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A Fireside Chat with Reggie Workman

AAJ Staff By

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RW: I think we have an idea of what is in store for us in life and what you can achieve and what you want to do. So be it. It is like any other profession.

FJ: With convincing albums Summit Conference, Cerebral Caverns, and Altered Spaces, why haven't you recorded more?

RW: Looking back on that situation, I realized that while a lot of people were spending time developing and honing their skills for composing and developing a band, I was busy helping somebody else with their program as being a supporting artist. You can start down that path and before you know it, and this is a good thing to say to the younger musicians, you will find yourself moving down that path and there is nobody that pulls your coat, you haven't developed what you need developed as a bandleader, as a composer, as a person who is shaping the way the music is going as far as what the industry considers significant. That is what I see happened in my life. Later on in life when I realized that, I decided that it was time for me to change, but of course, when I was prepared to make that change, I had already been through quite a few groups, quite a number of groups, so my ideas were a little different from the average person who was stepping into that arena and that was not always sellable in regards to the industry's whims. I realized that as you grow your society becomes smaller so you don't expect to be among the stars in the industry when you want to do something different. That is what happens to the person who decides to stick to their guns and do that. During those days, it was a little bit different than it is now. The message was different. If you are a follower of the music, you will hear those people who made different moves and who evolved. If you are an intelligent person, when you listen to the growth of each one of those musicians, you will understand where their mind is because everything is apparent.

FJ: Evidence just reissued Great Friends with Sunny Fortune and Billy Harper.

RW: Most of the music that you listen to in this world of music never grows old. The more you listen to it, the more you hear in it because of just what is real in the world. When we did that product, we were taking a group to Europe to tour. I have a sister who is married to a Frenchman and she was working for a company there, Black & Blue, the original label that we produced the record on because of her wanted our group to record for her and we did. It came out, but it was only for Europe. Evidence became interested in it and put it out here. It is not something that will grow old because all the musicians are fresh and everybody is really playing good on it. It is just too bad that it was twenty-something years later before people get a chance to hear what was on your mind and they expect you to still be there. Not so. Everybody has moved onto their own ideas and their own thoughts and their own desires. Consequently, because of the amount of time that it takes for something to come out, that is what happens. Bands fall apart in the interim. That was a lot like when we were working with John. Bob Theile let John put in the contract that if he records for him, the record must come out within 'X' amount of months so that people will not come to you and ask you to play something that is old hat to you. Your mind has moved onto other things in five minutes, let alone five months. When I first joined John's group, people would ask him to play 'Favorite Things' and he didn't want to think about that. He did it because he was that kind of person who could do anything that he wanted to do and make it fresh, but he realized very quickly that his mind and his soul was moving so fast and the message was so futuristic that he didn't want to paint himself into a corner, so he had that put into the contract.

FJ: And the future?

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