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Conversation with Scott Colley

By Published: October 5, 2003
AAJ: Middle Eastern'I guess that should be in quotes, 'Eastern' it's a little hard to say what I mean.[both laughing]. There seem to be some Indian and Middle Eastern influences.

SC: Yeah. I listen to music from all over the world and the things that I listen to'like anyone else'those things make it into your music. I don't sit down and say that I'm going to write something right now that will sound like South Indian music. I don't have any specific agendas like that. I'll listen to whatever is interesting to me and take those things and hopefully organically they come out in my music. So, yes, definitely.

Does that answer the question?

AAJ: Yes, it does.

SC: Another interesting point is that whatever my intentions are as a musician and as a communicator what you take from the music is based on your background and what ideas your currently processing and the way your thinking now. Every individual is different and is going to hear things in a different way.

AAJ: There seems to be a very open spectrum of interpretation to music.

SC: Yeah. There was a time'I remember'after I'd finished college and I'd moved to New York and I was really concerned about how people heard my music. Were they getting it? Did they understand it in the way I wanted them to understand it. And over time, I don't really care.


I don't mean that in a negative way. That's just another one of those things I can never control, nor do I need to try. I create the music that I'm interested in creating now. I'm very happy when people are interested in it on any level. And sometimes people come up with an amazing compliment, and they say why they liked it and it's something that never crossed your mind. You say, 'Oh, wow, that's kind of interesting.' Everybody can interpret it'it's out there and they can interpret it anyway they want in terms of how they hear things.

AAJ: Tom Stoppard said about people interpreting his work that he feels like he's at airline customs. The agent searches his bag and finally asks, 'Did you put this box in your bag?' and Stoppard replies, 'No, but I can't deny that it's there.'


AAJ: There seems to be a recent resurgence in jazz music. Do you think that's true?

SC: It's hard for me to have much perspective on it. Again, things are dependent on your point of view and from my point of view a lot of my friends are doing some great stuff, and some of that stuff I'm involved in. But I do think that it's a good time for improvised music in that there are a lot of people open to a lot of the things we've been talking about. A lot of the musicians I see out there are really open to allowing all these different ideas, different music from all over the world, music from different points in history, to make their way into the language that they're using for improvisation. In that way, I think it's a very interesting time. I don't think it was really that way when I moved to New York. I moved to N.Y just before 1990. 1989, and at that time it seemed it was kind of the height of the 'Young Lion' mentality. There was a certain rigidity to the music and what was the environment in New York. I think that has opened up quite a bit people are allowing a lot of different ideas and concepts to make their way into the content of the music.

AAJ: Looking back, you can see there was a gap in the eighties, and then you get a new beginning in the 1990's there's new growth, and now there's a whole new breadth of material happening.

SC: I'm sure in the eighties there were people doing what we're talking about I just don't think it was getting out there. Or at least not where I saw it. I think it's a good time.

AAJ: Do you have any plans coming up?

SC: I'm writing some music now for a new band that I hope to record soon. It's with Ralph Allessi, Jason Moran, and Bill Stewart.

AAJ: Wow. That's going to be a great group.

SC: I'm planning a European tour for spring, and some touring in the states as well.

AAJ: I'm a big fan of Jason's work. I just heard him play a little here in Maryland. He was doing a clinic. That's an amazing line-up.

Is that fairly new, working with piano?

SC: Well, my first record had piano'I kind of like to mix it up. You know? I don't know. Let me think about that. I like to mix it up. The last record was with guitar, the one before that was without a chord instrument at all.

AAJ: Does it change the way you compose?

SC: Yes. Definitely.

AAJ: So right from the beginning it ensures a different approach.

SC: Exactly. A new element like that really changes the way your write.

AAJ: I must say, I can't wait to hear that.

SC: Really? Thank you again.

AAJ: Have you played with Jason before?

SC: I played a few things'

AAJ: Right, of course, you played with him and Osby.

SC: And a couple of quartet gigs, and also some trio gigs with Nasheet Waits.

AAJ: Do you ever have time to get bored?

SC: To get bored? [Laughter] I was hoping to get really bored this month!

AAJ: What do you do when you get bored?

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