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Dwayne Burno: Tradition

George Colligan By

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DB: Every apprenticeship or hiring was valuable to me. I learned everything from minutia to major in scale and detail. I was fortunate enough to have played with the last bastion of true masters and innovators. My career was never indebted so much to the '90's hype of the Young Liars movement. The young person in generations after me can't say they met, heard, knew, or played with Clifford Jordan, Idrees Sulieman, Art Taylor, or heard Miles, or could tell you who Harold Vick is/was and what he played. I wholeheartedly believe the music industry fucked up everything within the music and mostly through the Young Liars movement. This created or exacerbated the schism between the generations, which has remained and will never go away. In the late '80's, the record companies started chasing and promoting young talent. They had kids like Christopher Hollyday, Imani Murray, and Peter Delano ready to go. The companies are here, pushing a young, inexperienced child to lead a band of veteran musicians to play. This is already a powder keg. How is some snot-nosed brat who was in diapers when the guy he has on piano, bass, or drums, was 45 years old, supposed to take direction from a child or his ignorant parent and respect the parent, child or himself enough to suppress his ego and anger to get through the gig? It has to be humiliating and frustrating as an older, wiser musician to kowtow to a child. I moved to New York in 1990 at the age of 20. I had hopes and dreams of playing with the true greats. What I found was I got stuck playing with everybody because everybody needed decent bass players. What I hated was that I couldn't get the eyes and ears of the older musicians that I adored and wanted to learn from and make music with. Barry Harris, Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, and Hank Jones wouldn't look my way or call me at all. I found the viewpoints varied with the older masters. Some were willing to a chance on you which is how I came to work with Benny Golson, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Junior Cook, Clifford Jordan, Ronnie Mathews, and Joe Chambers. I believe the tide has gotten worse in the music. I don't want anything to do with today's young musicians that claim to play jazz. Straight out the box, they are liars. Eighty percent of them can barely play a decent chorus of blues, rhythm changes, know tunes, play a correct melody, play for the music without masturbating, play a ballad, or just swing. I've encountered more young musicians that are more concerned with living a secure lifestyle but are not in the least vested or invested in the music. They all want the suburban, two-car, house, collegiate teaching position with the white wife fantasy. They are not concerned with how they sound. They are happy to play with their peers from Music College rather than playing with others that know more. For me that's essentially the difference.

When I was coming up, I and my peers wanted to play with the older guys, earn their respect, get the nod from them or the encouraging words that maybe you were headed the right way or on to something or also get the straight brutal honesty that there was something wrong in your sound, articulation, the changes you played, the weight or length of your beat. The older guys weren't afraid to tell it like it is or to put it right because even if some of it was coming from anger or insecurity or prejudice, it truly came from a place of perpetuating and fostering growth and development in terms of the music and having the music played and treated correctly. There is no deference between the generations. Today, these piece of shit young mother fuckers who've never changed a light fucking bulb or wiped their own musical ass try to talk to me like we're equals. The fucking, unmitigated gall! My feeling is that the moment these youngsters decide they truly want this music as their focus and conclusion rather than as an afterthought and really want to play it, learn how to make it well and make people feel good and get to swinging, will be the moment they are ready to learn from those of us that still can and do. As a generation lumped together as a whole, they seem to have no collective interest in being humble, shutting the fuck up and wanting to actually learn. Most of them seem to suffer from know-it-all syndrome or this collective nonchalance or they keep searching for this easy button, which we all know does not exist.

GC: Do you have a philosophy of "the role of the bassist in a jazz group?" Do you think a musician should be more concerned with blending with the band? Or working their style into the band? Or both?

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