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Interviews

Dwayne Burno: Tradition

By Published: November 20, 2013
If you telephone a bassist and you're specifically trying to hire the bass player you've called because of the way he or she plays, you should not telephone anyone else for the gig for at least 24-48 hours if you have that kind of time to wait or make a decision. If you need to know quickly to immediately, give us the respect and the parameter of the time frame you can afford to wait before making other calls. Quite often, it is revealed that not only were you not looking to hire me, specifically, but that you were willing to hire anyone after throwing names at the wall and seeing what sticks.

I played a gig over this weekend past in New York and after the gig, another trio led by pianist Johnny O'Neal
Johnny O'Neal
Johnny O'Neal
b.1956
piano
made a late night set. The bassist in this trio has become a guy that is getting lots of calls, these days. I have listened to him, know him and quite frankly will never understand what makes his phone ring. I simply don't believe that people know enough about what the bass is or should be doing in a musical performance situation so they in turn haven't a clue what they need or should be listening for in a bassist.

They don't know how to judge a bass sound unamplified or amplified. They can't hear the quality of the bass lines or harmonic note choices. They don't care if the bassist is really playing solid, unwavering, swinging time. They don't really care if the bassist is doing his job correctly or not. I think a lot of people just are satisfied enough with the feel of a thump without ever going or getting any deeper.

If you can't hear, feel or understand what I'm playing, do you honestly think you can understand Ron Carter, Buster Williams
Buster Williams
Buster Williams
b.1942
bass
, Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
1935 - 1969
bass, acoustic
, Bill Lee
Bill Lee
Bill Lee
b.1928
, Arthur Harper, or Jymie Merritt
Jymie Merritt
Jymie Merritt
b.1926
bass
? Go ahead. Lie to me with a straight face.

GC: Can you give me your 5 desert island discs? Although I realize that this idea is pretty old fashioned, what with Ipods, and all.

DB: First, Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
, The Sidewinder (Blue Note, 1963). I've fell in love with this record in 1982, at age 12, when my brother brought it home between collegiate semesters. The funky, infectious, dance-inspiring 15-minute groove laid down by Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
1936 - 2001
drums
, Barry Harris, and Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw
b.1932
bass
. The compositions are "The Sidewinder," "Totem Pole," "Gary's Notebook," "Oh Boy," "What a Night," and "Hocus Pocus." I always felt the Sidewinder was one of the most complete and fulfilling recordings ever made. It has five tunes of with varied flavors, characteristics, and feelings. Though there are three looks at the blues form—two long meter blues and one in a minor key—and two standard-based form compositions—one, loosely based on Duke Ellington's "The Mooche" and the other, a take off on "Mean to Me"—each composition has a feeling unto itself. Also, you have five, distinct and diverse improvisational styles and voices that work together as one and this recording is one of the best examples of this.

Number two is Edvard Greig, Piano Concerto in A minor. I was lucky enough to grow up in Philadelphia when receiving a public school education as a student was still worthwhile, attainable, and possible. Our school had music classes. Our schools had music programs. I learned Latin beginning in fourth grade through my senior year in high school. We (teachers with classes of students) took an interesting variety of field trips. A few I fondly remember were a trip to the Acme bakery where we witnessed the bread making process in a plant. My second grade class went to an Asian exhibit at the Philadelphia Civic Center. This was my first encounter with Asian cuisine items like nori, wakame, and my introduction to chopsticks. This planted the seeds of my affinity for Japanese culture and cuisine. This continued for me through high school and specifically as a result of being in the music magnet program. A few times throughout the school year, the members of the orchestra were afforded the opportunity to attend open rehearsals of the world's (at least it was considered as such, at that time in history) greatest symphony orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra. I saw it under two conductors, Eugene Ormandy and Ricardo Muti. One such rehearsal was my introduction to a composer and his well-known piece. This theme caught my interest and his never left me. This three movement piano concerto has always moved me to tears or tears upon every listen.


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