Eddie Marshall: Search and Recall
EM: I just loved Art Blakey and Max Roach.
. When I heard that, I was gone! So there I am playing in an R&B band [plays rhythm with his hands] playing all those rhythms, and then I was suddenly listening to that bebop shit [sings a tune].
AAJ: People always talk about them, but what did they have in their playing that made them so special?
EM: Well, first of all, when I was playing R&B, it was more like Latin music. You played the same beat over and over again, right? I really did love that R&B music, but then my uncle RoddyI still have my uncle Roddygot drafted into the army and he was a big jazzman. He loved jazz music. I didn't really like jazz music that much. I wasn't around it that much because my dad played sort of pop music of the day and I was in Cookie's band. So Roddy gets drafted and he leaves me his albums, and he had Charlie Parker With Strings, Max Roach and Clifford Brown and Miles Davis
Then I got to high school, and there was a saxophonist called Casano. We got together and we got a quartet and started playing jazz music. The only pianist we could get was a guy named Jimmy I. Joe, who played the accordion. He was a real good accordion player, but he didn't know how to play those buttons. And then we had a bassist called David Soha, and he played in polka bands. He didn't know how to play 4/4, and so he'd play every note twice and made it 4/4 [laughs], but we managed to make some songs.
AAJ: So, you've gone through many different styles, like jazz and R&B. What are the differences between playing in groups of different music genres?
EM: Well, the thing is that with modern jazz, bebop or fusion style, you don't have to keep a constant beat with the foot. What you do with jazz music is that you have a conversation between your left hand and your right foot [demonstrates]. Instead of going: [keeps the beat and shows the differences], in jazz you're free and you're not just thinking in a constant beat. Which I still love; that's really good. You know, I also like hip-hop musicI like the rhythm. But that's the basic difference.
Funk and stuff like that is really interesting. I played with Dionne Warwick for two or three years, and it was mostly R&B, and it was really great music. R&B is more like church musicblack church and blues. It's really wonderful music.
AAJ: You've also spoken several times about West Coast and East Coast jazz. Was there a real separation in music and between artists?
EM: Well, in the '50s, there was. The West Coast music was more like Cool Jazz, but I loved that. I grew up on the East Coast. I lived in New York till I moved to California, and I moved to New York from a town called Springfield, Massachusetts when I was 18. New York and Springfield may be like 150 miles apart, so I was always in New York when I was a kid. But I liked West Coast music because it was subtle. New York was on fire, so I really appreciated these guys playing cool. The amazing thing is that most of the musicians that I hung out with in New York, that were really good musicians, were all from someone else.
AAJ: So sometimes the same musicians recorded in New York and Los Angeles?
EM: Yeah, most of the times they would start off in Los Angeles, like Dexter Gordon, Billy Higgins and Charles Mingus. Then they would leave Californiait was rough and racist actuallyand they would move to New York and they wouldn't go back except for gigs. Then, nobody would leave New York to go anywhere!
AAJ: During the '70s, you formed part of the San Francisco scene. You were playing in The Fourth Way, and that was more like fusion, wasn't it?
EM: Yeah, it was fusion. I tell you, when I moved to California I was playing with Dionne Warwick and I just decided to stay for a while. But I was in LA and really I did not like it, so I was gonna go back. The pianist and I started off playing together in New York. He got the job with Dionne, and he got me on it. Then when he quit, I quit also. Do you remember that song "Do you know the way the way to San Jose"? It was this corny song, and she had a hit record for that. I told her, "If I have to play this every night, I'm quitting!" But I didn't think it was going to be a hit. It was so silly, and she sang really good music.
Then I moved to San Francisco and we started this band, The Fourth Way, and it really took off. San Francisco in the '60s was the place to be! You wouldn't believe it, people were just so friendly! New York was a tough place, and these people were like, "Hey dude!" You walked down the streets, and they were just giving you joints and shit. So I said, "I ain't going anywhere!" Our music was really hitting it.
AAJ: Was it really atmospheric?
EM:Well, the atmosphere was good but it was more like rock 'n' roll and jazz together. I was really happy.