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Take Five with William Hooker

William Hooker By

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About William Hooker:
I grew up in New Britain, Connecticut and basically was a good student, and came from a good home. I did all that I could possibly do to make my way through New Britain High School, Nathan Hale Junior High, and Central Conn. State College. I tried to get good grades to be an exceptional student as far as playing in the band and orchestra, in leading the chorus and student councils. I was brought up in the church where I sang and learned the gospel repertoire in choirs and as a vocal soloist. I also was given private drum lessons as a child at the age of 10. What led me to music was the fact that I performed in a rock and roll group in Connecticut. Then I got into jazz—in a big way. My first experience playing jazz was with a quartet of older gentlemen who taught me standards(from the black book) and the essentials of leading a band. I did this for four years at the age of 16.

I listened to as much music as I could and listened to all the local players in the many clubs,concerts and shows. This is what I did while I was studying in college to obtain my degree in political science,sociology and history. I also studied 20th century composers and electronic music while I was in school. I continued to play and perform, never to become a musician—I was one. I didn't think of it in terms of the rest of my life or my career because I was good in most of the things I tried to do, be they academic life or musical life. My mentors were my mother , father and the many "professional" musicians I had the pleasure of knowing throughout my life.

I had the great fortune to be a part of an organ trio,playing 4-5 nights a week and continuing to build the roots of "the music." All through college the group performed standards,show tunes and the like. I played with this group for about five years. All the while I was listening deeply to the recordings of Impulse, ESP, Blue Note, Delmark and the like. This was a focused life—working a lot and picking up as much knowledge and skill as I possibly could in the various clubs and places where I performed. I then made the transition from classic jazz to free jazz when I relocated to San Francisco. It was there that I played-daily with an African conga group. this group was steeped in the rhythms and sounds of the drum and percussion. Upon returning to Conn, I made the decision to move to New York where I created and led groups using many of those mentioned in my most recent history. The concentration had changed to one in which my own musical concepts were the center of my expression.

I consider myself a "jazz musician." I know this word is defined in many different ways. My work fits in the jazz tradition because it's based on improvisation..it's based on learning one's craft..it's based on written out music in many cases..it's based on traditional duo, trio, quartet and sextet settings. I use a Ludwig drum kit. It is set up traditionally: one tom, bass drum, floor tom, two cymbals, high hat, and a snare. Usually this is my preferred set up. I'm hoping that many of the projects I have happening will be recorded and performed live. Many musicians and the relationships that have been building will come to fruition. As this occurs, I will experience the beauty of this music... and I will continue to play.

Instrument(s):
Drums.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I grew into the music by playing continuously and being surrounded by older musicians with skill and knowledge

Your sound and approach to music.
I try to propel the drums into a leading role in the music as much as possible. I try to use the entire drum set to augment the other players, the compositions and the aesthetic situations I find myself in.

Favorite venue
Most recently, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. I saw respect for music and art that was unusual for the USA. Also, I might add Vilnius & Riga...It is always great to give and receive at the same time.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
My latest... Light. It is excellent with a sensibility that is exquisite and very rare. It is an exceptional work of art (in my opinion). It clarifies history, as well, with the great book that is contained in it by superb writer Thomas Stanley.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? A sound that is my own. This is what I think is the essence of why this music is.

Did you know...
Changes and chords are essential to my love of music... no matter what genre it is.

Music you are listening to now:
I listen to lots of things from all genres. There are really too many to name at this time...that is how much and varied it is.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I love the state of jazz...Just that it exists is a joy for me. All things follow an ebb and flow so I look at this time period in that context.

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