4

Alex Norris: King Band Geek

George Colligan By

Sign in to view read count
AN: It seems as though there is a lot of emphasis on classes in jazz programs, but there are not enough experiences where students are playing all the time. That needs to change. But some students take the initiative, and they do flourish because of that.

GC: Talk a little about some of the great sideman experiences you have had in New York.

AN: Well, initially, I toured with some bands like the Glenn Miller Band, which was actually a great experience. And I lived in London for a while because I was working with a band called Incognito. I was part of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead , and I was a part of that up until she died, and I was music director for that eventually. Being on the scene at the club Augie's, which is now Smoke, I got to play with a bunch of great musicians, like Joel Frahm, Joe Strasser, Sam Yahel. I did a gig with Carl Allen's quintet, I was with Avishai Cohen's International Vamp Band. I played with Greg Tardy's quintet for a while.

I neglected to mention that one great band that I worked with in Baltimore was the Rhumba Club; through working with that band, I met the great bassist Andy Gonzalez, whom Rhumba Club had hired as a producer. So Andy later hired me to play with Manny Oquendo and Libre. And that led to a lot of other Latin Jazz experiences; playing with Marlon Simon's group, and with Ralph Irizarry and Timbalaye, which I played with for a long time.

I replaced trumpeter Jeremy Pelt in bassist {Lonnie Plaxico}}'s band, which was extremely challenging. His compositions were so difficult, but I made playing his music a part of my daily practice routine. Not only is his music physically challenging on the trumpet, but it doesn't really lend itself [harmonically] to traditional types of chord notation. There might be ten chords in one bar, so it's difficult to really make the changes. Lonnie would give me a piano chart, and I would improvise using that as a guide. But also, interestingly enough, it forced me to use some old school techniques: The New Orleans players, didn't just use the chords to improvise; they used the melody and what the rhythm section was playing to improvise. So Lonnie's music forced me to think outside the box of just playing the chord changes.

Shop

More Articles

Read Dave Douglas and the Art of Festival Direction Interviews Dave Douglas and the Art of Festival Direction
by Libero Farnè
Published: March 18, 2017
Read Johnaye Kendrick: In The Deepest Way Possible Interviews Johnaye Kendrick: In The Deepest Way Possible
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 8, 2017
Read Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences Interviews Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Laura Jurd: Big Footprints Interviews Laura Jurd: Big Footprints
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world" Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Clarence Becton: Straight Ahead Into Freedom" Interviews Clarence Becton: Straight Ahead Into Freedom
by Barbara Ina Frenz
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Daniel Kramer: Bob Dylan, In Pictures" Interviews Daniel Kramer: Bob Dylan, In Pictures
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Ashley Kahn: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece" Interviews Ashley Kahn: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
by Lazaro Vega
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Tony Monaco: Taking Jazz Organ to the Summit" Interviews Tony Monaco: Taking Jazz Organ to the Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Matthew Shipp: Let's Do Lunch!" Interviews Matthew Shipp: Let's Do Lunch!
by Yuko Otomo
Published: January 16, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!