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Denys Baptiste: Jazz Missionary, Part 1-2

By Published: May 2, 2005
AAJ: It's funny that you mention guitar because I absolutely love the song "The Kraken from that album; Martin Taylor's guitar is fantastic and I love the groove. Which tunes from your first two albums do you like the best—that you're the happiest with?

DB: I like different things for different reasons, actually. But I quite like "Kraken as well. That's one of my all-time favorites. I also like "Rollinstone [from Be Where You Are]—which is my tribute to Sonny Rollins—because for me, it was a tune that, although it has different time signatures happening within it, it still sounds really natural. It doesn't feel like it's deliberately going from 3/4 to 4/4.

AAJ: I think that's become a trademark of yours.

DB: I just like unevenness. I'm just [laughing] sort of a little bit quirky and a bit strange so I like to have the sort of things that don't necessarily follow an even trend, an even keel. Different time signatures have always been something that I've been interested in. For me, everything like that is a challenge; I haven't written anything in thirteen yet! I'm afraid that one of these days an idea is going to come to me and I'll write something in 13/8, something like that.

AAJ: I'll be anticipating that on your next album. Any other tunes from the first two albums you like?

DB: "Toga to Go is one I like on Alternating Currents. I like "Shades of Green [from Be Where You Are]; that's one of my favorites, sort of exploring that "Giant Steps -type idea, but in sort of a very melodic tune as well. I like all of them for different reasons, but if I had to put some on to listen to those are the ones I'd choose as my particular favorites.

AAJ: You mention "Rollinstone as your tribute to Sonny Rollins. I find your tenor solo on "Confucius from the Jazz Jamaica All Stars Massive CD to remind me the most of his playing. Everytime I hear it I think of Sonny.

DB: I shall listen to that; that would never have occurred to me. I love the stuff Sonny's done with Caribbean music and the way that he approaches rhythm and melody. I think if there was a player that I'd want more of his attributes in what I do—I think it's Sonny, because he just exudes music. He's a person made of notes.

AAJ: Perfectly put. And you can listen to that song "Confucius and then tell me how wrong I am. "Dear Paul: you are completely off the mark ...

DB: [Laughing] "I actually sound like Wayne Shorter.

AAJ: "Clarence Clemons.

DB: [Laughter] Now, come on, let's not get personal now!


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