|Interviewed by Alan Stevens in 1967|
Carmell’s unusual Christian name is derived from a Spanish word meaning ‘song’. “Actually, I’ve got some Spanish and some Red Indian blood in me. But it’s the African blood that shows most,” he smiled.
most young American musicians, he started playing while still at school.
His father wanted him to take up the sax and was pretty upset when he
held out for a trumpet. He was even more annoyed when Carmell, who’d been
listening to a lot of jazz on the radio, declared that he intended to
become a professional musician. Mr. Jones had plans for his son to go
he was reconciled to the idea that Carmell had a mind and will of his
own and from then on encouraged him to study music seriously. After four
years in the air force, during which he led his own quintet, he went to
Kansas University, intending to take a music degree. But what he considered
antiquated teaching methods frustrated him so much that, after two years,
he quit and moved to Los Angeles, where he met and sat in with such West
Coast stars as Shelly Manne, Teddy Edwards, Buddy Collette and Bud Shank.
his first LP. “Introducing Carmell Jones”, made in 1961, had sold well
he became much in demand, and was able to quit his day job as railroad
porter. For some time he was a regular with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse
All-Stars and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Then in 1964, after turning
down the chance of going with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, he joined
the Horace Silver Quintet.
stayed with Silver until the Summer of 1965—when he felt he needed a change,
“The New York scene was stifling me and I was becoming disenchanted with
things in the States.”
he was asked to appear with his friend, Nathan Davis, at the Stuttgart
Jazz Festival he leapt at the chance. And he’s been on this side of the
Atlantic ever since.
he ever return to America? “Could be, because I would like to establish
myself there as a musician, composer and arranger. But for the moment
I’m very happy living in West Berlin and playing with Leo Wright in the
SFB Radio Orchestra.”
was he enjoying his first visit to Britain? “Just great! The atmosphere
is so free and the people are really lovely. And playing at Club 43 is
fine. I’m as favourably impressed by the scene here as Leo was.”
impressions of the avant garde? “I don’t go for it. I feel that
jazz is a state of pioneering and that the new wave musicians are the
Darwins, Galileos and Einsteins of jazz. Just as those men’s ideas were
not recognised at first, so it is with the avant garde players.
Their music may eventually be accepted, but it won’t survive. “Although
it has some form-albeit free form-it has no foundation,” he says emphatically.
he acknowledge any influences? “Of course! Every kind of music I’ve ever
heard, from pops to the classics, has influenced me in some way. Similarly,
every musician I’ve ever met or heard has affected my musical approach.
You see, I’m not a rebel—I’m a searcher. I know that things of value from
others will help me to find my true inner self and to express myself honestly.
“If you pin me down, I’ll admit that Armstrong, Eldridge, Dizzy, Miles,
Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro on the one hand, and Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky,
Beethoven and Brahms on the other ‘have influenced me most.”
“Anything mechanical that I can tinker with. I’m hoping soon to
start my own business manufacturing mouthpieces.”
“I want to give some time to the drums. My father was once a professional
drummer and I used to play around on his kit.”
is a regrettable fact that Carmell is rather inactive on the current record
scene. He last made an album of his own over two years ago. A man whose
playing is as consistently brilliant as Carmell Jones must be neglected
by the record companies no longer.
© 1967, Alan Stevens. All Rights Reserved
© 1967, Alan Stevens. All Rights Reserved
The trumpeter Carmell Jones has died, aged 60, in his birthplace Kansas City. He recorded with Gerald Wilson, Bud Shank and Horace Silver before joining the SFB radio band in Berlin in 1965. There he played for many years in a five–piece trumpet section with Ron Simmonds, Rolf Ericson and Milo Pavlovic, together with Herb Geller, Leo Wright, Heinz von Hermann, Ake Persson, Slide Hampton and Joe Harris. Carmell worked with Quincy Jones, Don Ellis, and Stan Kenton when they visited Berlin, and can be heard as featured soloist in Oliver Nelson’s Berlin Dialogue For Orchestra. Carmell will be remembered for his big, beautifully warm trumpet sound, and his thoughtful, immaculately constructed solos.
More on Carmell can be found
More on Carmell can be found on André Condouant's Website