Ted Daniel: Brass Tapestry
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'tat least at that timeget the opportunity to record, if I'm not mistaken.
TD: What happened to Ted was thishe 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 youwell, maybe not in Vietnam, but at least in Ohiosome time to get your chops together.
TD: That's exactly what Ohio was for me, because I didn't have any chops. I was in the band in the service, but that wasn't what I was doingmostly guard duty and stuff like that. Anyway, I didn't have the chops that I thought I needed, so I went out there and worked on them and played in that band. It was about a year before I came back to the City. The first big gig when I came back was with Sunny Murray. I did work with him some before in the Lower East Side and the Village, and he got us this gig at Newport Jazz Festival. In '69 I went up to Newport with Sunny, Alan Silva, Dave Burrell, Luqman Lateef on tenor, Carlos Ward on alto, and Sirone also on bass. Lateef, I don't see him around anymore, but he was a mellow tenor player and played really nice.
AAJ: It seems like there's an esthetic disparity between Brute Force and working in Sunny's ensemble, between the avant-garde or free thing, and something decidedly funkieror, well, I don't really know what the words are to describe Brute Force.
TD: See, nobody was able to describe itmaybe that's why it never took off! It's not a disparityI don't see it as one, anyway, it was just something else that I could do. I preface that with the fact that I grew up hearing doo-wop and so that wasn't that big a leap from where we were. That group did play for dances out there; that's what it was for, I could do that and was an integral part of that group at the time. I'd loosened up Brute Force by my free jazz experience, because I had New York roots and I integrated that into what we were doing. But the main thrust of what I wanted to do was in New York with people like Sunny Murray and Archie Shepp, so that was where I came to.
But we kind of cut off how I got involved in the New Music, because when I started out it was Clifford Brown and listening to stuff like that, Lee Morgan and Booker Little. Those were the cats I was listening to, but one time on the radio at night, I heard Ornette Coleman, and when I first heard it I was put off"Wow, what's going on here," but he became the turning point for me as a way to move into freedom. Ornette Coleman, even though I'd been listening to Trane and things like that, it was Ornette's group that really opened my ears to how you could possibly do things that were more free.