Home » Jazz Articles » Marco Eneidi: Still Here



Marco Eneidi: Still Here


Sign in to view read count
Alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi is one of contemporary creative music's unsung heroes. He studied with Jimmy Lyons and Sonny Simmons and has played and recorded with illustrious musicians including Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, William Parker and Glenn Spearman.

Each of his albums is a special treat. Despite a significant discography ranging from trio to large orchestra to his name, Eneidi's work suffers from an inexplicable obscurity. That's a loss not only for the artist but for music lovers who haven't experienced this beautiful music only because the media failed to wise them up to its existence.

I took the opportunity to speak to the man in question on my radio show, Taran's Free Jazz Hour, this past October 8. Hopefully this excerpt of the interview will whet readers' appetite to experience Marco Eneidi's art.

All About Jazz: Hi Marco, we just listened to "Baby Please Don't Go" from the album American Roadwork...

Marco Eneidi: (humming) "Baby please don't go back to New Orleans, cause I love you so ...and now we all know what happened to New Orleans.

AAJ: I was wondering how it came about, the song of course, and the whole idea of a blues album?

ME: Well, that's pretty funny, but it just turned out that way and that particular piece which we did not do while we were on tour—where we did 32 concerts in 40 days and drove some 16000 kilometers—that was Lisle Ellis's suggestion, and the day before we made the recording we rehearsed that piece a little bit and then we went into the recording. My roots are the blues, I grew up listening to the blues, to the rock'n'roll San Francisco scene of the late 1960s and '70s. Then I learned about the Mississippi delta blues. Yeah my roots are the blues and it made sense to do that piece.

AAJ: I read in your biography that you played the guitar in the finger-picking style of the blues.

ME: I was a terrible guitarist, I played at the guitar I did not play it.

AAJ: Let's take it from the beginning, tell us about your background, in what kind of an environment did you grow up, did you belong to a family of artists?

ME: My father is a scientist. he was also a skier, you know a ski-racer, and both him and my mother were skiers and they met in Portland, Oregon in the mountain and they got married. He was scientist and got a job down in California working at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory which back then was called the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, the Rad lab which was the biggest place in America for making nuclear bombs and CIA funded and was a small cow town about 60 km outside of San Francisco. A small redneck and quite racist cow town but also half the population were the top scientists in the world and that's where are grew up, so no, it was not an artistic family and for me if I'd have gone into science and maths that would have been quite easy for me 'cause it comes easy to me those things. Music was very difficult for me, and it took a lot of time and effort to learn how to play—not only the music but to play the saxophone, this piece of metal that you blow into and make sounds come out of. In 1981, when I was 24, almost 25 I moved to New York and stayed there for almost 14 years, around NY and New England. Then I went back to California where I stayed for seven years and now I live in Vienna, in Wien (Vienna) Austria. I've been here almost one year—in three weeks it'll be one year. And I love being in Europe and am really happy to be the hell out of America, I must say that.

AAJ: I am curious to know about your life as a creative musician in the US.

ME: In the US there's no support for artists and you have to do something else to live so I drove a taxi. For several years I was a bicycle messenger, I did a lot of construction work, asbestos removal, and worked in restaurants, and taught for a little while, and was broke for a long time, this and that. The best thing about coming to Europe—the one reason I came to Vienna, to Wien—is that the cost of living is much cheaper here than San Francisco or New York, for the rent and everything else; and you actually get paid to play music here, you actually make some money, whereas in California and San Francisco you go and play and after you spend your money to buy reeds for the saxophone and gas to get across the bridge and this and that, you end up losing money. You play for one night and only ten or so people show up and you make 20 dollars but it cost you 25 to go there and play, whereas here, you actually get paid a little bit of money.

Europe has its problems—its history, its politics—as does America, has a long history of racism and blood shedding past and present history that America is doing now. Where I am right now is outside Vienna about 60 km to the east on the Hungarian border, in the little village of Nickelsdorf at the house of Hans Falbe—the Nickelsdorf jazz gallery. It's a small little village which looks like the [American] mid-west, looks like Nebraska or Iowa, and all these boys here they're farmers by daytime and they come in for their beer afterwards. Unlike America, here you deal with the kind of environment where you can talk to anybody about anything intelligent. The farmers come in and you can talk about politics, you can talk about the Green Party politics and about music and they know it all; it's really a breath of fresh air for me to be here, I must say it's really quite nice.

AAJ: My partner Jolyon here feels that there's great sensuality in your music and at the same time there is a lot of physical force in your playing, blowing. Are the two things, sensuality and physical force, compatible?

ME: That's really quite funny. I apologize to your audience that I don't speak French. Sensuality? Ok that's there. First, I'm half Italian, I'm a Scorpio and I'm a jazz musician so you have to be sensual. I love the blues, I love the melodies. You know I'm a Scorpio, I'm a nice man, I really like to be sweet. Where power is concerned, you know I'm not that big of a person. I'm small and when I was a kid I was very small. I learned at a very young age, the hard way that I did not know how to fight so I had to learn that if I was going to fight somebody I was going to have to do it in the first one or two seconds, and finish it then, take care of that person—otherwise they'd take care of me.

I'm shy, I'm quiet—although now I'm getting older and I talk more. But when you're small and quiet and shy then what do you do? You play as hard as you can play, just blow, the physicality of blowing hard. I play alto and I'll say that most alto saxophone players, I really don't like their sound, they sound to me, except for a few—and we all know who the famous few are—the rest of them sound like they're playing the kazoo. I've listened to tenor saxophone players and I try to get their sound, the tenor sound on the alto, which is completely impossible. But that's what I try to do and also when I was younger even though I was not athletically good although I tried to be a skier and when I got really serious the saxophone I pushed music the same way, I approached it as an athlete. You've got to be strong, you've got to work out.

Then there's meditation, yoga, breathing, Mohammed Ali... you know you attack the horn in a certain way with a certain approach which is subtle but powerful. And one thing I always say to drummers I play with who are younger is to play twice as fast and twice as intense but half as loud so you can play really intense and really hard but be really quiet and soft and have that intensity there. The power is there when you speak up and when you say something to somebody—you can yell at them or you can say it softly but in way that they know what it is that you're saying to them, so they really hear it.

AAJ: What do you call your music? Is it free jazz, creative music, just music or what?

ME: Well, that's a hard one to answer, you know I always have to go back to what Duke Ellington said when he was asked "what kind of music you play and Duke said, "there's only two kinds of music, good and bad, and hopefully I play the good. For me, all know is what I play, I play what I feel, what I hear. I'm very political and I pay attention to what's going on around the world today and that affects how I feel inside and I don't know if it affects how I play, but when I play I just play. My roots are jazz. I am a jazz player and I came up from the blues to Sidney Bechet and Charlie Parker and John Coltrane and everybody else. So what do you call it? I don't know—the name, the label, it's the writers and the reviewers that make the names.

But I come out of the avant-garde '60s. I grew up in the late '60s early '70s in California through the Civil Rights movement, and the Vietnam protest. I was young, but I was there. And we have the same situation now but those were my roots. How you label that, I don't know, but in the America we have a history of murder and violence, massacre of the Indians, and lynching and slavery, and all that's gone down and that's my history and I can express that in music. I don't know If I do or not, but what do you call that? I'm a musician first, I try to be a musician and that's what I want to be as a musician. As Glenn Spearman once said on one of the recordings which you have—Live at Radio Valencia with William Parker and Jackson Krall—Glenn said, as he introduced William Parker and Jackson Krall who'd flown in from New York, "these are a couple of," I forget the exact words, "very wonderful, beautiful human beings who just happen to be musicians." And that's all we can be. You tell me—you listen to me more than I listen to myself—Taran, what do you think it is that I'm playing?

AAJ: Well, I call it the music that I like. Do you have an aversion to other people labeling your music?

ME: Well, there are some labels that people have stuck on me, especially in California. I'll tell you one, I won't say who said it—a British man, he said "Oh, Marco he's just an angry free jazz player, just an energy player, its really not that musical. He said it to someone who he didn't know was my roommate at the time. Some people say he's just an energy player, just blowing hard and angry, angry white man, angry free jazz player. That kind of a label is kind of stupid I think. A lot of the free jazz, the avant-garde jazz of the late 1960s came out of the Civil Rights movement, there's a lot of power to it. It was in Frank Wright, Albert Ayler; but to dismiss it as being unmusical, well that's a mistake.

All I want to do is play music and by music I mean music in capital letters. Good music and thoughtful, intelligent music. Now I live in Vienna, the home of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Schoenberg; also Freud and Jung; and you just do what you can do and try to do the best in it and hopefully it's good, you don't hurt anyone in the process. But eventually you do hurt people, so to label it, well, I'm a jazz musician, I'm an American, I come from jazz, I grew up in jazz and I still consider myself to be a jazz player but then as Bill Dixon and many other musicians from the 1960s say, jazz is a racist term, cause jazz in the name itself has different connotations and insinuations. So what do we call it, well hopefully it's good music.

AAJ: I like to call it free jazz, do you mind?

ME: Free jazz, but I like to get paid. You know, even though we're musicians and we do what we do, we're artists but we still have to pay the rent, gas, at the end of the day we have to have something to eat, and we have to live like human beings not animals sleeping in a park. In America that's the way you get treated, you tell somebody you're an artist, you tell the police you're an artist, they'll arrest you. There's no respect whatsoever and you live like an animal, or they want you to live like an animal. That's the story, and I'm here in Europe where it's a different thing, artists are treated with a lot of respect.

AAJ: I'm curious to know about your relationship, your bonding with your fellow players, especially, Glenn Spearman, Lisle Ellis, Jackson Krall...

ME: Well, I moved to New York in August of 1981 just before I was about to turn 25 and there I met several people like, Jemeel Moondoc, William Parker, Dennis Charles, Roy Campbell and number of other people in the neighborhood. I played with William Parker who brought me to his larger ensembles. There was this trombone player Jeff Hoyer who had a concert coming up and he needed an alto player cause the alto player he wanted couldn't do it and William [Parker] recommended me. The drummer was Jackson Krall, and Jackson and I became good friends, we started practicing together. I'd go to his house for four or five hours every day for several years everyday in the afternoon and play duets, so I considered Jackson to be one of my best friends. My son Nicco is my best friend. And I have many other loyal friends—Peter Valsamis, Donald Robinson. And my relationship with Glenn [Spearman], I set up this recording session in Bennington, Vermont in 1991. I had William Parker and Jackson and Raphé Malik, and Glenn Spearman just happened to be staying in Boston at the time with

After that I started working with Raphé and I became very close friends with Glenn, especially when I moved back to California. Glenn was a beautiful man, we became close friends, and at that time, which was the mid-'90s, Glenn had his couple of different groups, one of them was called G-force, which included JR [James Routhier] Donald Robinson, Lisle Ellis and myself as a guest in the group. And at that time Glenn would go over to play duets with Donald, Lisle was playing duets with Donald, Glenn would work out with James Routhier, I'd go and play with Donald and Glenn and we were all working very hard at the time. Glenn was a prolific composer, he wrote some stuff that, when transposed to the key of the alto saxophone, was really quite difficult but we worked really hard and then we'd go play concerts around the Bay Area.

The thing is when it really comes down to it there's lot of good musicians out there and a lot of assholes, motherfuckers. When it comes down to playing, the people I want to play with are my friends. The saxophone players especially, they're a dime a dozen, too many of us out there. And so I don't need to play with everybody, I just play with my good friends. Sometimes I meet people, like last year I played at the Nickelsdorf Jazz Festival and I did a duo with Han Bennink, the great Dutch drummer. There was no need to rehearse beforehand—we talked, we ate, we smoked and that was all that was needed. Sometimes, you know when you meet somebody they're your friend from the very first moment and when you play you already know that there's no reason to rehearse—you just hang out, talk, drink and eat and it's just natural to play the music.

So I want to play with my friends, that's most important, I don't want to play with someone I don't have a personal friendship with. With Peter Valsamis—who I know is listening to the radio and recording this—and Lisle Ellis who moved to New York last summer, they're really good friends and very easy to hang out and play music with. It just comes naturally when you play with those kinds of close friends and you make something together 'cause playing music is like going to the sandbox as a child, and you have your friends and you play and if you're not friends you can't play together. Glenn was a very beautiful man, a very good friend. When we did these things'"me, him and Raphé Malik—that was the horn section, there's some stuff that we put out together that was unbelievable, because we were close friends.

AAJ: You must miss playing with Glenn Spearman?

ME: Do I miss playing with Glenn Spearman? I miss Glenn as a friend, as a brother. I miss Glenn. Sometimes I think about him a lot. I have a lot of friends that I've lost in recent years for various reasons, I miss the friendship, the humanity; the playing, that comes next. When you love somebody that's your friend, that's more important.

AAJ: I came to know about most of your fellow players only when I started listening to your music. I was so surprised I didn't know of all those musicians before.

ME: Yeah, in America the artists, we're beneath the underdog, we're below the ground you know there's no support for us. And the jazz world is like a low thing and the avant-garde, the new music, is below that. Then for us who're not famous we're even beneath that so we're underground, but we're still here, we're still doing it. And by God we still are there in people's faces and when we go out to play we play and we're there, we play.

AAJ: They call you the trickster, did you know that?

ME: They call me the trickster (laughs).

AAJ: Yeah, I came upon this on a website: "Marco Eneidi is commonly referred to as a 'trickster' for his clever use of technique and imaginative storytelling through sound.

ME: That was written by a friend of mine, this woman I was with a number of years, who's a writer, a poet, a performing artist and as a poet her major influences. She was a part of the living theatre in NY and her main influences as a poet were Jacques Micheline and the whole Beat poetry thing. Her name is Jessica Loos. She's still in San Francisco, part of the whole scene in North Beach. And she wrote that. How she came up with that, I don't know (laughs). Trickster, I don't know. Well, I laugh, I like to laugh 'cause if I don't laugh I cry.

AAJ: They also say that you play very fast.

ME: Eh... I learned that from Jimmy Lyons. This is one thing he taught me how. Sonny Simmons taught me about long tones, about getting the sound a certain way, doing things a certain way, through breathing and meditation and Yoga. Jimmy showed me how to hold the horn the proper way, and Jimmy was about speed, that was his thing. He played Charlie Parker twice as fast and I try to play Jimmy Lyons twice as fast. I love speed, I used to be a ski-racer, I love shooting at the mountain at a hundred km an hour going straight down. I'm scared of heights but I like speed, it's fun to play fast. It's fun to have something that nobody else can do.

And I think those are the two things that I do on the alto saxophone that not many other players do, the sound I get, the bigger sound, and my ability to go fast, but not just go fast by wiggling my fingers, I'm going fast but at the same time I'm being very melodic, very harmonic. I'm doing quite advanced harmonies, I'm thinking and going through different key centers and sound, color centers. With speed going through all twelve keys at once and thinking, 'because I hear a lot of really fine musicians in Vienna—saxophone players—and once they go fast what they're doing is just wiggling their fingers and playing nonsense. But when I go fast I like to think I'm doing something that is harmonically and melodically intelligent. And I think if you took one of my solos and transcribed it and figured out what it is that I'm doing you'd see how advanced the harmonies I'm going through are, and I'm not thinking about it, I'm just doing it, 'cause I studied that, I learned that and then I forgot about it, and now I just do it.

AAJ: So, Jimmy Lyons was one of your influences?

ME: He was a good friend, yeah.

AAJ: Was he an influence?

ME: As a friend, yeah. Well, he taught me how to hold the horn, to go fast, he taught me also how to play things in a certain way. We'd play classical etudes together. We'd play them first as written, the European style, and then he'd show me how he'd approach it with a certain attack, a rhythmic attack. And that's what I really got from Jimmy, how to attack notes a certain way and make 'em swing and be rhythmical with precision, speed and articulation. Music as an influence, I mean, well, I play the alto saxophone, he played the alto saxophone. Everybody who plays the alto saxophone sounds alike in a certain way and Jimmy came directly from Charlie Parker, as did Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Sonny Simmons and Ornette Coleman. I also come from Charlie Parker but second generation. So just by default we both play the alto saxophone and with speed and a certain dexterity and articulation so it's gonna sound alike.

A lot of people write, they say "Marco sounds so much like Jimmy. Well I don't sound like Jimmy—a little bit yes, but I never try to imitate him. I sound much more like a tenor saxophonist than an alto saxophonist when I play slower and open up my sound. I've done most of my playing over the last 25 years, not performing, just playing, rehearsing; duets, like I said earlier, with Jackson Krall for several hours and with Dennis Charles in his house. I went to California and played with Donald Robinson. We played for a couple of years. I played with Spirit, Peter Valsamis, everyday, sometimes for 15 minutes sometimes for two or three hours. When I first started playing music I wanted to be a musician not a saxophonist. I was in an African drum ensemble playing drums. I was in a Brazilian school of samba and I played some Gamelan orchestra, I played tabla with both Zakir Hussein and Swapan Chaudhery at the Ali Akbar School of music in San Raphael, California. And all those years I played duets with drummers.

Just like William Parker says when he plays the bass, each string of his bass he compares to a different drum and that's the way I play the saxophone, I'm playing rhythmically and that's why I can play with Cecil Taylor. I can't play with most piano players 'cause they play tempered tuned, they play in a way that brings out the twelve tone tempered tuning, in a way they don't listen to what I'm doing and they play the wrong harmonies for me and get in my way. And Cecil plays as a percussionist. And that's the way I play the saxophone too, I approach it very rhythmically even tough I'm very harmonic and melodic but I attack it in a certain way, I mean I really attack it, I attack the saxophone, in a rhythmic sense.

Jimmy, I went to him, I took lessons with him once a week for I think four or five months. He was such a beautiful man, we became good friends, we hung out together, his wife Karen Borca would make us dinner and we'd drink gin together and hang out. Jimmy told people around New York about me, that I was there. Such a beautiful man, such a good friend. While working there I met all these older cats and they all took me under their arm and protected me in a way; a lot of these guys protected me from some bad things that they didn't want me to do. So many of these guys—Earl Cross, Dennis Charles, Don Cherry, Wilber Morris, Dewey Redman, they all took me under their wing and showed me certain things to do a certain way... they were all like fathers to me. Jimmy was the same way, a father a brother, a very sweet man and he showed me a lot of things on the alto saxophone, but he also showed me a certain love, in a way that made me who I am today.

AAJ: Most of those nice people that you mentioned are now gone.

ME: That's what sickens me—that almost all of my friends from when I first went to New York in '81 are all gone, from AIDS, then drug abuse. The whole life of being an artist in America killed a lot of people; it's not so much the drugs and the diseases but the iron fist of corporate capitalism, American non-acknowledgement of the artist. And here, to answer it, you have the iron fist of the Catholic church, the previous history of Nazis and Hitler, but in America you have its history also, but the main thing is that in America you have this corporate greed and you have the hatred of anything creative and artistic and hatred of poor people. George Bush doesn't like black people. It's true, George Bush doesn't like black people, he doesn't like red people or yellow people or poor people or poor white people. He doesn't like anybody. And they do that in the name of...whoever their God is but it's not my God.

AAJ: Right...

ME: So as you can see I'm a loud enough political person.

AAJ: Your orchestra work is very interesting. Have you made any other recordings in an orchestral setting, apart from the Creative Music Orchestra and the American Jungle Orchestra ?

ME: With my own orchestra? No I have not. I've worked with William Parker, in The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. And my own stuff, well that one that you just played we rehearsed once a week for some six or seven months before we went to the studio. I have the American Jungle Orchestra where we did a bunch of work and then we went into this club and played once a week for a month, which was recorded and is on the release that you have. Yeah I've done some work here and there but nothing that's been released...

I'm trying to do something here in Vienna. I want to make an orchestra here. I have some boys from Burgenland, from Nickelsdorf, some older Green Party boys, they're going to make a choir doing some avant-garde stuff, and I just met a woman who runs a theatre group made up of Austrians and Nigerians. Most of the Nigerians are refugees and I want to do something with that, like a bunch of musicians and vocal theatre, avant-garde group.

My favorite setting is the trio but I also like having a large group orchestra. What you just played was made up of younger musicians, a lot of whom were not that experienced. Glenn and I just loved to blow on top of that and have a lot of freedom to play on top. And I love that big sound of the orchestra, like a freight train going down the road and you just grab on and I'm there I'm not grabbing on, I'm at the front of the train, on the top and blowing. The other musicians, they have to grab on and hopefully they get on in time before the train leaves the station.

AAJ: The orchestra in Vienna is one of your current projects?

ME: It's not together yet but it's starting. Just these last two weeks I started at this wonderful restaurant, a café club called Celesté run by a very beautiful man who's helping me out in many ways, who's from Iraq, from Baghdad. He's been in Austria for 30 years I believe, and has run this place for 20 years. I have a weekly Monday night, jam session. Every week I have a new special guest. Two weeks ago it was Hans Falbe from Nicklesdorf Jazz Gallery who has this most important jazz festival in Europe, The Confrontatione. Last week I had Paul Lovens, and next week I have Georg Grawe and a young wonderful drummer from Vienna, Didi Kern. One night there was a very wonderful saxophonist, a woman from Austria, Tanja Feichtmair. We have Nigerian drummer night, and this theatre group night with Birgit Fritz, and through this jam session I invite different musicians and we play in duo or trio and we try to do something together... but yeah, I'd like to make an orchestra.

A couple of weeks ago this man came in, a translator, works in the courthouse and also plays the saxophone; a friend of mine. I was trying to get these guys to sing. And he started singing in old old Greek, Greek from 3000 years ago, old old Greek songs. And it was incredible; first I thought it was some strange Austrian dialect. Then I found out that it was old Greek. I like to play in solo, in small ensembles, and also large groups where I can compose and mold in a certain fashion, in a fashion so I can play through that.

AAJ: Sounds like there's a whole lotta shaking going on in Vienna.

ME: Yeah I'm trying to shake these people up 'cause they're sleepy and tired.

AAJ: But they do appreciate your music.

ME: I'm not sure if they do, I think that maybe I'll wake them up and then we'll find out.

AAJ: How do you see the future of your music? Which way is it going? Which way do you want it to go?

ME: I just want to continue what I'm doing, keep in good health, work hard at my work and continue being fresh, young and alive. Packing my bags and throwing all my stuff away and coming to Austria—a country where I didn't know anybody, I didn't speak the language and didn't know the place—that move was so dramatic. Sometimes it's good to just jump off, jump into the water and make a change, a complete change and that's what keeps you young and fresh and alive, brings new ideas to your mind and sustains the creativity. Where we are if you're there too long, if you're not pushing and moving, if nothing's happening, then it's really easy to become lazy and locked into your own normal routines. So this move forced me to make a complete change, and learn a new language. I'm finding Deutch to be very difficult to learn but am making lot of new friends. For the first time I have a whole bunch of friends who are not musicians, it's really quite nice. And it's filling my creative thoughts and creative energy in a certain way that if I'd stayed in California I would have not.

AAJ: Have you ever played in France?

ME: I have played in France, but only in the street. In 1982 my apartment burned down in New York and I jumped on a plane and came to France. I landed in Paris with 50 dollars in my pocket, and rode the train all the way down to Firenze in Italy and back up to Amsterdam and never bought a train ticket, I rode for free. I spent a few nights in Dijon, playing in the streets. Then went up to Paris and slept a couple of nights next to the river, next to Notre Dame and played at four o'clock in the morning at the steps of Notre Dame. The police came and told me to stop playing. Once in 1992, when I came to Nickelsdorf with Raphé Malik, we went up to Amsterdam and played in the club Thelonious, and then myself, the drummer and the bassist went on to Paris but we did not play actually. So I've never really played in France except on the street when I was a young boy.

AAJ: So which are the places in Europe that you've played?

ME: Since I've been here I went up to a little village outside of Stockholm, with Paul Lovens, I've been to Slovenia a couple of times. This summer I was down to Venice in Italy. It was not a concert but I played a bit in the street. Other than that I've been here in Austria. In May I did a duet with Andrew Cyrille, Ulrichsberg Kalaidophone. Recently I was in St. Johann in Austria with a quintet, I've done a couple of things around Nickelsdorf, I did a couple of things with Lisle Ellis and Donald Robinson in Vienna and I sat in with Lou Grassi and Roy Campbell in Vienna, and few other things here and there, and hopefully I'll be getting out more.

AAJ: You've have worked a lot with famous musicians, like William Parker, Cecil Taylor, Donald Robinson. What's the reason for your not being as famous?

ME: That's the million dollar question. Well you know, a lot of it is because a lot of years I spent working on my music, practicing, and when I was not practicing I was working, trying to make a living. And I knew a lot of people in the '80s and I still know people who don't spend that much time working on the music but they spend a lot of time on the business and they got famous and worked a lot in Europe, but their playing became mediocre. I just worked on the music, I'm not a businessman, I'm not a person who likes to promote myself, I hate that and now I'm learning more how to do that. This last year I had time to actually promote myself, book some concerts, try to do something, 'cause I know if I don't do it now, time is running out, I'm getting older—I'll be 50 next year. So I was underground, I didn't promote myself, but now I'm starting to do it a bit, now I'm on your radio show. And I'm here, I'm still here.

AAJ: What pisses you off?

ME: What pisses me off—what makes me angry?

AAJ: What pisses you off in life as a musician, as a person?

ME: What makes me angry is what is taking place in Darfour, what's taking place in Iraq, what just took place in New Orleans, and all these other places where there's so much blood and slaughter being done in the name of who they think God is. It pisses me off the way human beings are treating each other and murdering in the name of God and religion and ethnic cleansing. I just saw something the other day, maybe this winter in Malawi 3 million people will die from starvation. And that kind of shit makes me very fucking angry more than anything. As far as who I am and as a musician that's unimportant...what was taking place in Palestine, that kind of shit pisses me off. This unnecessary human behavior against other humans; when animals kill they do it 'cause they're hungry, they want to eat. Humans do it for the thrill of killing somebody under their religious, corporate shit that they do. And that's what pisses me off, more than anything—this kind of disrespect in human behavior makes me very fucking angry.

What George Bush is doing now, you know he's on this crusade, God talks to him, well, whoever his God is it's not my God...and that makes me angry. This corporate greed and money, slavery—that makes me angry more than anything. I'm a child of the '60s and '70s Civil Rights movement, anti-Vietnam movement. Those are my roots, I used go to rallies hearing Angela Davis and Cesar Chavez, and I love Martin Luther King but I'm a follower of Malcolm X more, and when it comes time to fight you have to fight but luckily I have a saxophone, I do that through the saxophone...I make my jihad through the saxophone, through the music otherwise I feel I'd be in trouble. How many people died in Rwanda—3 million, 4 or 5 million, and the French military was right there with them, killing people, villages. And what the British are doing and—it's unbelievable what humanity is doing to itself.

I believe that people need to just stop and start over and apologize and yes, have your nationalistic individuality but still accept everybody else. Also this corporate greed has to stop raping the planet. Global warming, as we saw with these hurricanes; if they don't take care of business pretty soon, I don't know how much longer the earth will survive this torment. Bush must make new nuclear bombs and everybody else is making war. And yeah, that pisses me off more than anything. I don't know what to do about it. You know, there was a saying when I was growing up in the '60s, this very right wing conservative party, they had a motto, America—love it or leave it. The hippies, we had America—love it or change it. Well, after trying to change it, I left. But now things have to change otherwise it's coming to a point where there's a big problem. I just play the saxophone and when I'm not playing the saxophone I'm just driving a taxi or washing dishes or doing something so I can eat some food. So I don't know, who the hell am I? "Ich bin niemand, I'm nobody.

Post a comment

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.