Back in the crook
Talking to Les Tomkins in 1972
personality of Paul Desmond
The jazz audience
Back in the crook
Giant jazzman, gentle wit...
It’s nice to be back in the crook of the piano again. We have some more concerts and some festivals to do with this personnel in the States. This is the first extended death march tour that we’ve been on so far. Considering this is only the second day, I don’t honestly expect to see the end of the week! I’ll let you know.
Have these five years away from Dave been eventful? Well, yes and no; I made some records, worked on a book. But I missed playing: so I got back into it. And now I’m enjoying it more so, from not having played for a few years.
As regards the A&M albums. I was curious to know how it would work, recording first with the small group and then adding strings or brass. I’m just now beginning to really learn the technique of things that you can do and things that should be aborted. But the possibilities of that are fantastic. and I’ll be doing some more in that style. The Latin-material? Oh, I liked those a lot.
Here’s a weird thing. I just saw a record that I gather came out over here very recently on Mayfair, called “Crystal Illusions”. It turns out to be in amalgamation of tracks from two LPS. “Summertime” and “From The Hot’ Afternoon”. I didn’t know anything about that, but it explains the number of questions that confused me thoroughly at a press conference. They were talking about two albums as if they were one. People can do that by mistake, but in this case, they were entirely correct.
I don’t know why they did that. For marketing purposes, 1 guess, but it’s so weirdly packaged. It doesn’t say which is which, or where they came from, or who’s on it. It doesn’t credit Don Sebesky with the arrangements, or Herbie Hancock for all the playing he did. That’s going to be pretty vexing for a lot of people who will want this information. It’s a bit vexing to me, and I even know.
Oh, did “Bridge Over Troubled Water” come out here? Sure, the Simon and Garfunkel songs certainly were a challenge to play jazz on—all but impossible, actually.
Now I come to think of it, we did try earlier the separate recording of the group and the strings, on the RCA album. “Desmond Blue”. but they didn’t have the technology together at that point. But now they do: so that’s the way almost all the albums that have orchestral backgrounds are made these days, and it works out beautifully—as I say, as soon as you find out what not to do with it. No, you can’t weave in and out of the strings that way—they have to weave in and out of you.
The Simon and Garfunkel album was the last one I made, actually. I’ll be working on one when I get back, but I don’t know what it is yet. It’ll be a while before it gets out, anyway. I might also start doing some small group workother than with Dave, that is; it’s only been with him so far.
I do enjoy working with Gerry Mulligan. of course. We’ve been hanging out together for years, and we made a couple of records a few years ago. So it all works out very compatible, as a rule—when we’re awake.
I do some jazz listening—not a terrible lot of it. Jim Hall is still my favourite player to listen to. He’s being doing a duo with Ron Carter occasionally in New York—just guitar and bass—and the two of them together are quite fantastic.
How do I feel about the rock influence on jazz? Well, it’s sort of a mixed blessing. Originally, rock was so awful that nobody took it seriously. Then, of course, the Beatles and subsequent groups did some marvellous things. and people had to take it seriously. Latterly, all the bright, young, talented jazz kids have tended to go into rock groups. So its more of a jazz influence on rock, really.
Copyright © 1972, Les Tomkins. All Rights Reserved.