Marc Edwards: Free Jazz Drummer & Percussionist


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Kaivalya, Vol. 1

AAJ: What about your recent album, Kaivalya, Vol. 1, with Paul Flaherty?

ME: Paul has been a staple in Cadence Magazine for many years. He came to see me play when I did a duo with tenor saxophonist Arthur Doyle at a church in Amherst. Arthur wanted me to learn his music. I didn't leave David S. Ware to learn somebody else's music. I have my own and I want to pursue my own creative impulses. I recognized Paul right away. His photo has been shown in Cadence Magazine over the years. We recorded enough materials for two albums. The second album will be released in the future. Right now, critics seem to like this powerful duo performance. I believe these albums will serve as templates for future duo performances between drums and horns. The music on these albums isn't a free-for-all. The music is well thought-out with outstanding improvisation. The tenor saxophone/drums duo has come a long way since John Coltrane and Rashied Ali on Interstellar Space. I wouldn't be surprised if other musicians use the formula Paul and I used on Kaivalya, Vol. 1. This album is available in some stores but fans can always order it online at Cadence Magazine's site provided at the end.

I had met Arthur Doyle through electric guitarist, Rudolph Grey. Some of you might not realize this is the same person who wrote the book, Nightmare of Ecstasy. This book was picked up by one of the Hollywood studios and made into the movie, Ed Wood, starring one of my favorite actors, Johnny Depp. Rudolph's book is still available at most bookstores, including amazon.com. I had the opportunity to work with Rudolph on two occasions. The first was a gig I did with him along with Arthur Doyle, & Wilbur Morris, at the West Beth Theater. I did a another performance with Rudolph and Charles Gayle at a place called the Cooler. This was actually a location that was used as a slaughterhouse in the past. It was located off Ninth Avenue, not far from the A train 14th Street subway stop. The slaughtering of animals was no longer being done but the space was filled with the deaths of many dead animals. I thought the vibes were very creepy. I used to pick up meat my mom and dad had ordered at a meat market located behind the Port Authority building on tenth avenue. I would stop by there after doing rehearsals when I was with the All City High School Band. I often had to wait an hour since this market was constantly busy.

Rudolph had sent me a letter explaining what he wanted me to do on the opening piece. I don't always check my mailbox so I told him, I had not received his correspondence. Rudolph sighed expressing disappointment and came over explained what he wanted. I listened to him talk while I was setting up my drums. When we hit, I gave Rudolph exactly what he wanted. He was very pleased after the set and he ran over and very excitedly shook my hand. Before we played, he went to the back and told the people doing the video taping not to use the psychedelics visual effects. These images are commonly used for music that's doesn't fall within the mainstream. Filmmakers, please do not use those 1960s special effects for the free jazz. I find it very disrespectful and/or demeaning to this musical genre. We have enough problems without the general public thinking we're odd balls from another planet.

A classic example of this occurred on the BET network when Carlos Santana was interviewed on Jazz Central. Those psychedelic images were promently displayed while Carlos was speaking. Carlos Santana is a long term meditator and because of that some folks think the practice of meditation is bizarre, weird or the result of someone tripping on LSD [meditation experiences]. There is more than enough resesearch evidence available which shows that meditation is good for the body. It can improve one's health and reduce stress. I believe meditation is the perfect vehicle for bringing about balance between the body, mind, and spirit.

If I remember correctly, a video was made of this performance at the Cooler, although I don't have a copy. William Hooker went on with his band first. That was videotaped also. As I watched the monitor, the film maker was using psychedelic images during Hooker's performance. I prefer to have a straight video done under bright lights. Some think that because jazz musicians are cool and hip, the house lights need to be turned down low to the level of a candle. I prefer bright lights as it makes it easier for videotaping and those taking photos in the audience. I played better at this performance than the one at the West Beth Theater. It's always a pleasure working with Charles Gayle. I was glad to work with Rudolph again since I love the sound of an electric guitar. In my next lifetime, I may learn to play this instrument.

AAJ: I noticed that your CDs have a theme in science and the exploration of outer space? Why do you focus on these subjects?

ME: Yes, I have an interest in the various sciences, computers, technology, astronomy, and the exploration of outer space. On the first CD I did, Black Queen, "Quadratic Equation was an indication of the direction I would take for my future albums. My interest in these areas is something I've always had. I can recall my first trip to the Hayden Planetarium while I was a child. I never forgot that trip. It made an impression that may last a lifetime. I did Time & Space Vol. 1, specifically to let the world know that I'm interested in these subjects.

I mentioned my current membership in the space activist group called the Planetary Society. This group was co-founded by three men: Dr. Louis D. Friedman, the current Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Murray, the former president of the Planetary Society, and the late Dr. Carl Sagan. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist and Director, Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History is the current Chairman of the Board. I have met him and all I can say is "wow! He is very smart and knowledgeable about astronomy and what's going on in the outer regions of deep space. He's a very intelligent man and he knows how to make science fun and interesting. You'd better know what you're talking about when you talk science, astronomy and/or physics. He'll poke holes in your argument if he finds any weaknesses in your proposal. Wow! The same applies to the individuals I've met working for the Planetary Society. What an impressive group of scientists, engineers, astronomers, college professors and many others working in the aeronautics field. The members in the Planetary Society cover a wide demographic range.

Almost everyone saw some, if not all of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on Public Television. I never got to meet him; however, I have met some of the people in charge of this organization. They're some of the smartest people I've ever met. I'm the only well-known jazz artist associated with this group. I have the Planetary Society Directory. If other famous jazz artists have joined, it was after this publication was printed in 1999. The Planetary Society caught the public's attention when they launched their Cosmos Solar Sail 1 project last year. Unfortunately, there was a malfunction in one of the rocket stages and it didn't put the solar sail into a higher orbit. That portion of the rocket fell back down to earth along with the solar sail. The response from the members and the public has been great. They want the Planetary Society to try again. I'm sure they will in the future. The New York Times Sunday Magazine named the solar sail spacecraft Cosmos 1 as one of the most innovative ideas of 2005 in the December 11 issue of the magazine. I'm not a nerd; on the contrary, I'm just a person that recognizes that the exploration of outer space is something we should pursue. I also believe that we must learn to live and work in outer space. The Planetary Society has a website on the Internet. I also had a short membership with the National Space Society. This group once printed a letter I sent to their magazine Ad Astra. class="f-right"> Return to Index...


AAJ: Tell us about the spiritual aspect of your life.

ME: I mentioned earlier that Larry Sand had a profound effect on my life. What happened was that Larry had learned Transcendental Meditation. When I received word about it, I went to the local TM Center in Midtown and learned this popular system of meditation. I did TM and the TM Sidhi for many years. I have moved on to another meditation. I won't go into my current spiritual practices since I find that not everyone is ready for them. These are advanced practices designed to help spiritual seekers to reach the awaken state. A lot of people talk a good game, but, they're not ready. Talking about one's spiritual practices can sometimes have a negative impact on the spiritual seeker. I'm being guided to keep what I do to myself. I have discussed this with like minded individuals and they concur with my reasons. I continue to meditate and have more than thirty years under my belt. I wrote a book about Reiki, a Japanese relaxation technique used primarily for healing, and other topics: Reiki, Yoga, Meditation & Yagyas: New Age Practices, Techniques for Living in the New Millennium. I openly discuss my spiritual practices in this publication. The book can be ordered here.

It is available in hardcover and trade paperback. Beginners will find useful tips and can avoid many of the common pitfalls. I share my experiences both positive and negative. Do check this book out if you're a meditator or have a strong interest in this subject.

AAJ: A sign off message to the readers.

ME: My current band, Marc Edwards Slipstream Time Travel, consists of: Tor Yochai Snyder, electric guitar; Ras Moshe, saxophones; James Duncan, trumpet; Marc Edwards, drums and percussion.

Do get in touch if you're interested in booking my band. I'm also available for conducting free jazz workshops. If you want to use me for a recording, please send an email to: medwards520@yahoo.com.

I do read emails that are sent to me and you will get a reply. I get back to folks fast unless I happen to be out of town or if I'm doing a series of performances, as I don't have a laptop.

Jim Schapperoew's still around. Checkout his inside playing here.

I highly recommend Glen Velez's Frame Drum studies. Order his book, Handance Method, An Introduction to Frame Drumming, from his website.

Do check out Dennis Warren's site. He has lots of CDs and DVDs for sale.

Many of these recordings are still in print. Visit Cadence Magazine's Record Sales site, Jazz Now Magazine, and other record stores on the Internet.

Jazz Now Magazine interviewed me a few years back. Part two of the two-part interview, from April, 1997, can be found here. Part one was in the Jazz Now June 1994 issue.

Hilliard Greene has a wonderful solo bass CD available called Alone. This was put out by Soulsearchmusic. There are eight compositions, most of them original pieces by Hill. Most fans will enjoy this CD. Do look for it at record stores or order online at the above internet record stores. Do show Hilliard your love by buying this CD and attending his live shows. Hill's schedule is shown at his website.

Sabir Mateen has website also here. He can be reached through email for gigs and other performances. Do contact him for work and/or record dates.

I want to thank everyone for reading my incomplete story up to this point in time. It's not over yet, not by a long shot. Thank you. Namaste. I bow to the Divinity in all of you. class="f-right"> Return to Index...

Selected Discography

Marc Edwards, Slipstream Time Travel (release date TBD)
Paul Flaherty & Marc Edwards, Kaivalya, Vol. 1 (Cadence Jazz Records, 2005)
Marc Edwards, Red Sprites & Blue Jets (CIMP Records, 1997)
Various Artists, Avant Knitting Factory Tours 1993 (Knitting Factory Works, 1993)
Charles Gayle, More Live At the Knitting Factory, Feb. 1993 (Knitting Factory Works, 1993)
Marc Edwards, Time & Space Vol. 1 (Alphaphonics, 1993)
Marc Edwards, Black Queen - Jazz VI Sampler # 45 (AIM,1992)
David S. Ware, Flight of I (DIW/Columbia, 1992)
Marc Edwards, Black Queen (Alphaphonics, 1991)
Various Artists, Spirit of New Jazz (Silkheart,1990
David S. Ware, Great Bliss Volume 2 (Silkheart,1990)
David S. Ware, Great Bliss Volume 1 (Silkheart,1990)
David S. Ware, Passage to Music (Silkheart,1988)
Cecil Taylor, Dark Unto Themselves (Enja Records, 1976)

Photo Credit: Andrew Goldberg


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