“Two Degrees East. Three Degrees
West” Paul Desmond and Friends (Paul Desmond—alto, Jim Hall
guitar. Percy Heath—bass. Connie Kay—drums;). Composed by John Lewis.
Stinson: There’s been so
many recordings of this—“Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West”,
that I don’t know which one it is. (To Chico.) Is that the one you
Hamilton: No, it’s not.
Szabo: It’s Jim Hall and
Paul Desmond. They did just one album together, except for the one
with the strings. I don’t know who this rhythm section is.
Stinson: I think it’s Connie
Kay. The bass player sounds beautiful—it might be Percy Heath. Or
maybe Gene Wright.
Szabo: Jim Hall sure gets
a beautiful feeling.
Stinson: Everybody seems
to be so relaxed.
Hamilton: I’m afraid I
like the original better—the one I did with Bill Perkins, Jimmy
Hall, John and Percy. Maybe it’s because we’ve been working as a
quartet for the last couple of years and of course, our thing is
entirely different from this. But, personally, this just didn’t
do anything to me. It seemed very shallow. Just four musicians playing—all
of them are good, you know, but I don’t think there were any brilliant
moments or anything on that. I don’t know who the drummer was.
You took the original at a rather less restrained tempo —than that,
Hamilton: If I recall,
it was very similar, timewise. It was just a line that John Lewis
had. When we made the tune, John just said: “Here’s a line. Here’s
an idea.” We just took it from there —and it turned out the way
it did. It’s a good little theme.
Szabo: That’s why it’s
so au fait to do these things. This album probably had a purpose,
if you’re in a particular mood. Four beautiful musicians get together
and ,they play beautiful music. But I don’t know on what basis to
judge it. Jim Hall got a little fire into it. I always enjoy listening
to Jim or Paul.
Jim Hall is closer to me—not because
he’s a guitar player—but just musically. If you’re a musician and
you know the musicians who are on ,the record, it’s very hard to
say anything about it, except that it was very well played, and
you enjoyed it.
Hamilton: You’d have to
ask them what purpose they had in mind.
Stinson: They probably
just wanted to play the blues.
“Night Talk” The Directions in
Jazz Unit directed by Nil1 Le Sage (Johnny Scott—flute/alto, Bob
Burns alto/clarinet, Ronnie Ross—baritone, Bill Le Sagevibes/piano,
Spike Heatley—bass, Tony Carr —drums, Freddie Alexander, Maurice
Westerby, Francis Gabarro. William De Mont—‘cellos). ’ Composed
by Bill Le Sage. From “Directions In Jazz”. Philips.
Szabo: Who’s this on flute,
Albert? Do you know?
Stinson: No, I don’t. I
think the baritone player might have been Sahib Shihab. He’s the
only person I thought I recognised. It’s a very funny kind of band—a
weird sound. There’s an instrument being bowed back there! isn’t
Hamilton: What are they
Szabo: Bass unison with
‘cellos, I think.
Stinson: About two ‘cellos,
maybe. It’s funny.
Szabo: It’s probably recorded
Stinson: Yes, that’s where
Szabo: At least, whoever
wrote the arrangement was European, wasn’t he? Because it was a
little bit synthetic.
Hamilton: Nothing was happening,
Szabo: No, I think there
was a lot happening, but I found it very repulsive. I felt like
they were blowing some regular swing licks, and just put a bunch
of strings to play some synthetic chords behind them, that had nothing
to do with the whole thing. It seems to me that strings are so precious
that anybody would have to have a good reason for using them.
Hamilton: No idea who it
was. For a big band, this reminded me of an old, old–time–style
arrangement of an old, old–time tune called “White Heat”.
Tomkins: How about the
solos on it?
Hamilton: Were there any?
Stinson: Yes, there was
an alto, then baritone, flute, vibes and bass.
Hamilton: It just goes
to show you. I can’t remember.
Stinson: The flute player
was definitely a saxophone player, whoever he was, because it sounded
like he would do a lot better playing saxophone. The baritone solo
sounded better than most. And the bass solo was very good.
Hamilton: Now—who was it?
(Details given here.)
Stinson: Oh—it didn’t sound
like Ronnie Ross.
Szabo: It was a more aggressive
style on baritone ,than I heard from him before.
Stinson: Yes, really. He
always sounded very weak and effete before—just like Gerry Mulligan.
Szabo: I wasn’t judging
the musicians as much as the whole conception. It was falling into
all kinds of categories—every little section. I don’t think the
strings, the solos and the tune had anything to do with each other.
Hamilton: Do you happen
to know how the fellows themselves that made this record feel about
Tomkins: Yes——they have
all said they were very happy about the session.
Hamilton: All right, then—that’s
where it is.
Tomkins: Bill Le Sage’s
idea was to try and incorporate the four ‘cellos effectively into
a jazz context.
Szabo: And that’s exactly
what I found repulsive. I don’t think you should do that. You wouldn’t
do the opposite, would you, and incorporate Miles’s group into Beethoven’s
symphonies—and have them play in that style? That’s what happened
there. The ‘cellos were trying to phrase like saxophones. I couldn’t
Stinson: It was more effective
to me, I guess. Because I didn’t even know it was strings for a
while. I just though: the band sounded strange.
Hamilton: Ronnie Ross,
eh? Didn’t he play baritone on that Johnny Dankworth record, “Three
Blind Mice”—where he sounds like Gerry Mulligan.
Stinson: Do you remember
that? You know, that was the first record I ever heard in my whole
Hamilton: And didn’t he
do that thing with John Lewis? “European Windows”, wasn’t it?
“Nuttin’ Out Jones” Elvin Jones/Jimmy
Garrison Sextet (Sonny Simmons—English horn/ alto Prince Lasha—flute,
Charles Da&—baritone, McCoy Tynerpiano, Jimmy Garrison—bass,
Elvin Jones—drums). Composed by Prince Lasha. From “Illumination”.
Hamilton: Elvin on drums?
Yes, it’s Old Thunder! Maybe you should have started with this one.
Szabo: That’s Sonny Simmons,
isn’t it? It sounds like him.
Stinsoo: Yes, it is. I though
it sounded like a clarinet when I first heard it, but it turned
out to be an English horn.
Szabo: Only in spots—like
now—it sounds like a clarinet. When he gets that metallic sound.
Stinson: There’s a track
you would like even better, where Charles Davis has a baritone solo.
Hamilton: This sounds like
a Monk tune, doesn’t it?
Stinson: I think all the
tunes are originals by everybody on the record.
Szabo: Well, that put me
in a little better mood.
Hamilton: It made me want
to move, you know. It was exciting—the freedom of it.
And I think Old Thunder—this guy
is ridiculous. He plays so much. It’s just ridiculous that someone
could play this much —and the fact that he knows what he’s doing.
I’m saying that strictly in a complimentary sense. Elvin Jones is
fantastic. I don’t know how it would be to play with him, if I played
another instrument—but I get a beautiful feeling from him. And if
you’re going to play, you might as well be an individual. No sense
in trying to play like somebody else. There’s only one drummer in
the band, although everybody else keeps time. So you might as well
play yourself—if you’ve got the courage of your convictions. This
is the only way music’s going to advance, and players are going
to become profound in their thinking and feeling.
Szabo: I think Coltrane
was the one who allowed him to open up, and go into this direction.
Because I heard Elvin before he went with Coltrane. He sounded like
an awful good drummer, but he never had this so–called style that
he has now. And he’s so at home in this vein. I thought that on
this whole record the musicians felt the same way.
Hamilton: Yes, they were
very compatible—very much in sympathy with one another.
Szabo: Which is the way
it’s supposed to be. It’s not enough to be a good musician —you
have to make people feel something, too. I really enjoyed that.
It was so good to hear—to find that I could identify with what was
going on. I heard a flute on it —was it Prince Lasha? Well, I don’t
like him, but he didn’t solo, anyway. I like Sonny Simmons very
much. Was it McCoy Tyner on piano? He plays so little on it. In
other words, it was ‘Trane’s rhythm section.
Hamilton: I like Elvin’s
playing very much. I like anybody who’s original—or as close to
being original as possible.
Szabo: And they have that
drive. The recording industry has become so big in the past 15 years—pouring
out albums day after day. There’s so much music on the market, that
I really don’t think there’s any sense in making an album just for
music’s sake. The only thing you can offer to an audience nowadays
is to give them that extra bonus of making them feel good, feel
bad, feel excited, but reacting some way—instead of just saying:
“That was pretty” or “They played well”. You have to make them emote—and
they definitely do that on this record. There weren’t musical rules
shattered, or anything like that, but then—who cares? I’m not just
for something new. I’m for something that make me move—whether it
be Louis Armstrong or Ornette Coleman.
Stinson: I’d like to put
in a word for Jimmy Garrison. Nobody ever talks about him—and they
should. But you can never hear him, where Elvin is—and it’s
a drag, because he sounds so good. He really has his own, personal
“Prelude No. 20 in A minor” The
Baroque Jazz Ensemble (Lew Gluckin—trumpet, John Murtaugh—tenor,
Dave Carey—vibes, Barry Galbraith—guitar, John Beal —bass, Maurice
Mark—drums). Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. Arranged by Lew
Gluckin. From “Hits From 1722”. Polydor.
Hamilton: 1 would have
liked to have stayed in that groove, as opposed to this. I want
that same kind of feeling—since you play two similar tempos, back
to back. I don’t think you should put musicians, or music, on a
Szabo: I think there is
such a thing as an absolute truth. Compared to what you played before
this just feels like being back to school—like they’re running up
and down their little scales. It just sounds very scholastic to
me. You know that they’re playing jazz, and keeping to whatever
rules there may be—and it just doesn’t have that beautiful, spiritual
freedom that music should have. I feel like they’re executing an
assignment—which I don’t like to hear when I listen to music. They’re
all very good musicians. It could be many, many different people.
Stinson: The way they execute
it sounds more European. The trumpet player sounded like he would
like to be Donald Byrd.
Szabo: Yes, I think it
is European. The conception is kind of stiff. And the tune itself
is like a shallow imitation of the real thing.
Stinson: Yes, they’re doing
Tomkins: Would you say
this is not really jazz material?
Szabo: No, it’s jazz material
played by people who don’t have the basic feeling for it. In other
words. on the surface it sounds like a jazz tune.
Stinson: They problably
hadn’t played it very often, either. It didn’t sound like they’d
played the chart more than about once or twice.
Tomkins: As far as the
instrumentation is concerned, this is a jazz group. They were playing
on the framework of a Bach prelude.
Hamilton: What makes you
think that they were a jazz group?
Tomkins: Well, they were
trying to get jazz out of it, anyway.
Hamilton: Yes, well—you’re
getting into a great big thing. It was a waste, really. Like —it
would be nice for jazz musicians to play Bach—but leave it the way
that he would really feel it. One time years ago I recall they made
a great big thing out of the fact that Sarah Vaughan had recorded
“The Lord’s Prayer”. She sang it beautifully. Yet people wanted
to say that she had no right—because she was a jazz singer. That
doesn’t make any difference, but you know how people are! So why
didn’t they try to play it like Bach played it. They would have
Stinson: The voices doing
it—the Swingle Singers—they were excellent, I thought.
Tomkins: They were doing
it literally. The idea of this record was to use Bach themes as
vehicles for improvisation.
Szabo: That’s probably
what I’m in opposition to. Classical music isn’t like jazz music.
It was meant to be interpreted the way the composer wrote it.
Hamilton: I agree with
Gabor wholeheartedly. This is what I was trying to say.
Szabo: He wrote it down
precisely, and if you just obey the dynamics and everything in the
music, you will achieve the feeling that he intended it to have.
You shouldn’t fool around with the emotions of Classical music,
and try to put your own meanings to it—because there was meaning
put in it to begin with. Jazz is different—you have a certain little
melody or tune, and it’s up to you what you’re going to do with
it. Bach had an idea when he wrote it—and I’m sure it wasn’t what
we just heard.
Hamilton: They’re only
making it a little harder for other good records.
Stinson: There’s some cats
who could play Bach to death, if they felt like it. But they don’t,
because there’s more important things happening.
“Linstead Market” Ernest Ran&
Trio (Ernest Ranglin—guitar, Malcolm Cecil—bass, Allan Ganley—drums).
From “Wranglin “. Island.
Szabo: It sounds like Barney
Kessel, but I don’t think it is. When he starts blowing, I can tell!
Stinson: Yes, when he gets
Szabo: Oh yes—that’s him.
It’s Barney. It comes out—in spots. Sounds like one of those Pollwinners’
records, but I don’t think it’s Ray Brown.
Stinson: No, it’s not Ray
Brown. Hey, this is a funny guitar player. He’s been doing some
interesting, funny little weird things.
Szabo: That was really
un—Barney—like. I think it’s him, though.
Stinson: I’m really enjoying
this bass player. The tempo isn’t very relaxed, though.
Hamilton: That wouldn’t
be Howard Roberts, would it?
Szabo: That’s possible.
He plays faster than Barney sometimes.
Hamilton: They’re In the
same bag, once in I can’t tell them apart.
Szabo: ‘You must tell me—is
that Barney? It isn’t? Damn—that’s funny. I was positive it was
him. And it’s not Howard, is it? No? Now I’m really messed up. Oh—I
know who this is, then. I’m sure I know. I don’t know the
name but he’s a West Indian guitar player, isn’t? he? He lived here,
and he lust moved away. That’s What’s his name?
Tomkins: Ernest Ranglin.
Szabo: Yes, because I heard
a tape of him, and he sounded very much like Barney. I mean technique—his
hands were faster. And in certain spots he does things that are
more like a gypsy guitar player—like Django—which Barney doesn’t
ever do. That’s why I was a bit sceptical about him. Now I have
to divide my opinions. Since I can’t escape the fact that I am a
guitar player, I have to say that I think he’s a very good player.
But there was a lack of direction, musically, that I would have
an objection about. It was just a “Blow, man” type of thing. He
played the tune with all his might, and he got everything he knew
into it. Guitar players are so hung up with just the technique that,
once they get control of the instrument to a certain degree, that’s
as far as they will go. On all other horns, we have some definite
musical personalities, but on guitar almost everybody sounds alike.
Except for the greats—Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.
Since them, if I was ever to have
favourites on guitar, It would boil down to two people —Jim Hall
and Wes Montgomery. They are the only two who play music, besides
playing the instrument well. Naturally, there are a few others I
respect as far as command and control goes, but that doesn’t mean
that I would buy their albums to listen to as music.
Stinson: It seemed as if
they were playing a calypso tune on that. Which can be a lot of
fun—you can get into a nice groove doing it. But the rhythm section
wasn’t very relaxed, actually, during the guitar solo —not as much
as they should have been. However, I certainly liked the sound that
the bass player got. Very much. And his all—round time feeling,
generally, was very good, I thought. Except there were just a few
nervous spots in there, which you wouldn’t have, if you really wanted
to relax into playing a calypso. Who was the bass player, anyway?
Malcolm Cecil? Oh, I know him very well. Yes—he is a good bass player.
He’s a nice cat too.
Hamilton: I didn’t even
notice the drummer. Sorry, Allan! He was just doing what he was
supposed to do. But they were going to go along, regardless of whether
he played or not. So he didn’t start anything or stop anything,
I don’t know whether he could have added any more or not, because
I don’t know how he plays. Maybe he was taking his best shot. He
might have been playing his can off. I didn’t notice it, that’s
Szabo: But the conception
was so cliche, that it would have been impossible to do anything
individualistic. There was no piano, I noticed, and guitar players
are so happy that they can play the tune at all, especially without
accompaniment, that it becomes strained, rushed and tense. With
all Barney’s recordings, he always has that tenseness. Guitar is
a difficult instrument to play alone. So, on this, everybody had
to play the straightest kind of music they could possibly think
Hamilton: What could the
drummer have done? Probably a whole lot of things, if he had been
Roy Haynes or Max Roach. But he wasn’t, and he probably did the
best he could.
Szabo: There are two types
of musicians—the artists and the champions. The champion is the
one who runs away with the trophy. He shows everything he can do
on the instrument, and I really think that’s not fair to music at
all. There’s more to music that just to show your facility. In fact,
having facility is a prerequisite—and you shouldn’t cash in on it.
“Thermo” Freddie Hubbard trumpet
with Orchestra (Philly Joe Jones—drums). Composed
by Freddie Hubbard. Arranged by Wayne Shorter. From “The Body And
The Soul Of Freddie Hubbard”. Impulse.
Stinson: Freddie Hubbard.
He’s a pretty talented cat. He sure gets some funny sounds out of
Hamilton: Yes, that’s Freddie.
That’s a favourite little phrase of his. I don’t know who’s on drums,
but obviously he’s doing as well as he can with that band. This
band maybe only rehearsed two or three times before they went into
the studio to do the date. If you play an arrangement over a period
of time you hear more and more. On the playback, he probably heard
where he could have added something.
Tomkins: But it must make
a difference, according to the calibre of the drummer, what he can
do, even the first time round.
Hamilton: Well—I don’t
Stinson: Some cats just
go ahead and play.
Hamilton: That’s right.
As a matter of fact, man, I’ve been playing Lena Horne’s music for
the last few weeks—and the other night was the first time I played
one of ‘em right. One that’s been hanging me up—as far as what the
chart said. After I played it right, this didn’t make the band sound
any better. Actually, I don’t believe that there’s any such thing
as writing a drum part. The only way to try and feel the people
around you is to be guided by impulse. You can’t always get a conception
of the feeling by reading a drum chart. If you’re trying to read
the music, you miss everything else that’s going on. All I try to
do myself is to listen as much as I possibly can to what the band
I feel that same way about my
instrument as Gabor and Albert feel about theirs. How musical is
the drummer? You know—there’s a lot of music in drums. The wonderful
thing about playing music is the fact that there’s no set time that
you can have a brilliant moment. This can happen anywhere and at
any time. But if you surround yourself with people that you become
familiar with, and that you dig and believe in, it’s more likely
to happen than not.
Copyright © 1964 Les Tomkins.
All Rights Reserved.