Monty Alexander Speaks
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...
MA: Terrible, terrible.
FM: ...the difference is remarkable.
MA: There ya go. It[live recording] gives you a better chance to determine and enjoy the spirit of a musician and what he is all about rather than all this technical mumbo-jumbo. Because what’s happened to musicians. While we’ve been trying to get more complicated and come up with the new things and all of that, we became victimized by some well intended young people who went to universities and came out with degrees on how to have a perfect microphone.
MA: We don’t even think about it. But this guy is in the room with the buttons and the dials and let me tell you what would work. One microphone. Hang it in the middle of the studio just like you recorded the Basie orchestra with one mike in front of the place. One old beat up mike and you’ll hear the bass with your natural ears...it’s like what happened with the movies. They want to give you virtual reality. ... They’re gonna show you every explosion, the blood coming out the people that get shot, and they leave your imagination out of the mix. You can’t imagine anymore. Its right up your you know what.
FM: I find it all over-produced. Over calculated, so that there’s no spirit in it anymore.
MA:...I’m lucky, I’m glad I have some very functional people around. The Telarc crowd, because they’re very mindful of all this audiophile stuff which I couldn’t care about. Frankly, I don’t know what it is. I still have my old second rate record player. And I’m happy with that. When I hear about people spending $30,000 for equipment, I say ‘God Bless you pal, but what for!?’ Maybe they’re ears are better than mine. But there is an audience out there that wants to have beyond perfect. And beyond perfect is not necessarily what touches the heart. So I’m glad we have some people over there that can work with a guy like me.
FM: Telarc seems like a great place.
MA: It is a good bunch of people. And what’s great, is if its not working, they never tell you what to do....they give good feedback. I like them very much. In fact, I’m very grateful that they’ve encouraged my venturing into my home, Jamaican projects.