Marc Edwards: Free Jazz Drummer & Percussionist
“ ...there really is no free music. It is not possible in this dimension. Music is based on melody, harmony and rhythm. A musician can never get away from those elements completely. ”
Who's Marc Edwards? Cecil Taylor fans may remember him as the drummer on the legendary 1976 album Dark to Themselves. Charles Gayle fans may know of him as the drummer on More Live at the Knitting Factory. And David S. Ware fans must remember him as the first drummer of the David S. Ware trio and quartet on Hathut and Silkheart records.
Marc Edwards is what they call a powerhouse drummer . Here's a biographical interview put together through a series of long emails. Marc Edwards provides a lot of insight into this thing called free jazz, and eye-opening anecdotes about fellow players and life in this music.
Getting Involved With Music
Drum Rudiments and Warriors Drum & Bugle Corps
Meeting David S. Ware
Meeting Other Musicians
Live Music in Boston
David S. Ware and Sonny Rollins
Cecil Taylor Unit
Developing a Sound
On Cecil Taylor
Kaivalya, Vol. 1
All About Jazz: Hi Marc, tell me about your background, musical and otherwise.
Marc Edwards: Hi Taran. My earliest recollections of music were hearing a variety of musical sounds while I was in the crib. My parents exposed us to classical, what is now called world music, music from the Far East - Chinese, Japan, India, Indonesia, etc., electronic music and other musical genres. The first jazzy sounds were those of Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins and others. Later when I was older, I bought the record 3 Giants! (Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown and Max Roach) and the music on that album was very familiar. It seemed like a case of déjà vu, but, that wasn't it. I was merely recalling the music I had heard while I was very young. I didn't get involved with music right away.
I was a normal kid preferring to go outside and play as is the case with most children or read comic books. Superman was always a favorite as was Green Lantern. I felt that if I had a little support, a magical ring like Hal Jordan, I could use my will power to change the world for the better. Every boy wants to be like his favorite superhero. This is a naive point of view that children tend to have, not knowing the harsh realities of the real world.
I have since learned that changing oneself is one method for producing changes in others. If I were a little boy today, I'd probably be admiring some of the superheroes in the current crop of feature films. Director Sam Raimi is doing a fantastic job with the Spiderman films. They're totally awesome. Mr. Raimi has gone from directing Xena in the past to Spiderman. That's impressive! I would be very happy if a creative Hollywood director could do the same for the Milestone Media comic books. Some of you will recall Static Shock that aired on the WB. Static was one of the books produced by this company.
From attending Sunday school we learned that a choir for young people was going to be created. Church officials asked parents to send their kids if they had singing talent. My brother and I did attend those rehearsals. We were so young we sang in the choir as sopranos. I do recall the choir master being impressed with our voices. He once said our voices were as pure as the driven snow to which everyone in the room laughed. After a while, I got tired of being in the choir and decided I had had enough of those Saturday morning rehearsals. We both left and began to pursue other avenues of interest.
AAJ: Other avenues of interest, such as?
ME: Next on the list was joining the Cub Scouts which led to the Boy Scouts and the Explorers. I enjoyed my time participating with these youth organizations. I also was involved with the YMCA during my early years. In fact, I attended the same YMCA that actor Wesley Snipes did years later, the one located in Harlem on 135th Street. He said he learned the martial arts there from what I read in a past interview. We lived one block away from the YMCA, and we were a short distance from the 32nd Police Precinct that's still there today. My parents moved from 135th St. to 158th Street. At this address, we had a larger apartment and much more living space. I met actor Demond Wilson since he live further down from us, not far from the infamous 30th Precinct on 151st Street. There was a major scandal at the 30th Precinct during the nineties. I believe the allegations were about police officers taking money from the drug dealers or selling drugs; something along those lines. I don't recall the details.
Let me tell you more about my parents. My stepfather loved jazz while mom preferred classical music. My stepfather told me that he used to go to the clubs to see Charlie Parker & Max Roach play. I didn't know that until shortly before he passed away. If you live in a city such as New York, it's not unusual to see your favorite celebrity walking down the street. I can always tell when a person's in show business. They have a different vibration than most working people. People in television tend to have a glow about them. They're not as stressed out as every day folks are and they always stand out among people walking on the streets. Sometimes everyday people look at me and think I'm a celebrity. If only that were true. If only someone could get a dedicated jazz channel on the air, things would get better for the artists that play free jazz. BET did attempt this, however their BET on Jazz isn't on the channel list for every satellite/cable provider. Television is the future of jazz. Why not? Everything else is on the air. We also need to be included on those popular ipods, itunes, and all those computer music downloads.
I left music for several years until I decided to try my hand at playing the violin. I did this for two years. I stopped practicing because I knew it would take many years before I could develop on this instrument. I couldn't improvise on the violin and that was the direction I wanted to go in. I moved on to working with wood in a different capacity, studying in a wood shop class. We were learning wood craft, making various items out of wood. I wasn't very good at it. When the band teacher, Mr. Rosenthal, came around asking if anyone was interested in learning to play a musical instrument, I saw this as an opportunity to get out of this class. Man, I was bored to death!