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Interviews

Marco Eneidi: Still Here

By Published: November 12, 2005
AAJ: They call you the trickster, did you know that?

ME: They call me the trickster (laughs).

AAJ: Yeah, I came upon this on a website: "Marco Eneidi is commonly referred to as a 'trickster' for his clever use of technique and imaginative storytelling through sound.

ME: That was written by a friend of mine, this woman I was with a number of years, who's a writer, a poet, a performing artist and as a poet her major influences. She was a part of the living theatre in NY and her main influences as a poet were Jacques Micheline and the whole Beat poetry thing. Her name is Jessica Loos. She's still in San Francisco, part of the whole scene in North Beach. And she wrote that. How she came up with that, I don't know (laughs). Trickster, I don't know. Well, I laugh, I like to laugh 'cause if I don't laugh I cry.

AAJ: They also say that you play very fast.

ME: Eh... I learned that from Jimmy Lyons. This is one thing he taught me how. Sonny Simmons taught me about long tones, about getting the sound a certain way, doing things a certain way, through breathing and meditation and Yoga. Jimmy showed me how to hold the horn the proper way, and Jimmy was about speed, that was his thing. He played Charlie Parker twice as fast and I try to play Jimmy Lyons twice as fast. I love speed, I used to be a ski-racer, I love shooting at the mountain at a hundred km an hour going straight down. I'm scared of heights but I like speed, it's fun to play fast. It's fun to have something that nobody else can do.

And I think those are the two things that I do on the alto saxophone that not many other players do, the sound I get, the bigger sound, and my ability to go fast, but not just go fast by wiggling my fingers, I'm going fast but at the same time I'm being very melodic, very harmonic. I'm doing quite advanced harmonies, I'm thinking and going through different key centers and sound, color centers. With speed going through all twelve keys at once and thinking, 'because I hear a lot of really fine musicians in Vienna—saxophone players—and once they go fast what they're doing is just wiggling their fingers and playing nonsense. But when I go fast I like to think I'm doing something that is harmonically and melodically intelligent. And I think if you took one of my solos and transcribed it and figured out what it is that I'm doing you'd see how advanced the harmonies I'm going through are, and I'm not thinking about it, I'm just doing it, 'cause I studied that, I learned that and then I forgot about it, and now I just do it.

AAJ: So, Jimmy Lyons was one of your influences?

ME: He was a good friend, yeah.

AAJ: Was he an influence?

>ME: As a friend, yeah. Well, he taught me how to hold the horn, to go fast, he taught me also how to play things in a certain way. We'd play classical etudes together. We'd play them first as written, the European style, and then he'd show me how he'd approach it with a certain attack, a rhythmic attack. And that's what I really got from Jimmy, how to attack notes a certain way and make 'em swing and be rhythmical with precision, speed and articulation. Music as an influence, I mean, well, I play the alto saxophone, he played the alto saxophone. Everybody who plays the alto saxophone sounds alike in a certain way and Jimmy came directly from Charlie Parker, as did Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Sonny Simmons and Ornette Coleman. I also come from Charlie Parker but second generation. So just by default we both play the alto saxophone and with speed and a certain dexterity and articulation so it's gonna sound alike.

A lot of people write, they say "Marco sounds so much like Jimmy. Well I don't sound like Jimmy—a little bit yes, but I never try to imitate him. I sound much more like a tenor saxophonist than an alto saxophonist when I play slower and open up my sound. I've done most of my playing over the last 25 years, not performing, just playing, rehearsing; duets, like I said earlier, with Jackson Krall for several hours and with Dennis Charles in his house. I went to California and played with Donald Robinson. We played for a couple of years. I played with Spirit, Peter Valsamis, everyday, sometimes for 15 minutes sometimes for two or three hours. When I first started playing music I wanted to be a musician not a saxophonist. I was in an African drum ensemble playing drums. I was in a Brazilian school of samba and I played some Gamelan orchestra, I played tabla with both Zakir Hussein and Swapan Chaudhery at the Ali Akbar School of music in San Raphael, California. And all those years I played duets with drummers.

Just like William Parker says when he plays the bass, each string of his bass he compares to a different drum and that's the way I play the saxophone, I'm playing rhythmically and that's why I can play with Cecil Taylor. I can't play with most piano players 'cause they play tempered tuned, they play in a way that brings out the twelve tone tempered tuning, in a way they don't listen to what I'm doing and they play the wrong harmonies for me and get in my way. And Cecil plays as a percussionist. And that's the way I play the saxophone too, I approach it very rhythmically even tough I'm very harmonic and melodic but I attack it in a certain way, I mean I really attack it, I attack the saxophone, in a rhythmic sense.

Jimmy, I went to him, I took lessons with him once a week for I think four or five months. He was such a beautiful man, we became good friends, we hung out together, his wife Karen Borca would make us dinner and we'd drink gin together and hang out. Jimmy told people around New York about me, that I was there. Such a beautiful man, such a good friend. While working there I met all these older cats and they all took me under their arm and protected me in a way; a lot of these guys protected me from some bad things that they didn't want me to do. So many of these guys—Earl Cross, Dennis Charles, Don Cherry, Wilber Morris, Dewey Redman, they all took me under their wing and showed me certain things to do a certain way... they were all like fathers to me. Jimmy was the same way, a father a brother, a very sweet man and he showed me a lot of things on the alto saxophone, but he also showed me a certain love, in a way that made me who I am today.


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