IT ALL INTER-RELATES —- A talk with Horace Tapscott

Horace Tapscott ---- July 7, 1979 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott —- July 7, 1979 —- photo by Mark Weber

IT ALL INTER-RELATES —- A talk with Horace Tapscott

In this interview, up to this time, Horace had never really been interviewed at length concerning his career (he’s 46, I’m 27) and between us we’re both learning how to conduct a formal interview. At the time I was Los Angeles correspondent for CODA, but, in an earlier transcript the editors decided against using it. This is also two years post-hospitalization for his aneurysm stroke of summer 1978, and he’s almost fully recover’d, although, still formulating sentences, starting them over, and rebuilding them in segments. Also, Horace has used Black English his entire life, but I didn’t “correct” any of HT’s use of that dialect, and even though Horace spent the first 9 years of his life in Houston, he had none of that southern or Plantation Creole, an outgrowth of which was still around back then with Southern Blacks, but that wasn’t Horace. His foundation was the intellectualism of the Charlie Parker generation. The only verbal changes I made were removal of some of the intercalcations: “you know,” and “Uhmm,” and not many others, as some are more than vacant pauses, they relate to the sound system of American Speech patterns, Black or otherwise. Black English is a dialect with it’s own set of rules. I don’t filter this. One also must factor in three more speech communities with HT: 1) South-Central Los Angeles of the 1940s & 1950s 2) jazzspeak 3) Horace’s own personal idioms and argot and vernacular —- (I always say Horace spoke haiku) —- his own mannerisms which is a sub-genre unto itself! Los Angeles hipster talk.

And possibly a fourth dimension, one that linguist Peter Farb points out in his masterful book WORD PLAY (1974) that Black Americans participate/employ/”suffer” was his word, from a form of “linguistic schizophrenia, a sort of diglossia” bouncing between Standard English and Black.

But, let’s face it, Horace was a bebopper. That was his musical foundation. His foray into free & open forms comes later. And one of the aspects of the Bebop ethic was intellectualism. And bringing to the fore Black exceptionalism.

Even as Linda Hill and Horace consider’d me a member of UGMAA, let’s be very clear: this is a Black American story and I look forward to my Black writer brothers to step forward and tell the story first hand. Like my wife said this morning. “Horace and Bobby’s (Bradford) story is important.” My role as a white guy in this deeply Black jazz community in South-Central (we called it “Watts” back then), was as a music head (Horace refers to his turf as East Side and West side, the dividing line being Western Avenue —- Everything else to him was just white, and Hollywood). I was an ally. And Horace was a friend.

I can never forget the last time I saw Horace, from the backseat of a cab, it was August 11, 1998, after saying Catch you later back home, it was hours after midnight and we were outside the Iridium on 66th where he had played that night, and I wish I had taken a picture of him walking up Broadway to his hotel —- To us dyed-in-the-wool West Coasters of a jazz bent, New York is mythical, and Horace had the glow about it all that night.

Horace Tapscott Trio at the Iridium, August 11, 1998 NYC, when the Iridium was across the street from Lincoln Center ---- Ray Drummond, Horace, Billy Hart ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Trio at the Iridium, August 11, 1998 NYC, when the Iridium was across the street from Lincoln Center —- Ray Drummond, Horace, Billy Hart —- photo by Mark Weber

I myself was going through a period of about two years (1979-1981) where I hardly spoke. My psyche must have been doing a deep dive. Working some things out down in there. I can’t explain it. Then, I guess I emerged. I remember during this time my drivers license had been revoked and Dwain would drive me out to my L.A. jazz haunts (we lived 40 miles east in Upland) and Dwain is a jovial guy. I had turned him into a jazz nut by taking him to see Art Pepper play at Donte’s and that blew his mind. So, he became my driver. 1964 Ford Fairlane. Fabulous car. He’d chatter about one thing and another in his New Zealand accent and I’d sit there and listen cruising Los Angeles freeways. You’ll see in the interview where Horace speaks about his acceptance of like-minded quiet people. Smoking pot didn’t help, we smoked a lot during those years. Horace wasn’t overly verbose, either, having spent most of the summer and fall of 1978 in hospital recovering from his stroke. It was also a period where I was abstaining from alcohol, when the courts dropped the hammer on me after my 3rd DUI and put me on probation and issued me a real stormtrooper of a probation officer. But that’s a story for another chapter. L.A. can be a weird place, weird ugly people thrive there. Makes it hard for us normal people. Funny, I haven’t touched the stuff in years. I have friends who still smoke but it just scrambles up my brain, doesn’t agree with me. I still have the empty cigarette pack Horace left on one of my Lp record shelves the last time he was here (Feb. 1998) and it sat there for months before I picked it up one day and turning it over, there tucked into the cellophane is a roach, that HT was saving for later. I still have it, like a talisman. The last time I ever smoked pot was 1991, but I had sort of faded out of that scene by the mid-80s when heroin took over. Again, that’s another chapter. But, for awhile there I smoked a lot of it. Seemed like a lot. Now, I wouldn’t smoke first thing in the morning —- I had a friend, David, I met in AA, who rolled one the night before and left it on his nightstand to smoke before even getting out of bed. I remember he used lick the side of his Marlboro Reds, ostensibly to make them burn slower. I wouldn’t want to be his lungs, if he’s even alive, I heard a rumor that he had slipped back into the bottle. Serious guy about AA when I knew him but drink is “cunning powerful baffling,” as Sheila says, it pulls you back. David became another guy who drove me out to the L.A. clubs. He was a Vietnam War vet, where he learned to cook for platoons, he was the chief cook at Chino Boys Reformatory, a great guy, I turned him onto Lester Young and he made a strong connection with Lester and collected a gang of Lester albums. Horace was never much of a drinker. Maybe you’d see him with a brandy snifter backstage.

This isn’t an interview where we explore ideas and aesthetics so much as it is me trying to outline a timeline of Horace’s musical career. Hanging with Horace he’d make references to various personages or UGMAA houses in his past and locations all over South-Central where his bands would jam and live communally, so, I wanted to get a better picture of that, being naturally an historian. At the time there were no conclusive biographies on Horace like the three by Steve Isoardi, which cover much of the first part of this interview in much more detail and depth. This is probably the first time Horace has been interviewed along these lines. It’s like a practice run before Dr Isoardi comes on the scene and nails it down. So, this interview is not strictly linear. I have a sheaf of notes I’m working from. This is also a very L.A.-centric talk. You kind of have to know West Coast jazz history and the lay of the city.


Interview with HORACE TAPSCOTT —- July 23, 1980

By Mark Weber at Horace  & Cecelia’s Tapscott’s home on the West Side, in the Leimert Park neighborhood.

The recording picks up with me asking about Lorenzo Holden (1924-1987), a life-long South-Central R&B tenor player who first came on the scene in a big way 1949 honking in Pee Wee Crayton’s band, and in 1954 had his own hit with the immortal “Cry of the Wounded Jukebox” —- I had just seen him 3 days previous (see photo) and he must have made an impression on me. We start off in Horace’s listening room with a reel-to-reel of Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra playing, then we move to the living room and leave the others in the room with the music.


Mark Weber : Lorenzo Holden, you know him? He played down there. He’s a blues guy, R&B, like say Jackie Kelso.

Horace Tapscott: Yeh, he used to be in the clubs all the time, Lorenzo, on Central Avenue you’d see him over there.

MW: He was active in the 40s and 50s. There was a lot of boogie woogie groups in L.A. those years?

HT: Yeh! Chuck Higgins, Pachuko Hop, over at the 5-4 Ballroom, man they played that all down through the south. 5-4 Ballroom at 54th and Broadway. That’s where Count Basie and them cats would come through, then.

MW: You were in high school when you did Pachuko Hop? [Horace plays on this jukebox hit, but you can’t hear trombone, so I think he was on piano. I know, later he said he was the arranger.]

HT: Yeh.

MW: You graduated from high school 1952?

HT: Yeh.

We change rooms. Some talk about sobriety and jail . . . .

HT: You were here? [ie. L.A. area]

MW: Yes, here.

HT: So, you just quit.

MW: Tricky Lofton [b.1930 Houston] seems to have been around in your life?

HT: Ever since he was a kid.

MW: He made that one record, in about 62? With Carmell Jones and a bunch of trombones.

HT: Yeh, BRASS BAG.

MW: How many musicians are active in the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra right now?

HT: Right now, today, it’s 13.

MW: How about in UGMAA?

HT: In UGMAA it’s just about 7 or 8 of us, and that staff is growing up, too. So, it’s one of its periods of change-over time, now, we get to see some new faces. That’s the way it works every three years, a change-up.

MW: When did Jesse Sharps join?

HT: Join the Arkestra? He was about 14, and he’s 25 now, or 26. He was just getting out of junior high.

MW: He studied with Cecil Taylor at Antioch?

HT: Yeh. Right. He was back there and he did some things with Cecil.

MW: I read that there was a recording, a 25-piece band?

HT: Probably.

MW: That company Unit Core was advertising it, then the company fell through.

HT: I wonder who has the tapes?

MW: I imagine Cecil, it’s his company.

HT: Oh well, then that’s cool.

Horace Tapscott & Cecil Taylor ---- June 7, 1979 backstage (upstairs) at The Lighthouse ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott & Cecil Taylor —- June 7, 1979 backstage (upstairs) at The Lighthouse —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: What about Michael Sessions, when did he join?

HT: He joined the group I think it was approximately about 4 or 5 years ago, about 74 or 75.

some talk about the 2 albums he made in 1963 w/ Lou Blackburn-Freddie Hill Quintet

HT: One is called JAZZ FRONTIER and the other is TWO-NOTE SAMBA

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra this day was: Al Hines, Roberto Miranda, David Bryant(basses), Linda Hill(alternating with HT on piano), Adele Sebasian(flute), Fritz Wise(drums), Arthur Wells(tenor), Herbert Callies(alto clarinet), Fundi LeGohn(Fr.horn), Moises Obligacion(conga), Ufahamu Uweizi(alto), JujeGre(vocal), Cortnee(vocal), Marla Gibbs(vocal), Bruce Bidlack(soundman), and I missed the names of the baritone sax, and the bass clarinet, and one of the tenor players ---- July 11, 1981 --- photo by Mark Weber

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra this day was: Al Hines, Roberto Miranda, David Bryant (basses), Linda Hill (alternating with HT on piano), Adele Sebasian (flute), Fritz Wise (drums), Arthur Wells (tenor), Herbert Callies (alto clarinet), Fundi LeGohn (Fr.horn), Moises Obligacion (conga), Ufahamu Uweizi (alto), JujeGre (vocal), Cortnee (vocal), Marla Gibbs (vocal), Bruce Bidlack (soundman), and I missed the names of the baritone sax, and the bass clarinet, and one of the tenor players —- July 11, 1981 — photo by Mark Weber

MW: I found Coltrane’s “Nakatini Serenade” on a record in my collection.

HT: Nakatini Suite

MW: Yeh, that’s what you called it on yr record [THE CALL, 1978], but Coltane called it Nakatini Serenade.

HT: They recorded about three four times.

MW: It’s not as bright as yours at all. With Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers, Louis Hayes, 1958. [Lee Morgan also recorded it under the title Nakatini Suite, it’s a Cal Massey (1928-1972) composition, of whom Horace recorded a couple other of his.]

MW: When did you meet Billie Harris?

HT: Me and Billie met in the early 60s, actually, I think it was the last part of the 50s, 59, 60. But, for sure it was the early 60s when we had the UGMA house on 56th [he said “52nd” but corrected himself later] and Figueroa, yeh, during that time. Just before we established it as a thing, you know. We were still doing things and Billie Harris was amongst those guys from St Louis, a bunch of them from St Louis was here, and he was in that with Percy, ah, this brother’s name was Percy, an Englishman from Kansas City – St Louis, that area in there.

MW: Billie has a brother?

HT: No, the first cat . . . the reason how we met Billie was through this young brother, ‘cause he got all them from East St Louis to come this way, and Billie was out here and then he went back, I think he was workin’ a little bit back there, but then he came back here and opened up his Jazz Izz club in Venice —- Long time, and it catered to the music, totally.

MW: He opened that in the early 70s?

HT: Yeh, I guess you could say, yeh, in the early 70s. Yeh, it had to be that.

MW: And this house at 56th & Figueroa. You were there, at least, five years?

HT: Let’s see now. Matter of fact, we were there seven years, and before that we were on Central Avenue, that was Linda Hill’s house, along about 1958 1959.

MW: She’s all L.A.?

HT: Yeh, she went to school here, Jordan High. And her house was on 75th & Central.

MW: And the Figueroa & 56th Street house, you got in there around 65?

HT: No, no, long before that, we was in there about 60, and then, you know, I cut out [Lionel Hampton 1960-1961]. But, we still had the place then. Then I came back, you know. Up until about 64, I believe, we had moved out of there, and went to another place, I can’t remember that house because we weren’t there too long. The last house we had, before we got the Great House – We had the Great House about three four years ago, that was on Western and Adams . . .

MW: Just below the freeway.

HT: Yeh, just below the freeway [Santa Monica Frwy]

MW: I visited there, once.

HT: That was our last one before we got down to the shack. We had the [southbe…… ? indistinct] but it was in, negotiations, I suppose. The one we had just before the Great House burned down, over here on West Blvd off of Slauson. We had three cottages in the back of this place, and one night I had just left, we’d had a rehearsal, and the brothers was stayin there, some of them stayed there, and one of the heaters, or something with the house short-circuited, cats in there practicin’ man, somebody drove up, place is on fire, everything burned up, everything. So, now, then we went to the Great House, and now, we’re on Vermont [the Hor-Mar Press] where we probably will be a long time, after we finish some renovation.

Billie Harris at United-Western Studios recording his I WANT SOME WATER (Nimbus) cd ---- May 3, 1980 (this was the follow-up session to the April 29 session) ---- photo by Mark Weber

Billie Harris at United-Western Studios recording his I WANT SOME WATER (Nimbus) cd —- May 3, 1980 (this was the follow-up session to the April 29 session) —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: and you called the house on Western the Great House?

HT: That comes from during slavery times, everybody would be singing songs, the Great House was where everybody came to after they came out of the fields to rest and do what they gonna do. [As opposed to the “Big House” where the plantation owner lived —- I had asked Bradford about this distinction]

MW: And you moved in there when?

HT: About four five years ago. About the time that Michael Sessions joined the group, as a matter of fact.

MW: [Repeating myself just to double-check dates] And the house before that? the one that burned down, was that about 3 years?

HT: No, we only had that one a couple years.

MW: AND before that was that little house for a minute?

HT: Yeh, [laughing] I’m trying to remember where that was, man, it was so quick, wasn’t too much that happened there.

MW: When did you move out of 56th & Figueroa?

HT: Let’s see . . . . that was . . . We had to move out of there, that was one of those stages where there was a clinic up front [car horn in driveway] the doctors wanted that back house we had, that they had rented to us, and so that’s how we got out of there, which meant for a few months in between there we were spread out, everybody was in different places, just a few months, it wasn’t no longer than a year. Then, the next thing we were at is this other small place, somebody’s house, just for rehearsal. Then of course we used to use my house, in my garage for all our rehearsals regardless where we were, you know, on certain days, Saturdays we’d rehearse in my garage, and that was on 56th Street and Avalon, on the East Side [South-central among the residents is known by East Side and West Side and other various neighborhoods] and I was there a long time till I came over here. So, those houses in between, the biggest ones that I can remember, mostly, was like 56th Street & Figueroa and we were there quite awhile, a lot of things happen’d there, you know.

MW: Must have been interesting times.

HT: 35 piece band then.

MW: My friend Harold Howard, trumpet player, [Cecelia’s voice from the other room asking Horace about something ———- “They said you were in here talkin to Mark” Horace laughs, she asks Horace (she must not see me) how he’s doing? HT laughs says “I’m doing great!” chuckles]

HT: (coughs) Harold who?

MW: Harold Howard. He grew up out here [I wish I could remember where, on the East Side]

HT: Short cat? Played trumpet. Lived there on Figueroa, we called Small Harold. But that might not be the same cat. There’s been a lot of cats that I can’t remember, by their names, you know, and I see them now, and if they haven’t changed their names, but I can’t remember . . . .

MW: He’s a barber. Lives out where I do, in Pomona. He’s a section player, you know, big bands, mostly.

HT: Yeh!

MW: He was telling me that Horace Silver came down to that place. [I must have misconstrued this.]

HT: Horace Parlan did.

MW: Not Horace Silver?

HT: Well, he might have. I didn’t know nothing about it, different cats come around. But, Horace Parlan came for sure and he stayed a couple days and rehearsed, playin with the band.

MW: WOW, what year was this?

HT: (Laughing) I can’t remember the year. Oh, it had to be after 61, long after that, because that’s when I saw him in New York and I had never seen him before, and the first time I saw him was in 61, and I had no idea he had that handicap, you know? the way he played.

MW: How was that?

HT: [demonstrates] Like that. And his fingers were deformed in a way that you know, they wouldn’t move.

MW: His right hand?

HT: Yeh. He was born that way. Crooked. [Horace Parlan 1937-2017 ——— 1937 was stricken w/polio, resulting in partial crippling of right hand ——– Relocated to Copenhagen 1973 —– Was in Los Angeles for recording sessions with Roland Kirk both May 26 & July 22, 1964 w/ Melba Liston arrangements & big band & ensemble]

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at Watts Towers Jazz Festival ---- July 11, 1981 ---- Linda Hill on piano with Horace out front and Adele seated behind Linda ---- photo by Mark Weber

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at Watts Towers Jazz Festival —- July 11, 1981 —- Linda Hill on piano with Horace out front and Adele seated behind Linda —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: I was lookin at photo of Ed Blackwell, is he crippled?

HT: He’s not. I saw Blackwell about 3 weeks ago, in New York, playin with Dewey Redman, and he got up and talked, he had on his dashiki and he had his hat (laughing).

MW: Who was Guido Sinclair? And what’s he doing these days?

HT: Guido Sinclair. He’s in Chicago playing in those clubs around the Chicago area. He’s also known as Sinclair Greenwell, is his other name. But, he’s still playin. He’s a great player.

MW: He grew up in L.A.?

HT: Yeh. I used to have to make him get off his instrument, so we could hang, you know, so we could go down to the Union or something, but he’d be playin and studyin.

Sinclair Greenwell Jr. (December 1935 – July 7, 1992 age 56) was an American jazz alto saxophonist. He was also known as Guido Sinclair, Sonny Harrison, and Junnie. He performed in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Sinclair Greenwell was born in December 1935 in Fort Worth, Texas. He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1944. At Lafayette Junior High School he practiced Charlie Parker solos and met pianist Horace Tapscott. Greenwell and Tapscott formed a band with trumpeter Roy Brewster and drummer Charles Pendergraff while they attended Jefferson High School. Greenwell was a founding member of Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in 1961 and played in the group until the mid-1980s. He moved to Chicago to be with his father. Later, he moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and married harpist Shirley Blankenship. When he lived in Champaign-Urbana, Greenwell wrote many musical papers and performed. These papers include his compositions and records of advertisements from his performances. He performed frequently at Nature’s Table. [Wikipedia]

MW: Did King Pleasure operate out of L.A.?

HT: He worked at one time at the Troubadour club with me, you know, between 58 and 60, King Pleasure did.

MW: He says he retired completely from music in 56, in something he wrote. [Totally erroneous —- King Pleasure made records up through 1962 —– He lived 1922-1982 died at age 60]

HT: Hmmmm. He was at the Troubadour club when the Troubadour was on La Cienega, the first Troubadour club. A jazz-oriented club. Rafmad Jamal was on drums.

MW: [thumbing through notes] Oh, here it is, 1958! Six nights a week, Charles Lloyd, Walter Benton, Bill Pickens, and Jimmy Woods.

HT: Jimmy Woods was the regular player. Charles Lloyd worked there one night (chuckling at the skewed history) before he went to New York. And Walter Benton was coming to work after Charles Lloyd split. Now I don’t remember whether or not Walter made the date or not? Because the club was about to close up, I don’t know what was happening, it was changin’ up, something was happening, and uh . . . . In other words, sometimes I’d be working there, Mark, and I wouldn’t make any money, you dig? And then sometimes I would, and uh, we had a verbal agreement, me and the owner that I owned part of the club (rueful —- laughter all around). As a matter of fact, I went to get my piece of the club a few years ago and he didn’t remember none of it.

MW: You actually went down and talked to Doug Weston?

HT: Oh YEH, MAN! I actually went down there and said Hey man you remember the agreement we made back in those days [coughing hard off a hit] You know, the Troubadour club over there on Santa Monica, that’s where I was, ‘course I opened that club over there on Santa Monica. First night. The open house band. That era was something like 58 to 60.

MW: [confusion] This was the first location?

HT: See, I left La Cienega to open up his other club. Just that particular night. And Billy Higgins was workin down there at that Troubadour, at least part of the time.

MW: And you were piano on that gig?

HT: Uh huh.

MW: My friend Harold said your style changed around then, over night.

HT: I think he’s referring to that Lou Blackburn album. But, I didn’t classify myself in any one particular style. Some of the things called for certain kinds of things, and I just wanted to be able to have it, I suppose. (Laughing) Over night, huh? (He likes the notion) Most of the cats that you hear who are playin now, were playin that way, probably, at the time that they actually got off into the music, you know? Maybe at the ages of 17 or 18 or 19, but you never got to hear ‘em for maybe 20 years, or 13 or more.

MW: I hear what yr saying. It’s kind of like calling Duke Ellington a stride piano player, you know? When he’s just a piano player. He just plays the thing. That’s all anybody is.

HT: You dig, because, if that’s what you do in your life, then that’s the way you do it. Some of the stuff has become so academic, from the point from where it shouldn’t be, you know, it gets in the way, and sometimes it get out of the way. I mean there’s room for all of that, you understand. You know. But it’s not suppose to be the thing, you know. If I’m a youngster and I read it, and then the first thing I’m going to do is say I’m a stride piano or I’m a so & so.

 

[commenting on the weed we’re smoking] HT: It’s good.

 

MW: Yeh, there’s a couple different types in there. [Poor folks weed.]

*see p125 SONGS OF THE UNSUNG by Steven Isoardi

**The Troubadour is a nightclub located in West Hollywood, California, United States, at 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard just east of Doheny Drive and the border of Beverly Hills. Inspired by a visit to the then newly-opened Troubadour cafe in London, it was opened in 1957 by Doug Weston as a coffee house on La Cienega Boulevard, then moved to its current location shortly after opening and has remained open continuously since. It was a major center for folk music in the 1960s . . . .[Wikipedia]

Backstage at Maiden Voyage with Bobby Hutcherson(forefront) and that’s my friend David Flowers in hat that I mention in the introduction ---- January 31, 1980 Los Angeles ---- photo by Mark Weber

MW: Sabia (I mispronounce), he’s been in the group five years? [Sabir Mateen b. 16apr1951 Philadelphia]

HT: Let’s see, when did he first come in? I think it’s been more like four, because, uh, most of the guys that are getting into the group, they come around, without playin, they come to all the rehearsals without playing. And he did that for a few months before he even brought his instrument. So, he was around, I’d say at the most, four years. And he’s currently the cat who’s runnin rehearsals for the Arkestra. [sirens outside]

Dial “B” For Barbra : Horace Tapscott Sextet : Reggie Bullen (tp) Gary Bias (as,sop) Sabir Mateen (ts) Horace Tapscott (p) Roberto Miranda (b) Everett Brown, Jr. (d,perc) [Tom Lord on-line jazz discography citation] Los Angeles, April 26, 1980, Lately’s solo, Nimbus NS1147, Dial “B” for Barbra, Dem’ folks

MW: I was down there [the print shop] at one of Linda’s rehearsals, a couple Saturdays ago.

HT: Oh yeh? Did you talk to him?

MW: Oh yeh. And she got me to run across the street and get her a beer.

HT: But, did you talk to Sabir?

MW: Yeh, I talk to him all the time.

Linda Hill & Horace & Cecilia Tapscott ---- September 23, 1984 Los Angeles ---- photo by Mark Weber

Linda Hill & Horace & Cecilia Tapscott —- September 23, 1984 Los Angeles —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: So, Linda has been around all this time, too?

HT: Oh yeh, man, she was there. When we met she was standin’ over me, when I was in the hospital, she was, uh not a nurse, but, one of them other people, she wore a uniform, I know they had a name for them, she wasn’t a nurse but they would take care of the patients. I had had a kidney attack, and they knocked me out with all that morphine. So, I came out of it and saw this great big lady standin’ over me, tall as a mountain.

MW: She was big back then, too?

HT: Oh man, she was thin, she was really a beautiful lady. That’s how we met. She said she wanted to play, she wanted to do this and do that.

MW: She’s real pretty now, you know.

HT: She’s beautiful! Actually. She’s always been. But, she wasn’t as big as she is now, though. She was more naturally in herself then. Because she’s in her middle-age madness area now [laughter]. That’s where we are. We been knowing each other a long time, man. Long time. Just about as long as the rest of the guys. Most of the people that I be with, it’s a long history thing going on, once we get to know each other, then we hang out. Sometimes, you know, like we used to call rehearsals for early in the morning, you know, I’d wake these cats up at their pad, (laughing) and we go to do 9 o’clock rehearsal. So, by 12 you can do whatever else they want to do, all day long. Sometimes we go to the park and don’t play a note, just lay down at the park, for two hours! You know, spread out on the grass, and that’s rehearsal. See, that’s always the kind of people I want to be around, you know, that kind of sense of togetherness that’s a natural thing, a natural part of it, and nothing that you’re planning. Some cats you can be around and that don’t have anything to say, and that’s cool! You know? They can sit there two hours and don’t say anything to you, you understand? But, they know you’re there and you know they’re there.

MW: Yeh.

HT: Because you have already communicated.

MW: I appreciate being around people that know how to keep quiet. Just because you don’t have anything to say doesn’t mean nothin.

HT: Yeh! (laughing)

MW: I don’t let it bother me, I don’t have an identity crisis (HT laughing). I get the vibe from some people, but that’s that.

HT: Yeh, nothin to say!

MW: Did you have any direct interaction with Bob Florence when you were at L.A. City College?

HT: No, no, no, just an across the room kind of thing. Because, you know, he has a problem seeing, even then. He was partially blind. But, you know the reason I mention Bob Florence is because I hear him every now and then, now, and I always remember him. But, that’s the kind of cat he is, he was always busy and aggressive musically and writing them big long lots of notes charts for the band. Actually, as far as I was concerned, he was out of, what they used to call the Stan Kenton school of writing. Actually, to me, as far as I’m concerned, it was Bob Florence who set up the system [XXX ID8@1:25] in those college recording bands, you understand. He got a system the way he wrote that you knew Hey this is the Los Angeles Recording Orchestra, MacDonald the conductor, you know, that kind of thing. It had that sound that you knew who they were all the time. That’s why, when I heard him the other day on the radio and I said That’s Bob Florence! (clapping his hands & laughing). And Lester Robertson was there at the time, and all these cats they knew Lester and they respected his writings.

MW: At L.A. City?

HT: Yeh. He had a couple up from San Pedro, this trombonist that used to be with Tijuana Brass . . . . Bob something

MW: Frank Rosolino?

HT: No.

MW: Bob Enevoldsen?

HT: No, not him either. Anyway, another Bob [Bob Edmundson] He used to play with Herb Alpert’s group, I don’t know if he still does. Anyway, we was in that college band, I was in that college band with him, too, you dig, when MacDonald was at City College, and that was the only kind of communication that we had. Bob Florence and this Bob, because I was sittin next to him talkin. Jules Chaikin was in the trumpet section and he make all kinds of dough, now, I don’t even think he even playin, he’s a contractor or something. [indistinct sentence] And I see every one of them cats, man, a lot of them they acknowledge that I still here in Los Angeles, come to a concert, or call and say Hello or somethin (laughing) How you doin’ Horace? (big laughter) Yeh, that knocked me out. And during that time Lester Robertson was one of the cats they was lookin out for, you know, because he’s such an excellent player. I remember when Lester got a letter from Art Farmer to come join the Jazztet when they first began in the early 60s. And he said he couldn’t get there because he didn’t have no money to go, and I didn’t have none to give him, nobody had no money. He had this chance to join, you know that group don’t you?

MW: Oh yeh!

HT: That was when McCoy first came out. That was the kind of cat he was, and that’s how Curtis Fuller got the gig, because Lester couldn’t make it. Every time I’m out of town somewhere and I run into that ‘bone player up north, here, uh . . .

MW: In Frisco? Pepo? Julian Priester?

HT: Yeh. He be askin about Lester, you know. Clifford Jordan asked where Lester was the other night.

MW: Really?

HT: Yeh, he wanted to know where Lester was. That was the night Barry Harris was here, and I went down to see him and I wanted to tell him I was glad he was here, that he showed up. You know. Yeh, we sit there and look at the piano, like Elmo Hope did, and when cats come from a certain area they sit at the piano the same way, they look at it and say Alright, I’m going to get you tonight. The piano be grinning up at you and say Alright (laughter). Elmo used to say that to the box every night.

MW: Yeh?

Backstage at Maiden Voyage with Bobby Hutcherson(forefront) and that’s my friend David Flowers in hat that I mention in the introduction ---- January 31, 1980 Los Angeles ---- photo by Mark Weber

Backstage at Maiden Voyage with Bobby Hutcherson(forefront) and that’s my friend David Flowers in hat that I mention in the introduction —- January 31, 1980 Los Angeles —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: Is he an L.A. guy?

HT: Who?

MW: Elmo

HT: Oh, he just lived here for a long time. He came here and he married the pianist, Bertha Hope, she’s in New York. They made an album together, maybe you’ve heard it? Two pianos, in duet. Bertha and Elmo. I was in the studio the day they made it, just arrived in New York! Me and Lester. And he was makin’ that album, cat took us dead straight to the studio. And I never did get that album, either, that really tripped me out! (laughter) But, I got to know him well, when we were playin with Gerald Wilson, and doing those Las Vegas jobs, you know, takin care of my family, in the early 60s.

MW: Elmo was in some of Gerald’s bands?

HT: Yeh, in Gerald’s band, one of his bands, playin with Earl Grant up at The Flamingo Hotel.

MW: You were in Gerald’s band in 1957?

HT: Yeh, I was in that one. But, I was in one in 1948, that’s the one where Eric and I and Frank Morgan was in.

MW: Gerald had bands clear back to 1945.

HT: Oh man, he’s the cat, man. My writing and most anybody else’s writing comes out of Gerald Wilson. And he say Everybody come out of Duke. You know, he used to write a lot of Duke’s music. Duke would come here, right up the street there, he lives right around the corner, and pick him up and they’d drive on by (laughing). So, you know, like, he’s been on it and he’s helped a whole bunch of people in this city, Gerald Wilson.

MW: So you were with him from 58 on?

HT: No, I just stayed probably a couple of years then Lester said Let’s go to New York with Lionel Hampton, and I went with him.

MW: So, that was 60 to 61?

HT: Yeh, Right.

MW: And you made records with that band?

HT: Yeh. Don’t know what label they’re on. Never heard them before. We did a thing called “Doublin’ Up” with me and Lester taking trombone solos. And Hamp takin’ fours, we takin’ fours with each other. Oliver Jackson was the drummer. Lawrence Skinner Bergen was the bass player. And I have to ask Lester what’s the pianos name, he’s from Philadelphia, father was the top man in the union. I can’t remember . . . Kenneth? Anyway, he was playing piano. He did this album in New York.

MW: He also backed up a lot of singers with that group, didn’t he? Dinah Washington.

HT: I don’t remember that. I remember seeing her a couple times, but she wasn’t with him then, because he was takin a band on the road and that’s when he had a real road band, those years, there was a bunch of cats in there, man.

MW: L.A. guys?

HT: No, this is the New York band that he had. Because we went back to New York, you know, when he came here, you know, he had some places here that he was rentin’ out. But he wanted two cats who could write and play. And me and Lester weren’t workin, so he said Let’s go to New York for a year, and I said Alright. And that’s how that began. And right away, man, I knew that I was going to be somewhere that was going to be cool, but I wasn’t going to like it (laughter). You know. The idea. And that’s why I quit that band, all these places we been playin at, every night in these different cities, and all that stuff, I wonder how many people heard us? That’s what kept buggin me on that bus, with all those guys, hundreds of miles. I couldn’t deal with it, man, you know? I had kidney stones, riding on that bus, man . . .

MW: Really?

HT: Oh yeh, man. I couldn’t deal with it. ‘Cause you know, the way he was workin, and that was 17 cats. Hardcore cats, you understand. Out on the road, goin’ to these places where they didn’t want to let us in because we was black and then Hamp runnin off the bus somewhere and he goes WHAT? And we, just off the bus ride, man, and we just brushed on into the place, and they didn’t say one word, about anything. It was really Out. It was really out, man, we was tired, I couldn’t deal with that too much longer because we’d be playin, Mark, and we might wind up playin two tunes the whole night. ‘Cause see, we want to play it when we play it, so when he stopped doing his show business bit . . . . I remember in Vegas after hours maybe like 4 in the morning when there was very few people in the casino, then he’d pull out my writing, and Lester’s writing. I remember “I Remember Clifford,” he ran out of his dressing room one night, man, “I got to get some that!” See, he wasn’t suppose to come out. The announcer is suppose to announce him and everything for him to come out and make his play and the band is going to play two tunes by themselves, and we started doing “I Remember Clifford,” and this cat Lionel Hampton is runnin out of his dressing room and ran up on the stage, “I gotta get some of that! that sounds good, man! That cat used to play with me, he used to play with me, man.” And he went out there and let us know what it was to be a pure player, like he is. He’s about as pure in his playing as I’ve ever heard. As a player. Period. Whatever instrument they be playin, and however great and good they are, certain cats, they’ve got a total other kind of gift. And they make everybody in the listenin’ distance go wherever it is they want to allow them because this cat be in there colorin’. And Hamp was one of one of them cats. Andrew Hill is another cat like that. That’s why I love . . . Now, that’s the only pianist . . . . you know, I like a lot of them, but this is the only pianist that I would buy records of them, because of his thing, to get inside. And I like what he’s sayin’ in there. We hung out together in Italy, by the way.

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at UCLA May 16, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- Fundi LeGohn(Fr.horn), Ufahamu(alto), Rick West, David Bryant, Nyimbo Henry Franklin, Alan Hines(basses – 4 of them), Dadesi Arthur Wells(alto), Fritz Wise(drums), Horace Tapscott & Linda Hill(piano), Gary Bias(alto) and dancers ---- We all met at Horace’s and drove over in a caravan of three of our junkers

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at UCLA May 16, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber —- Fundi LeGohn(Fr.horn), Ufahamu(alto), Rick West, David Bryant, Nyimbo Henry Franklin, Alan Hines(basses – 4 of them), Dadesi Arthur Wells(alto), Fritz Wise(drums), Horace Tapscott & Linda Hill(piano), Gary Bias(alto) and dancers —- We all met at Horace’s and drove over in a caravan of three of our junkers

MW: Didn’t you say that the trains would just take off without you?

HT: Yeh. WHOOM! It’s gone! And they might say something in Italian, maybe. If they say anything. And it’d be in Italian and it’d be so quick even the Italians didn’t hear it! (laughter, clapping his hands). They taught me a good lesson, the whole scene. I like that. When I was in trouble, I knew I could get out of it but I would have to go through a thing to get out of it, if I didn’t kill nobody. But I was trying to find what was happening. They have to know I’m an American, you see, they don’t say I’m a black, because they have all these African’s coming in that are over there. So, they be distinguishing and knowing that you be an American, you understand? They call you the Americano! And I’m the only one in this whole town (clapping his hands) And everybody was helping me, man! They knew I was sittin’ out there waitin’. Okay, man. And from then on it didn’t bother me no more because I knew I getting’ takin’, you know, they was takin’ my money on the train . . .

MW: Were they really?

HT: Cat comes through the train while the train is movin through the countryside and sayin I want some more money, man. Okay, man. (Rueful laughter) Because I had to get rid of the money anyway, you know. But, he was takin’ my dough, 10,000 lira here, 20,000 there, a hundred thousand lira here, okay, man. But, the rest of my dough I had in American, see. Like that thing I told you about that bill I had to pay to go from this little ol’ small town to Florence, Italy. But, it was cool.

[MW tells story of Greyhound from NOLa to L.A. and some guy hit me up for money and I showed him I only had this much and he shouted, Hey, you got a LOT of money! But, it was going to be slim, eating sardines all the way across, this bum didn’t care if he took my last penny.]

HT: See, and you knew you could make because you knew what you had to work with. That’s the way it was over there, I knew what I had to work with. And I knew where I was, I was in another country, so, I got used to that, but I did enjoy the scenery in the place where I lived, in Verona, that’s the only place that I could wish to remember.

MW: And you bumped into Cecil Taylor.

HT: Well, he didn’t show. See, because he had some problems with the people who were trying to hire him. I saw him in New York when I came back over. He was on the bill, and uh, Julius Hemphill, and Bill Dixon 7-tet, this was in Italy, and Andrew Hill and myself, and Ornette Coleman and his son Denardo. I remember him when he was just a kid. [HT played a series of solo gigs in Italy – June 1980 just the month before this interview]

MW: Denardo grew up in L.A.?

HT: Yeh, his mother, she’s a poet, she has an album that just came out. Jayne.

MW: She was never directly involved with UGMA or Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra?

HT: No. She was more or less with that group Studio Watts. Which is still happenin’ now with that brother running it, he changed the name, and I can’t remember his name, anyway, she worked out there at Studio Watts. That’s when we met. And we started workin’ together because she had heard about our group with the poetry and music together.

MW: The Watts Happening Coffee House?

HT: Yeh, that was down the street from Studio Watts, she was there, and the Arkestra was at the Watts Happening Coffee House and she came down, that’s when we had those classes in Watts, pre-riot. And her being down the street with Studio Watts she was in that summer program, too, you know, with youngsters. And so we’d come down. Because this was the only community orchestra, that was during that time, yeh.

Stanley is using that trash can as his ashtray, he’s looking at his friend Lester Bowie, backstage at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA, after an Art Ensemble of Chicago performance ---- October 20, 1979 ---- Stanley Crouch photo by Mark Weber

Stanley is using that trash can as his ashtray, he’s looking at his friend Lester Bowie, backstage at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA, after an Art Ensemble of Chicago performance —- October 20, 1979 —- Stanley Crouch photo by Mark Weber

MW : Was Stanley Crouch ever involved?

HT: With us?

MW: Yeh.

HT: Oh, in doing programs together, yeh, and getting things together. He’d be mostly involved with having classes, at colleges, like at Claremont Colleges for a long time, he would have programs going on there.

MW: Did he get you out there?

HT: Yeh. He had us out there a couple of times.

MW: I never heard about that. I live next to Claremont.

HT: He was always interested in the music. He first come around years ago, he and Arthur and David and Walter, Everett and myself. Then he started getting certain jobs at these certain schools. Because he’d go out and scream and holler, you know how he is [indescernable] (laughing). So, he wrote the liner notes on our first album THE GIANT IS AWAKENED. So, that’s how he was involved, just by knowing him.

MW: You met him in his 20s? He grew up in L.A. I like Stanley. I saw him just ten months ago, he was at the Art Ensemble concert at UCLA (Stanley visiting from NYC). I read somewhere that Leon Thomas was around?

HT: Yeh, he was in UGMA when he was here.

MW: When was that?

HT: That was during that time of 56th Street & Figueroa, because he was one of the brothers that this cat got out here, Percy. Yeh, Leon, he got Leon out here. He say he got a cat back in East St Louis that he wanted us to hear, and he thought he could make it, because he got a thing, he be doin’ yodelin’. Cats say WHAT yodelin? And I say Yeh, man, wait till you hear the brother! (chuckling)

MW: That might be when he first started messing around with yodeling.

HT: I think so. During that time, back there, he was trying to get everybody to have him . . .

MW: I read in the dictionary that Leon was with Basie for awhile. [1964-1965] *One of HT’s son steps in “Hey, pops you got those cables back here? [jumper cables]”

HT: No, I haven’t son.

Son: Could I use your car, just to pull it up along side mine to jump?

HT: Oh, I see, alright.

[Stanley’s composition “Future Sally’s Time” first shows up in the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra repertoire in 1969 and appears on the Nmbus 2-Lp release LIVE AT I.U.C.C.]

MW: Freddie Hill became [not discernible]

HT: I don’t know where Freddie Hill is, man, I saw Freddie a few months ago, we were at a stop sign, and that was it, and he was goin’ the opposite way.

2 trumpeters & a saxophonist: Freddie Hill (silver hair) & Martin Banks (hat) w/ Harold Land at Maiden Voyage during Harold’s afternoon rehearsal ----May 10, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber

2 trumpeters & a saxophonist: Freddie Hill (silver hair) & Martin Banks (hat) w/ Harold Land at Maiden Voyage during Harold’s afternoon rehearsal —-May 10, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: When were you with Lorez? [Lorez Alexandria moved from her hometown of Chicago to L.A. in 1964]

HT: Let’s see, I was till over on the East Side, I was living over there at the time. I know it was the early 60s. That’s all I can say. A matter of fact, it was before . . . .

MW: Before Lou Blackburn-Freddie Hill Sextet?

HT: Right.

MW: It had to be before them, yeh. Alright. Did you make any records with her?

HT: No, she wasn’t recordin’ then. But she was singin. I had gigs with her and Frank Butler, Bobby Haynes(bass), up to San Francisco. The Blackhawk was there at the time. This was a club, The Jazz Workshop.

MW: And there was Bop City.

HT: YEH! Now that was the one that was there in the early 50s, and Jimbo’s.

MW: You’re actually involved on three different Sonny Criss albums, aren’t you?

HT: Yeh.

MW: That SONNY’S DREAM, that a nice album.

HT: Yeh, I like that album. You know it was, uh . . . . I had a big problem on that album, though, Mark, I had a group that was two-months-rehearsed for that record date, two months! In my garage. Every instrument that you hear on it. So, I had . . . . I had . . . . there was financial problems, which meant I had my money in advance, you know, to do what I was gonna do, okay? So, I tell my people to come down to RKO, or wherever that studio was, and we walked in there, man, and here’s a whole different cats, Pete Christlieb, Conte Candoli, and some cat I knew from the college band.

MW: Ray Draper.

HT: Ray Draper was on there, he kept the gig, he was, you know . . . . I had scheduled him and the bass player, Al McKibbon. Tommy Flanagan.

MW: Tommy Flanagan, Teddy Edwards. . .

HT: See, it wasn’t that I didn’t want them cats, but I didn’t ask for them. I had my own group ready to play, with the exception of the rhythm section. I had my horn players, Lester, Ike Williams, all these cats that had rehearsed heavy, Edwin Pleasants was on it. So, I went through a thing, and then Sonny got angry and he went through a thing with them, and then . . . .

MW: And didn’t that group play the Tropicana, for four nights?

HT: Not that group.

MW: Not that group? Then you had a ten-piece that you got together. This was 1967 that you played The Tropicana. [See Leonard Feather liner notes to CRISSCRAFT regarding HT at the Trop backing Criss————In the liner notes it is says Horace wrote for Sonny’s nine-piece rehearsal band, 1967-68]

HT: Yeh, you see, that was a whole other thing.

MW: UP UP AND AWAY, [Sonny Criss Lp – recorded Aug. 18, 1967 — has HT’s tune “This is For Benny”] . . . you recorded. But then, you rehearsed a whole other group, did you ever record this group?

HT: No. Just on tape.

MW: Does that tape sound this good? * [HT music getting louder in the background from the other room]

HT: Well, no, no, because in them days you just had the reel-to-reel home recorder. I would say on a scale of ten, all those reels are a 7. Because, naturally, Mark, you’re going to be trying to hear more than, maybe somebody else who would be listening . . . . You see you’re trying to listen inside everything. So, that’s how they hear it. They’re all here in the archive, I have to get them all re-engineered.

MW: Maybe you can get a grant to do that? Hey, they’re making a million-dollar Dizzy Gillespie library, I was reading.

HT: Yeh!

[HT music on Sonny Criss albums:

Lp UP UP AND AWAY —- Aug. 18, 1967 —- HT’s tune “This is for Benny”
Lp SONNY’S DREAM —- May 8, 1968 —- all HT compositions & arrangements
Lp CRISSCRAFT —- Feb. 24, 1975 —- HT’s tune “This is for Benny” & “The Isle of Celia”
Later, in June 1982 – HT recorded “This is for Benny” solo piano, appears on Vol. 1 TAPSCOTT SESSIONS (Nimbus)]
*Steven Isoardi says these tapes were not found when he cataloged Horace’s archive before it went into UCLA. Wherever these tapes are, they are deteriorating and approaching beyond saving if a real transfer engineer doesn’t work on them, soon. It would be a grievous loss. Analog tape sometimes doesn’t last 20 years, let alone 50.

[music too loud]

MW: Do you think that one 1968 recording of the Giant is Awakened band, or is it 64? With Blythe . . . [I’m not sure what I was trying to ask]

HT: [gets up and shuts door as PAPA music is getting louder from other room where other members of the Arkestra are listening] That was before 69. 69 is when we recorded that [GIANT IS AWAKENED].

MW: I have a lot of interest in what was going on at that house on 56th Street. All the music from there must sound like THE GIANT IS AWAKENED.

HT: Yeh. Our biggest thing that we used to do at that time, this tune that we used to do was “Impressions of the Ghetto.” And a thing that was written by a saxophonist, Lawrence Mohammad Ali, he’s still in the community, it was called “Like Eric.” Something he wrote years ago, about Eric (Dolphy). . . [indistinct] . . . . was done at the Venice Pavilion, let’s see, yeh, that was early early 60s . . . .

MW: With Blythe?

HT: Yeh. With Blythe. Sinclair.

MW: 1963?

[screeching cars outside like in a car chase, going on & on, around the block]

HT: Chico Robison playin’ with us. We had four bass players, three drummers, two pianists . . .

MW: Nine-piece, ten-piece rhythm section, alright!

HT: We was dressed in black suits, and all these people, everybody just stopped eating, walking, talking, sayin’ What? Hey wait a minute what the? And the cats came up on the bandstand, silent, with no music. Oh, What’s happening? What’s that they gonna do? [HT stomping his feet excitedly as he describes the scene] They were silent, then I come on last, and BAM! And that . . . . [indistinct] The whole band started playin’ at the same time, and they’d never heard that, on the record.

MW: How many horns?

HT: Ah . . . . 4 alto players, about 7 tenors, 6 flutes, 4 trombones, and all kinds of rhythms, percussion . . . .

MW: This is even bigger than the 25-piece.

HT: Yeh. Well, this is the first one. That was the 3rd one [the 25-piece]. Yeh, you know, 35-piece, and singers. Quite often, people used to come to concerts and they either couldn’t stand it, or they were real believers, at that time. Outside the Pavilion there’d be people out there, on the streets. ‘Cause you know, we started giving concerts at Foshay Jr High School, a little later on, maybe three four years later when the band was smaller. We’d be playin’ to one person. And we’d be playin’ like it was one thousand. And nobody was ever worried about lookin’ out at the audience.

Linda & Horace in the center with Fritz sitting on ground with bass players David Bryant & Henry Franklin ---- UCLA May 16, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Linda & Horace in the center with Fritz sitting on ground with bass players David Bryant & Henry Franklin —- UCLA May 16, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: Oliver Lake?

HT: He’s comin’ in.

MW: Bradford says that you used him in filler position.

HT: Uhhuh. Yeh, we got that on video tape as a matter of fact.

MW: You’re kidding.

HT: Bradford and Arthur. It’s in the archives. We got it at South Park, John Carter as well. He was in that first band.

MW: For the Pavilion performance?

HT: Yeh.

MW: This video tape, what year is this?

HT: About 65 maybe 66 or 67. I got the date on the tape, on the South Park gig.

[Son pokes in calls HT “Pops” returns car keys]

MW: You have performance this Sunday comin’ up?

HT: Comin up? Yeh.

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ---- I see David Bryant the furthest left of the 3 bassists, Linda Hill sitting with children (white hat) in front row behind Horace at piano, Billy Hinton & James Madison on drumsets, and Moises Obligacion, conga ---- January 30, 1977 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- I see David Bryant the furthest left of the 3 bassists, Linda Hill sitting with children (white hat) in front row behind Horace at piano, Billy Hinton & James Madison on drumsets, and Moises Obligacion, conga —- January 30, 1977 —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: The Jepsen discography has you listed in 1956 as doing a recording date with Peppy Prince?

HT: Yeh, I was in his band. Community orchestra that used to play for dancers. In the area.

MW: And recorded for Dootsie Williams for DooTone?

HT: Yeh.

MW: I met him awhile back. Down at his club. That’s a nice place. [I wish I had taken a photo of Dootsie. For some reason I didn’t.]

HT: Uh huh. It’s been there a long time.

MW: Floyd Dixon is one of my old favorites. He lived down the street from you in Houston?

HT: Yeh, he was . . . . I just saw him night before last.

MW: Around here?

HT: Yeh, he was with us on the telethon, Saturday, for Richard Pryor. And he and Bernie Hamilton got a club now, in town, I can’t think of where it’s at.

MW: He’s here now? I thought he lived in the Bay Area?

HT: He’s down here now.

MW: But, he used to be around here, earlier?

HT: You know, when they were teenagers, he was in this 20s and travelin’ around then, but see, he knows my sister, you know, they’re pretty tight. And he’s back now. But, you know, since Houston, Texas . . . I knew him then ‘cause I was a young back when he was fooling around.

MW: I’d like to know how to contact him.

HT: Oh yeh! I’ll hook you up with him. He gigs constantly. He’s got a lot to say.

MW: “Hey Bartender”! — I saw him up in Frisco sing that song in 75, he had a hangover, he was dingy but he was good!

HT: (Laughing knowingly)

Horace & Moises Obligicion and Lester Robertson -- photo by MW  --- June 28, 1981

Horace & Moises Obligicion and Lester Robertson — photo by MW — June 28, 1981

MW: Lester Robertson, he’s not going to be coming around for awhile?

HT: He’ll be back into it in a couple months . . . . . [hard to decipher, something about a son in Oroville]

MW: When you were in Gerald Wilson’s band wasn’t Jack Wilson piano in the group?

HT: No, he wasn’t in the city then.

MW: [Looking at my notes] He came in 62 to L.A.

HT: Yeh, we was in Las Vegas when I first met Jack Wilson. I was with Gerald, then, and he was in Vegas with Dinah Washington. And he claims I was the one who got him to come to Los Angeles.

MW: Really?

HT: Yeh, I told him if he come to Los Angeles he’ll be able to work alright. And that’s what he did. And he’s been here ever since!

MW: He just called me up the other day and we were talking about you. [Jack used to call me in my capacity as Los Angeles columnist for CODA to bring me up to date with his efforts to integrate the studios. During one conversation he told me the harrowing story of having a diabetic coma right on the Harbor Freeway! I have always suspected his tune “Harbor Freeway 5 p.m.” was just that.]

Jack Wilson Trio ---- Clarence Johnston(drums) & Allen Jackson(bass) ---- July 18, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- Jack using his two-keyboard approach, many times playing both simultaneously, as you can hear on this albums

Jack Wilson Trio —- Clarence Johnston(drums) & Allen Jackson(bass) —- July 18, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber —- Jack using his two-keyboard approach, many times playing both simultaneously, as you can hear on this albums

MW: Was Ornette living in the mountains?

HT: They were saying that, you know, when he came to Jefferson High, uh, he was in the mountains, him and four more cats, I don’t know if they were rehearsin’ in the mountains, and I don’t know the extent of the mountains. It could have been this mountain down at Griffith Park. But you know that what they be talkin’ about . . . because he had very long hair and a long beard [demonstrates how long].

MW: That long? Down to his bellybutton?

HT: Right. Gawd damn. That was a long time ago. We were comin out of Mr Browne’s rehearsal and we saw him walkin in there, me and Frank Morgan, and Troy Brown. He was consistent. Consistent. And that’s what we heard.H

MW: And Charles Brackeen, is he L.A. people?

HT: No, uh, he and Joanne . . . . .

MW: You ever bump into them much?

HT: They used to work . . . . . He used to come down to the Troubadour on those nights when we’d let him play. Joanne usually wouldn’t play, she’d come down here with the babies, and Charles would be playin’. . . . . [trails off]

MW: Are there lyrics to “Ballad for Samuel”?

HT: There are several lyrics, Linda wrote some, and Adele wrote some, different people writing, but I don’t have any that I have adapted. But, the ones that were written for “Ballad for Samuel” were written by Linda and had to do with him. I think we recorded it once. It’s about Samuel Browne.

[I allude to an article in Radio Free Jazz regarding this tune recorded at The Troubadour]

MW: That was quite a stretch in Wyoming – 4 years, that’s a long time.

HT: Long time.

MW: Was it boring up there?

HT: After awhile. Like I said, all you had time for was compose, to make music and babies. Because, you learn, you got a chance to concentrate, you don’t have no other choice, you look outside and the snow (laughing) be up to here, right at your height. The whole town would have to close down. Nothing could move. So, people had everything stored up in their houses and their cars, all ready. And I was in the band, the band’s quadrant, you know, and they had 3 floors and a basement, and we had 5 rooms. I had a room. It was very loose, and the warrant officers that we had, he was a Norwegian cat and he wasn’t a military kind of person. He was listenin’ to the music, only. So, you know, he’d pick certain cats that he thought was in the music, and I was one of them. He’d bring his daughters, when he was babysittin. Anyway, that’s the kind of cat he was. Now, the military people was trying to destroy this cat, tryin’ to get rid of him. Workin’ with people like him I got a chance to involve myself deeply into what I wanted to get into and get myself ready for when I got out. Because I knew I was going to get out. And, Billy James, the drummer, he was in there, that’s where he learned to play. And he and I and Sherman Robinson, tenor player, Herbert Baker, the bass player from Erie, Pennsylvania, uh . . . .

MW: So, it was Herbert Baker Jr who wrote “Flight 17”?

HT: No, this is a whole other Herbert Baker. And a couple drummers but I haven’t seen them in awhile, to know their names. I understand that Houston Person was in the band with us, you know? Billy James told me that, I didn’t realize, and I’ve been tryin’ to get in touch with him see if . . . .

MW: He’s in Oakland, now, right?

HT: Yeh.

Horace Tapscott and Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ---- January 30, 1977 ---- Sunday at I.U.C.C. ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- January 30, 1977 —- Sunday at I.U.C.C. —- photo by Mark Weber

[We change rooms for some reason —– it sounds different ———– We’re lookin’ at some of my photos, esp. the one with the carbuncle over his eye]

MW: Is this something to do with the aneurysm?

HT: No. I forgot what the doctor called it. He had a name for it. Impurities. It’s my third one. I had it cut off.

MW: When were you in the hospital for the aneurysm?

HT: 78 – July, August, September. [page 170 SONGS OF THE UNSUNG HT says relates that he got out of hospital end of 1978.]

The Hi-De-Ho Club ---- 1977 ---- photo by Mark Weber

The Hi-De-Ho Club —- 1977 —- photo by Mark Weber

MW: Did you ever see Bird when he was out here in L.A.?

HT: Uh uh. I waited for him that night but he didn’t show up. At Buddy Collette’s class, he was going to have him come out and speak to us, at Jordan High. He used to have night music classes. And have different brothers come out and tell us what’s happenin’. But, Bird didn’t show that night.

MW: Were you familiar with the Hi-De-Ho Club? Was that much of a spot?

HT: What year?

MW: 1947 at 50th & Western. [Charlie Parker was there, with a young Hampton Hawes in the band – for most of March 1947.]

HT: [very muffled and drowned out by Cecelia and a friend in the other room Horace says something about Bird on Central] . . . . . . . See, at that time Black people weren’t even comin across Western. And all the clubs were right there on Central Avenue.

MW: West Adams District had a jazz scene in the 60s?

HT: Yeh. In that area you had the Intermission Room, they had Curtis Amy, and, down the street from that they had the Hi Hat Club, Elmo Hope was playing in there.

MW: The It Club?

HT: The It Club was on Washington. [Same area]

MW: The Parisian Room?

HT: Parisian Room was a lounge, I don’t think they had much going on then. Every now and again they had something. [drowned out with loud music from the other room] . . . . The Hillcrest Club had Ornette and Don Cherry, was where they first started. With Paul Bley.

MW: On Washington?

HT: Yes.

MW: And The Haig.

HT: But that was more downtown on Wilshire.

[ way too drowned out by music and other talk]

HT: [indistinct . . . . . tells story of Miles at some club and he’s not coming to the stage . . . ] and Rosolino started screaming Who does he think he is, keeping us waiting.

MW: Really?

HT: Yeh, I said Why don’t you leave man. That was really out.

MW: Miles came in late?

HT: No, he never did show, not while I was there. Out on West Adams somewhere.

MW: How’s that after-hours club doing over here that you were telling me about?

HT: They’re still there, on West Adams and Hines. Every Friday morning, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning.

MW: Who’s there now?

HT: Let’s see. They have different brothers playing there. Right now I think it’s Gene Russell, pianist.

Gene Russell Trio at Maiden Voyage, downtown L.A. ---- August 23, 1980 --- Henry Franklin(bass) & Clarence Johnston(drums) ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- Clarence was a photographer, also, and was always trying to convince me to shoot boxing matches at the Olympic, that there was money in it

Gene Russell Trio at Maiden Voyage, downtown L.A. —- August 23, 1980 — Henry Franklin(bass) & Clarence Johnston(drums) —- photo by Mark Weber —- Clarence was a photographer, also, and was always trying to convince me to shoot boxing matches at the Olympic, that there was money in it

MW: You know that Bob Thiele album EMERGENCY, did he just take tapes and over-dub you onto Bobby and John? Or, did you play together?

HT: We played together.

MW: Yeh?

HT: Actually, he might have done some of that, because I was in between Bobby and Tom’s stuff. And I played through some of it. The rest of it was Tom Scott. [Horace solo piano is spliced onto the end of Bobby Bradford & John Carter “In the Vineyard” and Tom Scott’s part is before BB&JC —- This double album is an audio drama utilizing L.A. musicians from across the generations with pastiches back New Orleans. Flying Dutchman Records.] See, I was actually playing first, alone, and then Bobby & Bruz they started playing and while they was playing Chuck Domanico, and Kellaway, and the drummer John Guerin. John Guerin started playing and Bruz went out, as a matter of fact, John Carter and them, they all went out but I was still playin.

MW: This all happened at the same session?

HT: Yes, but the way it was done, you could have done some overdubbing on it.

[I’m guessing that Thiele tried to have all the musicians play it as he envisioned it, as Horace says, but in the end decided to use overdubs and splicing. So, recordings probably exist of this attempt.]

 

 

Lorenzo Holden with Phillip Walker ---- Phillip used the Lee King Band this day, who had played just before him at this KLON Blues & Gospel Festival, Sunday July 20, 1980 Long Beach, California ---- And Lorenzo stayed after Phillip Walker's set and sat in with Lowell Fulson, also ---- photo by Mark Weber

Lorenzo Holden with Phillip Walker —- Phillip used the Lee King Band this day, who had played just before him at this KLON Blues & Gospel Festival, Sunday July 20, 1980 Long Beach, California —- And Lorenzo stayed after Phillip Walker’s set and sat in with Lowell Fulson, also —- photo by Mark Weber

Cruising San Bernardino Freeway coming into downtown L.A. ---- May 9, 1981 ---- View from 1964 Ford Fairlane ---- photo by Mark Weber

Cruising San Bernardino Freeway coming into downtown L.A. —- May 9, 1981 —- View from 1964 Ford Fairlane —- photo by Mark Weber

Sharon Weber & Cecelia Tapscott & my camera bag at 4901 11th Avenue, L.A. ---- photo by Mark Weber

Sharon Weber & Cecelia Tapscott & my camera bag at 4901 11th Avenue, L.A. —- photo by Mark Weber

Dwain Kaiser and Art Pepper at Donte's in N. Hollywood ---- January 16, 1982 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Dwain Kaiser and Art Pepper at Donte’s in N. Hollywood —- January 16, 1982 —- photo by Mark Weber

Gary Bias takes a solo at Immanuel United Church of Christ ---- Fritz Wise(drums), seated: Ufahamu Uweizi(alto), Fundi LeGogn(Fr.horn), JuJeGr(vocalist) ---- Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ---- April 26, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Gary Bias takes a solo at Immanuel United Church of Christ —- Fritz Wise(drums), seated: Ufahamu Uweizi(alto), Fundi LeGogn(Fr.horn), JuJeGr(vocalist) —- Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- April 26, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber

PAPA ---- July 11, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber

PAPA —- July 11, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ---- January 30, 1977 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- January 30, 1977 —- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ---- January 30, 1977 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- January 30, 1977 —- photo by Mark Weber

 

Horace Tapscott ---- January 30, 1977 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott —- January 30, 1977 —- photo by Mark Weber

My driver, Dwain Kaiser, my camera bag, and Harold Howard (both are mentioned in the interview) with Horace on the couch at his & Cecilia's place ---- We three had been at Hollywood Bowl that night to see Miles and afterwards popped over to see Horace ---- September 25, 1981 ---- photo by Mark Weber

My driver, Dwain Kaiser, my camera bag, and Harold Howard (both are mentioned in the interview) with Horace on the couch at his & Cecilia’s place —- We three had been at Hollywood Bowl that night to see Miles and afterwards popped over to see Horace —- September 25, 1981 —- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and Tom Albach, the man behind Nimbus Records backstage at Century City Playhouse the evening HT Trio w/ Alex Cline and Roberto Miranda performed ---- Feb. 10, 1980 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and Tom Albach, the man behind Nimbus Records backstage at Century City Playhouse the evening HT Trio w/ Alex Cline and Roberto Miranda performed —- Feb. 10, 1980 —- photo by Mark Weber

Buddy Collette out front of his Big Band at Watts Towers July 5, 1980 ---- That's the legendary William Green on baritone in the forefront of photo ---- photo by Mark Weber

Buddy Collette out front of his Big Band at Watts Towers July 5, 1980 —- That’s the legendary William Green on baritone in the forefront of photo —- photo by Mark Weber


Transcribed by MW July 2020 from 80-minute CDR that was derived from 90-minute cassette master (which means there’s a bit more on the master cassette, yet.)

2 Comments

  1. Marty Krystall

    Fascinating. I love the photos of Horace and Bill Greene, who was my tenor sax teacher when I was 16. Bill taught me not to rush when I got excited, which was pretty much all of the time.

  2. Marty Krystall

    The only time I got to play with Horace was when David Keller, who managed him and us (the Thelonious band) for the Italian festival tours, booked a gig at Chino Prison, and our pianist, Brenton Banks, had a studio gig that day. So Buell asked Horace to sub for Brenton, and I went to Horace’s house to rehearse the arrangements. Horace was really into Monk. We rehearsed most of the day. Playing the tunes over and over. Horace was a quick study, as I fed him the counter-melodies and road maps. And was a genius at finding new ways harmonically to support those melodies. So we get to the prison and go thru security, and start out with the slow blues – Misterioso. Horace takes the first solo, and I wish a tape was rolling. He played over 15 choruses, building to a climax during the last four. I was reaching a state of Zen bliss as I started my solo wailing on a high Eb when suddenly the lights went out, an alarm bell went off, and the prison was locked down. At first I thought Horace’s solo caused damage to the walls. He really blew the walls down. Then we learned that there was a fight and stabbing elsewhere in the joint. The gig was over. But Horace really blew the walls down.

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