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Charli Persip

By Published: February 12, 2009

AAJ: What about who solos? I was pleased to hear so many trombone solos; big bands don't feature them enough, in my opinion.

CP: I let them set the solos, and oh yeah, James Zeller got up one day and said "We don't have enough solos in the trombone section". That's the kind of band we have, man, it's both a democracy and a dictatorship. There are times I have to be a dictator, but the dictator doesn't have to be a tyrant.

AAJ: I also notice you don't take that many drum solos, especially for a leader-drummer.

CP: No I don't want to do that. I want to play with the band, I want to be on the team. It's like a football team. You have to have a lot of stars, a running back and a tight end and wide receivers and a blocking back and they all handle the ball. I like to have a lot of soloists. I don't wanna solo on every tune. To me a lot of drum solos get boring after a while. I want it to be music. I went through that you know, the period of the long drum solo, but I passed that, I kinda don't like that anymore. All due respect to the great drummers who are still playing great solos today but I don't want to do that, I want to try to make music. I like to solo, but I like it to be rhythmic and musical. So many drum solos end up being demonstrations of technique—you know, how fast you can play and blah blah blah.

AAJ: One of the pieces on the new album, Joe Henderson's "Punjab," is arranged by another drummer, Joe Chambers

Joe Chambers
Joe Chambers

CP: He brought it to me for the band and asked if he could play it, but I said no this is my band. He meant well, probably wanted to show me how it should go, but that's the last thing I want. I never want to hear another drummer play something that I'm going to play because then that's going to be in my ear. I'm trying to find my own voice when I perform, especially in my band. Gary Anderson out in California, who also was never in the band, wrote another one on the new album, "Meantime," which was supposed to be our venture into fusion. It hinted at fusion. I like fusion, want to play more fusion, don't get a chance to play it enough, like it a lot.

AAJ: It also has some bop elements in it.

CP: Oh yeah, it's not complete fusion. What I'm trying to do in the band is to have a hint of different musical genres without actually being them. It's like the Latin things we do, it's kind of my way, not necessarily the way a Latin band would play it. I'm always trying to find my own voice.

Recommended Listening:

Dizzy Gillespie, At Newport (Verve, 1957)

Charles Persip, And the Jazz Statesmen (Bethlehem, 1960)

Pat Martino, Baiyina (The Clear Evidence) (Prestige-OJC, 1968)

Charli Persip & Superband, No Dummies Allowed (Soul Note, 1987)

Randy Weston/Melba Liston, Volcano Blues (Gitanes/Antilles—Verve, 1993)

Charli Persip & Supersound, Intrinsic Evolution (s/r, 2007)

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