Chapter 4 FB: What do you remember of your first classes here. Who were the important teachers for you? MP: Everybody was important, because for me, they were all opening up my ears and my eyes and giving me so much. Yann Yartzik, great Polish pianist, trombonist, composer, Tony Lada was my arranging 2 teacher, Bob Kaufman was my drum teacher. I remember I decided to study with him because in December of 1981 I went to this bar which was around the corner from here, Tomfoolery, it was a small Irish bar. At a corner they had a little stage, and Combrio was playing there once or twice a week, Bergonzy (?), Bruce Gertz (?), and Bob Kaufman. And so they bring me to see this band I am like, what are they playing? Bob Kaufman was into the Elvin stuff, which was new to me, because up to that point I was only exposed to Swing repertoire. So, to me, Max Roach, I was familiar with this stuff. Blakey. The Bebop-ers. But Elvin and Coltrane were new to me. Nobody was playing their music in Palermo. FB: No. Bob was using mallets and all that stuff? MP: Yes. So I just went up to him and I said, 'I want to study with you.' So he was my first drum teacher, my only drum teacher as a matter of fact, here. Although I took some lessons also with Joe Hunt. FB: Joe Hunt, of course. The brush-meister. MP: Everything-meister. He had the touch. He could make the drums sing and whisper. And he still does. FB: A lot of people missed him when he left town, but he's back. Cool. So then you started meeting some of your fellow students, hanging out, developing things. MP: Let's see, there was Makoro Ozone, there was Dave Kakowsky, Ira Coleman, Jilda (inaudible), who later became Gary Burton's bass player for three years, played with (inaudible). With Jilda, we played with the Gypsy Kings. What a connection that was, what an experience that was. Basically, I met and I was hanging out with those guys that, then they become part of your network when you leave college. FB: You're always trying to recapture those riveting seminal experiences you had as teenagers. So you perpetuate it in your professional career, one way or another. MP: And there's nothing better than playing with somebody you really know, you've known for years. I have very recently got back in touch with Verner Gehrig, which is now, now he's known as Vanna. We were in school together, same time, and he moved to New York and became very well established and we just did this concert with Paquito de Rivera in Mexico City and Vanna plays with Uta Lempur. Great composer. So all those things, sometimes come back to you. I haven't played with Verner since our school days, now we're back playing together. That's great. It's one thing that I always tell my students about. Guys, make sure you make friends, drummers makes friends with bass players, bass players make friends with drummers, because those are gonna be the guys you'll be sharing stages with. FB: Yeah, absolutely. Um, you had a big list of people that you worked with and studied with. Faculty members that you played with included Alex Yulenowski, Jimmy Mosher, Jean Destasio, Ray Santisi, Teddy Codec, Gordon Brisker, all top level cats, here and elsewhere, some of them. MP: And it was a great thrill for me, when a teacher was calling me, then, a student, to play, I remember Gordon Brisker asked me to join his quintet. Which, at the time, was with Tim Hagens on trumpet, Bob Dogan on piano, who I just ran into in Chicago not so long ago. FB: I just saw him in Berlin with Heiner's Hein Sauer, they played duets, an old German saxophone player, exquisite. MP: Jilda (inaudible) was the bass player, and we had a quintet doing all the stuff that Gordon wrote. He was an amazing writer. FB: Fabulous writer. (Inaudible) Herb's bigband? And other people too. MP: Yeah. Anita O'Day. And he was an amazing clarinet player. In our quintet he never played clarinet but once he played clarinet in this guy we were playing with Ray Santisi. At the Copley Plaza Ray was calling me every now and then to play with him. I had to kind of be under the table, because the union guys were coming to check out... FB: Oh yes, Al Natalie was (inaudible) MP: Yes. So, since I wasn't in the union, Ray was saying to me, 'they come to you, just say you don't speak English.' And officially I wasn't getting paid. But those were, to me, extremely beneficial experiences. Because although if you think about it, when you play in a lounge it's not really great for the position because basically the number of people listening to you were not great. And there's a lot of people at the bar, so you were kind of like, the radio, in the background. But, nonetheless, it was amazing for me to be a part of it. FB: Absolutely. Do you want to talk some more about the Berklee experience, the people that you worked with or fellow students that you... MP: Fellow students that I worked with, the ones I mentioned earlier for instance, Ira Coleman, great bassist for Tony Williams, and Herbie, we had this ensemble that we put together, all the students that wanted to play together, decided to ask Greg Batolato, who was an ensemble teacher back then, to teach this ensemble. The guys I can remember, it was me, Ira, Frank (?) on piano, who is a great pianist now, back in Paris. Greg was on tenor, Rick Holland was on trumpet- he now lives in Rochester New York, great trumpet player. Anyway, we enjoyed eachother playing, and we played so long in class, then Ira started calling me for some big gigs that he was in need for a drummer, and thanks to him I got to play with Margo Miller, recorded with him, and I did this project by this other student David Klein, great saxophonist, who when he was in school, he was from Switzerland, came originally, as a guitar player, as a drummer, talented player. We recorded this album called 'My Marilyn' - all songs that Marilyn Monroe sang, for (inaudible) - and that sold over 40,000 copies, which, for a Jazz record, that's quite a bit. FB: Who was on the cover? Not Dave? MP: Marilyn. It's a beautiful black and white cover. It's almost like a deluxe box set. Gorgeous. FB: She sells a lot of Merlot in California too. What a great idea, though. And she was a good singer. Great idea. MP: So, Dave Kewkowski was another guy, and I remember one night we were playing at Riles, trio, Dave Kewkowski, Ira Coleman and myself, Jaco Pastorius comes to Riles. And he's not doing well. It was the birthday of his twins, he was accompanied by his lady, sits at the table, towards the end of our set, starts getting closer and closer. By the time the set is over he has reached the bottom of the stage and (he's) talking to Ira. He looked like a bum, unfortunately I have to say, red eyes, dirty, and I didn't recognize him. And then he said, "hey Ira, it's Jaco"- that's when I realized, wow, this is really Jaco. So, he said, can I play your bass? So he goes up and starts to play the bass, not too much sound comes out of it, could barely stand up, so he puts the bass down and sits down at the piano. And while I'm breaking down my drums, he starts playing the piano, and he was such a soulful player, I had no idea that he was a great piano player. And he starts singing. So while he's doing that, I'm just a little drumming from behind. And the owner of Riles, since it was past closing time- FB: Jack Riley MP: Jack. Complained about music still going on. And he said to Jaco, stop it or I'm gonna call the police. Jaco kept on playing, so Jack called the police. So Jaco stopped playing, and he said, you don't do that to me. I heard that, you don't call the police. He was very pissed about it. So he stepped back towards the exit, before going on, Riles has all those window glasses, took a chair and just threw it against the glass. Luckily nothing broke. The chair just bounced back. Maybe it wasn't real glass, or maybe he wasn't strong enough to smash the window. And then, at that point, his lady took over and just dragged him out, one minute before police came. So that's a sad story. But it happened with Dave and Ira. I have toured with Dave, we have done a couple of things lately in Italy, and he's such an amazing player. FB: He is really marvelous, I saw him with Chris Potter, a few years ago in Portugal, and then somewhere else in the States. Beautiful player. Is he in New York? MP: He's in New York, yes. FB: Do you guys get together occasionally? MP: Uh, I haven't seen him in awhile.