Billy Hart: A Hart of a Drummer

AAJ Staff By

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BH: Maybe my enthusiasm. Just how well can you do that if you're so scattered. When you get a guy who can do that! Isn't that a good definition of genius: The ability to concentrate on one thing at a time?

AAJ: Yeah, but the downside to that...would you rather be a genius doing one thing for your whole career, or somebody who is just great at everything and is growing as time goes on.

BH: There's a bunch of those guys, but they grow out of the media. Look at Frank Wess. Look at Kenny Dorham. The last years of his life, he had really grown. But who talks about him? [And] well, Frank Foster's not playing anymore...

AAJ: Like Hank Mobley. When Hank Mobley died, he was penniless.

BH: That's one thing. If you don't establish yourself as one thing, thinking it from my side sooner or later, that's detrimental, it's dangerous—with the exception of [Billy] Higgins. He just worked himself to death. Who didn't love Billy Higgins? You talk about someone who had it all!

AAJ: You know that last Charles Lloyd recording that Higgins played before passing away shortly thereafter?

BH: That's what I'm talking about. Who was really listening to Higgins? The more I got, the more I got into him. You end up chasing Down Beat. That's what I like about your paper. I don't know how you have the capacity to see all of this. Bill Dixon [a recent AllAboutJazz-New York cover story subject]? [laughs] You know, Robin Kenyatta? Whoah!

Hart's quartet with Ethan Iverson, Mark Turner, and Ben Street is at The Village Vanguard April 11th-16th, 2006

Selected Discography

Quest, Of One Mind (CMP, 1990]
Sonny Fortune/Billy Harper/Stanley Cowell/Reggie Workman/Billy Hart, Great Friends (Black & Blue-Evidence, 1986)
Billy Hart, Enchance (A&M, 1977)
Miles Davis, On The Corner (Columbia-Legacy, 1972)
Herbie Hancock, Mwandishi (Warner Bros, 1970)
Pharoah Sanders, Karma (Impulse!, 1969)

Photo Credits:
Top Photo: John Abbott
Second Photo: C. Andrew Hovan
All other photos: Dragan Tasic

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