Monday, January 24, 2011

Joey Baron master class, last part: Make Music With Whatever You've Got

Joey Baron master class at the New School, 1994:  last part

I worked a gig at the Vanguard with Red Rodney and Ira Sullivan, it was like a bebop thing, and Elvin Jones was in the house, and I didn't know it- and I thought I was having a horrible night, and at the end of the night, I'm walking over and he's talking to Red Rodney, he and Red were old friends, and I saw him I was just really like [scared] and I just wanted to hide in the sewer; and he came over to me and he said "it's you and me tonight" [...] and I didn't know what he was talking about but I just went with it and we ended up hanging out all night, just kind of went across the street to the coffee shop, ate and just walked around Chelsea until, I don't know, until about five in the morning. And this whole time I was bambambambam- what about this, what about-- you know, and um, you know...

One of the things that I got from dealing with him was just how totally aware he is of everything that's going on, every move, every subtle thing. You might watch him play sometimes, and you might get a different impression, you might think he's- whatever. I don't know what- I don't know what you think, but I know sometimes I've seen him- like in the 70's, and I would think oh man, he's totally out there, you know, he's tot-- that's not true, he's so finely tuned, it's like the finest piece of machinery you could ever imagine, really fine, he's got that sense. And when you develop that yourself, that's really a great place to aim for, just being totally aware of what's going on...

I do try to keep that in mind- like different soloists- to make a difference, to make it not different just for the sake of being different, but it's hard when it just keeps going and you might be playing a lot of stuff, but after a while it becomes like a monotone thing: it all cancels out, and you might as well be listening to a hum of feedback or something. So, I think that's really important for drummers but other instruments too: if you're comping or if you're soloing. Soloists, it's real important just to breathe. [W]hat you ain't playing is... as important as what you are playing. The space that you leave can really accentuate the one note that you play. If you're filling every space up in a measure, you might be playing amazing things but it's not gonna sound like it, it's not gonna project- it's not even gonna project to the other people that you're playing with.

[D]on't not play because there isn't a piano player or because there isn't a drummer around.

Especially in playing this kind of music, the important thing that everybody needs to have in their gut is a time feeling. If you're playing music that revolves around a time, a pulse, that's the only common thread that everybody on the bandstand shares. Doesn't matter what instrument you play- I'm playing this, you might not know anything about this, I might know anything about that. But one thing, we gotta come together about the time. And any music that revolves around time, in any genre, or any style, any place on the world, that is a common thread, that's the common thread that can link Ray Charles to Willie Nelson to, Janet Jackson, to whoever. It's time. And when you're dealing with music that involves time, take it on, get a chance to play with someone, a guitar and a saxophone player, get together, don't wait for a drummer- play a tune, play it like you're making music, rather than playing without a bass player and a drummer. Make music with whatever you've got.
Anybody want to talk or ask anything about playing? I mean, what do, most of you here, do you play, do you work professionally? Has anybody ever done, like, a tour?

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