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What made you decide to contribute to All About Jazz? I am a music fanatic. I play the drums. I was involved in college radio for years and I'd love to do a show again. Maybe when I retire!
I like to write. It's not easy or natural for me, in fact it's quite painstaking, but I like it. Music is important, and writing about it helps me determine what it is that I value in music; and in all of the arts, really. It's a form of mental / emotional processing for me.
I had written reviews for Jazz Weekly that went out of business after a few years. Somehow, I got cosmically re-routed to AAJ and submitted a few CD reviews back in 2004. Then I quit reviewing altogether. Then I started up again a few years later at another website called JazzReview.com. I wrote reviews for them until they went out of business a year or two ago. Now I am submitting to AAJ whom I sincerely hope remain solvent in perpetuity. :-)
How do you contribute to All About Jazz? I reviews CDs mostly. My philosophy of writing a review is to place whatever music I am discussing in a sort of continuum with other artists' work. Reviewing is about all that I am capable of, journalistically. I have done a couple of interviews for AAJ, but I don't feel that interviewing is my particular strong suit. I am still too in awe of pretty much all musicians. Which is weird because I am also a musician and I am definitely not in awe of myself.
What is your musical background? I have had no formal music studies. Just a year or so of drum lessons. Otherwise, I am an autodidact.
I started listening when I was really young5 or 6 or even earlier. My older brother played a lot of music for me. I remember hearing lots of Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters' Electric Mud, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and Frank Zappa's Absolutely Free and all sorts of weird hippie music when I was maybe 8 or 9 and I just loved it all from the git-go. Especially Hendrix and Beefheart. My mother also used to play Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring really loud on the stereo when she was cleaning the house. I just went on from there and quickly discovered jazz. I grew up musically in the '70s and remain fond of the sounds from that timeMahavishnu, Tony Williams' Lifetime, Soft Machine, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gong, all of the CTI stuff, Gentle Giant, Mandrill, Fela Kuti, anything on the ECM label.
I have a lot of LPs and CDs.
My brother also had a garage band; he's a real rock 'n' roll guitarist and still gigs to this day down in Florida, where he lives. I was about 7 when he started on guitar, and I gravitated towards the drums. I basically just sat down on his friend's kit and started playing with my brother. It was fun, and he basically taught me about dynamics and how to put a song across. I might have had a little talent and decent time, but I also had no discipline whatsoever and after about 6 months of struggling with drum lessons and drum rudiments, I quit and the drums were sold.
After hearing Billy Cobham and Tony Williams a few years later, I became re-enthralled with drumming and joined the school marching band. I played drums on and off until I was about 25 when I decided to really do it right. So I bought a kit, practiced a bit and started pestering my musician friends to play. I haven't stopped since. So, I've been playing in local jazz and rock bands in my home town (Santa Fe, NM) for the last 20 years. Nothing too popular or money-making.
For my 50th birthday, I bought music scoring software, composed some music, and put my own band together. We're called "The Things That Are Heard." It was supposed to be a one-off vanity project, but it turned into an 18 month-long vanity project. It was a fun band, and we actually got to gig a fair amount locally. There are even some decent YouTube videos of us!
I will definitely do more composing in the future. It's also quite painstaking, but the results are often quite... um... unusual.
What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today? My first LP purchase was Happy Jack by the Who. I wish I still had it. Keith Moon's drumming is epic, and it's just a fun album. "Boris The Spider" was my favorite cut. My second LP purchase was Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa. Great album. There's so much going on in that music, and every cut is completely different from the rest. I have a CD of it somewhere. I'm still listening to [play] this stuff.
What type of jazz do you enjoy listening to the most? The good kind!
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.