Chapter 9 FB:Build on the fundamentals. Do some listening. Become a discriminating listener. AMG: Your thing…You're too young to have your thing. Playing is like a fingerprint. Nobody's gonna play the same. That's the thing that bothers me. Usually I have some good players. They say you sound like Coltrane. You sound like Charlie Parker. You sound like Joe Lovano. Here's a kid who's 19 years old playin like that. Boy that's amazed me. I'd say, “Keep on.” Because after a while he’s gonna get away the music's gonna be different. The tunes are different. The way Wayne Shorter writes tunes now... I've been playin for 50 years. To get the right sound I have to go over it. I can't play the same sound that I play on one tune you know. I tell the students you take a tune, a modal tune. You can't play the G dorian the same way on every tune. You got the sound of the tune determine how you gonna play. And Wayne plays he's probably have an A7 something and the melody's goin this way. So I got to get used to the sound and I can't play it like I played “Sister Sadie.” FB: Right. Junior Cook. AMG: I can't play it the same way and that comes from listenin’. I'm 77 now I listen to all players. I go to Wally's and listen to my students. I go down there Friday nights, Saturday nights 'cause when Brown... when Walter was there, I’d go down a couple times a month listen to Walter play. Yeah I go hear them. FB: You like what you hear. AMG: Yeah I like when I go down to Wally's at that joint stay there. If Joe Lovano is playin at this place over here I go catch him. If Bill Pierce is playin I go catch Bill Pierce. Greg Osby or any one else... I don't go over there and say Oh man he's squeakin and all that. I listen to what they're tryin’...You know what else I do if I'm with Bill Pierce next door and I hear Bill play somethin’ that's really nice, I steal it. (FB: Uh huh.) I try. I get it. FB: You know what? You're just taking back what you give him in the first place. In a way in a sense. You're just taking back from yourself. AMG: When Bill had the fundamental when he got with Art. He's been in this town playin good. He got in that enviornment with Art and all that. Now when Bill was studyin with me he was really on Joe Hendinson. Joe Hendinson really ol' Joe. The only reason I like Joe now... And Woody made a statement about that to, he said…when he had the band and Sal and I were in the band he knew who was playin without lookin around the other players he had he couldn't tell which one was playin, because all their sound was alike. FB: Who said that? Woody? AMG: Woody. FB: You mean in the 80s or later on? AMG: There was one certain year that he couldn't tell who's playin. He had to look around to find out who was playin. FB: Oh my gosh. Oh oh I see. AMG: But that enviornment... a young guy who finished school...just like me I was the same way, when I finished New England Conservatory I said I'm ready. I wasn't ready for nothin’. I go to New York and get killed and this is a guy who has a day job. The only time I learned something was when I got into Hamp's band. And the alto player Zach he killed me every night. And then another. FB: Zach? AMG: Zach Zachary was the alto player. He played so much stuff man. And then the next week we look down there's another tenor player, Herman Green, never heard of him. Man he'd make you practice. Now it's beginnin’ to branch out because of these guys. FB: So, you can give your students fundamentals and some good people to listen to. But when they hit the streets and hit the bands that's when things really open up. AMG: New school... New school altogether. Even Willy Walter play , he went to New York, he found out it was a different bag. The only thing is the way he did, he has the facility to deal with it. (FB: Right right.) And of course, not only that, I think like Trane you never really stop learning. After you get to that level you want to go to another level. Those are the guys that really turn out to be good players. Once you start lookin in the mirror at yourself and you say, “I can play” you're done. You’re done. FB: There’s always another thing to reach for. There's always another level you can bring yourself up to. It’s endless. AMG: Always. Because that horn doesn't have any soul at all. I've been playing for 50 years, I haven't played my horn for 2 or 3 days, As soon as I pick up my horn, it tells me, "You know what you've been goofin." FB: A tough mistress. AMG: That's the thing with me at my age now is to try to maintain the level that I…. That's the problem. Not going above my level but to maintain the level. Because to do that, I have to do what I did before, I was playin every night and playin jam sessions. So I used to play 6 one nighters in a row. That's the thing that bothers me about it. The progress, and these mouthpieces, they got mouthpieces made so you can play loud. They figure the louder you play that's good. The louder it is the better it is. (FB: Bigger bore.) Or whatever it is. AMG: I went to Rayburn about 3, about 6 weeks ago when I was playin somethin. And it was a Berklee student you know the first thing he asked me? "What kind of mouth piece have you got?" He asked me what kind of mouthpiece. When ??? fell out, he fell on the floor. FB: I got the mouth not the mouthpiece. AMG: I got the 50 years blowin’ that damn thing. He asked me what mouthpiece he figured …If I told him the mouth piece, that he's gonna say "??? give me that mouthpiece" and he thinks he's gonna sound the same. FB: Yeah this is the two year wonders. AMG: Yeah that's the thing that bothers me. And the free bag, that bothers me. That bothers me you know. But nothing I can do about it. Just like rap bothers me too. But you know that's big. FB: Well you know you keep up with what you can keep up with and you have to ignore the rest. You know? I mean you can't be on top of it all the time. There’s just too much stuff happenin’ out there. AMG: Well you know that’s true. The only thing that bothers me is the art itself. There was one time the jazz peak was really up there. I remember 4 or 5 years ago just me I had to cancel gigs, I was in France and I was going from France to Korea and I had to cancel gigs. Now nothin. Nothin's happenin at all. Because now when I turn on… Everytime I turn on the television guys who study guitar should keep on because every band I see now has got 8 guitars. FB: That's the biggest major here by far. AMG: Well it has been for years, but now I see so many groups whatever they playin. I just happen to pass on television it doesn't stay long. I don’t see too many, well you know big bands, the only time I see a big band now is when they come from Lincoln Center. FB: Oh yeah. Winton Marsalis's bands. He keeps inventing new programs of really fascinating music to come up with. You know bringin’ new people and new little wrinkles. He's always reinventing things down there. Either historical or contemporary. AMG: Well he's got people who's interested in keepin the art goin and they got money. And the thing is like I said, We don't have any young band leaders comin up, You remember when Duke was up, ??? had a band, then Diz had a band. Then other guys would take their place you know. Jimmy ??? when they left Duke and Count Basie and stuff. I would like to see a young 28 year old Berklee student with some little smokin 18 piece band not playin Count Basie, not playin Duke Ellington but playin their stuff, playin their ideas that's comin up that's functionin. FB: You would like to see that. (AMG: I'd like to see that.) Greg Hopkins does his thing and brings in new stuff. And then you get kids like Kendrick Oliver who got a band together, but they‘re mostly Basie stuff from 40, 50 years ago. AMG: I know, but I give them credit because they're still hangin’ in there. There's still some guys there that are still tryin to maintain, AMG: And if they get the break, the right kind of break then they'll be able to go anywhere. FB: That's really tough. It’s got to be like Monday nights, that's about you all you can... AMG: I'm just hopin to just hang in there. I don't buy many records now. I don't know. FB: I keep seein’ ‘em trickle in from around the country. God knows there's a lot of junior high and high school bands workin. You come down here for the festivals. AMG: Oh yeah well that's a good sign. That's a credit to Berklee and a lot of schools conservatory, New England Conservatory. Berklee... Most of those bands are bringing Berklee alumni and they're tryin to learn the art and they're teachin the kids jazz. That's really rewarding to see those kids come in and play. But half of ??? One guy wanted to be a doctor and the other wanted to be an engineer and they’re doin becase of the education point of view. When I started at 12 I was definite goin to be a musician. That was my thing. I didn't have enough brain to be a doctor. I knew music was my thing, but these kids they have it a little different. I see these kids, all the kids in the saxophone section got ??? instruments... Man I had a rubber band and everything it's a little different thing, (FB: ???) a rubber band, my mother bought me a plaster reed so it would last me 4 years. So it last 4 years. Just the move of the thing, I guess they call it progress man. The thing where the guy plays the record and goes reka reka reka ... FB: Scratching? AMG: Scratching. That's another thing, I won't touch that. Scratching. FB: Better not go there, better not go there. The new Downbeat has a blindfold test with DJ Logic who's a scratch master. And they put together some scratch jazz things for him to talk about. The new issue. The new issue of Downbeat. I don't think they've ever had a scratch guy before. AMG: I won't go there because... How long does it take you to study how to scratch? 6 months to learn how to scratch? FB: I don't know. They got a couple new class in it here now with Steve Weber and those guys. AMG: Well I know that's why I asked. AMG: Maybe I should go and find out what the scratchers about. FB: Maybe we could learn somethin Andy. AMG: Yeah yeah yeah. Maybe I can learn somethin that's one on me. But that's you know, I can't understand some of it. FB: We got a lot of material here. Let's go get some lunch. AMG: Yeah let's get some lunch and ... Truthful, I tell you what I'm really afraid of man, this is a great art, even one for the foreign country. I heard a guy say, you know when I go to Spain I hear good Spanish music, when I go to Israel I hear good Israelian music when I go to Africa I hear.... you see but jazz is the only music you hear all over the world, everywhere jazz. FB: But now you got Israeli guys playin’ Spanish jazz in Boston. A guy like Alan Nyavni. The cat who's uh. He's from Israel he learned to play some really really good samba and Latin music. And now he's workin’ with Pequito de Rivera who's a Cuban down in New York. I wrote Alan's first liner notes when he was down here in Boston. He was phenomenally talented. I mean the world is shrinking and things are mixing up a lot more. AMG: But I was sayin’ that when the world was wide, was big, jazz was all over the world with Louie Armstrong, I might not even heard Spanish music many years ago. But jazz has been heard all over the world for years. That's one music that didn't just stay in one place. Everybody was playin’ it. They were playin’ it. Even in China they FB: But jazz has influenced a lot of the music in Africa. AMG: Oh sure. FB: We learned from the Afro Cubans from New Orleans and up. And now the Americans like you went to Algiers. Randy Westin went to Morocco, (AMG: Morocco.) he influenced the people over there. They're pickin’ up the jazz stuff mutating it and feeding it back to us. So it's like, it's really a melting pot now.