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Take Five With...

Take Five With Tommy Vig

By Published: October 24, 2011
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Was playing marimba in the Gil Evans-Miles Davis big band, and Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Tony Williams
1945 - 1997
was late for a rehearsal for a concert in Berkeley. The music for a brand new chart was put on the stands and Miles, without a word, simply pointed at me, so I sat down at the drums and played the new arrangement, which was written in 5/4 time, swinging the hell out of it; after all, how often does one get to play drums with Miles Davis?

In the break, Tony finally showed. By that time I was back behind the marimba. They called the new 5/4 chart again and Tony had a very hard time reading the music. Finally he got up and waving his part said to Miles, "The music is wrong!" Miles pointed at me and said, "That kid just played it; he had no trouble." Tony said, "Then let him play it!" But, of course, he finally learned his part, but I will never forget the thrill of playing with Miles and the fact that he liked me and my drumming.

Favorite venue:
Having my compositions performed at the Pavilion of the Music Center, Los Angeles, by Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
's Neophonic Orchestra.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Welcome to Hungary, my most recent album, because I am happy with my compositions and because David Murray
David Murray
David Murray
sax, tenor
played the solos so well .

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Miles Davis, At Carnegie Hall with the Gil Evans Orchestra.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
New notes and new harmonies, but which are based on music I like—Dizzy, Monk, Mozart —in other words, creating a brave new world in a good and natural and swinging sense.

Reading this I just decided to title my next album, Tommy Vig: A Legend in His Own Mind :)

Did you know...
that I have a brown belt in Karate? This got a few people in trouble—including me sometimes—me especially when, after I kicked somebody, they did not go down.

CDs you are listening to now:
Lutoslawsky Cello Concerto, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Disturbing. To me, jazz-rock, fusion, ethnic jazz, world music, cross-over and so on are not following Hamp, Bird, Hefty, Trane, Ayler. The musical quality is low, and making money is confused with making music.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Dizzy for President !

What is in the near future?
I was asked to write and perform in 2012 a Concerto for Vibraharp and Orchestra (my second) by the Duna Symphony Orchestra. The event will take place at the beautiful concert hall of the Duna Palace in Budapest.

By Day:
I was often told "not to give up my day job," especially by Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
, when I told him that, to me, he was one of the best drummers in the world. :). Luckily I never had a day job. :)

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
I am drawing a blank here...

Photo Credit
Csaba Deseo

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Download jazz mp3 “Rise and Shine” by Tommy Vig