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A Conversation Between William Hooker & Ras Moshe

Andrey Henkin By

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...there are people all in one camp, and many of these people get looked over because they're not the hangout type... They're not chasing every day, trying to figure out how to get interviews in magazines, because basically many of them have day jobs. They're just not trying to be on the scene to have arguments with people about aesthetics. —William Hooker
William Hooker is a spirit drummer who has shared his energy with musicians from Billy Bang, David Murray and David S. Ware to DJ Spooky and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. He has been given the opportunity to hone the minds and souls of children by teaching social studies and literacy with components of choral and vocal music at the Walt Whitman Middle School in Brooklyn. A component of his curriculum is inviting speakers to his classes including musicians Richard Keene, Lewis Barnes, Mark Hennen, Tor Snyder, architect Leslie Neblit and reknowned writer Denize Lauture. Downtown saxophonist Ras Moshe was one of the invitees and what follows is an excerpt of a taped discussion the two had.

William Hooker: To the youth, hopefully they'll be able to take it in their own direction, interpret it in their own way in their own mind, and be able to think for themselves about what we've said today, about what we play today, about how we're perceived, and especially myself, and how I'm perceived as a teacher. But I guess every time I sit down at the drums with a special guest, like Ros today, their perception of me changes as well. Here's Ras talking about how he thought today went.

Ras Moshe: It went pretty good, because I asked each class that I worked with with you, what kind of music they liked, and it was predominantly hip-hop. They come from a generation where things are more visual, musically. Regardless of that, the enthusiasm was still there, even though they might not have been exposed to that much creative music, like previous generations of young people. It was there, just somebody has to make it more prominent for them to know about the music. Because it's there, they want to know. Based on what they were saying, they know more than people think they do. They might be put in certain kinds of classifications, 'This kid is this, this kid is that,' but the natural intelligence is there. The playfulness is there, too. They get distracted, but on the whole, they're searching, and it's even more important now, with the way things are going musically.

WH: Bringing things up to today, and to the music, and what it takes to play this music, and generally what it takes to be a creative person and keep going. I mean, myself, I know that I've-me and Ros actually go back quite a ways, when I think about it. I've seen Ros at Columbia, and a lot of times when I got ready to play a lot of times he would be there. I remember that time when I was driving down 7th Avenue, and I say you going down to a gig, and I just pulled over, and I said, "Ros, where you going?" And you were coming to my gig that night.

RM: I met you in Wise's bookstore, too, 'cause I used to work there. And you came in there once, but I think you were in a hurry, because I tried to ask you a musical question, but I think you were with somebody. (Laughs.) I think that was on 27th Street, 28th Street. But I had seen you before that, even back in the 80s.

WH: I was probably with Donna, my wife, and that used to be one of our most frequent haunts. We would go, and, really, it was almost as if you'd go into Wise's you'd get a full meal. Or else you go into Theosophical Bookstore, up on 53rd I think it is, 52nd. Yeah, you get a full meal in all these places. Matter of fact, I remember going in there and getting a lot of books by this guy named Manley Hall. Definitely, there were a couple of books he wrote about tone in music, which I thought were pretty interesting too. Let me ask you a question. How do you feel about playing with some people now that you've seen perform in the past, and some of the newer people? How do you feel, in terms of someone who's bridging the gap between some people you've known for a while and you know have been out there for a while, like your most recent record. You're with Lou Grossi [sp?] And who else is on it? .... As well as the fact that I saw you play with Jackson Crowell [sp?], with Marco Neady [sp?], I saw you play with a lot of different people. Basically we're talking about playing with two different generations. How do you feel about that, and what do you feel is the potential for this kind of thing to happen? Where do you honestly see it at right now?

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