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Ted Daniel: Brass Tapestry

By Published: November 14, 2007

AAJ: It's interesting, because when I spoke with [pianist] Dave Burrell, he had not disparaged Berklee. He gave the impression that there were some good people and that there were some sessions after class or after-hours, associated with the school.

TD: Dave was there when I was there too, and he was a very hard worker and got a lot of work done. I'm just saying that that was my experience with the trumpet teacher, but the other information and the experience itself was good, and I got that.

AAJ: Of course, it hinges on the professors and how good they are or whether you're able to get on with them and so forth.

TD: Yeah, the trumpet teacher was not a good experience for me (private trumpet instruction was a piece that was missing from me) but be that as it may, it didn't discourage me from continuing with it. I went out to Southern Illinois University and studied out there, and I did get some good instruction. There was a Dr. Philip Olson who was very good, and he farmed me out to his best graduate student, Fred Berry, who was at that time (1963-1965) a graduate student in trumpet.

He was helpful and really the first ongoing private study I had. I didn't know it then, but I later found out that the he was part of the scene that produced the AACM; he knows those people.

I stayed out there for a couple of years, and then my buddies Dave, Sonny, and Byard [Lancaster] had all moved to the city. This was about '65, and they said "come on out," and so I left school [laughs] and came to New York City in September of '65. That's where I met a lot of different musicians who were on the scene, Pharoah [Sanders], Giuseppi [Logan], all the cats that were here in the city. Albert [Ayler], Archie [Shepp], Grachan [Moncur III], and I jammed with them, and Dave's loft on Bond Street was a famous place, I even had a chance to sit in with Elvin Jones there! It was happening; Dave and Byard had this loft that was a good place to be, and I learned a lot about music there.

AAJ: Dave had spoken very highly of the scene around that loft, and that Archie would come and rehearse his band there and Byard was teaching Marzette [Watts] to play saxophone at the time. But you didn't—at least at that time—get the opportunity to record, if I'm not mistaken.

TD: What happened to Ted was this—he got drafted! [laughs] That was in the spring of 1966, so I was only in New York for about six or seven months before I got drafted, and I was shipped off to Vietnam. When I got out of the service, I had gotten a scholarship to study music at Central State in Ohio, and actually my brother was out there as well. Ken McIntyre was teaching out there, so that was a good place for me. That was in '68 when I got out of the service, and I stayed out there just about a year because I had to come back to New York.

In that time, though, I formed a band with my brother called Brute Force. Sonny had been working with Herbie Mann for a while, and they came out to play a concert at the college. He heard our band and wanted to record us, and he ended up recording us [for his label, Embryo]. That was all in that year, '68-'69.

AAJ: Wasn't that record actually made in Ohio?

TD: No, it was recorded in New York. The photo on the cover was taken out there, but it was recorded here. I got back to New York in '69 and didn't leave until '89. And so that's why I hadn't recorded before '69, because I wasn't here.

AAJ: That makes perfect sense. It probably also allowed you—well, maybe not in Vietnam, but at least in Ohio—some time to get your chops together.

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