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Luis Perdomo: Venezuelan Connection

Jason Crane By

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AAJ: I have to ask one question that I probably wouldn't ask if Ravi Coltrane were here. You said the first record you ever bought with your own money was John Coltrane's OM, and now you're playing with Coltrane's son. That must seem like a long way from being a kid on the bus with your Walkman.

LP: It's funny, but I don't really see Ravi as related to John Coltrane. He's just Ravi. We'll be on the road, drinking some beers, and he's Ravi. The only time I realize he's related is when I go to his house and he's got all these pictures that you've never seen because they're personal pictures, and you think, "Oh wow, this guy is related to John Coltrane." And sometimes it sounds funny when we go somewhere and we get to the hotel to check in and they say, "You're with the Coltrane quartet." [We say,] "No, we're with Ravi's quartet. We're not with the Coltrane quartet."

AAJ: "Yeah, it's me and Elvin and Jimmy."

LP: Right. [laughs] But Ravi's music is so different. He's got his own thing happening.

AAJ: Let's talk about your own music. You've released two really fine records: one called Focus Point (RKM, 2005) and a new record called Awareness (RKM, 2006). I want to talk about Focus Point first. It actually brings together many of the people you've just been talking about—Miguel is on the record, Ravi is on the record, Roberto Quintero. Talk about how you got to make this recording and how you chose the band.

LP: I'd been offered [the chance] to do a few records in the past, but usually the people that asked me wanted me to do a straight Latin record. A lot of them even said who should be on the record, the instrumentation, and the tunes that I should play. That stuff is great and I grew up playing it and I know it inside out, but that's not what I want to be doing. I don't want to do a record just playing Latin jazz standards. A lot of people used to say, "You said 'no' to a record date? You must be crazy!" I said, "I might be crazy, I might be wasting a good opportunity for myself, but that's not what I want to do." It felt good saying no.

When Ravi got his record label, I don't know if I asked him or he asked me, but he was the first guy to say, "You want to do a record? Cool. Do what you want. Choose the music that you're going to play and the people that you're going to play with. Rehearse the music and let's get together and do it."

AAJ: All but two of the compositions on Focus Point are your compositions. That must have felt good.

LP: A lot of the music I'd written when I was going to the Manhattan School of Music, I didn't just want to put it away. I wanted to put it on record. When I wrote that music, I might have written it for a combo concert or something, so we got to play it only once. I also had some music that I wrote when I was going to Queens College.

AAJ: Let's talk about the new record, Awareness. Hans Glawishnig is on bass and Eric McPherson is on drums. On about half the record, it's almost a double trio, except with just one pianist. There's Nasheet Waits on drums and then—one of the most amazing stories to come out of the jazz world in recent memory—Henry Grimes on bass. He's back after being literally missing for decades. Where did the "double trio" idea come from?

luis perdomo LP: I always loved the sound of two basses. I think the first time I heard two basses interacting with each other was when I was fifteen and my teacher leant me a record by Cecil Taylor called Conquistador (Blue Note, 1966). It's funny because Henry Grimes plays on that record. That was the first time that I heard two basses and the first time that I heard Henry Grimes play.

For this record it wasn't something that I was thinking about for a long time. It just occurred to me one night to do something with two bassists and two drummers. I thought of the trio that I was using at the time, which was going to be Hans and Eric, but when I was thinking of the double trio, I either thought of [bassist] Alan Silva or Henry Grimes. I wanted Hans to be laying down the groove and somebody else floating on top of it.

I had just seen a concert with Henry Grimes and [bassists] William Parker and Alan Silva and Sirone. Four bass players and the saxophonist Charles Gayle. I saw Henry and kept it in my mind that I wanted to play with Henry Grimes. I called him and he agreed to do the record. He was very nice. I spoke to his partner; they were both very gracious.

As for Nasheet, I had heard Eric and Nasheet play together many times. They grew up together in New York. So when I thought of the second drummer, Nasheet was a natural. I wanted the two drums to sound like one big drummer with four hands and four feet. And I wanted one bass to be laying down the groove and one just floating around. Then I had the choice of playing with the groove or out, playing free or with the changes. It worked out real well.

When I told Ravi, he said right away, "Great, let's do it." In the beginning, I was a little bit concerned whether it would work out. But I had a feeling that it was going to work out. It worked out real well.

Selected Discography

Greg Tardy, Steps Of Faith (Steeplechase, 2007)

Brian Lynch, Spheres Of Influence Suite (Ewe, 2006)

Luis Perdomo, Awareness (RKM, 2006)

Yosvany Terry, Metamorphosis (Kindred Rhythm, 2006)

Brian Lynch, Conclave (Criss Cross, 2005)

Luis Perdomo, Focus Point (RKM, 2005)

Dafnis Prieto, About The Monks (Zoho Music, 2005)

Ravi Coltrane, In Flux (Savoy Jazz, 2005)

Miguel Zenón, Jibaro (Marsalis Music, 2005)

Miguel Zenón, Ceremonial (Marsalis Music, 2004)

Ray Barretto, Homage to Art Blakey (Sunnyside, 2003)

Miguel Zenón, Looking Forward (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2001)

Photo Credits

Top, Third Photos: Courtesy of Luis Perdomo

Second Photo: Mariah Wilkins Artist Management

Bottom Photo: Marek Lazarski

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