T.S. Monk Speaks Out
All this shit is drowning me, I have to get to some higher ground and that's why this next album, which is a continuation of Crosstalk , is called Higher Ground. That was the whole impetus behind this album and where I am now as an artists. During the two years between the albums'fortunately I've a good enough live act that all I play is concerts'I could work. So I said, 'I'm going to show myself, what this crosstalking is all about.' Now after two years of playing somebody like Kenny Durham, then singing 'Somebody Buy Me a Drink', and then playing some 'Girl Watch''in, then some Monk, then some deep Donald Brown stuff, then come back with 'Just a Little Lovin'' by Burt Bacharach. My audience loves me doing that! There ain't no drummers doing that. See, drummers are stupid! They think people give a shit about a drum solo. Ain't nobody give a shit about no drum solo.
AAJ: Except other drummers.
TM: Except the other drummers! People only understand one. They don't even understand one, two, three, four. Just one. All these polyrhythms, all this stuff we all know how to play. People don't remember all that. What's the most famous drum solo in the history of the world? 'Wipeout'! The whole fuckin' planet earth knows that. Because it's strong as nails, straight ahead, everything's on the one. Does anybody really know what Elvin was playing behind Coltrane in 'Ascension' 'Oh, sheets of polyrhythms!' We understand that. We know what Tony Williams was playing, but John Dough Public doesn't give a damn about drum solos and I submit to you that if you look at all the successful drummer band leaders'and I've done the count'there's about fifteen of us that have had a band like I've had, the one thing that we all have in common is that if you listen to our records, our records are dominated by great players and great tunes. And not dominated by drum solos. If you look at the drummers that had it going on but were never able to sustain that leadership role, you'll find that the records they made were full of drum solos. I first learned this from Chico Hamilton. People don't talk about this. Chico Hamilton's the kind of all of us. Chico Hamilton's had a band longer that Art Blakey. Drummers don't even talk about that. Drummers act like he doesn't exit. A lot of people should check him out'Leadership is about getting the right people together and getting them to do in concert something that makes the whole greater than the sum of it's parts. And it's a whole different skill'
AAJ: Hey, Count Basie was a master at that.