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Interviews

Hank Jones: Havin' Fun

By Published: February 15, 2005

AAJ: You mentioned Tony, what about Ron? Was it hard to lock in with him on bass?

HJ: It was easier with Ron because Ron had done trio work before. But, finding the right kind of rhythm for trio work for a drummer who's used to playing big bands is not a very simple thing. You've got to work at it, so we had to work at it.

AAJ: You're generations older that the guys in your trio but there seems to be no age difference.

HJ: And there shouldn't be. There shouldn't be in music. Music is a universal language. It doesn't matter whether you are 6 or 60, if you can think musically. Then you combine what you think with what you play. It's all mental; it's in the mind. You transfer what goes on in your mind to your fingers and then you hope that the audience receives what you're transmitting.

AAJ: Is there a spiritual side to playing music?

HJ: Yes, I think so, to a certain extent. What ever you are, your personality comes out in your playing. That's why Charlie Parker could play the way he played. I like to think that Charlie had what I call a quiet mind. Regardless of what he did in his life he had a quiet mind. His mind was at rest when he played, because if it wasn't, he couldn't have played the way he played. He had an orderly mind. I think that's what any great performer has to have. You have to isolate yourself from your surroundings and focus on what you're doing. It has to be a pinpoint focus.

AAJ: If you don't play for a couple days, do you feel like to have to play?

HJ: Yes, very much so. I'd rather play something every day. There's a very famous quote by Paderewski about practicing. He said, 'If I miss one day I'll know it. If I miss two days my wife knows it. If I miss a week everybody knows it.' That's kind of the way I feel about playing. You have to play every day. It's better if you play on a job, but at least you have to practice every day, two, three hours. Minimum two hours just to stay in shape, arpeggio scales, fundamentals. And then when you go on a job you'll feel more comfortable.

AAJ: Music, on one hand, has been a career for you, but on the other hand I imagine it's more than just a job...

HJ: It's a way of life. I think that happens after you've been in it for a number of years. It didn't start off that way. It started as an ambition. I wanted to reach a certain level [of playing]. But then, after you reach that level, there's another level. There's always another level. Then it becomes a way of life. That's what's happening in my case. There's always that other level that I'm trying to reach.



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