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Adam Kahan: Capturing the Essence of Jazz in a Film

Adam Kahan: Capturing the Essence of Jazz in a Film

Courtesy Willy Airaldi


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Too many are the documentaries produced and directed in a formulaic way using archival clips, photos, and hastily staged interviews that are intended to make a series of facts evident and bring out a few key points. At their best, they give a reasonably realistic illustrated depiction of people, places, and things. That is why a screening of the film Buster Williams: From Bass to Infinity proved to be jaw-dropping in the way it revealed the music and musicians without artificiality but with a feeling of being present with the experience in the here-and-now. (See review of the film here.)

The director is Adam Kahan. Relatively unknown, it turns out he recently made another jazz film; Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three-Sided Dream. (Arthaus Music, 2016) Both are getting attention at film festivals and received positive reviews. Who is Adam Kahan and what is his connection to jazz and movie making? A fascinating director, Kahan is in a position to change the way that jazz cinematography is conceived. His next film is slated to be about the revolutionary Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Even though he is usually behind the camera, Adam Kahan is someone to watch.

It turns out that Kahan is a very warm and easy-going guy. He plays bass, which of course connects him to Buster Williams. He is a self-taught film-maker and already has garnered respect in the film industry. Some of the top film festivals have shown and praised his work. His cinematographer and editors are top drawer. In conversation a positive energy emanates from Kahan—the energy a film maker needs to bring all the pieces together.

The Buster Williams film is worth watching, not least because it illustrates many points Kahan makes in this interview. It's available for streaming on Amazon Prime and other venues. The film provides a sense that Kahan is a creative force who fills an unmet need for an authentic jazz cinematographer and is someone the jazz community can welcome.

All About Jazz: Hi, Adam. The reason I asked to interview you was because I was really turned on by the Buster Williams film. It is more than just another "jazz biopic"; it has great depth to it and lends a sense of "living presence" to the music and the musicians. So I thought I'd like to talk with you as the film's director, and give our readers an opportunity to get to know you better and become familiar with your work.

Adam Kahan: Thanks Vic, I really appreciate what you're saying. I think that in making these films, my big realization is that jazz is a community —a village. And a film on jazz—at least the ones I make—is not just about an individual—Buster or Rahsaan or Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins, or whoever. Their legacies are all intertwined, and it gets deep. So, Buster's story is also Gene Ammons' story, and Sarah Vaughan's and Kenny Barron's and Larry Willis' and so on. Steve Turre told me, when I interviewed him for the film on Rahsaan—"It's all a continuum..." That's kind of been my mantra ever since. I want to add to the continuum. Capture the whole picture. And get as much of it right as I can.

AAJ: And the film does cover many aspects of Buster's world, which includes so many musicians and others in his life. And very importantly, the film shows respect and care for all the musicians who participate in it. And as you watch the movie, you feel engaged and intimately connected with them.

AK: As you know, my previous film was about Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who died in1977, so I didn't have him present with me to work with like I did with Buster. I wanted to have my subject with me this time. At the same time I also realize there's a whole generation of these guys who are leaving the planet so to speak. You know, you can see concert or interview footage with Miles or Dizzy Gillespie or whomever, but what you can't do is get in a room with them in an intimate setting. They're gone. So part of my motivation was, let's get in an intimate setting with not only Buster, who of course is the central focus, but also with some of his "partners in crime"—jazz being the crime and we can talk about that another time!

Buster's collaborators, the ones in my film anyway, are for the most part the "over seventy" crowd. They are also of course top tier musicians. I wanted to get them together and hear what they had to say— musically and conversationally. And you know, where the rules for documentary filmmaking almost always call for exposition, I sometimes (or even often!) didn't necessarily want that. So for example, part of the reason we got Kenny Barron and Lenny White together with Buster was to find out—"what does it feel like to be in a room with these guys." In one way, we think of them as "giants," and they are, but in other ways, and as the film reveals, they're just regular guys.

AAJ: Jazz is at one and the same time a very personal yet very collective approach to music. It's not just about playing someone else's composition, someone you've never met, but it's an extremely personal in the moment expression of something that's your own. And the movie makes that very palpable. First of all, the sound of the bass in the film is amazing. It is so rich and full, with all the overtones coming through, very clear and beautiful.

AK: Yes, we had great sound people, those working the shoots (what we'd call production sound), and then we had a terrific guy doing the mixing. And of course Buster's sound is unmistakable. Like Herbie Hancock says in the film, when you hear that sound, you're not hearing the bass, you're hearing Buster. I'm glad we were able to successfully capture and transfer his sound to film. I'm glad it came through. It feels true.

AAJ: And because of the marvelous sound, I was reminded that the bass isn't just an instrument that you pluck for rhythmic purposes. It's an instrument that has soul to it and expresses feelings. In an orchestra it's part of the violin section. It's a bass violin! And players like Buster and Christian McBride and Rufus Reid, who are in the film, are the ones that bring that through into jazz, namely that it's a melodic, expressive instrument.

AK: Buster is everything a bassist has to be. He can hold down the rhythm if that's the job, he can play whole notes if that's what's needed. He can support a singer, or he can go to the opposite extreme and play with Herbie Hancock in Mwandishi. He's the consummate soloist and musician plus composer, and hell we should throw in human being too. Oh, and in case you didn't know, this film was made by a bassist—yours truly.

AAJ: I was going to ask you: who are you? Can you tell us about yourself? Are you a movie director by trade? How did you come to do jazz documentaries?

AK: I bounce between making films and music, sometimes I do both at the same time. I am a working bassist but not at Buster's level. I wouldn't be playing at Small's (but would love to—Spike call me!) or the Vanguard or places like that. I'd be playing at a restaurant or some little unknown club in Brooklyn. But fortunately, one of the great things about New York is that there are so many players here and I've had the luck, or blessings, to meet up and play with some older musicians who have taught me so much. It's like Buster and Larry Willis say in the film—it's all about mentorship and passing it on.

I play regularly with a couple of beautiful pianists (again the over seventy crowd!) One of those guys is Sonelius Smith. Sonelius played with Rahsaan for a year, he also played in Stanley Cowell's piano choir, and with many other people. He was pals with Rashied Ali as well. He's kind of an oddball in jazz (I mean that in a good way), he doesn't fit anywhere, much as my films generally don't fit in with the standard documentary. I don't follow the rules as prescribed by the "documentary police," just as Sonelius, and by extension I, don't follow the rules laid out by the "jazz police." Ha ha, well that's what we say anyway! Sonelius played in Rahsaan's legendary band who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which included Charles Mingus on bass, Roy Haynes on drums and Archie Shepp. Sonelius has been around, has played with a lot of great musicians, but he kind of marches to his own beat. He is generous enough to pass it on and I'm fortunate to work with him.

I also play with David Durrah, who is another beautiful player and has a great legacy. Playing with these guys is just lessons. Every day is a lesson. David and Sonelius also know each other, both played with Stanley Cowell, and David too is in the over seventy crowd. See a pattern forming here? Yup. It's interesting too because both of these musicians have such different approaches. I'm definitely spoiled.

AAJ: I'm getting the idea that you're a musician who does films on the side.

AK: Well, despite all I've just laid out, I'd say I am first and foremost a filmmaker.

AAJ: Where are you from?

AK: My family are mostly New Yorkers. I grew up going between Connecticut and New York.

AAJ: How did you get interested in films?

Crude Beginnings: Getting into Film-Making

AK: Well, I started playing electric bass at age 13, actually piano and trumpet before that. That's where the music started. My mom was a music teacher. For some reason I never got it in my head that you could actually do music professionally, and my father was pretty conventional and kept me away from that idea. I started getting interested in film making in my early twenties when I was in college. I started making Super 8 films. I'm 54 now, so that was in the 1980s-90s which was a great time to be making films. I started with a Super 8 camera making fun little films. Then I learned 16 millimeter and I got a little more serious and had to learn about the logistics of synching audio, cutting negative, and stuff like that.

As a film maker I am self-taught. (I have a degree in English Literature.) I did take a couple of film courses at San Francisco City College when I was on the west coast for a while. But mostly I learned from people with more experience than me. (Just like music.) So I'd work on a film and get a camera guy, buy him lunch, which was all I could afford to pay him, and learn from him and others, making films, hands-on. And then these people became friends. So I might learn a lot from a seasoned cinematographer, or I might learn about sound from a sound guy, or about film making from a director, and so on. I kind of learned as I went along, made short films, some were experimental, some were like goofy B-movies and that kind of thing.

I'd been moving between film-making and music, and sometimes I'd be playing more music, other times more film. In San Francisco, I stopped by a sidewalk sale one day and they had a lot of jazz records. I wasn't yet a jazz devotee and wanted to get into it. So I bought a record by Ornette Coleman, which I didn't understand at the time, but I thought was kind of cool. Then I got a Count Basie record, and one by Dizzy Gillespie. And I had also bought this Rahsaan Roland Kirk record. It was The Best of Rahsaan Roland Kirk (Atlantic, 1971), and that record just blew my mind. It immediately hooked me. For me, that opened the door to jazz. I remember a specific cut on that record, "Lady's Blues," which was a funky flute blues cut with strings. Super cool and super moving. Of course the record had all of Rahsaan's multi instrumental stuff, the three horns and plenty of his quintessential bad-ass music and messages. That record just hit me. And then as I became sort of a Rahsaan acolyte, I read more about his life, he had a very compelling life story, and all of those beautiful liner notes by his producer Joel Dorn.

At the time, I was making these short films, and I said to a friend, "You know, someone ought to make a documentary about Rahsaan." And in 1999, I moved back to New York, and I was again telling my friend about this, and he said, "You should make that film!" So I said "Yeah, why not?" So I went ahead with the idea. I was very naïve in my approach, which I think ultimately proved to be good. So I got a hold of a phone book (which they still had at the time), and I found Joel Dorn's number. I called him and said I was doing a film about Rahsaan and I would like to interview him. He said "Cool, come on over." That's how and where the Rahsaan film started, also how and where my documentary filmmaking and making films on jazz started. Joel gave me some additional contacts, including Dorthaan Kirk and Steve Turre, and it just snowballed from there.

I finished the first version of the Rahsaan film around 2004, but it wasn't a great film, it was poorly constructed. So in making this first iteration, I learned the basics of good documentary film making. Learned from my mistakes! I shelved the film, and all of its not-goodness for a while.

I got some work doing short films for an arts channel, some documentaries on visual artists like Fred Tomaselli and Andres Serrano. So that kept me busy, and I also had a day job for a TV company (AMC). But the Rahsaan film remained unfinished. So in 2012 I took another look at it, (it still wasn't any good), and decided to re-make it from scratch. In 2012 I started re-shooting interviews. Unfortunately, by that time, Joel Dorn was gone, so were Edith Kirk, Walter Perkins, Trudy Pitts and others. All beautiful people who I had interviewed before. But the quality of those early interviews was so bad, I could not include them in what was to be the final film.

Some folks were angry that certain people, especially Joel, didn't appear in the film (given Joel's significance to Rahsaan). But from a production standpoint, those interviews were unusable and more importantly, I asked myself—is Rahsaan's story adequately told without these interviews? The answer was yes. This was the film I wanted to make. About Rahsaan. And not an A-Z biography (I never make those). Soul and spirit -they were still very much there and at the forefront. By the way, I did include some video "extras" of interviews with Joel on the DVD release and streaming too.

Around the time of releasing the Rahsaan film—The Case of the Three Side Dream (go to http://www.rahsaanfilm.com/ for more information), the idea for the Buster film—— was beginning to develop.

AAJ: What was the reaction to the Rahsaan film?

AK: The Rashaan film did really well. One test of a film's success is which film festivals you get accepted to. So the Rashaan film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival, which is a solid, prestigious festival. It's probably second in importance only to Sundance. And Sundance doesn't often include films about musicians, certainly not Jazz musicians! The film played several festivals, and it won three Best Documentary awards, one in Cologne, Germany, one at Filmfest Tucson, and one at the Pan-African Film Festival in LA. So it got nice awards, it got a lot of exposure, nice reviews, and it got picked up by an international distributor, and is available worldwide. And I even made some cash back on it! Though I can safely say that I can never be accused of making money on a film. I am eternally in the red! It's definitely a labor of love.

Buster Williams: A Film About a Living Musician

AAJ: So how did you get started with the Buster Williams film (see https://www.busterwilliamsmovie.com/)?

AK: At that point, I wanted to make a film of someone still living. I had a sense of urgency. All these great musicians were (and are) dying. We are losing a whole generation before our eyes. The great pianist Harold Mabern passed away in 2019. How come someone didn't make a film about him? And he is just one example. One of the things about Buster is that he's in great shape, at the top of his game musically and not going anywhere for a while. (He recently turned 79.) So I wanted to do a film on a living musician. Among other things, archives are always ridiculously expensive to license, so I wanted to get somebody alive, so there would be fewer archives to contend with. Also, these guys are not eternal, but let's make them eternal in a small way, with film. There are so many important legacies to capture in this music.

So then, I'm a bassist, so I'm thinking I'd like to do a film on bass players. And in that respect, New York is like a "candy store" for bass players, and all musicians for that matter. I could call Ron Carter, I could call Buster, I could call Reggie Workman, Rufus Reid, whatever. And I did! I tried all those guys, and most of them didn't know me from Adam, [laughs], and it's a great leap of faith in any film for the potential subject to trust a guy who just calls them out of the blue. But Buster was responsive. I told him I wanted to make this film about the bass as an instrument, focus on the music and about three or four players, and he'd be one of them. So he said, "I'll do it, but the movie has to be about just me."

With any film I make, I want to know about my subjects, and do, but I don't want to know too much. I want to discover something about them. Like Buster says in the film -he wants to discover something when he's playing. "The only reason I've got that bass in my hands is so I can discover something." So when Buster said he wanted the film to be uniquely focused on him, I didn't know if he could carry a whole film, frankly. Because I of course knew him to an extent and knew some of his music, but really only on a superficial level. So I said, let's just do a one-day shoot with an interview, and then we can see where we're gonna go. And he was cool with that. We met at the jazz club Smoke, and we talked for a while. And then we shot an interview at his house in New Jersey. In that interview, he told stories and kind of laid out the major plot points of his life. And at that point, I thought, "He's right. There's more than enough for a film on Buster Williams." And I've easily got enough footage for a whole second film on him!

A Cast of Living Legends

So it was going to be a film about Buster. But I didn't want to let go of my idea of a film featuring multiple players and collaboration. Still always thinking about the "continuum" that Steve Turre mentioned. So I said to Buster, let's have a film where you're in conversation with a handful of close friends/players, and you play a few tunes— duos or trios. So we talked about "who do you want to include?" And he said, "How about Benny Golson?" I thought, great, you can't get more "royal" than Benny Golson! This is too incredible. Same thing happened with the Kenny Barron and Lenny White shoot. I was so in awe. I was just sitting there in a private concert with these guys playing Thelonious Monk tunes, for me, a camera person, and a sound person. My mouth open, I couldn't think of any questions! I just sat there like a happy dummy. (Well, I did rise to the directorial challenge eventually...)

Buster had suggested a number of people for the film, but I didn't want to let go of this multiple bassist thing. So I suggested we bring in Rufus Reid, which he was happy to do. That was a beautiful shoot. Plus these guys were so happy to have a reason to get together to do this. Big smiles all around. And then I wanted a singer, so I asked Buster if he knew Carmen Lundy, and of course he did. Another beauty. Their rendition of "But Beautiful" is one of my favorite scenes in the film. But other than Carmen and Rufus, Buster suggested all the other musicians in the cast. He really wanted Larry Willis in there and that was great too. Larry took the train up from Baltimore, and we shot in New York. Buster wanted the film to be about himself, and hands down he was right. It should be about him. But I was also able to have this multi-player perspective and put a number of players and collaborators in front of the camera. I was right too. We were both right, we both got what we wanted, and what we each wanted was in fact the same. I don't know how to explain it but everything was in harmony.

The "Candid Camera" Effect

AAJ: I was really struck by how natural and unaffected everyone seemed. How did you set up the filming so that all the musicians could be so relaxed and not self-conscious in front of a camera, lights, microphones, and the film crew? At times, it almost felt like the old TV show, "Candid Camera" where the cameras were hidden.

AK: I think it's because you know, we shot two concerts which we didn't use in the film. They were great concerts, but they didn't have that intimacy, and that's probably why we didn't use them. We shot Buster's band at Lincoln Center, and that's at the end of the film. But we shot "Four Generations of Miles" at Birdland with Mike Stern and Jimmy Cobb and Sonny Fortune. And Buster and Jimmy Cobb were hangin' out backstage, and we shot some footage. One of the reasons that it didn't make it into the film is that I just had too much, and something had to go. But it also didn't have the intimate feeling because it was in a club. We shot another one at Mezzrow with Buster and pianist Renee Rosnes which was quite wonderful, but I think to your question—musicians are good "performers" and that sort of got in the way in that situation. They were at a club and very much performing. The answer to your question is that Buster and I worked together for two to three years, so we had this great rapport. We became friends and it was very relaxed, very familiar. I think I sometimes make the mistake of getting too familiar too soon, and that puts some people off, but with Buster, we just clicked.

Also, I'm frankly a low budget film maker, so you don't have a big truck coming around with a lot of gear, no big crew of people, lighting people, assistants, etc. It's usually just me, a camera person, and one sound person. Maybe a fourth person, depending. So we keep it small and personable, and that helps with the intimacy. Also, Buster's not hangin' out with the other musicians all the time, so like when Larry Willis takes the train to see us, those guys are just delighted to see each other. They're in such a good space.

AAJ: They're having a reunion!

AK: And the other thing is that I don't just sit them down in front of a camera to do a formal, stiff interview. I'm like a fly on the wall. I just tell the film crew to roll, and let the guys interact on their own. I'll throw them a few questions from the sidelines, or ask them to talk about such and such, but it's not in your face. It's very natural.

AAJ: I see how you get that "natural" feel: you're very non-obtrusive. And also, you have a spontaneous, relaxed kind of personality. Like you put me really at ease in doing this interview. You don't stand on ceremony or act like a big shot movie director.

AK: Exactly!

The Film Crew

AAJ: From what I know about film making, the camera guy, aka the cinematographer, is very important in how the film turns out. He or she often decides the angles from which the scene is to be shot. Do you have a particular cameraman with whom you work with a lot?

AK: For the Buster film, there were three cinematographers or Directors of Photography as we call them. They're regulars whom I work with all the time. One of them recently moved to France, Craig Marsden, so I don't see him as much any more. One of them lives in New Jersey, and he's a real "mensch" I would say. His name is Tim Newman. He also worked on the Rahsaan film with me and he shot the scene where the poet Betty Neals sets up the whole story in the beginning. But the main cinematographer on the Buster film is Jennifer Cox. She's a great cinematographer: she really nailed it. I'm lucky to have good people to work with, lucky to have them work with me, where they aren't exactly making the big bucks. But they understand passion, and they need to if we are going to work together. They all got into Buster and the music, and brought their own passion to the work as well.

AAJ: The framing of the photography was just wonderful. And the shots of the upright bass itself are awe-inspiring. I've never seen anything quite like it, like a closeup of the bass just below the bridge!. And the film starts out with the ringing of a glass "bell" that begins a Buddhist meditation. How did you get that idea: to start a film about the bass with the sound of a Buddhist bell? We do learn later in the film that Buster practices a form of Buddhist chanting.

AK: I'm not sure how it got to be that the film begins with the bell. A decision made in the edit room no doubt. It might have just come to me at some point to start it that way. I work with editors, but I also do some of my own editing. With this film, I first did a roughcut of the film myself, each scene had two or three major points, or "beats" as we call them, and then I passed it off to the editor for her to make some of the hard decisions I couldn't make, because as Director, I was too close to it. Most of the scenes just had too much! Like Benny Golson could really tell some stories. He has such a rich history, and great stories to match, but we only had time for one. He had told the story of when he first got the news of Clifford Brown's death, which was really moving, but we ended up going with the lighter story of his going to New York as a teenager with his pal John Coltrane, looking to meet jazz greats and stumbling into Monk.

So my roughcut of the film that was over two hours long. I basically gave that to the editor and told her "you know what to do." Which was to cut a half hour out of it. The editor for the the Buster film was Jennifer Fineran, whom I've also worked with in the past. She's great. She edited a film on the artist Ai Weiwei and a bunch of other stuff. She kind of took the rough rock of a film that I gave her, chiseled it down, polished it, and made it shine.

Buster's Buddhist Connection

AAJ: The gong at the beginning connects with Buster chanting "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" much later in the film, as well as the importance of this spiritual practice in his life and music, And that whole story lifts the film into "infinity" as it appears in the film's title. I was really struck by the way that the bell and the chanting appear in the film as a crucial part of Buster's story.

AK: Yeah, it kind of blossoms fully, late in the film, but I really wanted to have a clue to it early on. The gong and its resonance also tie in with some later sequences where Buster is just bowing his low E string, and the vibrations you hear when he bows a whole note. Especially that low E which is so intrinsic to Buster's sound. Benny Golson mentioned it when we shot with him, though that didn't make it into the final cut of the film. The gong is like a sonic vibration, along with the bowing, that shepherds you through the entire film.

AAJ: It really is wonderful how the sound of the bass intercalates with the gong and chant, and the three taken together have a symbolic meaning that reveals itself in the course of the film. Did Buster suggest his background in chanting to you as part of the film? I know that Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter wrote a book with their teacher about Nisheren Daishonen's teachings and its relationship to jazz. (Hancock, Ikeda, Shorter: Reaching Beyond: Improvisations on Jazz, Buddhism, and a Joyful Life. Santa Monica: World Tribune Press, 2017). I'm wondering if Buster wanted to include his chanting in the film, or you asked him if you could do it.

AK: I knew he was into it, and he also made it clear he wanted it in the film. The Buddhism and chanting are a very important part of who he is, undoubtedly. But frankly, he never dictated anything that should or shouldn't be in the film. I would bounce things off him sometimes. Like when I asked him about the use of animation, he kind of nodded his head and said, "I don't know..." He wasn't convinced initially. But once he saw the roughs of the animation, and then the finished segments, they became some of his favorite parts of the film. As far as Buddhism is concerned, I already knew it played a very important part in his life. By the way, they get together in groups for chanting, prayer and discussion. We also shot some of that with Buster, but it didn't make it into the final film because of lack of time. I delved into it with Buster as much as I could in order to understand where he's coming from.

Buster's "Shock and Awe" Experience with Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt

AAJ: Buster's story of his time when he was just a youth joining Gene Ammons' and Sonny Stitt's quintet, has a lot of sadness in it. Of course there's the excitement of him being hired on the spot by these legends, But Ammons' brusque departure to get drugs and the chaos it brought about must have felt awful to a guy like Buster who was raised and mentored to avoid drugs and lead a righteous life. I guess my question would be, how did that fit into the film, given that nearly all the other musicians in the film seemed far away from that addiction life style.

AK: I think a big part of that story was the way Buster avoided the trap of drugs. But you're right. It's very sad what happened with Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons, the addiction and all, but then again, I never thought of it that way because I guess Buster is so optimistic, and to him it wasn't a sad story at all. And by the way, as you know, the musical legacies of those guys far outshine their problems with addiction. But that particular story is really essential to Buster's development, because it's his first professional experience on the road, right out of high school, and as he says "I learned so much." The story, I guess has a moral, or morality, but it's not spelled out that way or pushed in your face. At its core, it's really just a telling of a seminal life experience for Buster. I also try not to tell the viewer what to think, or what to take away. That's for you the viewer. Hopefully that scene and the film inspire reflection. I like that you came away from it with the view or message that you did. You are right of course, but that's also your perspective on it, and there is of course more.

AAJ: The film seems to say that Buster healed himself through music -and chanting meditation. He seems to have been insulated by upbringing and personal and spiritual growth from addictions and the dark side of being a jazz musician.

AK: I just went where Buster led me in this film. One film critic griped that the film didn't want to uncover difficult issues in Buster's life, but Buster never talked about that stuff, there was no smoking gun, and I'm definitely not going to invent something in that respect. He is an extremely positive person. He never talked about race, which of course as an African American, born in the 40's, and still today -he's sure to have experienced racism. Bus that is one of the things I love about Buster and the film. He is the consummate protagonist and master of his own story. And his story is very much that of a beautiful, blessed, visionary musician.

Towards the end of the film, Larry Willis does address race head on, and I am so happy and thankful that he did. But generally, I followed Buster, and whatever he told me, I tried to make sense of it and make a good film out of it. That's the basic approach.

And just to circle back to the Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons story, it was told by Buster with such humor and affection and positive emotion that it couldn't have been a downer. And -spoiler alert -at the end of that scene, the band gets left high and dry by Gene Ammons. Their hotel room isn't paid for, they're not paid, and they're stranded. So I asked Buster, what happened after that? And he said the club gave them some work as side men to pay off their bill and to get them on the road. I asked him how he felt about it all and he said he had no resentment toward Gene Ammons. Just one of those things. Took it in stride. Gene Ammons went to jail for drugs shortly after that, and when he came out and did his "comeback" record, he called Buster to play bass on it, which of course Buster did without hesitation. For Buster, it seemed like it was just a learning experience. He didn't hold a grudge; it just was what it was. And again, he tells that story with such humor. He was just relating some memories. I just put what he tells me on film. Well maybe it's a little more complicated than that.

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