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Jeff Ballard: A Life In Music

Renato Wardle By

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AAJ: That's interesting. I had the same experience with four-on-the-floor, where it was portrayed as this Dixieland thing you don't do anymore.

JB: I'll tell you its a big part of the language, so it's not a stylistic thing all though it could be. I think it's a necessary ingredient in building this thing that we're playing. Something in the physicality of it.

AAJ: When I saw [drummer] Elvin [Jones] up close at the Regatta Bar in Boston I got to sit right next to his drum kit and he was laying down four-on-the-floor. I had no Idea.

JB: Most do. Tony as well. I saw him at Vanguard. And that kind of hammered it home. He was dealing with it even at the fastest of tempos.

AAJ: And yet most of the acolytes of Tony Williams' music—well self—appointed acolytes of his style of drumming—would say that four-on-the-floor is not any part of that style of modern drumming at all.

JB: And how wrong that is. At least if it's not the actual sound of it coming out at least its the feeling that it gives you of this solid bass sound, this grounding sound. It's a coloration in what you're playing. You play four-on-the-floor lightly underneath the cymbal and you have this richer sound. I do it on ballads as well. And it really lends a grounded quality to everything. It's like when you crash something and you accent it with the bass drum at the same time but more subtle. It's the same thing but in a riding approach, a keeping of the time, playing a groove deeply, you know?

AAJ: That's fascinating. You're considered one of the most modern drummers around and here you are playing four-on-the-floor. It just doesn't go out of style.

JB: It's true. It really helped make my thing more rounded.

AAJ: So did Lou Donaldson suggest that to you?

JB: Oh, he insisted.[laughs]

AAJ: He insisted?

JB: If he didn't hear it he'd turn around and look down at my bass drum and then look back at me and back down at it. And so I'd have to play it too loud, you know? It was like overcompensating but I was really getting it inside. I mean it sounded horrible I'm sure, it was so hard to do at first but great in the long run.

AAJ: You had to learn to control that on the gig.

JB: Yeah, exactly. But I had to take that home and deal with it for quite a while afterwards.

AAJ: Now did the gig with Ray Charles carry weight, I mean did it help you get gigs in New York?

JB: Oh sure, that's how I got that first thing with that singer and also it kind of helped my getting to sit in with cats, like Clifford Jordan for example. That was because Clifford used to play with Ray. Yes it gave me credibility for sure. "Oh you know how to play a real ballad! Come on up. I tell ya, it was helpful at the beginning but I still wasn't playing so much. I don't know what it was—maybe in the style of the moment. What was popular in 1990, '91, '92 was a much more straight-ahead music and I was still kinda playing whatever I felt like? It wasn't bebop so much even though I was playing a bit with Lou. My playing was more like big band beboppish kind of playing with a dose of Latin America I think. Apart from that what I really liked to play was what was going on with, musicians like [guitarists] Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkle, Mark Turner, Ben Allison, or [pianists] Frank Kimbrough, and Guillermo Klein. I played with [saxophonist] Mike Karn too who was in Ray's band with me. We played with Allison in a band which only played Monk tunes.

AAJ: Now when did you first hook up with those guys?

JB: 1990, when I first came to town.

AAJ: So that was right in the middle of the so-called neo-bebop revolution.

JB: Yeah, I think so. I remember that we weren't really working a lot. At least I wasn't.

AAJ: So the Knitting Factory scene wasn't really happening?

JB: I think it was, but I wasn't really aware of it. I didn't think of it as a Knitting Factory kind of music, I didn't know it. Looking back I think the closest I got to that was playing a little bit with [trumpeter] Dave Douglas, or I guess Monder, in a way.

AAJ: What was it like dealing with Ben Monder's music? Was he playing his real far out explosive stuff at the time or more of the ECM-ish stuff he's done?

JB: It was always pretty far out to me, you know. But it was really easy. Easy because it was, "You play what you play, and I play what I play, and we're playing together." All of these guys I just mentioned were very easy to play with for me—more than easy. They kind of complimented what was going on inside of me, meaning it was familiar. It was a place my stuff could fit into, you know. The attitude was so open with all of these guys, we were all exploring our music, exploring our selves.

AAJ: I definitely hear two sides to your playing. A more bebop or at least more jazz-oriented approach rooted in the tradition of jazz, and then also a side that involves playing with your hands, and eliciting a multiplicity of unorthodox sounds from your drum kit. Did this start coming out in a band setting with those players you just mentioned or did it start earlier, maybe even with the Latin group you played in covering the music of Los Van Van and Irakere back in Santa Cruz?

JB: My playing with my hands wasn't really a result of those experiences. But some of those sounds were definitely coming from playing with tones like a conga drum would have. I was playing with some sort of an awareness of that timbre in the drums you know. Skin on skin. But there was a time playing with Ben Allison and those cats in the Jazz Composer's Collective where there was an actual overt concept which was to be pretty experimental. It was an obvious concept, saying, "OK, let's get some sounds out of our instruments that aren't commonly used, let's play them in a different way than what's the common practice.

So then you start searching around and scratching underneath the drums or playing by keeping the butt of the stick on the floor tom, then pressing it up against the ride cymbal at the same time and hitting that stick, which is bridging both the cymbal and tom, with another stick so you get these combinatory sound: wood and skin and metal. It's just looking for different sounds and different ways to play, pulling out sounds you can imagine. I think that that period of conscious experimentation with our instruments was an opening up into that for me. But also I think again it was always there—that thing of loving the sounds. Hearing the ring pop on the snare drum when just one finger hits it, you know? Then I saw some video of [Philly] Joe Jones playing with his hands and that sold me; that was amazing!

AAJ: Like on that Joe Jones trio recording, he does that solo with his hands.

JB: Oh man, he is a graceful master player

AAJ: He was way more modern than I would have ever imagined when I finally got around to hearing his playing.

JB: Also being in contact with Kenny Wollesen, he's a real sound painter as well. He's very aware of sound and the quality of sound and I think that rubbed off too. We used to live together in San Francisco.

AAJ: Now drummers tend to share information more freely with each other than many other instrumentalists. Was there a heavy exchange of ideas going on between the two of you during that time?

JB: Yeah, but it wasn't so much like, "I got this and you got that, let's play together and work this out." There were of course some of those moments, but it was more just the fact of our living together and checking out his record collection and hanging. Just living together. I think we shared that way rather than, "I'm working on this, what are you working on?' It was cool, it was more wide in life's sense and not just so pointed and, "Let's get to this, you know?

AAJ: Not so Drummer's Collective-ish?

JB: Not so much.

AAJ: So you have really known this group of, I guess you can't say "young lions" as that phrase was already claimed by another group, but definitely you've known this whole group of guys for a long time who are very heavy cats now in the jazz world. Was this a group of guys that you were around that just started putting different groups together and gigging?

Jeff BallardJB: There were a lot of sessions with Ben Allison and Kimbrough. Then the Jazz Composer's Collective began. That was made up of a few musicians that I was working on stuff with, but also at that same time I started playing with Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Mark Turner, and [bassist] Ben Street. Kurt wrote a great batch of music, a lot of which we still play today. I think that the music he wrote was what Kurt had in his head and then as the way we played it developed, it.... helped refined our language a little more at the time you know. We were all more or less at the stage in our playing where we were clarifying our ideas consciously and unconsciously. Things like stretching the time, playing with time. We were pretty close, very much like brothers, a family vibe, a brotherhood. Rehearsing a lot.

But the foundation was already there. On one of the first gigs we played, it was just Ben, Kurt, and I, we played songs like Wayne [Shorter]'s "Footprints, or Mingus' "Reincarnation of a Love Bird or some blues, where the form of the tunes opened up totally and this without our talking about it at all. We were following what the music was saying and it was really Astounding—outros turned into complete songs in and of themselves. I haven't had that much of a hookup like with those guys until my playing with Brad and Larry to tell you the truth. That was a very intimate hookup, like we came from the same egg, you know. It was wild.

AAJ: Did you have similar tastes in music?

JB: No, not necessarily. We all like similar things but we didn't come from the same place. I know Kurt had a lot of David Bowie and you know, more rock, more experimental rock stuff. Ben was coming straight from Duke, and [saxophonist] Steve Lacy, and I don't know what else. Mark listened to prog rock '80s bands when he was younger but when I first met him he was playing just like Joe [Henderson]. He had just gone through a phase of playing just like Trane, working his way through it, you know? It was a moment where we all met and where we were all kind of going through those steps finding our voices.

We all have our own methods and we all got to that spot where you realize, "OK, now we have to shed everything. And kudos to Kurt you know, because he brings in these tunes saying, "I want it like this." He'd give an analogy of wanting the music to sound like it's meat going through a meat grinder; the sound to feel as if your turning the handle. So we'd finally get it there somehow. I think what we have now came out of working that way.

Same as it was with Ben Allison. I just did a record with him these last couple of days. I love his tunes. His method of writing music varies. One way he used to find some music for this record was where he would come over to my place and we would play for a while and he'd tape it and then he'd go home and come back with some of the parts taken out of our playing together and developed a little more and we would try to see how the parts fit together, saying, "I'm doing this Jeff, maybe if you can play something in three and I'll do something in four. Now, we just automatically do that. We automatically, improvising, play by trying to fit parts together. Its kind of like a puzzle fitting together. I love playing that way. When someone asks me how I came up with some drum part for a song, that is the way it happens. Not always by sitting down with the composer and consciously slowly finding a part, but by asking myself in the moment, "What will fit? How do I want it to fit? It can fit uniformly or it can cut across like this or multi-rhythmically, contrapuntally.

Another guy who really influenced me early on in NY, was Guillermo Klein. Compositionally playing. That is really what I'm talking about, trying to find what the song needs, or deciding what would bring more to the song. Playing his music was like discovering and playing my own music but through a filter of his. I guess that could be said for all of these bands I played in and play with currently.

This was happened just after I finished with Lou, after some months or so of doing things with him, till his old drummer got back. I then got a gig with [vibraphonist/pianist] Buddy Montgomery for three or four months playing at the Parker Meridian Hotel here in town. He was one of what I consider the real serious soul-jazz cats. He is such a caring man and I'm very honored to have played with him and call him a friend. He's a very serious cat and playing with him was a great lesson as well. That lasted for a minute and then there was absolutely nothing for me for a long time. That was when a time I was doing all these jam sessions with these guys I've just mentioned and working, but doing other jobs besides music, totally away from music you know.

AAJ: Was that when you were a bike messenger?

JB: I was doing that and waiting on tables and stuff.

AAJ: Now when did you go to Spain and why?

JB: That was during the time when there wasn't much going on for me here and [drummer] Jorge Rossy, pretty much the main aqueduct which connected the New York scene with Barcelona, was the cause. He was and is a huge force in that regard. He had gotten some work for Ben Street and Kurt to come out there and play with him, but he couldn't do it at the last minute so I went out there to play for a month and it was great. Then I came back here and there still wasn't anything. Because I had made some contacts with some schools and some other players over there, I decided to go back a couple months later.

I stayed there for a couple months more, just living and teaching there. I came back home after that and then I did a tour with [guitarist] Wolfgang Muthspiel and a couple other various gigs. I then went back out there for another three months or so to live with a lady I had met there, to see what was going on between us. During that time I woodshedded quite a bit and played quite a lot. We came back here and things really started kind of moving forward at that point you know.

AAJ: Was that your first time living outside the US?

JB: No. When I was younger I lived in England for about half a year or so, or a year.

AAJ: Those are typically eye-opening experiences. Did you speak Spanish when you went?

JB: No, I learned it as we got to know each other.

AAJ: So that is where you met you wife or your girlfriend?

JB: Yeah, my wife, we're married.

AAJ: Lourdes right?

JB: Yeah, Lourdes Delgado, she's from Barcelona. She's a great photographer actually.

AAJ: She does the pictures for everything these days, it seems. So what happened after you came back from Spain?

JB: I got the gig with [pianist] Danilo Perez.

AAJ: How did that come about?

JB: I started working with Avishai Cohen. I had known Danilo through working with the same circle of guys but he plays with in Boston. I had sent him a tape once but nothing came directly out of that. I really liked his playing, that's why I sent it. He was playing with Larry and [drummer] Dan Rieser, who I saw in Barcelona, and I felt like I'd like to play in that band, so I thought I would put it out there.

I played with him for the first time with Grenadier and [saxophonist] David Sanchez, while I was living in Spain. But at one point, some time later in New York, he needed a sub again, this was while he was playing the music from his record Panamonk (Impulse!, 1996). I really 'shedded that music and that was very instructional for me. It showed me that when I put in all of this good effort, writing out my own parts, you know, my own charts to the tunes—by really digesting the music, really knowing it, that when the gig came about I was able to eat it up. I came in without a rehearsal and we just played and it worked really well, with ease. And then I started playing with him regularly.

AAJ: Did you meet Avishai Cohen on that gig?

JB: No . He approached me earlier when I was playing at Small's [NYC jazz club] with Kurt. We had a regular gig on Thursday for some years there. But all of this was around that time I've been talking about. It was a time, maybe something like four years or so, of serious development of music for me. So Avishai was around then and [pianist] Jason Lindner. Hooking up with them was another kind of a super-intimate hookup. Very high. Jason and Avishai. Super bad cats. So I was playing in Avishai's band and at the same time I was playing in Danilo's band. I stayed with Danilo for a while. A couple of years I think. Then a manager of Chick [Corea] heard Danilo's trio at an IAJE convention. Avishai gave him a tape and Chick dug it and so Chick's group Origin came out of that. Origin was pretty much most of Avishai's band at that time.

AAJ: Wasn't Adam Cruz the first drummer in Origin? At what point in time did you come in and take over?

JB: About four months after it began.

AAJ: And that was it. So from there on out you were the drummer for Origin?

JB: Right.

AAJ: How long have you been playing with Chick now?

JB: Probably going on about six years now.

AAJ: I caught the gig at the Berklee performance center at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the spring of 2002. It was unbelievable.

JB: It was super high! I mean that was another impressive experience for me, playing with Chick you know, playing with someone that was top shelf from the moment he walks over to the piano. All of sudden, you know, boom, put it up there and it's super serious, super connected and very fast mentally speaking. The other guys in the band were [trombonist] Steve Davis, [saxophonist] Steve Wilson, first Bob Sheppard, and then Tim Garland on tenor, and Avishai. I loved that music and that band, it was great. It's on a DVD [Rendezvous in New York (Image, 2005)] that's out. There's ten DVDs in the set, with Origin and the New Trio. It's got some great Roy as well.

AAJ: Doesn't Roy play on two DVDs? The Now He Sings Now He Sobs trio and—

JB: Yeah, the Bud Powell band.

AAJ: I have a couple more questions about Avishai Cohen. You guys have an intense rhythmic connection. I mean he'll start playing percussive rhythms on the shell of his bass. Is that stuff you guys just fell into organically with time, or was it something you worked out together?

JB: It was organic at first. I think he copped that percussive thing from Cachao at first. Israel Cachao, I think. Cachao is a master bassist from Cuba. He was playing that way on the bass that is coming out of the school or the world of Cajon which is Spanish for box. The Cajon is Afro-Peruvian originally I believe. Avishai took that sound, that way of playing on the body of the bass and ran with it you know. But basically the rhythms that we got to were middle-eastern or North African, and Cuban, in their origin. I had a few tapes that the trombone player in Avishia's band, Avi Leibovich, laid on me. Yemenite music. I really sat with that and ate it up. Earlier had I discovered some Sufi Senegalese drumming that changed the shape of my playing big time and that fit perfectly with where he and Jason were coming from.

AAJ: What exactly did it do for your playing?

JB: It gave me a shape of a groove and a tonality which was much more drum oriented than cymbal and snare oriented. So I had this shape or a stretch of a groove. I mean they played these drums with a stick and one hand. That music goes with dancing so its choreographed. That is not to say it's all planned out, but that there are bits or cues where you go into these choreographed phrases and that just fit so well with the North African or the Middle Eastern rhythms I was checking out as well. It's kind of a groove or a shape that's got amazing tension and release to it. It's kind of like an egg rolling down a hill—whooomp-whooomp-whooomp—it's got that stretch to it.

AAJ: Was that your introduction to so-called world music? From Avi Leibovich?

JB: Well as far as that particular part of the world, yeah. But before that there was Brazilian music that my father had turned me onto and the Afro Cuban band I played with before. Also I have always been a huge fan of Bob Marley.

AAJ: So when I listen to your drumming there seems to exist a duality. On the one hand the cymbal-oriented drumming and on the other there exists these musical moments where you're laying down a groove and there aren't any cymbals at all, just drums. Especially with Chick's music on the New Trio record [Past, Present & Futures (Stretch, 2001)] there's a lot of that on there. So that comes out of that African influence?

JB: Yeah. A lot of that is coming out of my discovering this one CD of Senegalese drumming. It's called Tabala Wolof: Sufi Drumming of Senegal (Village Pulse, 1994). And it's from a tribe called the Tabar. The Wolof people I believe. Well, that particular CD just rocked me out man. That one and there was also a Pharaoh Sanders CD with the Gnawa musicians, Moroccan musicians. It all had this commonality of somewhere between six and four rhythmically speaking.

AAJ: Like six over four?

JB: Its kind of in there, its not over it. They coexist. Or there's one meter in one moment, for one beat, and then another there could be another meter, or shape, or feel, in the next moment, the next beat. They all connect and relate. Its' very linear. Its that there are subtle changes from beat to beat: in six, or four, or three, or two. All of that happens in fleeting moments which I guess you could call one bar, or one measure, though they don't think in bars and measures I'm sure.

AAJ: They move in and out of it.

JB: Yeah.

AAJ: That's very different from any popular music here in the States.

JB: I think its a sophistication of rhythm that I think nowadays is coming to the fore, you know?

AAJ: After Chick, at what point in time did [saxophonist] Josh Redman come into the picture?

JB: Just as I got the gig with Chick, Josh had asked me to do something and back then I couldn't do it because Chick just had asked me to play. Origin then finished and the New Trio stepped up and then that started to come to a close after a few more years. And again man, I was super lucky, just as that gig was ending I happened to be playing a week at the Vanguard with Kurt and Josh was there and he asked me if I wanted to play in the Elastic band. That started out as [keyboardist] Sam Yahel's band. They were playing at Small's fairly regularly with [drummer] Brian Blade. Josh took the band to another place. Brian couldn't do the gigs all the time being so busy, so I started doing it, subbing for him. I think I had a little harder throw down, maybe a more insistent backbeat the way Josh wanted it so I became more the first call.

AAJ: Now you've done Momentum (Nonesuch, 2005) and you're all over that. What is it that Josh expects from the drummer? What does he expect from the music?

JB: He just wants you to galvanize the music, you know, and his openness is a great plus. Its not, "Do this and only that way . He knows that's death. He picks you because you add to the music. Because you bring life to the music. Not because you play a certain style per se, you dig? For example, the only thing he has ever asked me to do was not to worry about playing like Brian or like somebody else. Just do whatever I want. It is that open with him. So that was his only expectation. That I bring everything I have to the music.

AAJ: So he was totally open to all of your hand drumming and extended drum set techniques?

JB: Absolutely! Wanting it all, yeah. All these guys, I mean Chick too. At one point I was bringing so much percussion on the road, you know, it was a gas![laughs] So it was really a chance to explore all that. It was great.

One of the first times I started using other stuff likes bells and the like was with that band with Kurt. I started playing some hand drums or some bells and holding the bells in hands while I was playing the stick at the same time. That was pretty early on. But here and now I get to not just hint at it, I get to really dive in; playing on a Columbian drum for a whole solo or something like that. I was doing that with Danilo too, but that was still drum set sounding like percussion. But here I was using other things in addition to the kit and I almost always have something extra in there now. Right now I'm staring at a bunch of stuff I picked up over the years which is on my walls. Another example—playing with Guillermo Klein's band —Los Guachos. A huge lesson in world music. I mean he's a combination of Tango, Philip Glass and the Beatles, you know.

AAJ: Wow. That's a mix.

JB: So all this stuff in the past, you know, playing weddings, playing Stevie Wonder tunes, playing on the cruise ship, playing pop tunes, playing bossa novas and all this stuff just starts coming back into play. It's great, its just like I couldn't have planned it any better! [laughs] Super lucky.

AAJ: So you have the situation with Josh, and now the gig with Brad Mehldau. He had that trio with Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier and you've known Larry forever. How did you get the gig with Brad?

JB: I started a band halfway through the thing with Chick called Fly. It's a co-led thing with Mark Turner and Larry. Chick wanted to make a compilation CD of everybody who was in Origin, to record the different projects we all had going on. But since I didn't have a record or really a band he just gave me some money to go record and play with who ever I wanted, do what I wanted. It was amazingly nice. And a great idea.

So I picked my best friends and the baddest motherfuckers I could find [laughs]. And it was that same kind of brotherly vibe, it was perfect. They're my dearest friends and I really think the highest of musicians. I didn't want to lead the band, I wanted it as a collective although the first thing was under my name. So we called it Fly and started doing some things. Not a lot because all of us were kind of busy so we were doing what we could.

Brad heard and dug the band, dug the way Larry and I played together. I had done one gig for a couple of nights at Smalls with [singer] Claudia Acuña and Brad and Avishai and that was a cool hookup but nothing came from that really. And then there were a couple of other records where Brad was also on the date or on a tune here or there. So we did get to play together a bit before, but then after hearing Fly he said he wanted to play with the band, plus I think he was ready for a change in his music too. So we played as a quartet last year with Turner and after that he asked me to play. We started in the beginning of this year [2005].

AAJ: Is Jorge back in Spain?

JB: Jorge's back in Spain and teaching up there and playing piano and rocking the house.

AAJ: Isn't he a trumpet player?

JB: He started off as a trumpet player.

AAJ: I had heard that he went to Berklee as a trumpet player and hadn't played drums yet.

JB: I think he had started playing drums by then. I remember there was a another fun band that he was a part of called The Bloomdaddies. I loved subbing for him in that band.

AAJ: Yeah, the Bloomdaddies, [saxophonist] Seamus Blake's band.

JB: Yeah, Seamus, [saxophonist] Chris Cheek, [bassist] Jesse Murphy and [drummer] Dan Rieser. And that was super fun too. That again was at the same time as all of these other groups, that was all inside this time frame of four-to-six years. Anyway, Fly—we kept going and we're still going. I'm really happy with that. And next year it seems it like Josh's thing is gonna slow down a bit. I don't know what he's gonna do, I don't think he knows exactly either. It kind of opens up some time, and Brad doesn't work all the time, I mean he's got a nice amount of stuff, but it leaves holes for Fly to start working some more. Brad is the main gig for me but Fly is always there too. It's our own music you know what I mean?

AAJ: So are you guys [Mehldau] recording another record soon?

JB: Yeah, we're gonna record with Metheny, the trio with Metheny in a couple weeks and I don't know what's gonna happen when were done with that.

AAJ: That will be interesting.

JB: Yeah, that'll be fun, I'm looking forward to that.

AAJ: Have you played with Pat before?

JB: No, no.

AAJ: He has two sides to his music. I mean the more experimental side with music like Song X (1985, reissued 2005 by Nonesuch) and his various trio recordings which aren't as popular, and his Pat Metheny Group which is more groove oriented and why it's more accessible to people.

JB: Yeah, that's his original stuff. He is definitely a swinging cat. He's got that trio recording Rejoicing (ECM, 1985) with [bassist] Charlie [Haden] and [drummer] Billy [Higgins]. On one side it's just swinging hard and the other side is completely open and free. Song X-type stuff. He's got quite a few sides to him.

Right now, for me, I'm feeling out what's going on inside my head. Last week we [Brad's trio] played at the Vanguard. I taped a few nights. Listening back, I think that a lot of this, what I call "sophisticated rhythm, you know, the West African stuff for example, could be brought into this band as well. Or you could say it's there waiting to come out. Maybe we can start to deal with, if not patterns or a certain type of polyrhythm that unfolds predeterminedly—I wouldn't really want that—there will be at least the cellular elements of these rhythms that I think is kind of fresh actually, you know? I see it as touching on the behavioral traits to this stuff.

I can't see it now because I am in the middle of it all. Here's one possible example to try to explain. By displacing the beat an eighth note triplet instead of playing on a downbeat or on an up beat, it feels a little "off ; an unfamiliar feeling, you might say. So at the slowest tempos or at the fastest tempos its deceptively "free feeling, as if its not in time. It's not free of course. It's very much in time, but its a kind of a zone type of time. Like a zone defense or zone offense in sports. It is looking at it in a broader sense. A and Z are still the land marks, the downbeats, the "one of each bar or phrase, but the points in between are totally malleable.

AAJ: You guys are playing so much. Like Fly, for example, to me that kind of epitomizes your whole style because it sounds like you pull out all the stops.

JB: Absolutely. It's like pulling on everything that I love you know.

AAJ: I love the cover of Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic.

JB: Yeah. A nod to the man.

AAJ: It sounds like the three of you are hyper-connected.

JB: Yeah exactly. Everybody's coming from the same place. I thought to have this kind of a group because everything I had been playing was very thick you know. Chick's Origin band or Kurt's band, Avishai, Los Guachos has eleven cats in it, and then Danilo's music—all of it very thick. And this is completely bare as a unit, but we fill it up big time—we fill it up with space or sound.

AAJ: Sax trios are risky, but you don't get the sense from listening to Fly that it's missing anything.

JB: Right. I don't think it would be right to call it a saxophone trio in a musical sense because a lot of the bass is right in front making the main call or the drums are in front making the main call. It really is a collective in the musical sense. In the truest sense of the word. We sometimes even compose the music together.

AAJ: Are you guys going to be doing some more touring?

JB: Yeah, this fall in Europe. January in the States. I think we'll be back at the Village Vanguard in the beginning of the year too. That's my favorite place to play.

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All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

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