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Monty Alexander Speaks

By Published: October 28, 2003
MA: Let me tell you about Mark. Mark is this guy that comes from England, and I make special note of that because he wasn’t around N.Y.—and I’m saying this very carefully because I don’t want to sound like I think I know more than anyone else—but there was a whole N.Y. cerebral hip thing about ‘let’s keep up with the times, what’s the next thing we’re gonna do,’ and you’d get to the scene with all these incredibly talented younger musicians that went to the music schools, you know? Mark Taylor’s like me and Hassan. Guess where we got it? On the street corner! In the saloon, in the joint. Fourteen, fifteen years old watchin’ the guy on the bandstand. And if you’re lucky maybe going up to him and saying, ‘I sure would like to know you a little better’. You don’t even ask him about how he played the piano, you just watchin’, pickin’ it up until it gets down in the pours of your being. And this is what Mark Taylor is about. He is one of the last of the swingin’ jazz drummers who come from the true bebop tradition, yet at the same time, I can take him where I want to go...its just thrilling to have a drummer that has that rock-solid rhythm when he plays a pulsing jazz tempo...He’s not trying to be another Elvin. There’s only one Elvin. And there’s a whole host of people trying to follow that style, but that doesn’t come from ‘let me make your body shake’.

FM: Its true there aren’t that many. But there are a few...

MA: Let me tell you who they are...the drummer for Marselasis. He’s a baaad dude. And a lot of these New Orleans drummers like, Indrid Muhammad, but if you got a few, I’d like to know who they there are?

FM: I’m a big fan of Bill Stewart.

MA: Oh, he’s good. I like him! You know what happened to him? He played with Maceo Parker, so he learned about the groovin’ from him.

FM: I like the way he’s developed a totally personal style, very expressive, but the groove is always right there.

MA: I got to find this man....

FM: I’m also getting into this younger cat, Nasheet Waits...

MA: Now, I knew his daddy very well. His daddy played with me, so I’ve been hearing his name...I want to thank you for that because when I hear a good word about anybody, because I don’t really get a chance to go and hear as much anymore. And another thing, when I hear a record today, to me—and this is a quick comment about something else—when you buy a record today of a jazz group, the engineers and the producers in the studio, they don’t know what the swingin’ thing is about. So when they’re recording, its like they’re sucking all the possibility out of the thing levitating...they take away the potential of the bass, the feel of the air coming out of it, they mike the drums in a way you’ll hear(pause) I don’t know what to say. But when you put that thing on it’s the opposite of all the sensibilities that we have when we listen to a record that was made in the fifties. Which gave us the feeling that we wanted keep this jazz thing alive.

FM: I’m glad you brought this up. I’m very interested in this topic. In fact, I was just talking to a friend about the difference between live drumming, and the way it sounds on recordings. Or even live recordings vs. studio...

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Download jazz mp3 “Stawberry Hill” by Monty Alexander