Lewis Nash: Professionalism and Respect
AAJ: How did you feel about playing classic compositions on tour with The Blue Note 7, especially since they were first played by drummers such as Art Blakey and Billy Higgins?
LN: I loved playing those classic tunes from the Blue Note Records catalogue! We created new arrangements to reflect our own interpretations of them, but the idea was to maintain the joyful, swinging exuberance that was such a key element. The fact that great drummers like Art Blakey, Billy Higgins, Philly Joe Jones, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and Louis Hayes played on the original recordings was a source of inspiration, not intimidation!
AAJ: What have been some of your favorite musical experiences?
LN: I have had so many wonderful musical experiences that it's difficult to choose! I must say that playing with Milt Hinton was a highlight. The opportunities to play with Benny Carter, Sweets Edison, John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, Horace Silver, Stanley Turrentine, Oscar Peterson, Joe Williams, Ruth Brown, Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett...these were all memorable. There was a great "drum battle" concert tour in Japan one year with me, Louis Bellson, Grady Tate [filling in for an ill Billy Higgins]) and Jeff Hamilton, and there was a Lincoln Center concert tribute to Art Blakey that featured both me and Elvin Jones playing a shuffle together on "Moanin'" that I will never forget!
AAJ: How would you advise young drummers?
LN: I would advise them to become like scientists. Experiment with sound, space and rhythm. Develop a steady, acute sense of time, pulse and flow, then internalize it. No matter what the tempo or feel, be able to subdivide accurately so that you can imply rhythms and phrases that give the impression of stretching and expanding or tightening or compressing. While playing in a given tempo, be able to hear in half time or double time so that you give yourself more creative possibilities, whether you're soloing or timekeeping. Develop an ear for the right sound at the right moment. A sense of adventure and an ability to execute ideas clearly and musically are valuable skills to have. On a lighter note, a good sense of humor and 'whimsy' can go a long way in balancing things out. Sometimes outright 'craziness' might be in order! Above all, give your best effort to help the band sound together and in sync and enjoy what you do.
Joe Lovano, 52nd Street Themes (Blue Note, 1999)
Horace Silver, The Hard bop Grandpop (Impulse, 1996)
Christian McBride, Gettin' To It (Verve, 1994)
Tommy Flanagan, Beyond The Bluebird (Timeless, 1990)
Branford Marsalis, Random Abstract (Columbia, 1987)
Betty Carter, Whatever Happened to Love? (Bet-Car-Verve, 1982)