Dizzy Reece: From In to Out

Clifford Allen By

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Playing and a Philosophy of Temperament

AAJ: I was going to ask about the astrological history of jazz and musicians' personalities that you had written. Would you care to talk a bit about that?

DR: Well, I've written an encyclopedia called Black Brass, Black Reeds. It covers the innovations in music, starting in 1860 and going to right now. It's listed in chronological order, and it's listed zodiacally by the months and seasons of the year. I don't call it astrology; I call it astro-analysis. The word "astro" just means "star," really, so you can call it any name. It means organization in time, so everything is written from the day and the month, and it goes to the birth date. Musicians weren't born alphabetically; you are born in time, chronologically. That's the essence to start to think philosophically about the music—you don't start alphabetically, you understand? That's a convenience, though there is an index in the back where you can refer alphabetically. It's set up in a time capsule so you can see the music, where it comes, from the beginning to right now. You don't start haphazardly; everything comes back in a time frame, and it deals with the temperament. That's one of the main things in the music, the temperament, character.

AAJ: That's how and why innovations happen.

DR: Exactly, musicians are not just empty suits. You're dealing with their character and their temperament, and that's all chronological if you look at everything. It has a birth, the cells, biologically it has a growth, and I've tried to think like that. All my writings I try to write chronologically, so you get a view—just like a movie comes out at you not haphazardly. In my music and my compositions, I try to get a transparency. So it's written like that, and it's heavy, and it goes back to the first cats in New Orleans, all the innovators are set up in a time frame, and it's a lot of work and I've been working for forty years on it. It's about black musicians; it's got white musicians too, of course, but most of the innovators are black. That's a true perspective; there's no racism in it, it has no meaning of that. We've been through that. It's called Black Brass, Black Reeds so you can see the innovators, the styles and how it's developed. It's very well put-together; it's concise and everything is by the minute, by the second, by the hour, by the day, by the month, because everything is in cycles. Music is in cycles of fifths and fourths, a scale is a cycle—your life is a cycle.

AAJ: Your cycles definitely adjust to those who you spend time with; like my moods are cyclically correlated to those of my girlfriend, and we're definitely related. I move in ways that are very similar patterns to hers.

DR: Sure, there's no escaping it. It's life, and if you want to regulate your existence, you have to think like that. You regulate your life in an order and a fashion, and if you say there's no synchronicity and no order, that's your problem. That's what we do, why we create; there are four seasons in the year, and four moods. Everything in music—you listen to Duke Ellington, and it's created in moods. The theater is from moods, your life is developed in moods, from morning to night moods change.

AAJ: I'm best in Fall and Winter; in Summer and Spring I'm not in a good mood.

DR: There are things for that. Look at the North, the suicide rate is worse and they kill themselves in the winter. That's why they drink so much—the cold is their terror in the Northern Zone. They have a lot of suicide in Japan, too. Some people get adapted and like the cold, but you can see a different frequency between the cold and the heat. You have the Tropical Zone, your body has zones, and they are all related. I correlate everything; I see everything as one.

AAJ: It's so easy to get away from that because of the way society structures itself is very compartmentalized into specifics—we get away from the cyclical and interactive nature of things.

DR: That's what the world is about. You have to realize the distractions, and you have to set yourself and your cycles into an orderly fashion of living. Who you are, your character and your temperament, what you're about, whether you're a painter, a basket-weaver, a baker, I respect everybody. Everything—physics, chemistry—started with agriculture, the soil, and these are the basics. I play music and all of this is part of me, it's one thing and it's not disjointed.

But maybe it takes time for you to put the pieces together, the different departments, and maybe you study one specific. Like the doctors of today; when I was growing up, the physicians had to know the physiology of the body. Now you have specialists for the toe [laughs], for all the different organs. They all relate to the rest of the body, and real physicians have to know the full anatomy, why one relates to the other, the lungs related to the heart, and pull things together.

AAJ: That's one reason why I think of improvisation as the living music, as it is alive and relates to your humanity.

DR: It goes on in the body; the physician is looking at your body to see how the throat works musically, everything. The sounds serve the body, and when the sound stops, you die. It's all sound, and the doctor has to put a trumpet on when he listens to your heart; he puts it on your chest to listen to the beat, and it's got a drum. The whole thing is musical. class="f-right"> Return to Index...


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