Working the Rhythm Section: Tom Lawton, Lee Smith, and Dan Monaghan

Victor L. Schermer BY

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As Duke Ellington's standard goes, "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing." The rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, with guitar and percussion sometimes added) is the core of the typical jazz ensemble. They set the frame for the leader, singer, and soloists and contribute their own solos as well. Even though they work primarily in the background, they can make or break the performance of the horn players or singer.

In order to call greater attention to the rhythmic component of the jazz ensemble, All About Jazz assembled three top Philadelphia musicians in a conference room at the University of the Arts and asked them to discuss their views on rhythm and rhythm sections as well as their experience accompanying other musicians. Tom Lawton, piano, Lee Smith, bass, and Dan Monaghan, drums (top left to right in above photo, with vocalist Mary Ellen Desmond and saxophonist Larry McKenna), are among the most highly regarded players on the jazz scene today. They front their own groups and work independently as well, but they also frequently work together as a rhythm section for singers and horn players. It is fascinating to hear their candid and sometimes surprising views on what it takes to make the music swing. Foot-tapping aficionados might think it's easy to do, but it's more complicated than fans might think.

All About Jazz: To start out, I'd like to ask each of you to tell us who you would consider to be the greatest rhythm section of all time. [The musicians were asked to write it down first, so that their responses would be independent of one another.] Why don't you start off, Lee?

Lee Smith: Off the top of my head, I'd say Tony Williams, drums; Herbie Hancock, piano; and Ron Carter, bass.

AAJ: That was the rhythm section for Miles Davis at one point.

Dan Monaghan: I picked the same guys.

Tom Lawton: So did I!

AAJ: Amazingly, you all independently chose the same rhythm section! Do you think that would be a consensus among many players?

LS: Yes, but it could also depend on the generation of musicians. Musicians who came up at a different time than us, either younger or older, might disagree.

TL: I added two other rhythm sections: McCoy Tyner, piano; Elvin Jones, drums; Jimmy Garrison, bass. They were with John Coltrane, of course. And bassist Paul Chambers with either Red Garland or Wynton Kelly, piano; Philly Joe Jones, drums. They were all with Miles at different times.

AAJ: Aside from the fact that they may have been your heroes during that time, what in your mind makes them so special?

DM: For me, Williams-Hancock-Carter: They were so swingin'! For me, that's the most important thing about a rhythm section.

TL: The term "swing" has a large area of meaning. Like Williams, Hancock, and Carter would sometimes swing in a "normal" sense, as with a burning or walking tune. On other occasions, however, they would be breaking up the time, but you could always hear the basic swing behind it, even if it were unstated. And they were exceptional at playing impressionistic tunes softly and in a subtle way, as when Miles did one of those brooding ballads.

AAJ: Like "My Funny Valentine" in that famous Carnegie Hall concert.

TL: In other words, no matter how "out there" or oblique it got, you felt the heritage of swing behind it.

In the Trenches: Working on a Gig

AAJ: OK. Let's talk about what it's like for you guys when you work together as a rhythm section. Let's say you're accompanying a singer like Mary Ellen Desmond or an instrumentalist like saxophonist Larry McKenna—which you often do—or maybe it's a new musician or a new tune. How do you go about setting up a performance? What's your strategy?

LS: Well, occasionally, a leader will convey to the rhythm section what he wants and expects. He might have a chart with the chord changes, or he may convey to you that he's giving you a certain amount of freedom to interpret the changes. He might say, "Don't necessarily stay glued to the changes; if you hear other changes or chord progressions that you feel may work, feel free to use them." Other guys are very stringent, and they'll say, "This is exactly what I want you to play." In which case, it's not as much of a challenge; you just read the music and go from there.

AAJ: That sounds very rigid to me. Don't you feel your spontaneity is interfered with when they give you orders like that?"

LS: Not necessarily. For me as a bassist, and I would say the same for the whole rhythm section, we're there to make them comfortable. Whether it's a horn player or a singer, you have to adjust to their needs. For instance, with some singers, like Betty Carter, we could be very aggressive when accompanying someone like her. Whereas, for other singers, I feel I need to play underneath them, let them shine, and just play a secondary role. But, until you actually do the gig, you don't really know how it's going to sound or come out. And, in addition, everybody is going to hear what you play differently anyway.

AAJ: And from what I know about jazz gigs, you often don't have much time for rehearsal, if any.

LS: Rehearsals would be great, but you're right. We often don't have a chance to rehearse. Take for example, another bass player, who happens to be my son, Christian McBride.

On his last CD with his trio, they had been on tour for quite some time. So they were very familiar with each other and the tunes. Sometimes you need very little rehearsal time because you've worked with each other a lot. At other times, it's a relatively new group, but that can be a creative challenge. In a way, I think that's good. You want some uncertainty there, an edge. I think that's what makes it interesting.

TL: Some music takes more rehearsal than others. If you're doing original and difficult material, like avant-garde or some complex compositions by, say Bobby Zankel or myself, it'll take some rehearsal time. But, as Lee said, you don't want to overdo the rehearsing.

DM: And it depends who you're working with. Lee, Tom, and I are very familiar with each other. And if we work with Mary Ellen or Larry, for example, we're already in synch with them. And, I agree with Lee that I'm happy if the leader is happy. Unless it's my name that's on the marquee, I want to make the leader as comfortable as possible. If they're happy with us, I'm happy because I know I've done my job. So I might just decide whether to start out with a pedal, or maybe Tom would set the tone with an introduction, and then the rest of us come in to state the melody. We're already comfortable enough with each other that we can go with the flow after that.

LS: Can I just add something? The reason it is so important for me to almost "serve" the leader, is because he's the person who's going to call you again! (Laughter.)

AAJ: That's the bottom line!

LS: And to me, it has nothing to do with your talent or capability. It's more your attitude. How do I want to approach this? Do I want to show what I'm capable of doing, or do I want to make it right for the leader?

AAJ: But aren't you also expected to step up, take risks, and make a claim on your own for the music?

TL: It depends on who you're working with. I would agree with you in the sense that I'm one of those who believe that there's no such thing as "mere" accompaniment. The rhythm section provides the whole "subtext" of the music. The articulation of the bass or the pulse from the drums, we're painting an atmosphere without which the music wouldn't be as good. Maybe someone like Sonny Rollins can play a whole tune solo. But in most cases the upper line that is being played by, say the leader, is dependent on the rhythm section. As a pianist, I can't even play one phrase unless I'm feeling a pulse inside. The only exception would be rubato, where the duration is flexible. If it's a swing tune, we're trying to create a certain vibe behind whoever is playing. On a spacious Latin tune, like a bossa nova, a lot of times two or three of us will be putting a certain rhythmic feel on it, but sometimes I might alternate between going with them or floating around them, in the cracks, so to speak. That creates a particular mood for certain phrases.

AAJ: It's as if the rhythm section participates in co-creating an improvised composition. At the same time, you also have to subordinate your own ego to the leader's purpose.

TL: With rhythm section work, we really want to do what's right for the gig. And with many of the people we work with, we really are more influenced by the older more traditional rhythm sections. Like for some people, it wouldn't work to do the Herbie Hancock-Ron Carter approach. It wouldn't make sense to play that way behind Larry McKenna, for example, because that's not his language. However, there's almost always a small amount of playing during any gig where we can incorporate some elements of various influences without disturbing the overall zeitgeist: the spirit or mood of the piece.

DM: Yeah, like even on the most conservative of gigs, I never feel like I'm restricted. Even within those confines, I always feel like I have unlimited freedom.

AAJ: The classical composer Stravinsky said that musical freedom comes paradoxically from the structure.

TL: And even in the freer kind of jazz, there's always a structure, because there's a motif, a rhythm.

Communicating by "Signals"

AAJ: I always notice that you guys give each other signals. Like you'll hold your hand up, or you'll nod, or glance over at someone. What are all those signals about? I imagine jazz fans would be curious about that.

LS: There are many signals. Many times, the leader will signal when he wants you to go back to the beginning of the tune.

AAJ: How do they signal that?

DM: If they want you to go back to the head, they'll point to the top of their head. If they want you to go back to the bridge, they'll point to the bridge of their nose. Some of it is guesswork based on what they most likely are trying to communicate. Like, if Lee looks at the leader, my best guess might be that we're going on to the next phase, like trading fours or whatever. The context tells you what the gesture means.

TL: For some gigs, for example, the length of your solos may be preset. But sometimes you have to coordinate that with whoever comes in next. So I'll look up and see whether I should keep going or let them come in.

LS: Many of the signals are mainly "yield" signals. Like, sometimes, I'll feel I've soloed as much as I can at that point, and I'll look over to Dan to give him the opportunity to come in if he wants to.

DM: It can get to be weird that way. Like if Lee looks at me with raised eyebrows as if to say, How 'bout you taking over?" I can look at the leader with raised eyebrows, asking if he wants to come in. It can go all around the group like that! (Laughter.)

TL: Sometimes there are surprises. Recently, when we were with vocalist Jackie Ryan at Christmas, we were doing a tune with an unusual form, "The Sweetest Sounds," and suddenly out of nowhere, Jackie looked over at Dan to play, which shook him up, but he nailed it because he'd already played a few choruses with us. Afterwards, Dan said he didn't know what was going on, but he took a chance and fortunately he got it right.

LS: Jackie may not have planned it that way. She probably got that idea right at that moment. That's what jazz is all about.

TL: It can get very confusing. One time, I played with Bobby Zankel's Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, and the special guest soloist was saxophonist Steve Coleman. We had several rehearsals, but all of a sudden we're doin' the concert, and Steve looked at me and said, "Go ahead, Tom." I had no idea what he meant. It turned out he was telling me to do a five minute solo on one of his tunes, which I never played before, and in the rehearsals, he never called for me to solo!

AAJ: It sounds like the rhythm section has to be very "in the now," ready to respond to almost anything that happens.

TL: But that's exactly why we choose to play jazz instead of other forms of music. We like the spontaneity and uncertainty of it.

Can You Teach a Musician to Swing?

AAJ: That raises another question: whether jazz can be taught. You guys do a lot of teaching, and I'd like to ask whether you can really teach someone to swing and improvise in the same way that you can teach classical music.

DM: In my experience, teaching any art form involves quantifying it. Some things in jazz can be quantified and taught, but then there's a lot that can't be quantified. There's magic to this music. For example, I can transcribe a Jimmy Cobb drum solo down to the most minute detail, and I can explain exactly what he played, but it won't capture the magic that is Jimmy Cobb. But there are basic things about being in a rhythm section that you can teach, like, as we said, when you get to the end of a solo, make eye contact. There's common knowledge that can easily be taught.

AAJ: But there's a "feel" of swing, of the syncopation, and some players have a harder time acquiring it than others do.

LS: Everyone has an individual feel for what you call "swing," and I think that's what makes jazz so unique. There's an opportunity to express yourself rhythmically as an individual. You can't teach music the way you teach most other vocations, where, like for a computer programmer, "This is what you're going to do on a job, and this is how you do it." With music, it's not just that way. It's somewhat up to the individual student as to how far they want to pursue what they're doing. I see a lot of young musicians who study hard and get a music degree, and they're still not going to "get it." When it comes to teaching jazz, I see it more as exposing the person to experience and ways of playing. You can demonstrate to a student what you have in mind, but there's no guarantee they're going to get it.

AAJ: You seem to be saying that a lot of the so-called knowledge is really intuitive, and, as Dan pointed out, can't be quantified or explained.

LS:: Most definitely, yes.

AAJ: Many musicians will tell me that, in their youth, they bought a recording or someone gave them one, and it just suddenly hit them! And that's how they got interested in playing jazz.

LS: But because you don't "get it" right way doesn't mean that eventually you won't. It depends how dedicated to working at it. Some people are willing to put in the work, and some are not. Unfortunately, some of the most talented people may not have that work ethic.

AAJ: One reason I asked about teaching a musician to swing is because of "crossover music," where you might get some classical musicians to work on a piece with jazz player. Tom has done a considerable amount of that kind of work. For example, he's worked with a string quartet. And from what I know, many classical musicians just can't play jazz well.

TL: Some of them do and some of them just do not. But as far as teaching is concerned, I look at it as if I as a teacher or mentor am trying to create situations or ideas that will gradually unlock the potential in the student. Just because someone doesn't swing from day one, doesn't mean they're not natural with it. It's a new language for them. Like I didn't play jazz until I was age nineteen. I did all classical and rock before that. But I'd always been comfortable improvising, so the hard part of jazz wasn't the harmony, but it was the rhythmic idiom. To this day, that's what I work on the most.

LS: That's very interesting, because the least natural aspect of music is the actual "counting," which you almost have to force yourself to do. But the count doesn't necessarily dictate the "feel." Say when I'm playing odd meters, like five, seven, nine beats in a bar, or whatever, I'm literally counting the meter to myself, and it's harder to get the "feel" of it than what I'm used to playing all the time.

AAJ: That's the part of it that's intuitive: the "feel." I often think that's "built in" to the nervous system, kind of "hard wired," and you can't teach it as such. It goes back in the DNA hundreds or even thousands of years to the African tribal music.

TL: But that doesn't mean you've got to get it from day one. Some people do get it right away, but I've run into musicians I thought could never get the jazz "feel," but after time it's unlocked, and in retrospect it seems that they had it all the time—it just had to be brought out in them. But I've had some students over the years who knew every chord and every scale, and couldn't turn it into good musical phrase. But sometimes, if you encourage them to scat sing the phrase first, without all the technical stuff, then they can go back and get the right "feel" on their instrument.

AAJ: So some players might never get it, but many of them who don't seem to have it, might acquire the jazz feel over time.

How Do You Define "Swing"?

TL: To some extent, it's also a matter of taste what you consider "swing." I prefer the way some musicians swing better than others. But Lee or Dan might have a different preference. There are different "dialects" of swing, so to speak.

DM: Swing is a very broad term.

TL: It's a kind of forward motion.

AAJ: It creates energy. I think there is swing in other kinds of music than jazz.

TL: Yes. One of my classical teachers, Edna Golandsky always said there is a lot of swing in Bach. She got people to put a lot of life into Bach by getting them to phrase over the bar line instead of strictly within it.

AAJ: Would you say that Glenn Gould made Bach swing, even though he plays very strictly on the beat?

TL: Totally. He's not using swing eight notes, but he still swings. Similarly, bossa nova swings even though it's straight eighth notes. There are several different uses of the word "swing." There's the swing era or period of the swing bands. There's the more general eighth note held back. And there's the all-encompassing idea of musical flow. Does it feel like it's buoyant and moving, or does it feel stagnant?

DM: And I think it's important to realize that a rhythm section as such is a collaborative effort, where every player is affected by every other player. Some fantastic players don't work well with each other because of the way they individually interpret time differently. For example, I'm affected very positively by the way Lee plays, and I'd be hard pressed to find a drummer who doesn't swing when he's playing with Lee. But for other bass players, like Madison Rast or Brian Howell, their interpretation of time is different from Lee, and I have to reach agreement with them, so to speak. So achieving the right rhythm is really a collective effort.

TL: Trumpeter Terell Stafford used to talk about how swing is an illusion. He liked it if the drummer's quarter notes didn't exactly match that of the bass, because the swing came from the space in between the two of them, the pocket. I've actually seen that happen. For example, I love Lee's "on top of the beat" feel. It makes the music very buoyant. But there have been times when Lee and I worked with different drummers than Dan. They would try to match Lee on top of the beat, but that would make them rush the tempo. By contrast, Dan, or Byron Landham, or Craig McIver, they know exactly where to be.

LS: Even our own interpretation of swing has to be flexible. It's not the same all the time. It's affected by whoever we're accompanying. Tom said I play on top of the beat. But some drummers I work with also play on top of the beat, in which case I will hold back on the beat to keep it from rushing. So it depends on whom you're interacting with.

AAJ: It sounds like the beat is a very subjective rather than factual or objective matter. You can't measure it with a metronome. A propos of Lee, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan said that he always listened to the bassist rather than the drummer for rhythm. Maybe that's because he played a lower register instrument. But I would think that the drummer supplies the basic rhythm.

LS: I worked with Latin percussionist Mongo Santamaria, and his group used to always tell me, "Lee, we're listening to you for the tempo." I was really surprised that these percussionists were listening to me for the rhythm.

AAJ: It sounds paradoxical. Like your following the other guys' rhythm and at the same time they're following you.

TL: In the past, I would try to hook up rhythmically with this player or that player, but what I eventually arrived at that worked better for me was to listen to the whole sound of the group, and then try to find my place within it. It really is a collective effort, and there's a part of it that we can't really define.

AAJ: Saxophonist Dave Liebman agrees a lot with what you're saying. He wrote an excellent article on jazz rhythm . Accoding to Liebman, "In jazz after tone, it is what I call "time feel" that most expresses an artist's unique conception. The manner in which the player rhythmically phrases is to an even larger degree more revealing than the actual melodic and harmonic content. It conveys a truly physical impression to the listener which is difficult to describe in words." To my mind, Lee, your lively rhythmic feel is so unique that it almost becomes your signature. [Dan and Tom nod agreement.]

LS: I'm flattered, but I haven't got the slightest idea what you mean! [Laughter]. My bass playing comes from rhythm and blues roots, so I'm used to emphasizing a certain feel. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not. Sometimes you want to subtly imply something rather than throwing it in your face.

TL: But, getting back to the Herbie Hancock rhythm section with Miles, they not only did straight ahead tunes, they also did some exploratory stuff. Herbie and Tony were really going far out there, while Ron Carter served as the "glue." There was a time for about two years when I listened to nothing but that group, and it was a revelation to discover how Carter, the guy at the bottom, really held the group together. Without him, they would have fallen apart. I think the public can feel the presence of the bass player, but they're more likely to be listening to the singer or the soloist. They don't realize how much the bassist makes or breaks the music. I can cope with mediocre drummers much better than with mediocre bass players.

DM: As the drummer, I'm sitting right here, and I can hear everything you're saying, but I won't take it personally! [Huge Laughter.]

TL: Some people might dispute this, but in my opinion, there's much more than rhythm to the bass playing. The bass is also underpinning the harmony, so they play double duty at the sub-structural level. Notes can feel differently at certain spots. The early bass players had a very staccato feel, while later ones, like George Mraz, have a more sustained feel. Lee seems to be somewhere in between the two. The length of the note affects the feel and the sound.

Then there's a type of rhythm section we haven't touched upon, like Scott LaFaro with Bill Evans and Paul Motian. They had a much more subtle way of playing where the swing is there, but it's not so obvious.

DM: I think what Liebman is saying is that great time is the unifying principle for all the great jazz musicians. It's the one thing they have in common.

The Drum Thing

AAJ: And sometimes they literally create a whole new sense of time and rhythm. Like what happened in Kansas City in the 1930s. With drummer Jo Jones and others, the emphasis shifted from the bass drum to the ride cymbal, which completely changed the whole feeling of swing. Later, with bebop, drummers like Kenny Clarke took it even further.

DM: The bebop drummers didn't feel the need to hammer out quarter notes on the bass drum when there was a bassist in the band playing the same rhythm. The timekeeping then got shifted to the ride cymbal, and the bass drum was used as another color to accompany the soloist.

AAJ: Is it not also true that the cymbals gave a greater sense of flow to the music than the bass drum?

TL: Certainly, the cymbals give a lighter feeling.

LS: It's one of the differences between mainstream jazz drumming and, say, R&B. With the latter, the emphasis is on the bass drum and snare drum. Whereas, in jazz, you get the sense of movement from the cymbal. It's a lighter flowing feel as opposed to nailing the beat.

AAJ: I imagine the ride cymbal facilitates more spontaneous improvising as well.

TL: The use of the ride cymbal started long ago with Jo Jones and others. Then, Mickey Roker, Max Roach, and those guys carried it further, but it's even more important today. They play over the bar line, and the first beat of the bar is there but it's not overly accented. In my opinion, the entire teaching of strong beats is wrong. The first beat should serve as a mental anchor, but it's not necessarily accented, unless it's a musical intention. Traditionally, we're taught that one and three are strong beats and two and four are weak beats. But in practice, it doesn't work that way. Once, I was listening to the Keith Jarrett Trio, and they were stretching the time and the feel in an amazing way! I listened to it many times and could hear how almost every time, one of them played the beat exactly on "one." Often it was Jack DeJohnette's soft "ping" on the cymbals. That gave them the flexibility to stretch the time around it. I always say that what I call the "inner squareness" of the time enables you to keep the place, but then that allows you to walk the tightrope of the feeling that you want to convey.

AAJ: It almost seems as if you're "painting" the sound, with very subtle differences in the colors of the rhythm as well as the sonority, which also shapes the rhythm. It's interesting how the mind puts all that together to form an overall "picture" of the music.

TL: Talking about sound color, the way that Dan orchestrates on the drums is great, the way he uses the various timbres of the whole drum set—that really affects the feel as well.

How Early Listening Experiences Influence the Sense of Rhythm

AAJ: Let's focus a little more attention on each of you as individuals. Lee was influenced by rhythm and blues when he was young. Tom, you said you came up on classical and rock. Dan, what first got you interested in playing drums?

DM: Rock bands. Probably the most profound musical moment in my whole life was in 1984 when I heard Van Halen's "Jump" on the radio. That affected me more strongly and differently than anything else has ever affected me. It grabbed my soul, like it said, "This is for you!"

AAJ: So how come you didn't become a rock drummer?

TL: He is! He still does rock shows!

DM: That was my dream in high school and college—to be a rock drummer. And even in the last ten years, I do some rock shows, and they are exceedingly fun! But as a rock drummer, you have a particular function, and if you start to get too creative, you stray from your purpose and it doesn't work. Like you can't be an impressionistic "touchy-feely" drummer in, say Led Zeppelin! You have to fulfill your function. I had too much wanderlust for that.

AAJ: So how did you go over to jazz?

DM: My parents were classical musicians. My father was interested in all kinds of music. He would get records from the library for me to listen to, like Buddy Rich live at the Chez (Big Swing Face Live, Pacific Jazz, 1967). Even then, I was struck by the snare drum sound on that record, and I still am. My dad also got me Weather Report—Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) with Joe Zawinul's tune "Birdland." Later, he brought home Wynton Marsalis: Live at Blues Alley (Columbia, 1987).

But I really came into jazz drumming through Tony Williams' Lifetime jazz-rock fusion band, and also hearing Jack DeJohnette. Then I got into Miles' quintet with Herbie Hancock, then worked back to Miles' sextet with Cannonball Adderley and Trane.

LS: One of the things that got me into jazz was that the players whom I considered to be overall better musicians were into jazz. The first instrument I studied was the trumpet, and the guys would always talk about Miles and other jazz musicians. And these guys that I talked to were the ones who could play really well. They could read music well, they could improvise. I was impressed with how much they could do which the classical musicians didn't do at all. So I figured that jazz could offer me a sense of growth that other types of music couldn't.

AAJ: Lee, we all know that your son, Christian McBride, is one of the greatest bass players today. Did you teach him?

LS: Yes, I taught him.

AAJ: His style is different from yours. Perhaps it has to do with the generations. Is there a difference between his generation and yours in the way you play?

LS: The difference between Christian and me is not so much the result of our respective generations. It has more to do with how we were exposed to the music. When I was coming up, I heard a lot of great musicians on the radio, but I didn't know any personally. All I had was the passion. Christian was exposed to me and other musicians on a personal level. Also, my parents were somewhat negative about my pursuing a career as a working musician, whereas Christian grew up in an environment with working musicians.

TL: For me, even though I didn't play jazz growing up, my dad had 78 rpm records of Coleman Hawkins and Fats Waller, so I did hear some jazz. But it wasn't until I accidentally heard The John Coltrane Quartet on the radio playing "Brasilia" that I really got hit with the jazz bug.

What's Coming Up for Lee, Dan, and Tom

AAJ: So, as we round off the interview, why don't you tell us something about what each of you has coming up on your musical agenda?

LS: I'm in the middle of making a new CD now. For me, I just want to keep growing as a musician. I'm starting to focus more on my writing and arranging, which I really enjoy.

DM: I have my own quartet with Mike Cemprola on saxophone, Tim Brey on piano, and Brian Howell on bass. Also, I've recently put together a big band for Larry McKenna, featuring his own writing and arranging. Any free time I might have can get easily swallowed up by those two projects. But I'm happy just being a side man. When I'm playing the drums, I'm happy. In New York, I work with John Lundbom & Big Five Chord and have done three recordings with them.

TL: I'm constantly performing and teaching, which I love, but I also have another side compositionally. Recently, I was given a commission by the Philadelphia Jazz Project and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to write an hour-and-a-half suite based on the work of the modern artist Man Ray. That piece will be premiered this year in September, 2015.

AAJ: One of Man Ray's constructions is actually of a metronome.

TL: Right. I've seen it. And I love to stretch myself and work outside of my comfort zone as much as I can. I love working with innovative musicians like Bobby Zankel, Francois Zayas, and others who are taking the music to new places.

Photo (L to R): Tom Lawton, Lee Smith, Mary Ellen Desmond, Dan Monaghan and Larry McKenna

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