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Interviews

A Fireside Chat With Grachan Moncur III

By Published: January 17, 2003
GM: It's tremendously difficult. I am going through a thing right now, Fred, that is unbelievable. I wouldn't even want to discuss it with you. The only good part about it, the only real good part about it is that I know that my destiny is totally in my hands now because there are people who really want to do something with me and as soon as I give them the green light, certain things can happen. I've been so under the weather for one reason or another, a lot of it has been financially, which affects my domestic life, my family, just your family includes yourself so it doesn't help the flame that you need. When I was really out there during the days that we were talking about, everything was hot. I was around people that would inspire me everyday. They liked what I was doing and they were encouraging me. Now the things that I get, people like what I do and everything, but it is for a dog eat dog type of situation or it's a stick and blow situation. It is not a thing like it was in the past where you could kind of grow with the music and the musicians that you are dealing with. That is what is happening in New York now with the new breed of musicians like Wynton Marsalis and the so called "young lions" that are out here now, Wallace Roney and them guys. They are into a thing where me and Tony and Jackie was back then. I would imagine. This is what I miss. This is what I miss. Besides that, what hurts even more, even if that is not happening, there was a time when I had residence, a composer residence for nine years at the Newark Community Arts School. That kept my enthusiasm up, just working with younger musicians and being able to work on my material at the same time and even though I wasn't with my peers all the time, I was active and I could see things growing. It just kept me more enthusiastic. At this point, I kind of fell into a musical rut. Thank God, it is not a spiritual rut. If it was a spiritual rut, I would be finished. So I am blessed that I have not dropped to that level. But the level is only one notch from there. So it is like I am hanging on for dear life, Fred. But the life that I am hanging on to is my own and I don't have that dark feeling that I had maybe ten years ago or fifteen years ago that everybody is against me or that the world is against me. I don't have that feeling because I know it is not about that. It is about me now. I kind of feel almost the way Monk was before he died. I knew Monk very well. I got to know him very well about five years before he died. I got to know him a little bit before that. I remember the dark period that he had almost what I am going through now, is when I was very close to Monk. I think that is one reason how I got close to him because he felt very relaxed with me because he didn't feel anything pretentious or that I was, he could just feel the genuine respect that I had for him. I felt comfortable with him. I didn't look at him like he was weird. He was a human being. I really felt what he was going through and I lived through some of the things that he went through. I went through it and I couldn't believe it, somebody like Monk. When you say, Fred, "Damn, how could you be going through this Grachan?" The same thing you are telling me is how I saw Monk and I was with him. I was with him at certain times when he was embarrassed by his peers. I was with him. I couldn't believe certain things that I witnessed with him. When his break came, I got to be with him a little bit and I even traveled with him off and on because I was doing a lot of work with Archie Shepp during that time and we would meet up with Monk on the same concerts sometimes. I saw Monk at the height of this thing within this five year period after he got on the cover of Time. I was with Monk the day people came from Miles' house over to Monk's house saying that Miles sent, two young kids came over to interview Monk and I was hanging out with Monk at his house and I was hanging with Monk the day that they came. I had been hanging with Monk all day when the kids came. Miles had sent them. They went over to interview Miles, but Miles said that he wanted them to do the interview with Monk and he was the one they should be interviewing. That was Miles' way of kind of telling Monk he was sorry for some of the nasty shit that he even took Monk through. So what I am saying to you, Fred, is I was there. They came and saw what was happening. It was two young kids, a girl and a boy, two white, young writers. So anyway, when I saw Monk after that and he was at the top of his game as far as the business, but it wasn't long that he had been through such sharpness and pain that he couldn't even dig it. I am telling you some shit, Fred (Grachan's voice starts audibly breaking up). I can feel this shit as I am telling this shit man. You can hear it in my fucking voice.

FJ: Critics and the industry as a rule are pariahs, but it's a whole other animal to be beat down by your peers.


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