Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 2 | Summer 1983 (Seattle) /// Issue 4 of 24 /// Master# 4 of 24

audience with those records, and considers it a growing experience to learn other musical idioms. "But,” he said, “ the way the industry is now, anybody can sound good because the records are pieced together.” His next album, he says with conviction, "is going to be the way I play when you hear it live." Henderson is planning a record soon with members of the old Herbie Hancock Sextet. “ I’m looking forward to the opportunity to better express not only myself but the type of music I like, where I can surround myself with people who are interested in the same thing and just see what happens, rather than let it be controlled for selling purposes. Because I didn’t make any large amount of money out of those fusion records. I play music as a mirror of truth: it can show all your weaknesses and strengths; you become inspired by it, seeing visions in your mind’s eye as the music takes form, and you can go for it and sometimes you get there and sometimes you don’t—that’s the beauty of it. “You can’t worry about the money right now, that’s putting the applecart before the horse. When Charlie Parker was playing, he played for the art form and the love and ecstasy of actually doing it. So if somebody goes into this business because they’re looking to make a lot of money, they'd do better to go rob a bank.” Or become a doctor, which is another thing Eddie Henderson M.D. has done. “ I hope this doesn’t sound horrible," he told me, “ but I prefer playing music to being a doctor. I try to practice medicine just enough to pay my bills . . . it’s my only income, since I don’t make any money playing jazz.” “ It’s hard to support yourself playing creative music,” drummer Eddie Moore agreed, “ and since I don’t know anything else, I’ve had to take jobs playing other types of music to survive.” He was wearing a white knit cap with black bands sweeping back from the forehead and sat on a stool in Henderson’s room. A large, bear-like man with gray beginning to show in his beard, he and Henderson laughed and joked while we talked. Although he has played with some of the finest musicians, he was a last-minute replacement for the well-known Billy Higgins, and he therefore had a lot of expectations to live up to on this tour. But his joy in the music, his colorful approach to his instrument, and his communication with the other players made the audience aware of his unique presence. “ If you’re lucky enough to play with great caliber musicians,” he said, explaining how he hopes to gain recognition, “ people come out to hear you, and if you leave an impression on them . . . ” he shrugged, “ that’s got to lead to something.” “ You want your music to be heard by as many people as possible” Mal Waldron is quick to emphasize that he doesn’t have to deal with America’s commercial pressures and mass market attitudes because he lives in Europe and can always play there. “ I don't gear my music to sell it. It’s not important to me if it’s sold or not, just that it be heard and experienced.” “The point is," he said about coming back to America, “you want your music to be heard by as many people as possible while you’re alive. So if there’s an audience in America, you have to come to America to reach that audience, even if they can’t pay for it. There’s some jobs you have to save up money to make, you know. This tour is one, because I have to pay for the transportation of the musicians and the hotels—that’s not included in the salary we’re getting. So I have to save up money to make this tour.” “ But when it comes to a steady diet,” he was quick to add, “ I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t afford this group for two months. In fact most of the jobs I take are piano solos, because there’s just not enough money to take a group like this out on the road. “You have to think in terms of the future, you have to build your name, and then someday it will pay off, someday in the far, far future it will pay off, ha ha, yeah. But if you don’t go out for the little money, then nobody will ever hear of you, and you’ll have no chance of getting through.. . . To reach as many people as I can, that’s one of my goals. “ In America I haven’t found this attitude very prevalent because in America the musician has to have money to pay the “ It's like breathing to me. I f I don't breathe, then I'll die, and i f I don't play music I'll die. It's my way o f speaking, my way of communicating." M a l Waldron rent for tomorrow; they live on a day-to- day basis pretty much, they can’t think in terms of the future.. . . ” David Friesen, with eleven albums on small, independent record labels, has come up against these financial limitations again and again. “ None of them had any money to do any massive promotion, and in terms of taking care of the distribution, they haven’t got that together. That makes it very difficult for an artist with some good music to get to the public.” “ The Jazzman*s paradise” But it is different for the jazz musician in Europe and Japan, as many who have visited will testify. “ There I have my money guaranteed to me, I don’t have to package my music or make it commercial,” Waldron said. “ Just the fact that I'm a good musician will get me enough to live on well in Europe.. . . But in America, there’s this tendency for everyone to go in the same direction. For example, the TV says, Joe Blow Is In Town, He’s The “ Buddy Rich, who's 65, has a heart attack and is in the hospital now, and he still wants to get up and play again. So it's not the money, it's a real dedication." David Freisen Greatest Thing That's Ever Happened And Everything Else Is Nil Tonight. So everybody’s Joe Blow-focused. And the next night it’s Harry Schmo. But in Europe people have a tendency to make up their own minds, there’s much more individuality in Europe. So you have an audience for all types of music, and that audience is large enough to support it.” David Friesen agreed that his following in Japan is much stronger than in America, “ because the records are distributed widely in Japan.” Mal Waldron, who performs often in Japan, laughed with pleasure when asked about conditions there: “ Japan is the jazzman’s paradise, that’s paradise, yeah. They know everything about jazz, they read every piece of literature they can find, they know every record you’ve ever made. It’s an ego trip to go to Japan, a real ego trip. You have to sign autographs for two hours after the g ig ” What makes the situation so different in Japan, I wanted to know. “They’re very subtle people, you see,” Waldron answered, “ they are very aware of nuance, and they can hear everything in the music. Americans listen to so much heavy music that they become deafened to the point where they can't hear subtlety; they can’t hear small changes in music; or they don’t appreciate them the way Japanese people do. Japanese traditional music is very subtle too. Because of this, they love jazz music. They have their own culture too, which is very strong, but they can appreciate jazz with their music.” “ Today, something is lost** ou see, music is an art form, it’s a gift,” Charlie Rouse said, “ it’s not about no money. When I made up my mind that I wanted to be a musician, my thoughts were of trying to be as great as I possibly could be, to express myself as fully as I could. See, the era that I came up in, man, there was a thing that’s not happening now with the younger musicians, which is a pity, because they’re not finding their own identity. During the 30s and 40s, man, all these great individual artists had their own individual sounds and you could tell them all apart. That’s what I think music, as an art form, is all about—expressing your identity.. . . It’s different times now, a different era. It’s hard for the younger musician now, because it’s not in the air, nobody’s thinking that way." “ You see,” Eddie Henderson explained, “ people like Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis are living legends; when they die, it's the end of a dynasty in terms of role models for people like Eddie and me. They are heroes.. ..” But those now-leg- endary musicians were themselves doing the same thing Henderson and Moore are doing when they were their age—playing with their role models. “ So I’m standing on the bandstand now with my heroes.” “We are the ones who are supposed to carry this tradition forward,” Eddie Moore added. But Henderson noted a significant new condition for his generation: “ In the 40s, most of the gigs were dances. When the music is taken out of the dance context, there is an important difference— there were many more gigs that way, and everybody g o t 'a little bit, everybody stayed active and kept circulating. Now, when you perform in big concert halls, it’s not about music anymore, it’s about economics, and promoters only hire super- stars, because if they don’t hire super- stars, then who’s going to fill up the coliseum? So something /s lost, then there’s a gap, and it’s really hard to bridge because you’re getting away from ‘what jazz originally was.’ It was for the people. . . . When Charlie Parker played, the dance would be going on [gets up like a dancer], the waiter would be going [imitates carrying a tray]. I know, because my mother was there and she swears to God, it was like a time-space warp! Everything was suspended [stops with tray poised like a waiter in mid-stride], and everbody would look [turns head], and be motionless until the end of his solo. Then time’d start again [waiter turns head and starts walking away with tray]. Five hundred people at the dance, and he’d mesmerize them. And they gave him feedback— ‘Blow Bird!’ But you know, these days that feeling is lost.” “A special kind o f music” In a society increasingly dominated by the smallest value of all— “ Number One”—the members of the Mal Waldron Quintet stand out as apostles of fully human, artistic values, pursuing their own visions of excellence: they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the highest expression of their creativity. Perhaps that’s why I’m attracted to their difficult, demanding, and at times beautiful and inspiring music, even when I can derive more accessible sa tisfactions from straightahead jazz and funk or Latin rhythms—because of the quality of the musicians who create it and the model their work offers for all artistic endeavor. “ People need to understand that jazz is a special kind of music,” David Friesen said. “The musicians who are drawn to jazz are not there because of money, they’re drawn to jazz because of the love of creating music.. . . We need the money, of course, and we get caught up in the business, because it/s a business and we have to look out for our rights. But people 7 like Duke Ellington, who was playing until he died, and Milt Hinton who’s 75 and still playing the bass, don’t want to retire. The record executives retire, young rock stars are retiring now; these aren’t people who love to play music. I mean, Buddy Rich, who’s 65, has a heart attack and is in the hospital now, and he still wants to get up and play again, it’s all he can think about. He has all the money he needs and he still wants to play. So it’s not the money, it's a real dedication.” “ See, it’s like breathing to me,” Mal Waldron said. “ If I don’t breathe, then I’ll die, and if I don’t play music I’ll die. It’s my way of speaking, my way of communicating.” ■ Readers interested in exploring this music should look for these albums. Mal Waldron: Impressions (1960), The Quest (1961) and Hard Talk (1980); Charlie Rouse: Cinnamon Flower (1977) and Four in One (1981); David Friesen: Paths Beyond Tracing and Heart to Heart, with Paul Horn (1983); Eddie Henderson: Realizations (1976); Waldron and Friesen: One Entrance, Many Exits (1982). Lynn Darroch is a Portland writer whose frequent contributions to the Clinton St. Quarterly have focussed on jazz. 16 Clinton St. Quarterly