effectively short-circuit his most advantageous opportunities. This said, he was a true musical genius, a kind and laconic and erudite gentleman. He was dauntingly handsome and charismatic (and about 6' 5" tall) -- a Texan by birth, who had played (usually very briefly before being fired for one reason or another) with Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, and god knows who else. His work in St. Louis with the Black Artists Group (BAG) was legendarily unique and badass and that reputation preceded his eventual move to New York. There are dozens of stories that I could tell you, and I only played with him and on and off for about 4 years. On subsequent European tours in '85 and '86 Julius added a second guitarist to the JAH Band -- the first being Bill Frisell, the second being Allan Jaffe. Yep! Julius took a lot of shit from certain of his immediate musical community and the press for doing this band, but he really didn't give a shit what anyone thought. Julius was a true artist, a quiet iconoclast. His writing for the World Saxophone Quartet, his later saxophone sextet, and his Big Band show the true genius of his composing, I feel. And then there were theatrical/multi-media works like "Roi Boyé and the Gotham Minstrels", wherein Julius, dressed in a silver lamé suit and white fedora, performed as the character Roi Boyé along with pre-recorded saxophones, flute, and narration.... In 1994, about 8 years after the JAH Band had ceased to play, I found myself in NYC recording on Mike Watt's massive record "Ball Hog or Tugboat?" and I decided to call him up and thank him for believing in my abilities back when few of his stature would have known about me or taken the chance to put a novice like me in their band. I knew he had been struggling with kidney disease so was often just sitting at home. We chatted and caught up a bit -- he was wryly funny and had a few sharp words with which he skewered the then-ubiquitous "young lions" on jazz neo-traditionalism. In another year he was gone. I am still waiting for the world to discover or rediscover his genius, but I know that his close and deep musician friends Ursula Oppens and Marty Ehrlich are taking special care to preserve his legacy and tend to an archive of his often brilliant work. I know that we are all individuals with unique qualities, etc. etc., but man, they/he/she/it really broke the mold when Julius Hemphill was created. ------------ photo by Mark Weber ---- September 11, 1977

This is a rare shot of what Julius called The Janus Company — a trio of Julius Hemphill (alto saxophone, maybe flute), Baikida EJ Carroll (trumpet), and my brother Alex on drums. They played a mere handful of concerts in the U.S. — in Los Angeles (seen here at the Century City Playhouse), in Berkeley at a place called Mapenzi, and later in Philadelphia (at The Foxhole maybe?) with Abdul Wadud added on ‘cello. I think this photo may portray the first gig Alex ever did with Julius. As was often the case, when someone asked creator/curator of the concert series Lee Kaplan who in Los Angeles should play drums on a concert, he recommended Alex, and Julius LOVED Alex’s playing right away, which led to those future gigs. I think Alex was about 22 years old at the time (which means I was, too). They actually recorded an album for Lee’s emerging Aten label which was never released. But they went on to tour Europe — a tour which did not go especially well as I understood, owing to Julius’ self-destructive impulses and some other complications. Alex and I had already been made aware of Baikida’s playing from Julius’ recording “Dogon A.D.” from his St. Louis years, and Baikida was phenomenal on trumpet as well as being a sweet human. He also made some really fantastic records of his own around this time.

Years after The Janus Company, after Julius had had to have one of his legs amputated at the knee (an alcoholic/diabetic gang green scenario), Julius took some down time at his aunt’s in Oakland CA and got himself together, and during this time he contacted Alex about his desire to start an electric band with him, along with Jumma Santos (percussion), yours truly on guitar, and a bassist. Julius asked Alex who he recommended, and he suggested Steuart Liebig (who eventually started calling himself “Steubig” around this time for some reason I have never understood, in spite of his repeated explanations). This became Julius Arthur Hemphill and the JAH Band (as in Julius Arthur Hemphill…). We played some gigs in Hollywood, San Francisco, and Minneapolis (Minnesota arts funding!) and went to Europe — my first time playing there. In fact, our very first concert there was recorded and was released in a severely edited form as “Georgia Blue” on the Minor Music label out of Germany. Perhaps it’s unnecessary for me to say that this is NOT my best work on record — I was extremely nervous and still trying to figure out how to play Julius’ music — and even Julius’ chops were not quite up to speed yet after his break. But that was kind of typical in some way, as much of Julius’ recorded work and career doesn’t represent his strengths all that sufficiently. Julius could very effectively short-circuit his most advantageous opportunities. This said, he was a true musical genius, a kind and laconic and erudite gentleman. He was dauntingly handsome and charismatic (and about 6′ 5″ tall) — a Texan by birth, who had played (usually very briefly before being fired for one reason or another) with Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, and god knows who else. His work in St. Louis with the Black Artists Group (BAG) was legendarily unique and badass and that reputation preceded his eventual move to New York. There are dozens of stories that I could tell you, and I only played with him and on and off for about 4 years. On subsequent European tours in ’85 and ’86 Julius added a second guitarist to the JAH Band — the first being Bill Frisell, the second being Allan Jaffe. Yep! Julius took a lot of shit from certain of his immediate musical community and the press for doing this band, but he really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. Julius was a true artist, a quiet iconoclast. His writing for the World Saxophone Quartet, his later saxophone sextet, and his Big Band show the true genius of his composing, I feel. And then there were theatrical/multi-media works like “Roi Boyé and the Gotham Minstrels”, wherein Julius, dressed in a silver lamé suit and white fedora, performed as the character Roi Boyé along with pre-recorded saxophones, flute, and narration….

In 1994, about 8 years after the JAH Band had ceased to play, I found myself in NYC recording on Mike Watt’s massive record “Ball Hog or Tugboat?” and I decided to call him up and thank him for believing in my abilities back when few of his stature would have known about me or taken the chance to put a novice like me in their band. I knew he had been struggling with kidney disease so was often just sitting at home. We chatted and caught up a bit — he was wryly funny and had a few sharp words with which he skewered the then-ubiquitous “young lions” on jazz neo-traditionalism. In another year he was gone. I am still waiting for the world to discover or rediscover his genius, but I know that his close and deep musician friends Ursula Oppens and Marty Ehrlich are taking special care to preserve his legacy and tend to an archive of his often brilliant work. I know that we are all individuals with unique qualities, etc. etc., but man, they/he/she/it really broke the mold when Julius Hemphill was created. ———— photo by Mark Weber —- September 11, 1977

Lee Kaplan, old High School friend, bassist in Alex and my High School band (which later included Trio drummer Michael Preussner on miscellaneous percussion as we attempted to create our own version of Dom Um Romao and/or Airto Moreira...). Lee got so into improvised music and so irritated that our musical heroes weren't playing in Los Angeles that he found a place - the Century City Playhouse, a grungy little black box of a place -- to attempt to present the music and truly managed to lure many legendary and nascent wizards to play there, in spite of his general social awkwardness and lack of familiarity with music "business". Here he is playing his Serge modular synthesizer, inspired by Richard Teitelbaum of Musica Elettronica Viva. Back then Lee almost never wore shoes and carried around a gallon plastic jug of Arrowhead water everywhere he went - years ahead of the bottled-water-as-personal-accoutrement craze! It looks as though Alex was playing with him that night or perhaps Lee borrowed his gongs. I do recall Lee owning that Thai gong and bell plate, though. WAY too much could be written about Lee/this period! ----------------------photo by Mark Weber --- November 26, 1978 Century City Playhouse

Lee Kaplan, old High School friend, bassist in Alex and my High School band (which later included Trio drummer Michael Preussner on miscellaneous percussion as we attempted to create our own version of Dom Um Romao and/or Airto Moreira…). Lee got so into improvised music and so irritated that our musical heroes weren’t playing in Los Angeles that he found a place – the Century City Playhouse, a grungy little black box of a place — to attempt to present the music and truly managed to lure many legendary and nascent wizards to play there, in spite of his general social awkwardness and lack of familiarity with music “business”. Here he is playing his Serge modular synthesizer, inspired by Richard Teitelbaum of Musica Elettronica Viva. Back then Lee almost never wore shoes and carried around a gallon plastic jug of Arrowhead water everywhere he went – years ahead of the bottled-water-as-personal-accoutrement craze! It looks as though Alex was playing with him that night or perhaps Lee borrowed his gongs. I do recall Lee owning that Thai gong and bell plate, though. WAY too much could be written about Lee/this period! ———————-photo by Mark Weber — November 26, 1978 Century City Playhouse

Horace.... This trio -- a brief moment - was quite SMOKIN', I think. It was so amazing to Alex and to me that this ever happened: Horace Tapscott with Roberto Miranda (who played with Horace for years and years) and my longhair brother Alex... I think that Peavey amp right in front on the right was Roberto's wacky bass rig at the time, set up way far away from him. Roberto had many eccentricities... Horace is a bit difficult to describe/explain to those who nothing about him (which may be more people than I care to think about). His regular concerts with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (please check my spelling) had a scope and significance beyond music. But musically speaking, it nurtured the talents of so many musicians, many of whom really stood out and the most famous of whom was Arthur Blythe. But Jesse Sharps, Fritz Wise, Donald Dean, Adele Sebastian (someday I suppose someone should write something about this talented and charismatic young flutist who died so young - a truly beautiful human)...a lot of wonderful players. Horace was like royalty or something. We were in awe of him. His earlier stance was pretty intense and a little fearsome, but he was really one of the warmest people, and he really represented art/jazz, his community, and the dignity and power of an African-American. His presence was almost staggering, his playing knotty and unpredictable. He was a real leader. And he could disarm anyone with that smile of his and with his embrace. Alex and I attended his funeral, which was in a huge church with a huge crowd attending. And I don't want this to sound weird, but looking at him in the open casket lying in state with a fez on.... he looked like a king. Regal. Stunning. I guess I'll stop there. ----- photo by Mark Weber – February 10, 1980 Century City Playhouse

Horace…. This trio — a brief moment – was quite SMOKIN’, I think. It was so amazing to Alex and to me that this ever happened: Horace Tapscott with Roberto Miranda (who played with Horace for years and years) and my longhair brother Alex… I think that Peavey amp right in front on the right was Roberto’s wacky bass rig at the time, set up way far away from him. Roberto had many eccentricities…

Horace is a bit difficult to describe/explain to those who know nothing about him (which may be more people than I care to think about). His regular concerts with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (please check my spelling) had a scope and significance beyond music. But musically speaking, it nurtured the talents of so many musicians, many of whom really stood out and the most famous of whom was Arthur Blythe. But Jesse Sharps, Fritz Wise, Donald Dean, Adele Sebastian (someday I suppose someone should write something about this talented and charismatic young flutist who died so young – a truly beautiful human)…a lot of wonderful players. Horace was like royalty or something. We were in awe of him. His earlier stance was pretty intense and a little fearsome, but he was really one of the warmest people, and he really represented art/jazz, his community, and the dignity and power of an African-American. His presence was almost staggering, his playing knotty and unpredictable. He was a real leader. And he could disarm anyone with that smile of his and with his embrace. Alex and I attended his funeral, which was in a huge church with a huge crowd attending. And I don’t want this to sound weird, but looking at him in the open casket lying in state with a fez on…. he looked like a king. Regal. Stunning. I guess I’ll stop there. —– photo by Mark Weber – February 10, 1980 Century City Playhouse

I wasn't at this concert -- Derek Bailey and Evan Parker at the Century City Playhouse -- and for the life of me I can't remember why, but I must have had some sort of family dinner or something or been out of town (the latter is unlikely, however). No way I had a conflicting gig back then! But Derek borrowed my Music Man amp. I sure wished I had heard this! Weirdly, Derek played solo years later at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica and again I loaned him my amp and AGAIN I couldn't attend the concert! What the-?! NO clue as to why I missed that one, either! It wasn't until around 2005 that I was able to hear Derek play 'live', and that was in Barcelona where he and his wife had moved to get Derek out of the dank cold of the UK. Derek was so lovely to finally chat with and I thanked him for his intrepid and exhaustive innovations, his bravery and brilliance. He passed away about a year later. Evan played solo at the Century City Playhouse back in those days and I did get to hear that. It was utterly remarkable. ---------------photo by Mark Weber ---------- October 15, 1980

I wasn’t at this concert — Derek Bailey and Evan Parker at the Century City Playhouse — and for the life of me I can’t remember why, but I must have had some sort of family dinner or something or been out of town (the latter is unlikely, however). No way I had a conflicting gig back then! But Derek borrowed my Music Man amp. I sure wished I had heard this! Weirdly, Derek played solo years later at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica and again I loaned him my amp and AGAIN I couldn’t attend the concert! What the-?! NO clue as to why I missed that one, either! It wasn’t until around 2005 that I was able to hear Derek play ‘live’, and that was in Barcelona where he and his wife had moved to get Derek out of the dank cold of the UK. Derek was so lovely to finally chat with and I thanked him for his intrepid and exhaustive innovations, his bravery and brilliance. He passed away about a year later.

Evan played solo at the Century City Playhouse back in those days and I did get to hear that. It was utterly remarkable. —————photo by Mark Weber ———- October 15, 1980

I still have this flyer in a box in Los Angeles. Spiral: mostly improvised full-on space music with Brian Horner, whom I met when I was going to Occidental College in the mid-70s. And Alex, of course. We ended up playing at Occidental a few years later (this show) I guess because Brian still had connections there through the electronic music studio there and with the late great pianist/teacher Richard Grayson. I suppose it should be noted that coming up back then and well into the late 80s almost every concert I played was something the musicians set up and attempted to publicize themselves. ------------------------ 1979 ---- Design by Alex Cline

I still have this flyer in a box in Los Angeles. Spiral: mostly improvised full-on space music with Brian Horner, whom I met when I was going to Occidental College in the mid-70s. And Alex, of course. We ended up playing at Occidental a few years later (this show) I guess because Brian still had connections there through the electronic music studio there and with the late great pianist/teacher Richard Grayson. I suppose it should be noted that coming up back then and well into the late 80s almost every concert I played was something the musicians set up and attempted to publicize themselves. ———————— 1979 —- Design by Alex Cline

This is really blowing my mind.... Roberto Miranda and Eric Von Essen - two very different types of bassists/musicians - conferring about...bass! So much to say about both these gentlemen... Roberto is still around and mostly teaching, I think. Eric died in 1997 in his early 40s from too much everything (except music). -------------------------photo by Mark Weber ---- August 25, 1979

This is really blowing my mind…. Roberto Miranda and Eric Von Essen – two very different types of bassists/musicians – conferring about…bass! So much to say about both these gentlemen… Roberto is still around and mostly teaching, I think. Eric died in 1997 in his early 40s from too much everything (except music). ————————-photo by Mark Weber —- August 25, 1979

Eric "preparing" his bass for a percussion jam or something with a sheet of music paper! --------------photo by Mark Weber of Eric Von Essen – May 15, 1982

Eric “preparing” his bass for a percussion jam or something with a sheet of music paper! ————–photo by Mark Weber of Eric Von Essen – May 15, 1982

Oh man... I made this flyer by blowing ink around with a hollowed out Bic pen... Very early concertizing with Eric, who was a true musical genius and who ended up being kind of my musical partner for almost 17 years, and Vinny, whom I met in 1975, I think. The Georges Sand Bookstore was right down the street from Rhino Records on Westwood Blvd., where I worked for almost 9 years. The bookstore was small and quite lovely, and the owner, Charlotte Gusay, was unerringly sweet and supportive of us and of creativity in general. I don't remember much about this concert, however. I DO recall playing there once with a bassist named Wayne Roberts for a book signing event for Leonard Feather, the Los Angeles Times' jazz critic who was syndicated all over and who had a radio show, too. It was really uncomfortable as no one showed up to have their book signed and Mr. Feather spent the awkward hour or two trying not to look at us and trying to charm Ms Gusay into...something that seemed sexual. Nothing happened, though!

Oh man… I made this flyer by blowing ink around with a hollowed out Bic pen… Very early concertizing with Eric, who was a true musical genius and who ended up being kind of my musical partner for almost 17 years, and Vinny, whom I met in 1975, I think. The Georges Sand Bookstore was right down the street from Rhino Records on Westwood Blvd., where I worked for almost 9 years. The bookstore was small and quite lovely, and the owner, Charlotte Gusay, was unerringly sweet and supportive of us and of creativity in general. I don’t remember much about this concert, however. I DO recall playing there once with a bassist named Wayne Roberts for a book signing event for Leonard Feather, the Los Angeles Times’ jazz critic who was syndicated all over and who had a radio show, too. It was really uncomfortable as no one showed up to have their book signed and Mr. Feather spent the awkward hour or two trying not to look at us and trying to charm Ms Gusay into…something that seemed sexual. Nothing happened, though!

I'm seeing not only details of the drums/percussion set that Alex created for this group (Chinese tom toms, roto toms, smaller/quiter/darker old Zildjian cymbals, shakers, etc.) but also my cuica that our parents brought from Brazil along with a bevy of other samba instruments and a berimbau. I guess I played cuica during the concert at some point! We were very inspired by Oregon (Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, Collin Wolcott) and Miles' Quintet with Wayne, Herbie, Ron, Tony, among others..... --------------photo by Mark Weber --- June 29, 1980 Century City Playhouse

I’m seeing not only details of the drums/percussion set that Alex created for this group (Chinese tom toms, roto toms, smaller/quiter/darker old Zildjian cymbals, shakers, etc.) but also my cuica that our parents brought from Brazil along with a bevy of other samba instruments and a berimbau. I guess I played cuica during the concert at some point! We were very inspired by Oregon (Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, Collin Wolcott) and Miles’ Quintet with Wayne, Herbie, Ron, Tony, among others….. ————–photo by Mark Weber — June 29, 1980 Century City Playhouse

As much as you are bummed out by this photograph's poor film quality, it afford's a good look at Alex's unique setup. I am also seeing the stool that I took everywhere for these concerts as well as the pillow I always brought (!!) I am playing my 1952 Martin 00-17 -- probably still my favorite acoustic 6-string guitar and which I still own (of course). Eric loved this guitar, too. I bought it at Walecki's Westwood Music in maybe 1977 for $225 from Fred Walecki himself -- a remarkable man and back then a rather influential figure equipment-wise in the worlds of artists like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George... He was always really nice to me. Around 1978 or 79 I also bought a Taylor 12-string from him (yep -- still have it!). The company was just starting up then and the guitar is fantastic. For many years it remained the most expensive guitar I ever bought - it cost $950 including hardshell case. I took little chunks out my Rhino Records salary every week for so long trying to pay for it that my parents finally loaned me the money to get it so I could at least play the thing! Fred was so kind to let me do that, though. Fred has since passed away. He was quite an amazing character. -------photo by Mark Weber @ LA Press Club, 600 N Vermont Avenue --- Quartet Music on a double-bill with Joanne Grauer Trio – May 15, 1982 (yes, this was some horrid bulk film US Army surplus I got for $4/a roll of 100 feet ----- I was shooting it before realized it was junk)

As much as you are bummed out by this photograph’s poor film quality, it afford’s a good look at Alex’s unique setup. I am also seeing the stool that I took everywhere for these concerts as well as the pillow I always brought (!!) I am playing my 1952 Martin 00-17 — probably still my favorite acoustic 6-string guitar and which I still own (of course). Eric loved this guitar, too. I bought it at Walecki’s Westwood Music in maybe 1977 for $225 from Fred Walecki himself — a remarkable man and back then a rather influential figure equipment-wise in the worlds of artists like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George… He was always really nice to me. Around 1978 or 79 I also bought a Taylor 12-string from him (yep — still have it!). The company was just starting up then and the guitar is fantastic. For many years it remained the most expensive guitar I ever bought – it cost $950 including hardshell case. I took little chunks out my Rhino Records salary every week for so long trying to pay for it that my parents finally loaned me the money to get it so I could at least play the thing! Fred was so kind to let me do that, though. Fred has since passed away. He was quite an amazing character. ——-photo by Mark Weber @ LA Press Club, 600 N Vermont Avenue — Quartet Music on a double-bill with Joanne Grauer Trio – May 15, 1982 (yes, this was some horrid bulk film US Army surplus I got for $4/a roll of 100 feet —– I was shooting it before realized it was junk)

This was "Tim Berne & Alberan" -- Tim, Alex, Roberto Miranda, me -- playing at the now legendary/infamous Cathay De Grande in Hollywood beneath a Chinese restaurant. It was a punk haven/hell. Phast Phreddie Patterson booked us there but couldn't make it to the show (he was a regular DJ and charismatic presence there). When we arrived the floors were completely wet with almost an inch of water because during the previous night's punk rock show some kids had ripped the latrines out of the wall in the men's room... squish...squish...squish... I recall that I met Kid Congo Powers upstairs that night, that Kristine McKenna was in the audience. But I can't for the life of me remember what "Alberan" is/was. This band played maybe one other time, in Santa Barbara. ------------photo by Mark Weber ---- February 17, 1981 ----------- You asked whether the Strat in that Alberan photo was my first one. So, to that question: The Stratocaster I am playing here was purchased from a man named Lew Camerata (maybe misspelled), the lead guitarist in The Zippers, a sort of punk-inspired power pop-ish band ubiquitous in Southern California back then (my then-wife DD Faye managed the band and her sister Danielle played bass with them). It was a horrible guitar but I had no clue at the time -- and I am still pretty clueless about guitars and other things... Anyway, this was a 70s 3-bolt with a Kahler tremolo added plus toggle switches replacing the slider pickup selector. I think it had Seymour Duncan pickups (which I generally adore to this day). I can feel guitar geeks shuddering as I write this! I bought it to play in a Strat-centric rock/funk band called BLOC, which was formed by my pal (bassist) Steuart Liebig and in which I played for almost 8 years. A guitar repair fellow once saw it backstage at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood and, after asking whose it was, asked me whether it bothered me that the strings were not only uneven widths from each other but also uneven heights! I hadn't noticed....

This was “Tim Berne & Alberan” — Tim, Alex, Roberto Miranda, me — playing at the now legendary / infamous Cathay De Grande in Hollywood beneath a Chinese restaurant. It was a punk haven/hell. Phast Phreddie Patterson booked us there but couldn’t make it to the show (he was a regular DJ and charismatic presence there). When we arrived the floors were completely wet with almost an inch of water because during the previous night’s punk rock show some kids had ripped the latrines out of the wall in the men’s room… squish…squish…squish… I recall that I met Kid Congo Powers upstairs that night, that Kristine McKenna was in the audience. But I can’t for the life of me remember what “Alberan” is/was. This band played maybe one other time, in Santa Barbara. ————photo by Mark Weber —- February 17, 1981 ———–

You asked whether the Strat in that Alberan photo was my first one. So, to that question:

The Stratocaster I am playing here was purchased from a man named Lew Camerata (maybe misspelled), the lead guitarist in The Zippers, a sort of punk-inspired power pop-ish band ubiquitous in Southern California back then (my then-wife DD Faye managed the band and her sister Danielle played bass with them). It was a horrible guitar but I had no clue at the time — and I am still pretty clueless about guitars and other things… Anyway, this was a 70s 3-bolt with a Kahler tremolo added plus toggle switches replacing the slider pickup selector. I think it had Seymour Duncan pickups (which I generally adore to this day). I can feel guitar geeks shuddering as I write this! I bought it to play in a Strat-centric rock/funk band called BLOC, which was formed by my pal (bassist) Steuart Liebig and in which I played for almost 8 years. A guitar repair fellow once saw it backstage at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood and, after asking whose it was, asked me whether it bothered me that the strings were not only uneven widths from each other but also uneven heights! I hadn’t noticed….

My first wife DD and I used to go hear The Blasters every time we could. They were amazing! Crazed energy but still in control, with Phil Alvin's classic voice and Dave Alvin's wonderful songs, going full-tilt. Here seen with Gene Taylor on piano, who joined up with them a little later (along with periodic visits from saxophonist Lee Allen). So damn good, classic, ROCKIN'! --------------photo by Mark Weber at The Whisky-A-Go-Go --- September 11, 1981 ----Nels had sent me a postcard that said: If you don’t go see The Blasters you’re blowing it! Nels was immersing himself deeply into the Hollywood scene and the outskirts of punk, of which, I knew zero. I was up in the Valley at Donte’s and Carmelo’s checking out the 1950s.

Nels sent me a postcard that said: If you don’t go see The Blasters you’re blowing it! Nels was immersing himself deeply into the Hollywood scene and the outskirts of punk, of which, I knew zero. I was up in the Valley at Donte’s and Carmelo’s checking out the 1950s. [ I probably still have the postcard, I’ll look in my Nels Cline file ]———————–mw. The Blasters @ Whisky-a-Go-Go – Sept 11, 1981 ————photo by MW

My first wife DD and I used to go hear The Blasters every time we could. They were amazing! Crazed energy but still in control, with Phil Alvin’s classic voice and Dave Alvin’s wonderful songs, going full-tilt. Here seen with Gene Taylor on piano, who joined up with them a little later (along with periodic visits from saxophonist Lee Allen). So damn good, classic, ROCKIN’! ————–photo by Mark Weber at The Whisky-A-Go-Go — September 11, 1981

Quartet Music at the Century City Playhouse? This may have been our first gig. Eric Von Essen, Jeff Gauthier, Alex, me... We soldiered on for about 11 years until there was just not enough interest and when Eric became increasingly immersed in jazz lexicon and stopped composing for awhile. He became a first call jazz bassist as a result and I went back into "rock" - a natural and tensionless drift apart. Jeff went on to create Cryptogramophone Records and is still one of my best friends - one of the kindest and most generous friends a lad could ever have in life. --------------photo by Mark Weber @ Century City Playhouse ---- June 29, 1980

Quartet Music at the Century City Playhouse? This may have been our first gig. Eric Von Essen, Jeff Gauthier, Alex, me… We soldiered on for about 11 years until there was just not enough interest and when Eric became increasingly immersed in jazz lexicon and stopped composing for awhile. He became a first call jazz bassist as a result and I went back into “rock” – a natural and tensionless drift apart. Jeff went on to create Cryptogramophone Records and is still one of my best friends – one of the kindest and most generous friends a lad could ever have in life. ————–photo by Mark Weber @ Century City Playhouse —- June 29, 1980

Ah - Too bad this isn't one of my flyers. This one was made by the club. I did monthly flyers - mostly handwritten at first - with my descriptions of the performers and their music. I still have copies of them in my storage space in Los Angeles, and upon looking through them a few years ago before I moved to New York I was amazed at who played. Eugene Chadbourne was a special out-of-town guest on this particular week and needed as much dough as we could accrue (my concert series New Music Monday was a door gig), so my Trio opened and then handed the stage over to Eugene, who stayed at the house my then wife DD and I lived in mere blocks away. He drank a lot of grapefruit juice... He also went to a tape copying place and made about 25 copies of a 'live' recording of a prior gig somewhere that someone had just given him, xeroxed some info, bought some baggies, and assembled a little package in our living room. Then he sold them at the Alligator Lounge show! Eugene is a national treasure to my mind. There's no one like him!

Ah – Too bad this isn’t one of my flyers. This one was made by the club. I did monthly flyers – mostly handwritten at first – with my descriptions of the performers and their music. I still have copies of them in my storage space in Los Angeles, and upon looking through them a few years ago before I moved to New York I was amazed at who played. Eugene Chadbourne was a special out-of-town guest on this particular week and needed as much dough as we could accrue (my concert series New Music Monday was a door gig), so my Trio opened and then handed the stage over to Eugene, who stayed at the house my then wife DD and I lived in mere blocks away. He drank a lot of grapefruit juice… He also went to a tape copying place and made about 25 copies of a ‘live’ recording of a prior gig somewhere that someone had just given him, xeroxed some info, bought some baggies, and assembled a little package in our living room. Then he sold them at the Alligator Lounge show! Eugene is a national treasure to my mind. There’s no one like him!

Mary and I are friends -- she and Tomas (Fujiwara) live rather close to Yuka and me in Brooklyn. I sometimes run into her at a nearby market. She s amazing on every level -- a totally unique voice on the instrument as well as a monster reader/technician. It was Ches Smith who first exposed me to her playing maybe 15 years ago, when he was still living in the Bay Area. It was a track on some compilation record -- possibly the first and only evidence of her playing recorded at that time, before Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant. I was immediately enthusiastic. I feel lucky that she and I have been able to play together every once in awhile, but I feel even luckier that I/we get to hear her playing and writing. -------photo by Mark Weber with Mary Halvorson visiting the Thursday jazz show at KUNM – December 19, 2o13 ---- When I saw that she had a sheet on “Ida Lupino” I beseeched her to play it, and she did, even though she confessed she was still learning it’s mysteries, what a trouper, she has since recorded it proper and put it on a CD -------- It was Nels years ago that pulled my coat as to what a beauty of tune “Ida Lupino” is, written by Carla Bley

Mary and I are friends — she and Tomas (Fujiwara) live rather close to Yuka and me in Brooklyn. I sometimes run into her at a nearby market. She s amazing on every level — a totally unique voice on the instrument as well as a monster reader/technician. It was Ches Smith who first exposed me to her playing maybe 15 years ago, when he was still living in the Bay Area. It was a track on some compilation record — possibly the first and only evidence of her playing recorded at that time, before Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant. I was immediately enthusiastic. I feel lucky that she and I have been able to play together every once in awhile, but I feel even luckier that I/we get to hear her playing and writing. ——-photo by Mark Weber with Mary Halvorson visiting the Thursday jazz show at KUNM – December 19, 2o13 —- When I saw that she had a sheet on “Ida Lupino” I beseeched her to play it, and she did, even though she confessed she was still learning it’s mysteries, what a trouper, she has since recorded it proper and put it on a CD ——– It was Nels years ago that pulled my coat as to what a beauty of a tune “Ida Lupino” is, written by Carla Bley

Interesting zit or something on my nostril....!!! So I guess I'm maybe 42 years old or something here. That's me over 20 years ago: every necklace filled with personal significance.... Carla Bozulich made me the bead necklace - I can now see that as a harbinger of our eventually falling in love and being together for many years... The yellow cat I.D. necklace was a spare from "Rincy" (Nancy Sandercock), the drummer from one of my all-time favorite bands, The Polar Goldie Cats (each member of the band wore one of these with their band moniker on it). I felt so honored to have been given Rincy's spare... And the heart, the Om...they're just me, my things.... ---------photo by Mark Weber ---- June 28, 1997

Interesting zit or something on my nostril….!!! So I guess I’m maybe 42 years old or something here.

That’s me over 20 years ago: every necklace filled with personal significance…. Carla Bozulich made me the bead necklace – I can now see that as a harbinger of our eventually falling in love and being together for many years… The yellow cat I.D. necklace was a spare from “Rincy” (Nancy Sandercock), the drummer from one of my all-time favorite bands, The Polar Goldie Cats (each member of the band wore one of these with their band moniker on it). I felt so honored to have been given Rincy’s spare… And the heart, the Om…they’re just me, my things…. ———photo by Mark Weber —- June 28, 1997

This is Fibbers drummer Kevin Fitzgerald (he later went on to play a lot with Circle Jerks and Eleni Mandel, among others - a massively talented multi-instrumentalist/songwriter, though few know he possesses such skills), our then-crew person (on the right - I am embarrassed to say that I am blanking on her name now) and one of the members of The Eyeliners - a classic garage rock girl trio who were really fantastic and ever so crushworthy. I am blanking on her name, too - sorry! I wonder what happened to this Albuquerque treasure. --------- photo by Mark Weber ---- September 26, 1997, the day after the Geraldine Fibbers played The Launchpad, Albuquerque

This is Fibbers drummer Kevin Fitzgerald (he later went on to play a lot with Circle Jerks and Eleni Mandel, among others – a massively talented multi-instrumentalist/songwriter, though few know he possesses such skills), our then-crew person (on the right – I am embarrassed to say that I am blanking on her name now) and one of the members of The Eyeliners – a classic garage rock girl trio who were really fantastic and ever so crushworthy. I am blanking on her name, too – sorry! I wonder what happened to this Albuquerque treasure. ——— photo by Mark Weber —- September 26, 1997, the day after the Geraldine Fibbers played The Launchpad, Albuquerque

I am still happy and rather moved when someone comes up to me and tells me that they are a Fibbers fan. I was a huge fan before I ever played with them, so I get it! It was Mike Watt who introduced me to them/their music. The passion and emotion that Carla and Co. brought to bear were almost excruciating -- certainly exhilarating - and not about guitar solos/histrionics at all. It was a mini-orchestra. Much drama and lots of blood, sweat, tears... I could say so much more. But what shirt am I wearing?? I don't remember that one! The Fibbers were visionary thrifters and had cool style, and they freed me to try outfits/looks that I never would have dared to attempt previously. In many way, my association with them had the effect of personal liberation. I became much more MYSELF in many ways, and I am grateful for this. -------------------photo by Mark Weber – September 25, 1997 the Geraldine Fibbers band in Albuquerque

I am still happy and rather moved when someone comes up to me and tells me that they are a Fibbers fan. I was a huge fan before I ever played with them, so I get it! It was Mike Watt who introduced me to them/their music. The passion and emotion that Carla and Co. brought to bear were almost excruciating — certainly exhilarating – and not about guitar solos/histrionics at all. It was a mini-orchestra. Much drama and lots of blood, sweat, tears… I could say so much more. But what shirt am I wearing?? I don’t remember that one! The Fibbers were visionary thrifters and had cool style, and they freed me to try outfits/looks that I never would have dared to attempt previously. In many way, my association with them had the effect of personal liberation. I became much more MYSELF in many ways, and I am grateful for this. ——————-photo by Mark Weber – September 25, 1997 the Geraldine Fibbers band in Albuquerque

This is an amusing portrait of Fibbers bassist William Tutton wearing some wacky sunglasses that Carla may have bought for me - they were some weird designer deal that made us all chuckle. I had them for years and they may still be in a box somewhere. Bill was an amazing force in the Fibbers, playing the loudest upright bass in Christendom, and always coming up with fresh-sounding bass lines/parts. He's still in Los Angeles and has started getting back into playing more. I love Bill. ----------------photo by Mark Weber ---- September 26, 1997

This is an amusing portrait of Fibbers bassist William Tutton wearing some wacky sunglasses that Carla may have bought for me – they were some weird designer deal that made us all chuckle. I had them for years and they may still be in a box somewhere. Bill was an amazing force in the Fibbers, playing the loudest upright bass in Christendom, and always coming up with fresh-sounding bass lines/parts. He’s still in Los Angeles and has started getting back into playing more. I love Bill. —————-photo by Mark Weber —- September 26, 1997

I booked every Monday at The Alligator Lounge for about 4 years, and when we were all in town/available, which was most Mondays, my Trio played cleanup while also generally being the main draw for the evening. I feel bad now (I felt bad then, too) that because this was a door gig situation and I had to pay two other "acts" Bob Mair (bass) and Michael Preussner (drums) didn't make shit in terms of money. And after doing the monthly calendar and mailing myself - I was really poor in those days, too -- I lost money most months. But still, Bob and Michael weren't making much and they deserved a lot. They really hung in there with me through thick and thin. Well, at least until they didn't/couldn't. -------photo by Mark Weber @ Alligator Lounge, Santa Monica ------ November 25, 1996

I booked every Monday at The Alligator Lounge for about 4 years, and when we were all in town / available, which was most Mondays, my Trio played cleanup while also generally being the main draw for the evening. I feel bad now (I felt bad then, too) that because this was a door gig situation and I had to pay two other “acts” Bob Mair (bass) and Michael Preussner (drums) didn’t make shit in terms of money. And after doing the monthly calendar and mailing myself – I was really poor in those days, too — I lost money most months. But still, Bob and Michael weren’t making much and they deserved a lot. They really hung in there with me through thick and thin. Well, at least until they didn’t/couldn’t. ——-photo by Mark Weber @ Alligator Lounge, Santa Monica —— November 25, 1996

Yeah - - - We set up really close together as though on a boat. Watt didn't shave his beard until all four tours were finished. The last show was at The Viper Room in West Hollywood. Watt shaved the beard off (well, almost all of it) onstage. Petra Haden sat in on that show. I am playing the same Jazzmaster that's in this photo to this day with Wilco. It's my favorite, and I bought it from Watt in '95. I call it "The Watt"... . . . photo by Mark Weber ---- September 23, 1998

Yeah – – – We set up really close together as though on a boat. Watt didn’t shave his beard until all four tours were finished. The last show was at The Viper Room in West Hollywood. Watt shaved the beard off (well, almost all of it) onstage. Petra Haden sat in on that show. I am playing the same Jazzmaster that’s in this photo to this day with Wilco. It’s my favorite, and I bought it from Watt in ’95. I call it “The Watt”… . . . photo by Mark Weber —- September 23, 1998

1998 - the last tour Mike Watt did (number 4 of 4) playing "Contemplating the Engine Room", his first "opera", and the only tour that I did playing the piece. Though Steven Hodges and I are on the record (still one of my favorite sessions - absolutely brilliantly conceived by Watt - and a record few seem to have heard to this day even though it was released on Columbia Records). Bob Lee played drums on tours 3 and 4, I think, and he is just such a treasure - rock 'n roll power but with versatility and a tireless work ethic on the road. Joe Baiza played guitar instead of me on the first 3 tours - I had joined The Geraldine Fibbers by late '96, but by late '98 they were no more. So back into The Boat (Watt's van) I went. It was a tough tour but I can safely say that we kicked ass. ------------photo by Mark Weber @ The Launchpad, Albuquerque – September 23, 1998

1998 – the last tour Mike Watt did (number 4 of 4) playing “Contemplating the Engine Room”, his first “opera”, and the only tour that I did playing the piece. Though Steven Hodges and I are on the record (still one of my favorite sessions – absolutely brilliantly conceived by Watt – and a record few seem to have heard to this day even though it was released on Columbia Records). Bob Lee played drums on tours 3 and 4, I think, and he is just such a treasure – rock ‘n roll power but with versatility and a tireless work ethic on the road. Joe Baiza played guitar instead of me on the first 3 tours – I had joined The Geraldine Fibbers by late ’96, but by late ’98 they were no more. So back into The Boat (Watt’s van) I went. It was a tough tour but I can safely say that we kicked ass. ————photo by Mark Weber @ The Launchpad, Albuquerque – September 23, 1998

My old Trio: Bob Mair on bass and Michael Preussner on drums, all the way from Los Angeles to play in my favorite city, New York City. I think it's safe to say that the chemistry of this rather long-running band was starting to get a bit raggedy after my tours with Michael in Mike Watt & the Crew of the Flying Saucer in '95 and my own treks with The Geraldine Fibbers in '96 and '97. But we did our best, and maybe even "killed"... I can't remember at this point. It was the second (and last) time this band played NYC, the first being at the original Knitting Factory on Houston on a bill with Tim Berne's Blood Count. Yes! ------------------Nel Cline Trio ---- June 28, 1997 South Street Seaport Park NYC – photo by Mark Weber

My old Trio: Bob Mair on bass and Michael Preussner on drums, all the way from Los Angeles to play in my favorite city, New York City. I think it’s safe to say that the chemistry of this rather long-running band was starting to get a bit raggedy after my tours with Michael in Mike Watt & the Crew of the Flying Saucer in ’95 and my own treks with The Geraldine Fibbers in ’96 and ’97. But we did our best, and maybe even “killed”… I can’t remember at this point. It was the second (and last) time this band played NYC, the first being at the original Knitting Factory on Houston on a bill with Tim Berne’s Blood Count. Yes! ——————Nel Cline Trio —- June 28, 1997 South Street Seaport Park NYC – photo by Mark Weber

Another Trio shot. Back then I always played a 1966 Fender Jaguar as my "jazz" guitar. Pretty funny, right?! Steuart Liebig called it my "jazz slab.” I had earmarked "The Watt" (my Jazzmaster) as my "rock" instrument, so I guess that's why I'm not playing it here. I am silly sometimes! ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- June 28, 1997

Another Trio shot. Back then I always played a 1966 Fender Jaguar as my “jazz” guitar. Pretty funny, right?! Steuart Liebig called it my “jazz slab.” I had earmarked “The Watt” (my Jazzmaster) as my “rock” instrument, so I guess that’s why I’m not playing it here. I am silly sometimes! —- photo by Mark Weber —- June 28, 1997

Andy Laster's Hydra kicked off the afternoon with their complicated and ultra-creative music. I had already met Herb Robertson (trumpet) then because he had played a lot with our old friend Tim Berne. I think that's Ratzo Harris on bass, right? And I recall Gregg (Bendian) nudging me and saying, as they played, something like "check out the drummer Tom Rainey. He is incredible, man!" So true! And you will hear him next month in my band, over 20 years later! He is a true master. And I ended up performing a recording with Andy Laster a couple of years ago with Satoko Fuji's big band. Amazing.... . . . June 28, 1997 photo by Mark Weber

Andy Laster’s Hydra kicked off the afternoon with their complicated and ultra-creative music. I had already met Herb Robertson (trumpet) then because he had played a lot with our old friend Tim Berne. I think that’s Ratzo Harris on bass, right? And I recall Gregg (Bendian) nudging me and saying, as they played, something like “check out the drummer Tom Rainey. He is incredible, man!” So true! And you will hear him next month in my band, over 20 years later! He is a true master. And I ended up performing a recording with Andy Laster a couple of years ago with Satoko Fuji’s big band. Amazing…. . . . June 28, 1997 photo by Mark Weber

I played this set as well as one with my Trio that day as part of the jazz festival. Then Trio drummer Michael Preussner and I went to play with Thurston Moore at The Cooler in the meat packing zone on W 14th St. A lot of playing that day! Alex generally played in Gregg Bendian's Interzone (seen here), but couldn't make the trip to New York, so the great Michael Sarin played. Mark Dresser on bass - an amazing combo! This band - with many different bassists - went for several years and made some good records, even toured a little. Gregg leading, composing, and flying around the vibes like the maniac he is. ------------- photo by Mark Weber ---- June 28, 1997 South Street Seaport Park NYC

I played this set as well as one with my Trio that day as part of the jazz festival. Then Trio drummer Michael Preussner and I went to play with Thurston Moore at The Cooler in the meat packing zone on W 14th St. A lot of playing that day! Alex generally played in Gregg Bendian’s Interzone (seen here), but couldn’t make the trip to New York, so the great Michael Sarin played. Mark Dresser on bass – an amazing combo! This band – with many different bassists – went for several years and made some good records, even toured a little. Gregg leading, composing, and flying around the vibes like the maniac he is. ————- photo by Mark Weber —- June 28, 1997 South Street Seaport Park NYC

A guitar for Nels -------------- line drawing by MW

A guitar for Nels ————– line drawing by MW

Lateral Thinking

When did irony creep into the human mind? Did Neanderthal have irony? It occupies the area of consciousness where symbolic language came on board: words, circa 150,000 years ago. I’m a believer that children invented language, and irony is not anything a child’s mind can ascertain. So, part of understanding irony, is that you have to have some years under your belt. It is so much more than the dictionary definition: Saying one thing mockingly to mean another. If it was merely deceptive talk then the language of war could bear investigation, or Mother Goose for that matter. Then you have the psychoanalysts who assert that irony is a form of passive aggression. There is a school of thought in linguistics that believes that words come before meaning (took me years to grasp that one), that the meaning accrued around the utterance. Which is why the meaning within words changes over time. To me, this photo is ironic: The rueful juxtaposition of nature vs the industrial mechanical world, and the sadness thereof. In the old books, certainly the Greeks used irony; and the ancient Chinese used it very subtly, like a quiet breeze; I can’t think of any irony in Anglo-Saxon, certainly none in Beowulf or the northern myths; Aesop the Ethiopian, yes; (For the Greeks irony was more like three-card monte); in India? Is there irony in the Vedas or Upanishads, possibly in the Mahabharata, but nothing in the Dhammapada, Buddha was a straight shooter; Chaucer? O gawd, yes; The Decameron (1350) is an ocean of irony, irony as polite double-talk: Is there irony in the Pentateuch? I’ll have to look. Is irony pejorative? Can it be otherwise? Irony certainly betokens a less innocent time. I shouldn’t think parody is related to irony, that’s a little more overt. Irony hides in the wink and shrug. Nor is it satire or euphemism or burlesque. Irony is shadow, literally. Maybe all existence is irony? Not as a joke, but futile. The existential dilemma. -- Photo by Mark Weber --------- May 1978

When did irony creep into the human psyche? Did Neanderthal have irony? It occupies the area of consciousness where symbolic language came on board: words, circa 150,000 years ago. I’m a believer that children invented language, and irony is not anything a child’s mind can ascertain. So, part of understanding irony, is that you have to have some years under your belt. It is so much more than the dictionary definition: Saying one thing mockingly to mean another. If it was merely deceptive talk then the language of war could bear investigation, or Mother Goose for that matter. Then you have the psychoanalysts who assert that irony is a form of passive aggression. There is a school of thought in linguistics that believes that words come before meaning (took me years to grasp that one), that the meaning accrued around the utterance. Which is why the meaning within words changes over time. To me, this photo is ironic: The rueful juxtaposition of nature vs the industrial mechanical world, and the sadness thereof. In the old books, certainly the Greeks used irony; and the ancient Chinese used it very subtly, like a quiet breeze; I can’t think of any irony in Anglo-Saxon, certainly none in Beowulf or the northern myths; Aesop the Ethiopian, yes; (For the Greeks irony was more like three-card monte); in India? Is there irony in the Vedas or Upanishads, possibly in the Mahabharata, but nothing in the Dhammapada, Buddha was a straight shooter; Chaucer? O gawd, yes; The Decameron (1350) is an ocean of irony, irony as polite double-talk: Is there irony in the Pentateuch? I’ll have to look. Is irony pejorative? Can it be otherwise? Irony certainly betokens a less innocent time. I shouldn’t think parody is related to irony, that’s a little more overt. Irony hides in the wink and shrug. Nor is it satire or euphemism or burlesque. Irony is shadow, literally. Maybe all existence is irony? Not as a joke, but futile. The existential dilemma. — Photo by Mark Weber ——— May 1978

January 24, 2o19 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

LATERAL THINKING

Come back to it
Some other time
Time being important, or rather:
Timing
Even as everything being in dispute
Time shapes it all, or
seems to, gawd don’t
stumble, like I did this morning
innocently, into “evolutionary
musicology” fat book, to refresh
memory on the origins of music,
Not a lot of agreement in that field,
and a whole lot of specialized jargon
one must decipher and/or disregard
I go outside for a minute and our
kitty cat comes over and rubs my legs
and I say “Are you enjoying this
cultural moment we’re having?” she keeps rubbing
hoping I’ll give her
her 3rd breakfast (not going to happen, I need
delve back into those anthro books)
the brain telescopes associative extrapolation:
. . . cultural moment? are we enjoying it?
Well, one hears talk of “checks and balances”
Isn’t it about time some of those kicked in?
Well, it all comes back to timing I suppose

1984 Albuquerque (Annapurna’s Vegetarian World Cafe at this location these days)

1984 Albuquerque (Annapurna’s Vegetarian World Cafe at this location these days)

Trombonist George McMullen had only recently relocated from LA to NYC when this photo was taken ----- I know him through our mutual friend Bill Plake (saxophonist) and Carol Liebowitz had run into him somewhere in town and invited him to Connie’s jam session ---- I introduced them and CC asked if George wanted to play something together ---- Studio 410 at 475 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn ---- November 16, 2o14 ---- Connie had told me how she so loves trombones and how infrequently she gets to play with them

Trombonist George McMullen had only recently relocated from LA to NYC when this photo was taken —– I know him through our mutual friend Bill Plake (saxophonist) and Carol Liebowitz had run into him somewhere in town and invited him to Connie’s jam session —- I introduced them and CC asked if George wanted to play something together —- Studio 410 at 475 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn —- November 16, 2o14 —- Connie had told me how she so loves trombones and how infrequently she gets to play with them.

Alison Miller – October 9, 2o14 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Alison Miller – October 9, 2o14 —- photo by Mark Weber

Nick Lyons & Birgitta Flick ---- November 16, 2o14 at Connie Crothers studio in Williamsburg NY – photo by Mark Weber

Nick Lyons & Birgitta Flick —- November 16, 2o14 at Connie Crothers studio in Williamsburg NY – photo by Mark Weber

Biggi Vinkeloe’s Desert Sweets Trio in Albuquerque – March 14, 2o13 – Biggi(alto & flute), Mark Weaver(tuba), Damon Smith(bass) – photo by Mark Weber ---- Biggi is what you’d call peripatetic, from what I gather off the web she doesn’t stay put very long, born in Germany, she’s consider’d a “Swedish musician,” but lived long years in France, and thereafter is anybody’s guess, having been spotted in Oakland, California, quite often, but also, Gothenburg (w/ violinist Nema Vinkeloe, daughter?), Stockholm, London, Rome, Copenhagen, Berlin, South Florida, Bangalore, Cologne, NYC, and FaceBook --- She’s an improvisor & composer

Biggi Vinkeloe’s Desert Sweets Trio in Albuquerque – March 14, 2o13 – Biggi(alto & flute), Mark Weaver(tuba), Damon Smith(bass) – photo by Mark Weber —- Biggi is what you’d call peripatetic, from what I gather off the web she doesn’t stay put very long, born in Germany, she’s consider’d a “Swedish musician,” but lived long years in France, and thereafter is anybody’s guess, having been spotted in Oakland, California, quite often, but also, Gothenburg (w/ violinist Nema Vinkeloe, daughter?), Stockholm, London, Rome, Copenhagen, Berlin, South Florida, Bangalore, Cologne, NYC, and FaceBook — She’s an improvisor & composer

Eva Lindal – May 29, 2o16 Stockholm – photo by Mark Weber

Eva Lindal – May 29, 2o16 Stockholm – photo by Mark Weber

Two Violins for Eva Lindal ------------------- line drawing my Mark Weber

Two Violins for Eva Lindal ——————- Line drawing my Mark Weber

Half of World Saxophone Quartet – David Murray and Julius Hemphill AND those crazy chicken wire music stands that Julius had made that afternoon before the concert on a double-bill with Vinny Golia Trio at U.C. Irvine – January 20, 1980 – photo by Mark Weber

Half of World Saxophone Quartet – David Murray and Julius Hemphill AND those crazy chicken wire music stands that Julius had made that afternoon before the concert on a double-bill with Vinny Golia Trio at U.C. Irvine – January 20, 1980 – photo by Mark Weber

Babatundi Olatunji at Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival – September 23, 1984 – photo by Mark Weber

Babatundi Olatunji at Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival – September 23, 1984 – photo by Mark Weber

Karen Borca ---- November 13, 2016 at Connie Crothers Memorial Concert at Roulette ---- photo by Mark Weber

Karen Borca —- November 13, 2016 at Connie Crothers Memorial Concert at Roulette —- photo by Mark Weber

Kazzrie Jaxen -------------- November 13, 2o16 at Roulette, Brooklyn – photo by Mark Weber

Kazzrie Jaxen ————– November 13, 2o16 at Roulette, Brooklyn – photo by Mark Weber

Did I already tell this story? Sitting backstage with Big Mama Thornton at San Francisco Blues Festival in the hour before she went on ---- I’m hanging out drinking beer from a can, the trick to taking photographs is not to be a pest, just be cool, there’s artists & stage hands milling about ----- So, I’m in back there behind the bandshell in Golden Gate Park and Big Mama is sitting in a folding chair with an over-sized suit coat, she’s very skinny by this time, she lives across the Bay in Oakland, it’s a typical summer day in San Francisco, not cold but not warm either ---- Next thing I know, Big Mama is pointing to me and motioning for me to come over to her, it was something of a command, I walk over and she pats the chair beside her and wants me to sit down, I sit there and she is content with that, I don’t remember her actually saying sit with me, but that was the message and I totally understood, I grew up among stoic people, and I realized she probably just didn’t want to be alone, and she didn’t feel like talking, only the comfort of abiding ---- If I took photos of her while we sat there, which I kind of doubt, they must be at my UCLA archive ----- I sometimes wonder if she could see my ghost, that she recognized, subliminally, we shared a similar fatal thirst ------ Photo by Mark Weber ---- Saturday, August 11, 1979 ---- Big Mama Thornton with Mark Naftalin on piano

Did I already tell this story? Sitting backstage with Big Mama Thornton at San Francisco Blues Festival in the hour before she went on —- I’m hanging out drinking beer from a can, the trick to taking photographs is not to be a pest, just be cool, there’s artists & stage hands milling about —– So, I’m in back there behind the bandshell in Golden Gate Park and Big Mama is sitting in a folding chair with an over-sized suit coat, she’s very skinny by this time, she lives across the Bay in Oakland, it’s a typical summer day in San Francisco, not cold but not warm either —- Next thing I know, Big Mama is pointing to me and motioning for me to come over to her, it was something of a command, I walk over and she pats the chair beside her and wants me to sit down, I sit there and she is content with that, I don’t remember her actually saying sit with me, but that was the message and I totally understood, I grew up among stoic people, and I realized she probably just didn’t want to be alone, and she didn’t feel like talking, only the comfort of abiding —- If I took photos of her while we sat there, which I kind of doubt, they must be at my UCLA archive —– I sometimes wonder if she could see my ghost, that she recognized, subliminally, we shared a similar fatal thirst —— Photo by Mark Weber —- Saturday, August 11, 1979 —- Big Mama Thornton with Mark Naftalin on piano.

You couldn’t separate these two: That’s my little brother Brian Weber and John Carter (Brian is actually bigger than me but is 4 years younger and therefore when he was much younger and smaller I always called him my “little brother”) ---- John is the renowned clarinet master, and Porsche aficionado (he was a regular listener to KPFK’s Saturday afternoon Car show), and my little brother was his mechanic ----- John’s main car was his beloved 1963 yellow Porsche 911 (where is it now?) which he had for years, then he added to that a 914 but it was a lemon and that’s when he found out Brian could fix anything, he’d leave it with Brian on a Saturday and Brian would fix it and then take his dates out that week (John was cool with that, and always laughed, what better way to have your mechanic get the bugs out than drive your car around) ---- I’d bring Brian along to concerts and he and John would talk mechanics ---- September 23, 1984 Watts Towers – photo by Mark Weber

You couldn’t separate these two: That’s my little brother Brian Weber and John Carter (Brian is actually bigger than me but is 4 years younger and therefore when he was much younger and smaller I always called him my “little brother”) —- John is the renowned clarinet master, and Porsche aficionado (he was a regular listener to KPFK’s Saturday afternoon Car show), and my little brother was his mechanic —– John’s main car was his beloved 1963 yellow Porsche 911 (where is it now?) which he had for years, then he added to that a 914 but it was a lemon and that’s when he found out Brian could fix anything, he’d leave it with Brian on a Saturday and Brian would fix it and then take his dates out that week (John was cool with that, and always laughed, what better way to have your mechanic get the bugs out than drive your car around) —- I’d bring Brian along to concerts and he and John would talk mechanics —- September 23, 1984 Watts Towers – photo by Mark Weber

Rest in Peace JOSEPH JARMAN

Rest in Peace JOSEPH JARMAN

The Unknowable

Line drawing – 14sept2o18 – Mark Weber

Line drawing – 14sept2o18 – Mark Weber

January 10, 2o19 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

THE UNKNOWABLE

Influences are so incredibly important
How they tumble within you like a kaleidoscope
How making a list would be insubstantial
Some of it obvious
Some of it only momentary
They certainly exist, best left
To mystery, mysteriousness, a guitar
Solo that reaches far back into
Your memory, a trumpet improvisation
That reminds you of something you
Can’t put your finger on, a rhythm pattern
That matches those running horses
You saw once way out on the grasslands
A trombone interlude that sounds like
A language you once spoke in another life
Arising out of the mist

That’s trumpeter Richard Davis holding mike on Azar Lawrence at John Carter’s Ibedon Festival, May 20-21, 1977 Los Angeles w/ Freddie Redd(piano), and Roberto Miranda(bass) ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- We’ll dip some more into Azar’s latest cd FRONTIERS on this radio show

That’s trumpeter Richard Davis holding mike on Azar Lawrence at John Carter’s Ibedon Festival, May 20-21, 1977 Los Angeles w/ Freddie Redd (piano), and Roberto Miranda (bass) —- photo by Mark Weber —- We’ll dip some more into Azar’s latest cd FRONTIERS on this radio show

John Carter and Oliver Lake – January 3, 1978 @ Century City Playhouse, LA – photo by Mark Weber

John Carter and Oliver Lake – January 3, 1978 @ Century City Playhouse, LA – photo by Mark Weber

Joseph Banks on trumpets on a Saturday night at Dooto’s Music Center (owned by record producer Dootsie Williams) 1900 N. Central, Compton ---- That’s Bill Clark on tenor, and the baadest blues guitarist I ever heard: Evans Walker, who was a hardcore boozer and didn’t survive, both of them long-time members of Pee Wee Crayton’s Ultimates of Soul, who were the backing band this night for a cavalcade of performers, all leading up to Little Milton (who wasn’t too shabby on guitar, either, I found out!) ---- January 14, 1978 – photo by Mark Weber

Joseph Banks on trumpets on a Saturday night at Dooto’s Music Center (owned by record producer Dootsie Williams) 1900 N. Central, Compton —- That’s Bill Clark on tenor, and the baadest blues guitarist I ever heard: Evans Walker, who was a hardcore boozer and didn’t survive, both of them long-time members of Pee Wee Crayton’s Ultimates of Soul, who were the backing band this night for a cavalcade of performers, all leading up to Little Milton (who wasn’t too shabby on guitar, either, I found out!) —- January 14, 1978 – photo by Mark Weber

The Son Seals Blues Band – Holiday Inn, Richfield, Ohio – June 26, 1987 ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- my field notes say that the tenor was John Powell, and the drummer was Louis Hayes, I’d like to know if that’s correct and who else is in this photo

The Son Seals Blues Band – Holiday Inn, Richfield, Ohio – June 26, 1987 —- photo by Mark Weber —- my field notes say that the tenor was John Powell, and the drummer was Louis Hayes, I’d like to know if that’s correct and who else is in this photo

Alligator Records artists Son Seals and Lonnie Brooks out on the road ---- June 26, 1987 – photo by Mark Weber (I think one of those drinks is mine, it’s hard to operate a camera and hold your whisky at the same time, especially if you’re half-looped)

Alligator Records artists Son Seals and Lonnie Brooks out on the road —- June 26, 1987 – photo by Mark Weber (I think one of those drinks is mine, it’s hard to operate a camera and hold your whisky at the same time, especially if you’re half-looped)

Stanley Crouch looking at Lester Bowie backstage at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA ------- Stanley had a lot of influence over us in those halcyon days before he moved to NYC Fall of 1976 ---- His exuberance and love of jazz and literature, and how much he loved Sunny Murray’s drum style, which threw us for a loop back in California when the rumor floated in that Stanley and Sunny got into a fist fight (?) man, New York is some strange place, no? ---- I audited his jazz history class at Claremont Colleges 1973-1975, it was an evening class, and the best show in town, Stanley would enter the classroom carrying about a hundred albums and the fireworks would begin ---- My gang would pile into my psychedelic VW van and make it over to Claremont, it was an evening class (we all had day jobs so it couldn’t have been otherwise) ----- This photo is from a return visit to his hometown – October 20, 1979 after the Art Ensemble of Chicago had just performed on a double-bill with Bobby Bradford-John Carter Duo ---- photo by Mark Weber

Stanley Crouch looking at Lester Bowie backstage at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA ——- Stanley had a lot of influence over us in those halcyon days before he moved to NYC Fall of 1976 —- His exuberance and love of jazz and literature, and how much he loved Sunny Murray’s drum style, which threw us for a loop back in California when the rumor floated in that Stanley and Sunny got into a fist fight (?) man, New York is some strange place, no? —- I audited his jazz history class at Claremont Colleges 1973-1975, it was an evening class, and the best show in town, Stanley would enter the classroom carrying about a hundred albums and the fireworks would begin —- My gang would pile into my psychedelic VW van and make it over to Claremont, it was an evening class (we all had day jobs so it couldn’t have been otherwise) —– This photo is from a return visit to his hometown – October 20, 1979 after the Art Ensemble of Chicago had just performed on a double-bill with Bobby Bradford-John Carter Duo —- photo by Mark Weber

Nels Cline – October 21, 1979 Los Angeles ---- photo by Mark Weber

Nels Cline – October 21, 1979 Los Angeles —- photo by Mark Weber

Nick Lyons -- September 24, 2oo9 NYC ---- photo & line drawing by Mark Weber

Nick Lyons — September 24, 2oo9 NYC —- photo & line drawing by Mark Weber

When Nick Brignola visited Albuquerque --- that’s David Parlato on bass, Nick on baritone – September 13, 1999 – photo by Mark Weber

When Nick Brignola visited Albuquerque —  that’s David Parlato on bass, Nick on baritone – September 13, 1999 – photo by Mark Weber

Johnny Otis Johnny Otis Johnny Otis! ----------- remember? That’s how his radio show would begin, with the lady’s voice drenched in reverb and then the real Johnny would come on mike for opening salutations, what a great disk jockey --------------- photo by Mark Weber --- September 29, 1985 Los Angeles

Johnny Otis Johnny Otis Johnny Otis! ———– remember? That’s how his radio show would begin, with the lady’s voice drenched in reverb and then the real Johnny would come on mike for opening salutations, what a great disk jockey ————— photo by Mark Weber — September 29, 1985 Los Angeles

The night they made their inimitable cd LIVE AT THE OUTPOST the KENNY DAVERN QUARTET: Greg Cohen(bass), Kenny(clarinet), Tony DeNicola(drums), James Chirillo(guitar) ---- December 13, 2004 ---- photo by Mark Weber

The night they made their inimitable cd LIVE AT THE OUTPOST the KENNY DAVERN QUARTET: Greg Cohen (bass), Kenny (clarinet), Tony DeNicola (drums), James Chirillo (guitar) —- December 13, 2004 —- photo by Mark Weber

Saxophone section Instant Composer’s Pool: Toby Delius, Ab Baars, Kenny Davern, Michael Moore – March 23, 2006 Albuquerque at Outpost Performance Space ---- photo by Mark Weber

Saxophone section Instant Composer’s Pool: Toby Delius, Ab Baars, Kenny Davern, Michael Moore – March 23, 2006 Albuquerque at Outpost Performance Space —- photo by Mark Weber

It’s all part of the puzzle, how everything fits together: I see in the discography in Bruce Iglauer’s memoir of Alligator Records BITTEN BY THE BLUES (2o18) that there’s a recent release by a band called “The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling” who only a few months ago introduced himself via email that he was passing through Albuquerque and would like to hang and reminisce about Kenny Davern who he follow’d around the New Jersey clubs when he was a teenager in the 90s (Dennis is pretty sure that “Cross Patch” 1936 Louis Prima is when Kenny first heard Pee Wee Russell ---- one of Kenny’s foundational stories listening to the tiny radio on top of his grandparent’s refrigerator) ---- It’s a small world sometimes ---- photo by Mark Weber at Studio 725 – October 12, 2o18

It’s all part of the puzzle, how everything fits together: I see in the discography in Bruce Iglauer’s memoir of Alligator Records BITTEN BY THE BLUES (2o18) that there’s a recent release by a band called “The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling” who only a few months ago introduced himself via email that he was passing through Albuquerque and would like to hang and reminisce about Kenny Davern who he follow’d around the New Jersey clubs when he was a teenager in the 90s (Dennis is pretty sure that “Cross Patch” 1936 Louis Prima is when Kenny first heard Pee Wee Russell —- one of Kenny’s foundational stories listening to the tiny radio on top of his grandparent’s refrigerator) —- It’s a small world sometimes —- photo by Mark Weber at Studio 725 – October 12, 2o18

Joanne Kyger, the American poet who never jumped outside the immediate moment, visiting us in New Mexico at Salt of the Earth Books, Albuquerque – January 11, 1992 ------ “I am not going to be intimidated/by myself/Outflanked by, upstaged by/this former self of yesterday/which left a pretentious array/of books to read, sources to pull/the western mind into shape” p.63 of her collection AGAIN (La Alameda Press, 2001) and this gem from page 43: “When people say they love me I tell them/Give me a loaf of bread ---- I loaf you” ---- photo by Mark Weber

Joanne Kyger, the American poet who never jumped outside the immediate moment, visiting us in New Mexico at Salt of the Earth Books, Albuquerque – January 11, 1992 —— “I am not going to be intimidated/by myself/Outflanked by, upstaged by/this former self of yesterday/which left a pretentious array/of books to read, sources to pull/the western mind into shape” p.63 of her collection AGAIN (La Alameda Press, 2001) and this gem from page 43: “When people say they love me I tell them/Give me a loaf of bread —- I loaf you” —- photo by Mark Weber

The Freeways of L.A.

My old truck ---- You can't live in New Mexico and not have an old truck, right? I bought this beast from a drunken cowboy poet name of Kell Robertson for $500 and that's after he begged me to buy it, and I relented, and then, later after he blew all the money in bars, said I gypped him and that he wanted $600 ---- Kell was a hardcase, good poet, but too drunk to drive, he called this rattletrap Green Thunder (1962 Dodge w/ a 318 that only felt good over 60mph) ---- I'll never forget the time Tom at the Outpost asked me to drive the Swedish bass player Anders Jormin to the airport (I forget who he was in town with, might have been Bobo Stenson) circa 1995 ---- we tossed his old bass in the back and took off, wherefore, en route I find out that this bass is like 5,000 years old and worth $80,000 ---- my knees went wobbly and I brought the speed down about twenty clicks, said: Uh, Anders, you ever hear of a gig bass, you know, plywood knockaround bass? Meanwhile this expensive piece of wood is sliding around (in its case, of course) in the back, and he says, with Scandinavian slant on his English: "I prefer to have my best instrument with me when I perform," a noble consideration, if impractical ------ Photo by MW from September 23, 1997 parked directly across the street from the old Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque

My old truck —- You can’t live in New Mexico and not have an old truck, right? I bought this beast from a drunken cowboy poet name of Kell Robertson for $500 and that’s after he begged me to buy it, and I relented, and then, later after he blew all the money in bars, said I gypped him and that he wanted $600 —- Kell was a hardcase, good poet, but too drunk to drive, he called this rattletrap Green Thunder (1962 Dodge w/ a 318 that only felt good over 60mph) —- I’ll never forget the time Tom at the Outpost asked me to drive the Swedish bass player Anders Jormin to the airport (I forget who he was in town with, might have been Bobo Stenson) circa 1995 —- we tossed his old bass in the back and took off, wherefore, en route I find out that this bass is like 5,000 years old and worth $80,000 —- my knees went wobbly and I brought the speed down about twenty clicks, said: Uh, Anders, you ever hear of a gig bass, you know, plywood knockaround bass? Meanwhile this expensive piece of wood is sliding around (in its case, of course) in the back, and he says, with Scandinavian slant on his English: “I prefer to have my best instrument with me when I perform,” a noble consideration, if impractical —— Photo by MW from September 23, 1997 parked directly across the street from the old Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque

The Thursday Jazz Radio Show

May 24, 2o18 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

THE FREEWAYS OF L.A.

I love L.A., but it’s unlivable —- It’s too crowded, the freeways need be double-decked but earthquakes make that impossible —- Huge tsunami waves tower over the coast, swarms of wasps attack shoppers at the malls, smog has made a come-back after Proot, head of the EPA, has rescinded all restrictions on factory and auto emissions, the L.A. River Aqueduct runs black and the fish at sea where it outflows die, so do the whales, the last one died yesterday and Trump had it stuffed for his trophy room at the Western White House Fortress where he had Governor Brown strung up and he took California over and is raking in the “deals” too much money to be made to let the “environmentalists” get in the way —- He’s got California under his boot, and put Rush Limbaugh in charge of things back in DC, they both live for fatness —- I visit California less often and stay only as long as needed —- I’m stopped at the border on Rt. 40, my papers are not in order, I’m missing the permit to leave and haven’t pledged obeisance to the Oaf Potentate and am sent to work camp where I make bomb detonators, then I am made court poet, cautious, (the last court poet: Corso was boiled in oil after hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the White House lawnmower), the one before him is quarantined at the uranium mines, rabid dogs roam the fences after Proot shutter’d the laboratories, I’m now the court poet and have been commanded to write poems to His greatness —- Then, I wake up gasping.

Art Pepper (1925-1982), it's really not a Freud thing why someone uses drugs -- with heroin, you are not going to want to hear this, but it makes you feel so good, down deep it smooths out all the uncertainties, and anxieties that mankind has suffer'd, for lo, 3 million years ---- and someone like Art with his talent and intelligence was thrown into an adult world much too young and expected to rise to the occasion and take his lumps and not complain ---- He was a sitting duck ---- They've discover'd a lake community in the Swiss alps of 5,000 years ago that was growing opium poppies ---- There's no getting around the emotionally arrested state that drugs mires a person within (the inability to digest criticism, the harboring of resentments, etc) ---- I've often suspected that the image of a man sitting in lotus at Mohenjo-Daro was influenced by the opium nod, that the whole concept of meditation grew out of opium those many thousand years ago (further support for this crazy theory of mine can be found in the Veda texts that predate Mohenjo-Daro Indus Culture ---- where you find the magical drink soma [Indus Culture 3300 BC] Humans like comfort) So, Art was not alone in this long tradition of soma: All the priests in the cities before Babylon made invocations to the sacred drink, this mysterious elixir, come from the Gods, relieves all pain, the smoke therewith that gives calm and restfulness -------------- This photo is after-hours at Donte's -- January 16, 1982 second of a two-night date w/ Mike Lang, the soundtrack composer on piano ----- That foggy cloud is an artifact of improper film development ---- That's Laurie sitting at the little table in front ---- Art didn't play a lot of clarinet in public in L.A., so this was after-hours for the few of us who stayed late ----- photo by Mark Weber

Art Pepper (1925-1982), it’s really not a Freud thing why someone uses drugs — with heroin, you are not going to want to hear this, but it makes you feel so good, down deep it smooths out all the uncertainties, and anxieties that mankind has suffer’d, for lo, 3 million years —- and someone like Art with his talent and intelligence was thrown into an adult world much too young and expected to rise to the occasion and take his lumps and not complain —- He was a sitting duck —- They’ve discover’d a lake community in the Swiss alps of 5,000 years ago that was growing opium poppies —- There’s no getting around the emotionally arrested state that drugs mires a person within (the inability to digest criticism, the harboring of resentments, etc) —- I’ve often suspected that the image of a man sitting in lotus at Mohenjo-Daro was influenced by the opium nod, that the whole concept of meditation grew out of opium those many thousand years ago (further support for this crazy theory of mine can be found in the Veda texts that predate Mohenjo-Daro Indus Culture —- where you find the magical drink soma [Indus Culture 3300 BC] Humans like comfort) So, Art was not alone in this long tradition of soma: All the priests in the cities before Babylon made invocations to the sacred drink, this mysterious elixir, come from the Gods, relieves all pain, the smoke therewith that gives calm and restfulness ————– This photo is after-hours at Donte’s — January 16, 1982 second of a two-night date w/ Mike Lang, the soundtrack composer on piano —– That foggy cloud is an artifact of improper film development —- That’s Laurie sitting at the little table in front —- Art didn’t play a lot of clarinet in public in L.A., so this was after-hours for the few of us who stayed late —– photo by Mark Weber

We all know Sonny Stitt, lone wolf, roamed the country using pick-up bands, played with whoever whenever, you provide the group and the money and he'll make a record for you, made hundreds of records, all of them worth hearing, drank too much, off and on the bottle, this gig he was off, we talked sitting at a little table during a break, I had my own issues with drink and was staying sober at the time, that's what I remember we talked about, drinking is insidious, a beer here, highball there, habitual drinking is not like a frat party, it's merely one or two then three maybe another for the road and another when you get home and it adds up and after a dozen years of this the body starts sputtering like a car with a drop of water in the gas ---- Red Holloway, on the other hand, didn't have the bug, his first love was Charlie Parker, which you kind of wouldn't suspect judging from all the R&B sessions he played on and soul jazz organ groups, he was a great guy, always in a good mood, he was the music director of the Parisian Room, always met you at the door with a smile and a handshake, maybe even picked out a good table for you ---- The Parisian Room was a fabulous jazz club, situated in the West Adams District (just west of downtown, just north of South Central), I understand there's a post office there now, they tore it down, now they run mail where they used to run the changes of "Night in Tunisia" ---- photo by Mark Weber -- June 13, 1980 Los Angeles: Sonny Stitt & Red Holloway(saxophones), Harvey Newmark(bass), Bruno Carr(drums), Art Hillary(piano)

We all know Sonny Stitt, lone wolf, roamed the country using pick-up bands, played with whoever whenever, you provide the group and the money and he’ll make a record for you, made hundreds of records, all of them worth hearing, drank too much, off and on the bottle, this gig he was off, we talked sitting at a little table during a break, I had my own issues with drink and was staying sober at the time, that’s what I remember we talked about, drinking is insidious, a beer here, highball there, habitual drinking is not like a frat party, it’s merely one or two then three maybe another for the road and another when you get home and it adds up and after a dozen years of this the body starts sputtering like a car with a drop of water in the gas —- Red Holloway, on the other hand, didn’t have the bug, his first love was Charlie Parker, which you kind of wouldn’t suspect judging from all the R&B sessions he played on and soul jazz organ groups, he was a great guy, always in a good mood, he was the music director of the Parisian Room, always met you at the door with a smile and a handshake, maybe even picked out a good table for you —- The Parisian Room was a fabulous jazz club, situated in the West Adams District (just west of downtown, just north of South Central), I understand there’s a post office there now, they tore it down, now they run mail where they used to run the changes of “Night in Tunisia” —- photo by Mark Weber — June 13, 1980 Los Angeles: Sonny Stitt & Red Holloway (saxophones), Harvey Newmark (bass), Bruno Carr (drums), Art Hillary (piano)

Red Callendar -- June 1, 1980 Los Angeles -- photo by Mark Weber

Red Callendar — June 1, 1980 Los Angeles — photo by Mark Weber

Adele Sebastian(flute) who was very special, here with the Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra (that's the other flutist in the Arkestra behind her: Aubrey Hart, and conductor/pianist Horace Tapscott -- July 7, 1979 Watts Towers Jazz Festival -- photo by Mark Weber

Adele Sebastian (flute) who was very special, here with the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra (that’s the other flutist in the Arkestra behind her: Aubrey Hart, and conductor/pianist Horace Tapscott — July 7, 1979 Watts Towers Jazz Festival — photo by Mark Weber

This is the outtake (we have already posted the more conventional photo with all of them looking straight into the camera) : Jay Migliori with his arms outstretched, Ray Pizzi in white hat with Strazz behind him hooking his thumb over his shoulder while trombonist Bill Moffett looks straight at the camera with a laugh, Don Menza in stripe shirt with Nick Ceroli behind him ---- Just another warm night in Los Angeles out back of Carmelo's jazz club in North Hollywood -- the Don Menza Big Band between sets, with Don's 1939 Cadillac -- photo by Mark Weber -- May 26, 1980

This is the outtake (we have already posted the more conventional photo with all of them looking straight into the camera) : Jay Migliori with his arms outstretched, Ray Pizzi in white hat with Strazz behind him hooking his thumb over his shoulder while trombonist Bill Moffett looks straight at the camera with a laugh, Don Menza in stripe shirt with Nick Ceroli behind him —- Just another warm night in Los Angeles out back of Carmelo’s jazz club in North Hollywood — the Don Menza Big Band between sets, with Don’s 1939 Cadillac — photo by Mark Weber — May 26, 1980

Bob Magnusson was all over the L.A. scene in those days, making a dozen albums with Art Pepper and almost that many with Bud Shank, as well as a few with Bobby Shew, Sam Most, Mundell Lowe, Sue Raney, Holly Hofmann, Pete Jolly, Bob Cooper, Joe Diorio, he's on 190 sessions listed at Tom Lord Discography starting in 1969 with Buddy Rich up to now back in his hometown San Diego working with Bill Mays and Peter Sprague ---- photo by Mark Weber -- June 10, 1979 Local 47

Bob Magnusson was all over the L.A. scene in those days, making a dozen albums with Art Pepper and almost that many with Bud Shank, as well as a few with Bobby Shew, Sam Most, Mundell Lowe, Sue Raney, Holly Hofmann, Pete Jolly, Bob Cooper, Joe Diorio, he’s on 190 sessions listed at Tom Lord Discography starting in 1969 with Buddy Rich up to now back in his hometown San Diego working with Bill Mays and Peter Sprague —- photo by Mark Weber — June 10, 1979 Local 47

The clarinetist John Carter -- April 14, 1979 Pasadena City College ---- photo by Mark Weber

The clarinetist John Carter — April 14, 1979 Pasadena City College —- photo by Mark Weber

This is the guy you hear on all those Frank Sinatra records: guitarist Al Viola settled in Los Angeles in 1946 and participated on so many great West Coast records and soundtracks we'd have to take a detour on the Thursday Jazz Show just to play AL VIOLA for a year to catch up ---- He even played on my favorite Frank Zappa album LUMPY GRAVY (1967) -- Here he is with Buddy Collette Quintet -- July 15, 1984 Watts Towers Jazz Festival -- photo by Mark Weber

This is the guy you hear on all those Frank Sinatra records: guitarist Al Viola settled in Los Angeles in 1946 and participated on so many great West Coast records and soundtracks we’d have to take a detour on the Thursday Jazz Show just to play AL VIOLA for a year to catch up —- He even played on my favorite Frank Zappa album LUMPY GRAVY (1967) — Here he is with Buddy Collette Quintet — July 15, 1984 Watts Towers Jazz Festival — photo by Mark Weber

Floyd Dixon, blues man, pianist, follower of the horses (every time I ran into Floyd he was either coming or going to the racetrack), composer of "Call Operator 210" and "Hey Bartender" and "Dallas Blues" ---- photo by Mark Weber -- June 16, 1984, Hollywood Bowl

Floyd Dixon, blues man, pianist, follower of the horses (every time I ran into Floyd he was either coming or going to the racetrack), composer of “Call Operator 210” and “Hey Bartender” and “Dallas Blues” —- photo by Mark Weber — June 16, 1984, Hollywood Bowl

The late great BUELL NEIDLINGER with his Krystall Klear & the Buells quartet at Carmelo's, North Hollywood -- March 25, 1981 w/ Jerry Peters(piano), Peter Erskine(drums), Marty(saxophones), and Buell on bass -- the last time I spoke with Buell only a few days before he got away from us, among other things he told me about auditioning for the Capt Beefheart Magic Band and Beefheart asked "Where are your banjo finger picks?" so, Buell ran out and bought some metal banjo finger picks to use on his electric bass ---- Photo by Mark Weber

The late great BUELL NEIDLINGER with his Krystall Klear & the Buells quartet at Carmelo’s, North Hollywood — March 25, 1981 w/ Jerry Peters (piano), Peter Erskine (drums), Marty (saxophones), and Buell on bass — the last time I spoke with Buell only a few days before he got away from us, among other things he told me about auditioning for the Capt Beefheart Magic Band and Beefheart asked “Where are your banjo finger picks?” so, Buell ran out and bought some metal banjo finger picks to use on his electric bass —- Photo by Mark Weber

Fostina Dixon -- March 22, 1981 Los Angeles w/ Leslie Drayton Orchestra -- photo by Mark Weber

Fostina Dixon — March 22, 1981 Los Angeles w/ Leslie Drayton Orchestra — photo by Mark Weber

The Return of Woody & Boomer -- Recording session at Studio 725 -- February 20, 2o18 -- photo by Mark Weber ----my good friends Michael Anthony(guitar) & David Parlato(bass)

The Return of Woody & Boomer — Recording session at Studio 725 — February 20, 2o18 — photo by Mark Weber —-my good friends Michael Anthony (guitar) & David Parlato (bass)

Arlen Asher Quartet -- John Bartlit(drums), John Blackburn(bass), Jim Ahrend(piano), Milton Arlen Asher(woodwinds) -- March 4, 2o18 @ St Johns United Methodist Church, Albuquerque -- photo by Mark Weber -- They played "Willow Weep for Me"(flute), "Summertime"(soprano sax), "That's a Plenty"(clarinet) and Arlen told story about his early love of Benny Goodman and BG's arrangement on "That's a Plenty," that his very first gig was in a bar at age 13 in Missouri on December 6, 1941 "the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor." "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing"(alto), "Mirage"(Jim Ahrend comp. w/Arlen on alto), "Memories of You"(clarinet), "But Beautiful"(alto flute), "I Love You"(alto), "Lost in a Memory"(JA --soprano), "Honeysuckle Rose/Scrapple from the Apple"(bass clarinet), "Lush Life"(soprano), and encore "Over the Rainbow"(alto) with vocal by Michael Herndon -----* My dream is to mount a concert with Sheila Jordan accompanied by Arlen someday (they were born 1928/1929 and both at the top of their game) and would sound fantastic together w/ Alan Broadbent and Cameron Brown (Arlen is all for it, when I told him)

Arlen Asher Quartet — John Bartlit (drums), John Blackburn (bass), Jim Ahrend (piano), Milton Arlen Asher (woodwinds) — March 4, 2o18 @ St Johns United Methodist Church, Albuquerque — photo by Mark Weber — They played “Willow Weep for Me”(flute), “Summertime”(soprano sax), “That’s a Plenty”(clarinet) and Arlen told story about his early love of Benny Goodman and BG’s arrangement on “That’s a Plenty,” that his very first gig was in a bar at age 13 in Missouri on December 6, 1941 “the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.” “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” (alto), “Mirage”(Jim Ahrend comp. w/Arlen on alto), “Memories of You” (clarinet), “But Beautiful” (alto flute), “I Love You” (alto), “Lost in a Memory” (JA –soprano), “Honeysuckle Rose/Scrapple from the Apple” (bass clarinet), “Lush Life” (soprano), and encore “Over the Rainbow” (alto) with vocal by Michael Herndon —–* My dream is to mount a concert with Sheila Jordan accompanied by Arlen someday (they were born 1928/1929 and both at the top of their game) and would sound fantastic together w/ Alan Broadbent and Cameron Brown (Arlen is all for it, when I told him)

Collection of Mark Weber

Collection of Mark Weber

Sonny Rollins in Trio 1957-1959 and 1962-1963

Was Sonny Rollins the first to play saxophone accompanied by only bass and drums? If not, then what were the precursors? I first looked into Sidney Bechet, but only found trios where he still used chordal instruments (1940 with Earl Hines & Baby Dodds; 1941 with Willie the Lion & Everett Barksdale). The thing with Sonny was how coiled and stretched out and barren it sounded. Oceanic, masculine, phosphorescent, towering and rangy like a searchlight in the night, inverted and fearless. Inverted because he has turned everything upside down. Barren because one can feel the starkness of the lonely artist in his garret searching his soul, searching the night for eloquence in the grand scheme of things. For those of us out in the provinces it sounded like everything we dreamed Greenwich Village was about. Romantic notions I still have no desire to let go of. I didn’t hear these trio records when they first came out (Sonny made four between 1957-1962: WAY OUT WEST (March 1957), LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD (November 1957 — was this released at the time?), FREEDOM SUITE (February 1958), OUR MAN IN JAZZ (July 1962)) it was Stanley Crouch who impressed on me the monumental importance of FREEDOM SUITE in his classes at Claremont (Stanley was on fire those years, quite grandiloquent, as you may know, we wouldn’t want him any other way) circa 1972-1973 as I was turning 20. But, it wasn’t until all these years later, while listening to Sonny in trio on my own radio show, that it occurred to me that he might be the progenitor of this format that became such a powerful outlet for so many other horn players. I called Bobby Bradford to ask.

David Murray Trio -- January 6, 1977 Century City Playhouse, Los Angeles -- w/ Roberto Miranda(bass), and Oliver Johnson(drums) -- photo by Mark Weber

David Murray Trio — January 6, 1977 Century City Playhouse, Los Angeles — w/ Roberto Miranda (bass), and Oliver Johnson (drums) — photo by Mark Weber

Mark Weber: Bobby I have this idea that when Sonny Rollins started playing with only bass and drums in trio that it was sort of a new thing, if not necessarily an innovation, but that it had opened the floodgates for everybody else to do it. So, here’s my question: When Sonny Rollins released his 1958 album FREEDOM SUITE did it come across as something new?

Bobby Bradford: The music: Yes. The idea that he was going to do it in that format: No . . . . In fact there wasn’t a lot of ruckus about his thing WAY OUT WEST.

MW: Was WAY OUT WEST released at that time?

BB: Yeh, didn’t it come out in the Fifties, 1957 or something like that?

MW: Yes, March 1957. So, they did release it immediately?

BB: Right. And then what was the date on FREEDOM SUITE?

MW: February 58.

BB: Everybody thought, I think, by then, people were looking at it as an option, rather than the situation causing it. In my mind, just in response to the talking we’ve been doing so far, I think nobody came up and said I think I’ll start working in the format of just saxophone, bass, and drums. Even though, situations have created that. But, Sonny Rollins made it high-profile option, so to speak. That’s like George Shearing with that thing of his with the vibraphone, and sometimes the guitar, with him playing the melody in octaves, you know. That was something that George Shearing decided he wanted to do. It wasn’t like he was in a situation where he couldn’t get any horns, or something like that, you know?

MW: So, 1958 you were just about to get out of the Air Force, when all these Sonny Rollins Trio records were coming out, and so you’re saying that it didn’t come across like a big wave?

BB: No. As I remember it now, it didn’t come across as a big wave. All it said to us, then, was: See, some horn players rely heavily on the piano and they need those chords being played because there’s a lot of guys who don’t know the chords in their head where they can name them off. They go with the flow of the sound. And when you take the piano out, that creates a different kind of problem, you lose something when you take the piano out, that kind of rhythmic thing, that comping. But, what you gain from it, of course, is something that somebody who played like Sonny Rollins, I think he wanted, was to expand things so that he could do some of the things where the piano wouldn’t sort of hem him up. That’s not the right word but . . . . He could play things without the piano where he’s still following the chord pattern. For example, if you were a careful listener and you walked into the room and Sonny Rollins was playing “Confirmation,” any musician would know it . . . . and there’s no piano but you could hear Sonny Rollins very clearly, like after about thirty seconds you’d say that’s “Confirmation.” But, a lot of players, you see, rely heavily upon where the piano went, and they played in there in the space with the piano player and they relied upon those rich chords and real strong comp from the piano player. So, it wasn’t like this was the new thing now and we’re not going to do that old thing anymore. I don’t think you could have gotten James Moody during that period (I’m just picking him now) to play without the piano . . . .

MW: . . . . or Dexter Gordon, or Jackie McLean, or Benny Golson, or somebody like JJ Johnson, who, in my research always used a piano.

BB: Yeh, well now, Benny Golson is a guy who might not have, but you see, James Moody, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, were always going to use a piano, because they liked that strong comp, the guy who could lay those chords down with that rhythmic support. Sonny (Rollins) did too, you see, but he had reached a point where I think he wanted to do something a little bit more adventurous there, and I remember reading somewhere, I don’t remember where, I think I was talking to James Clay about this, man, while I was in New York with Ornette, James Clay and I ran into each other a couple times and we were talking about that subject and he said Oh man the piano players they just get in the way. Of course this is quite a bit later, you know, but not that much later, that would have been in the 60s you know . . . .

MW: Early 60s. But, James Clay always seemed to work with a piano.

BB: Yeh, but now, Clay . . . . I’ve got something you sent me with Clay with this big time bass player, what’s his name? . . . . .Christian McBride. Yeh! [James Clay cd COOKIN’ AT THE CONTINENTAL — June 1991 — on one track has bass & tenor duet “Crazeology” (Benny Harris)]

Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in Los Angeles -- January 15, 1982 -- photo by Mark Weber

Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in Los Angeles — January 15, 1982 — photo by Mark Weber

MW: You know, Bobby, that Eric Dolphy, him of all people, never freed himself from the piano. At least, on recordings. There’s a couple of European concerts late in his career that are sans piano.

BB: Yeh, you’d think he’d jump at that, wouldn’t you?

MW: And Don Cherry actually recorded three tracks in 1961 for Atlantic that have not been released, with Henry Grimes and Blackwell, but most likely have been lost in that disastrous Atlantic storage fire. But, Don Cherry was also with Sonny Rollins after Sonny re-emerged from the 1959-1961 three-year hiatus. In July of 62 they worked an engagement at Village Gate w/ Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins (album OUR MAN IN JAZZ) which is same format more or less, and then a January 1963 European tour with Cherry, Henry Grimes, and Higgins. But, first thing Sonny did after the hiatus was the album THE BRIDGE with Jim Hall, before his return to the bass & drums format. So, the quartet with Don, there is still a lot of horn with just bass and drums.

BB: Well, yeh, and with Ornette’s music, too. Except for that one record with Walter Norris, but mostly it’s just bass and drums, when it comes to Cherry’s solo. Same with Ornette, it’s just bass and drum.

MW: In a previous conversation you were saying that it was not uncommon for musicians to wind up not having a piano around where they’re playing at home or in a jam session someplace . . . .

BB: Sometimes it was a situation that caused it. It could be something as simple as the pianist not showing up, and nobody was going to say, Well, we can’t play tonight because the piano player’s not here.

MW: Wasn’t that the situation with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker at The Haig there on Wilshire,
wasn’t it a situation where there was no piano and Gerry decided to try that format? It just wasn’t a big
enough room to have a piano . . . . .

BB: Oh, they had a piano at The Haig.

MW: Oh yeh! that’s right. There’s recordings of Hampton Hawes playing there (1951) and Harry Sweets Edison (1953), during the same period.

BB: Well yeh, and in fact, unless my memory is failing I heard Bud Powell at The Haig.

MW: Holy cow!

BB: 1954

MW: oh No, really?!

BB: He had this guy with him, like his caregiver, like a guy from a funny farm standing there in case he freaked out. At one point this guy was sort of massaging his shoulders. So, The Haig, I think Mulligan wanted that dry piano-less sound. All that material that he was writing for him and Baker that was sort of like fugue sort of stuff. Bird had done that on one tune, with him and Miles [vocalizes the line] I forget what Bird called that, I think it was “Ah-leu-cha.” But, Mulligan wrote lots of pieces that were designed to make you forget about the piano.

MW: So, that was 1952 and 1953 with them at The Haig. And then when Chet left the group, Gerry continued the piano-less concept up through 1955 when he used Jon Eardley (trumpet) for awhile and then Bob Brookmeyer (trombone). But, after that he went back to piano.

BB: Oh yeh, I don’t think he did it to say that this is the way jazz is going to change. He just wanted that dry …..uhm . . . .

MW: Austere. Stark. That’s the way it sounds with Sonny.

BB: I think austere is a better word. But you can see, you give up a lot when you let the piano go. And then you got to do something, you see, to take up the slack. It’s like saying I’m going to play without chords now. You’re going to have to be really innovative now and let go of all that tradition of all those chords back there and you’re going to build your improvisation out of thin air [laughs] maybe not thin air, but, based on the tune. And the rhythm of the tune and your own resources, like an Ornette Coleman. And let go of the piano and the chord progressions. Then you got to put something in there to fill up that space, You know? Which forces the improviser to be much much more resourceful. You had to do some of the stuff that Ornette was doing, to stand there and try to play a cohesive improvisation, not following any chords? Do you remember the saxophone player around L.A., Wilbur Brown (c.1932-2000), he wore really thick glasses, do you remember him?

MW: Never heard of him.

BB: Good tenor player around town. Once we were talking about it, you know —- this is way the hell back there when the Ornette thing was still in the argument stage, he said Well listen man, I hate to disagree about all this, but if you’re not playing the chords, he said, verbatim, What the hell are you playing? (laughs) You see, it hadn’t gotten to the point where people had refined an answer to that question, like well I’m following the curvature of the melody or the theme, I’m following everything that the theme suggests.

So much for my memory -- I guess I did catch Wilbur Brown along the line somewhere ---- This is the Pat Britt-Wilbur Brown Quintet: Pat(alto), Wilbur(tenor), Burgess Gardner(trumpet), Henry Franklin(bass), Joe Peters(drums) -- March 20, 1983 at Local 47 Los Angeles -- photo by Mark Weber

So much for my memory — I guess I did catch Wilbur Brown along the line somewhere —- This is the Pat Britt-Wilbur Brown Quintet: Pat(alto), Wilbur(tenor), Burgess Gardner(trumpet), Henry Franklin(bass), Joe Peters(drums) — March 20, 1983 at Local 47 Los Angeles — photo by Mark Weber

MW: But, that’s what Lester Young did, right?

BB: Yeh, in a way, but Lester was still following the chord. When, beat one of the bridge came up, Lester was right on it. Lester played the chords because he played these standards. Listen to Lester playing “The Man I Love” with Nat King Cole, man, he’s obedient to the chord. Except that he could take a little idea that was nothing and just expand it into something, just some little rhythmic motif, and just horn away on it, but he was aware of the chord every time and all the changes.

MW: Coming back to my thesis, it really does seem like it was Sonny Rollins who was the first to play in that trio configuration.

BB: Yes, to make it an actual choice of just playing with bass and drums. And not a situation where you were forced into it, I don’t remember anybody else doing anything like that before.

MW: And it opened up the door for Archie Shepp and all those guys on ESP, Marion Brown, Steve Lacy, Charles Tyler, they all played in a trio like that. Archie only momentarily when he had that quartet with Bill Dixon in 1962.

BB: But, you know, I think now, that they found themselves in that situation based on Ornette. The records that I’m thinking of right now, Marion Brown, Archie Shepp, and all those people you just named, in addition to just being drums and bass it’s also free. They weren’t playing standards were they? You see, that adds another thorn in there, in a way. You see, Ornette’s thing, clearly, if you were going to play like him, the piano would be in the way. Because he hadn’t figured out a way for any piano player to play with him, that wouldn’t sit down at the piano and start playing a bunch of chords. You had to have somebody, I guess like Cecil, who was willing and able to play with you where he didn’t depend on diatonic chords or chromatic alterations of chords, or any of that, he just treated the piano like a melody-rhythm instrument, even though his hands were playing obviously a bunch of notes together and you get what constitutes a chord, you know, several different notes at the same time, but they were not out of any sort of harmony or European harmonic tradition.

MW: What about Albert Ayler? To me he seems to be a direct beneficiary of what Sonny Rollins was doing.

BB: That’s a hard question. It’s easier to say Oh yeh, but, you see, Albert’s stuff I see him connected to Ornette much closer than to Sonny. Even though he did some stuff that was different than the both of them.

MW: Well, that’s one of the fun things about a thesis is you get to find the holes in it.

BB: Yes, that’s the idea. You look back on it, as soon as we got to thinking here, then I went back to . . . .

MW: Miles.

BB: No, no, even before that. When I thought of that, I emailed you on that because it came to me then, Hey, Miles said Monk kept getting in the way, and I thought it was on “The Man I Love” but apparently it’s on some other tune.

MW: “Bag’s Groove” [December 24, 1954 session Miles Davis All Stars for Prestige] Miles takes long solos on both takes of that with only bass and drums.

BB: Well, you see, and that’s the first time I ever heard somebody use the word “stroll” like that. You know, “Monk decided to stroll on that.” See, stroll meant to me like Smokey Robinson strollin’ on a Sunday afternoon in Detroit (laughs).

MW: Kind of like walkin’?

BB: No, it meant: lay out, like “Take a stroll, bub, I don’t want you to play on this.” You know? Now, what I was getting ready to say, was Don Byas and that bass player Slam Stewart on “I Got Rhythm.”

MW: Oh, yeh. Town Hall. [June 9, 1945] Duet of tenor and bass.

BB: You see, there it is, I don’t think they thought of that as a big deal like here’s the new way to do it. What they might have thought was: Let’s do something very striking right here, you know.

MW: When I first started thinking about this a couple months ago, I researched Sidney Bechet as he seemed likely, but his trios always had a chordal instrument. But, the Miles track “Bags Groove” his solo on both versions is long and he is out there sailing with only a bass and drums. This could be the earliest recorded example of that approach.

BB: Yeh. I remember reading something about why that happened and he and Monk at one point, I don’t know if it was this record date, but he asked Monk to stroll once on “Round Midnight,” not on this date, but someplace else, because Monk was playing the wrong chords (much laughter). That takes a lot of nerve to tell Thelonious Monk that you’re playing the wrong chords on “Round Midnight.” But, Monk you see . . . . Miles liked that very set, romantic version of “Round Midnight.” And Monk doesn’t always stick to that. You know the Miles version with Trane, at Newport, or wherever that is. [BB might be referring to the Columbia album that has Monk & Miles w/Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Percy Heath, Connie Kay, live at Newport Jazz Festival, July 17, 1955] There’s lots of places where Monk plays different chords than Miles plays on that, though that is sort of the gold standard, the chords that they’re playing on there. Monk sometimes changed several places where he wouldn’t play, and Miles liked, for want of a better term, he liked piano players playing pretty chords. That’s what he liked about Red Garland.

Bobby Bradford Trio -- October 21, 1979 at Century City Playhouse -- Bobby(cornet), Bert Karl(drums), Noah Young(bass -- photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford Trio — October 21, 1979 at Century City Playhouse — Bobby (cornet), Bert Karl (drums), Noah Young (bass — photo by Mark Weber

MW: Odd that “Bag’s Groove” was recorded earlier in the session rather than later, considering the contretemps between Miles and Monk, but Ira Gitler says yes there was tension at the session but the stories have been over-blown. And you know Miles never used Monk again. Of the four tunes recorded that day it’s telling that on “Swing Spring” (a scale-line he got from Bud Powell) Miles solos with only bass and drums but when Milt Jackson’s solo follows Miles, then Monk comps behind Milt. But on the other two tunes Monk is comping behind Miles all along.

BB: Well, you know, it’s hard for somebody the level of Miles Davis to have a Monk in the room as a sideman, you know what I mean? That’d be like somebody like Gene Ammons at the peak of his career to get Miles to be a sideman on one of his records. That’s just not going to work. They’re both too big. The thing is that there are things that you might want to do that Monk would say to someone like Gene Ammons, Monk’d say “Oh man, that’s not . . . . that doesn’t work,” but see, you just can’t say that to a Gene Ammons on a record date. So, you just don’t call him. Now, getting back to Miles, as the years went by Miles got so more and more he liked these more complex piano accompaniment, see, when Red Garland left the band and Miles made his next group and he got Wynton Kelly, now there’s a guy who’s different than Red Garland but still played really pretty chords, you know. Now, during all that time Miles was never going to hire Cecil Taylor, even before Cecil became big, let’s just say 1960, everybody in New York knew who Cecil was at that point, but Miles wasn’t going to call him, but at that point Miles still liked (horrible word I’m using) “pretty” chords, but he liked romantic kind of piano playing, like that stuff that Red Garland played in back of him in all those ballads and he’s playing that Harmon. But, Miles just outgrew that.

 

MW: In my research I looked up trombonist Albert Manglesdorff and he hardly ever used a piano again after 1960 (before that it was Attila Zolar on guitar playing the chords). So, he played thirty years without a piano.

BB: I knew him. I met him, we were on the same festival up there in Oakland once. But, yeh, I had met him in Europe before that.

MW: And David Murray worked with only bass and drums early on.

BB: That’s true. As an actual way of pursuing things for awhile that’s going to be the format that he’d work in, you see. You might see David Murray playing like that but that wasn’t his plan to keep doing that. David would go with whatever idea he had at the time. But, Sonny stuck with that piano-less thing for a long time. In fact, I remember reading someplace where he didn’t like playing with a piano anymore after awhile. But that didn’t last, either.

Bobby Bradford with clarinetist Bill Payne at breakfast at Conrad's restaurant, Pasadena, California -- February 4, 2o18 -- photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford with clarinetist Bill Payne at breakfast at Conrad’s restaurant, Pasadena, California — February 4, 2o18 — photo by Mark Weber

MW: Well, with Sonny the bass & drums trio went from 1957 to 1959 then he took that 3-year break from performance, after which he returned in January 1962 with his album THE BRIDGE where he used Jim Hall. And then for a minute he used the trio format for a few things in 1963. But, after that even he returned to the piano. And you know another outfit that played without a piano in the 60s was your own bands with John Carter.

BB: Yeh. Now, I still like to use the piano, but I don’t want to get a piano player that keeps us back, where we can’t get out of it. You know? Sometimes when we’re playing, and we might have played the first three tunes, free tunes, you know —- 70% of my book is free lines, but I got several tunes based on blues chords, I got two or three tunes based on rhythm changes, then I got a couple of original tunes on chords like “Have You Seen Sideman” that’s a 32-bar tune with a specific chord pattern. And I like to play that but I don’t want a piano player that just . . . . after we play that we’re going back to Planet X again (laughter). I always want somebody who wouldn’t feel . . . . . I don’t want to get locked in by a post-bop piano player.

MW: So, when you and John Carter were going on jobs and playing gigs in the late 60s, there was many times where you were just out there soloing in front of the two bass players and drummer, right?

BB: Yeh. Sure. Now you see John got more and more where he didn’t want to play any tunes of any kind, no Tin Pan Alley tunes, or tunes from like Monk or Bird or Dizzy, he said No man I don’t want to do that anymore. And so sometimes when I would get jobs and he didn’t want to do it, well, I’d get another horn
player. But, after a certain point with him we didn’t play anything but so-called free-form music, in terms of we didn’t follow any chords. In fact, I don’t know of one tune of John’s that is chord-based, that I can think of now.

MW: Well, I think we covered it Bobby. Other horn players that can be found in this bass & drums trio setting are: Joe Lovano, Marty Krystal, Michael Vlatkovich, Warne Marsh in the 80s, Charley Krachy, Lee Konitz on his monumental 1961 album MOTION (Verve), Vinny Golia, Lenny Popkin Trio, Nick Lyons, Max Roach had trios like this, Trio X w/ Oliver Lake+Reggie Workman+Andrew Cyrille, Lorenzo Sanguedolce, Greg Osby, Richard Tabnik, Frank Lowe . . . . . . . .

James Moody showing something to fellow tenor player Tim Zannes -- Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque -- April 21, 1997 -- photo by Mark Weber

James Moody showing something to fellow tenor player Tim Zannes — Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque — April 21, 1997 — photo by Mark Weber

* The research for this essay was made vastly easier with the help of the on-line Tom Lord Jazz Discography
** The recorded telephone conversation with Bobby Bradford was April 1, 2o18 — there were a few that preceded that and one afterwards. The discussion is on-going. Please add names to the Comments.

Mobile hanging in stairwell at Claremont Colleges -- August 1977 -- photo and line drawing by Mark Weber

Mobile hanging in stairwell at Claremont Colleges — August 1977 — photo and line drawing by Mark Weber

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