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Ted Daniel: Brass Tapestry

By Published: November 14, 2007

AAJ: Probably because of Albert's encouragement.

TD: Yes, because of Albert, so they were here in the late '60s and early '70s. To make a long story short, Otis was around and he was a good player, so we got involved and basically, one of the drummers, Warren Benbow, I had met in the Jazzmobile (he was a teenager at the time) and Hakim Jami I had met through Archie, and Richard Pierce was from my hometown and we'd known one another forever. So I had my double trio; it was just one gig, and it was the nucleus of Pierce and Warren and myself that played together a little bit.

�TedAAJ: So that wasn't a working band.

TD: It wasn't a working band; parts of it worked a little before and after, but...

AAJ: What happened to Otis Harris? Did he just drop off the scene?

TD: Yeah, he went back to Ohio and went to Cleveland, then he went to California for awhile and came back to Ohio. He passed on a few years ago.

AAJ: I hadn't heard of him before that recording, and definitely felt a strong Arthur Jones/Cleveland vibe from his playing.

So how did you and Dewey hook up?

TD: I'm not sure, actually. I know we played in the same band with Clifford Thornton, for The Gardens of Harlem (a Jazz Composers' Orchestra piece), so we might've exchanged numbers at that gig. There were a lot of rehearsals and so forth; that was in the early '70s, and I think that might've been when I met him and he asked me to join his band.

AAJ: That was a fascinating band, and at that time it seemed like—from the Ujamaa recording onwards—you'd started to employ other brass instruments. How did that interest come along?

TD: The Moroccan bugle (khakhi) was given to me by Dave Burrell; when we were talking earlier about Paris, well, he stayed over and went to Africa with Archie and he got that horn there and gave it to me back in '69. The French hunting horn I bought out in Dayton, Ohio at a pawn shop back when I was working with Brute Force and going to school out there. I've always wanted to add instruments to my presentation, and for quite some time I've been playing those horns.

AAJ: It seems like with reed players, there are quite a few avenues to go down as far as multi- instrumental playing, but with brass players you don't hear that much beyond the flugelhorn or Clifford Thornton's valve trombone. You don't hear a lot about expanding the palette to less common instruments.

TD: I think it's a little more difficult, the trumpet mouthpieces and the embouchure and things like that. It's possible to do, it's just a lot of work and you have to make a lot of adjustments, getting a little rest between horns and stuff.

AAJ: I would think Dewey would've been encouraging, too, as far as exploring different instruments and tonalities.

TD: He played the musette and he wanted something different to go along with that when we'd play that piece. The long horn was something he liked and the Moroccan bugle was something he liked, so I would do that with him. It worked out really well.

AAJ: Could you discuss the recording you did for Sun, Tapestry? From what I understand, it was an electrified ensemble.

TD: That was done in New York at Ornette Coleman's loft (he had a performance space there) on January 26, 1974. On that recording I play flugelhorn; the other instruments are electric except for [drummer] Jerome Cooper. My brother was the keyboardist on that, and it was an extension of the Brute Force thing, but using my music. I used electric bass, electric vibraphone and a Rhodes with a Leslie speaker.


That was something I was interested in doing, coming from the Brute Force experience and even before then, when I first started with Sonny and my brother Richard, he was playing electric Wurlitzer and Sonny was on electric guitar, and we couldn't hear me because they were electrified. I had to put a pickup on my trumpet way back then! It wasn't something that I was uncomfortable with; I wasn't uncomfortable with electric sounds, you know?

AAJ: I know you were also using that to a degree with Andrew Cyrille, and I had just assumed it was a later development, though that obviously isn't the case.

TD: This was a completely different thing—I used a multi-divider in a duo that came out in the 1970s ["Junction," on Junction (IPS, 1976)] but I've always had an eye on that and wanted to do something with electronics. It was a different voice, another variation of my voice and exploring the possibilities of the sounds. I really enjoyed working with that Conn multi-divider which gave me different octaves that I could play in unison with different octaves and so forth. But you have to keep up with that, and it wasn't a major interest of mine.

AAJ: To continue with Andrew Cyrille, you mentioned using him on an early gig. Could you talk a bit about your relationship with him?

TD: Well, it's pretty much as I said—I had always enjoyed his playing, and if memory serves, I think it was Frank Lowe and I who had him on a gig over in the Village. We just chose him to play the drums; I'm not sure whether it was Richard Pierce or Hakim Jami on bass. That was in the early '70s, and from there Andrew began to call me and I worked with him quite a bit for a long time in Maono. We started off with Hilton Ruiz on piano; Donald Smith was on piano at one time, Jeanne Lee was singing with us, and I think we had one with Haitian drummers (actually, Andrew is of Haitian descent).

Some other musicians that passed through were [saxophonists] David Ware and Joe Rigby, [bassist] Nick De Geronimo, and [pianist] Sonelius Smith, to name a few. I did several albums with him throughout the '70s; we had a long relationship, and I was the constant in that band, now that I think about it.

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