BP: For the next three years. FB: Was there a real creative high working with those guys night to night? BP: Sure was, yup. You had to kinda step up. The new guy and everything else. You had to step up every time because they ... it was tough. And then there's other guys that feel like they should have the gig. I mean it was pretty interesting. FB: That's some good company man. Bobby. Great player. BP: Yup, yup. And then after Valery, it was Wynton [Marsalis]. The level up even a step higher. Turn occasionally in and out. But when the band sells, it was Bobby, Wynton, myself, James, Dennis, and ? FB: That was a solid sextet for what -- three years? BP: It was for a couple years. Then Branford [Marsalis] joined for six months only six months, then after Branford… (When Branford and Wynton left they went to start their own band.) … and Donald Harrison, who was my student here for one semester before I joined the band. And ??? so ??? was in and out of the band some of the time. ??? who had been a former Messenger, did some gigs outside of California. Sometimes we'd have to get subs -- they were always tricky. But being with Art, man, Art was a character. There's so much you could say about... he was different than other men, in a lot of ways. He was unbelievable man, he must have been in his 60s -- late 60s, middle 60s -- and even then he was not a minor trifle. He'd challenge you physically. He'd challenge you musically. He'd challenge you emotionally. Always a challenge with Art. Art would curse you out. He used to say things. Him and I had a pretty good... He never bothered me much. He never did things to me that he did to some of the other guys. Maybe because I was older, I doubt that. There was something about me that Art kinda liked. FB: It wasn't a question of size was it? BP: Nope. I would never thinking about messing with Art. Art's thing was if he got in a fight with a guy, he'd grab your genitals. He'd grab your balls and then he'd hit you in the head 'cause he had a steel plate in his head. I think that was just his fightin’ Frenchman maneuver. But there's a name for the French hittin’ you in the head. FB: Like that soccer incident. BP: Yeah, but it's a traditional French fighting thing. But I don't think Art knew anything about that that's just what he did. And at least somebody told me, actually ??? told me that's kind of a part of he was in the French Army. I don't know how true that is. But Art was not a guy to trifle with. A lot of the times we had to stop Art from almost beatin’ the shit out of somebody. FB: He would just lose it. BP: Well, he didn't believe in anybody, certainly not insulting him, or I mean kids’ talk about dis and disrespect that word didn't dis, even ... He didn't allow you to mess with anybody in the band or himself or his women. You know, if you bothered somebody in the band you probably are gonna have to answer to Art Blakey. He'll probably come in and kick your ass. You know if you really did something wrong to one of his guys not always, but if it wasn't right, if you were taken advantage of and Art found out about it, he would try to find out: “Well, let's get to this, let's find out what's going on here.” A couple times waiters in Europe would say something to Art and we'd have to hold him back. FB: He was protecting his guys. BP: His guys and he would protect his own men. The big thing about you got to be a man. And he talked about manhood constantly. I mean that was just the issue with him. When he was a young man he was set upon by the cops and they beat the shit out of him because he was [with Baroness Nica von Koenigswater] You know, “Nica’s Dream”? In the car with her, you know, little short black guy with this white woman who actually was very wealthy. She was from the family of the Rothschilds. And it was him and [Thelonious] Monk. She was just a patron of the arts, but Art got beat up pretty good. Art had a very interesting life. He was a Muslim but he was a jazz Muslim. He didn't follow the Koran too tough. But he could quote from the Bible. He could quote from the Koran. He didn't live by either one, he didn't live his life through the dictates of the Koran or the Bible, but he could really quote it; he had read both of them thoroughly. And we called him by his Muslim name. FB: Buhaina BP: Buhaina, yeah or Bu. [00:05:16.02] FB: I remember a couple of interviews with him. Art Taylor sat down with a lot of drummers. Yeah, very hard hitting very direct, short crisp answers. BP: Oh you mean the Tones, Notes and Tones, that book; I got that. FB: Yeah, Notes and Tones. But that's... BP: But that's funny man. A lot of the things Art said in that book....He said some pretty heavy stuff, but he didn't really believe a lot of that stuff. I mean Art was one of the great liars, too. [FB: Oh.] And not necessarily, a lot of the times things he said, he meant very, he was very passionate and he meant them for that moment. And then moment later it could be a whole different story. Complete reversal. Art was really [FB: Multiple truths.] He .. yes definitely, he was one of the world's greater liars. That's for sure. As a matter of fact Billy Eckstine said every time Art Blakey said ‘good morning’ he was lying. Oh man, but he only beat me about two or three times for my money. And he was noted for that. [FB: Oh, is that right?] Rippin’ his guys off. He loved you, but if he loved you he'd take advantage of you. FB: Not in a poker game. BP: Oh, no no. He's just not paying you your money. “I'll get you that money I owe you. I'll pay you next Wednesday.” You might not see that Wednesday, you might see him Wednesday. [FB: He might have learned that from Charlie Parker.] not this Wednesday the next Wednesday, and it just kept on going. He probably did learn that from Charlie Parker. They were all like that. Those guys from that period they were special. They lived life to the fullest and as one guy said, “they did everything.” I said, everything. We did everything. So there was nothing that they weren't capable of doing. And I mean everything. FB: Well it was a scuffle, it was hard times back then. Mingus had his pimpin’, this and that. BP: Yup. I remember callin’ me, there were a few guys who had a few ladies working. That was a part of the thing. Split in life. So anyway, I did three years with Art. I learned to be a much better musician yet again, the home was calling, my wife was calling really frequently. I had a son and I hadn't really spent much time with him. So I was thinking about I had a duty, a duty to my family. So I gave it up came back to Boston. But as soon as I came back I started getting other gigs, so it was good. I mean I joined Freddie Hubbard's band about 3 or 4 months after I left Art. Came back to Berklee, Cedar Walton’s, that gave me the chance. And that's one of the things I always wanted to do I always wanted to have done, I always wanted to play with Cedar. FB: Cedar's a gas. BP: I mean I played with him in concerts and stuff like that. [FB: Sure.] But I mean he's a fabulous musician[00:07:51.07] FB: Were you on the road with Freddie much? BP: Pretty much. Freddie had two bands. He had a west coast band and an east coast band to save money. And we'd travel up and down to gigs on the east coast we used to do were mostly Boston, New York, DC, Virginia, whatever happened... in Erie, Pennsylvania. Like Freddie would say, “It's eerie in Eerie.” It really was. What's the other thing he said, “We played the El Morocco in Worcester. Freddie was out. “It's worse in Worcester.” He had these little jokes and in the audience there would be like, silence. Nobody would find it funny but him. I've played with him off and on for about 2 to 3 years. Then I joined Tony Williams’ band. FB: That was another high mark. High water mark. BP: Yes, very much so. Because Freddie's band was a great band. Freddie played the trumpet every gig -- it was just, man, I wouldn't know. What do you do after this guy's played like twenty choruses? FB: Spine-tingling. BP: Well, I couldn't figure out what am I gonna play after this guy just played everything you could possibly imagine on a tune. FB: Just start low and slow. BP: Unbelievable. This guy could play piano almost as good as he played trumpet but nobody -- I don't mean any disrespect to anybody -- but nobody could play the trumpet like Freddie Hubbard at that time in the mid -- what was that? -- ‘80s, ‘83 and ‘86 and even on, until he had a problem with his heart, that cat could play. Jesus man, boy, could he play. FB: Yeah I heard you guys once or twice. BP: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Then I joined Tony's band. The difference between Freddie's band and Tony's band that it was more emphasis on a band kind of nucleus. Sort of like Art what Art was about he was more about having a band, not that Freddie didn't but basically we were backing up Freddie. That was cool man. Nothing wrong with that. Listenin’ to Freddie. We'd get paid to listen to Freddie Hubbard, that's pretty damn good. FB: Tony's charts were more integral. BP: Oh gosh, and they were much more difficult and we had to really figure out what was really going on. But Tony was taking composition lessons from a guy at Berkeley, California. So a lot of the original tunes were really his homework assignments for his composition teacher. So these would be like figured bass kind of stuff and four-part harmony. And he would extract parts. But they were really like traditional harmony and counterpoint type things. So it was kinda hard. It was hard music. But it did give the band a unique sound 'cause no one else was writin’ stuff like that. And we were together for about 6-7 years. And so it was really developed the band sound. It was also a band in the sense that that was what Tony was going for; we’re still backing up Tony, because he was an unbelievable drummer -- a really loud one, too. But he was really a great guy, man. I was really close to Tony. I mean pretty close to Tony. Tony's not the kind of guy you get real close to. FB: Did you know him back in Boston when he was growing up? No. He had left town earlier. BP: Not at all. I met his father a couple times, but I never got to know Tony. I would always see him. I always admire Tony as someone who had so much mastery of his instrument. There were not many drummers who could play the instrument the way Tony did. I mean and there's a lot of ways to play the drums. There's a lot of ways to play different than what Tony does, but he had complete control of what he was doing. FB: And that band was kinda edgy. BP: Very much, yeah, a lot of… it didn't sound like be bop, a little ? here and there. It was a composer's workshop band. He basically had a band so he could have his music played. FB: Like Ellington. BP: and we played together enough. Like Art Blakey's band, you'd start with one; you start with the raw material, the original idea of the composition and then through playing it for years and years it starts to morph into something different than how it was originally conceived. And that's an experience that a lot people don't get. [FB: No, it's brilliant.] I feel blessed by God 'cause I've had at least two feature bands where I got a chance to play the music where the music was its own living breathing organism that changed as we played it. And that's an unbelievable experience. FB: You don't see that much. BP: You don't see that much. I'd go back and listen to the original recordings of something and the music was so different in the way we were playing it. We didn't decide it was gonna be that way. FB: It wasn't change of personality it's something that evolved independently of the individual players. BP: And that's the way it was with Art and with Tony, very much so.