Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Old & New Dreams - 1980 lecture/demonstration

From Warren Senders at Running Gamak, here is audio and a transcript of a clinic given at Harvard by Old and New Dreams (Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell) during their 1980 tour. They speak in depth about Ornette Coleman's "harmolidic" method, and about making music in general.

A fun aside: it was during this tour that, in one of the more inspired programming moves ever, my brother's fusion group, Glider (or was it Glyder? Including Portland bassist Kevin Deitz and LA guitarist Richard Smith), opened for OAND at Perry's in Eugene. I think that was set up by Portland bassist Andre St. James. I had just started taking drum lessons a few months before this, and was learning the nature of  life as a drummer by shlepping my snare drum the mile and a half to school 3 times a week. 

Questions and answers about Ed Blackwell, who was getting dialysis treatment and was not present:

Dewey Redman: ...if the drummer, who is the lifeblood of the group, is not here…it would give it a different inflection with the drummer, because he is the lifeblood, sets up the rhythm, counter-rhythm, etcetera.


Audience Member: Question for Charlie: Eddie Blackwell is not here, and you are the rhythm section for the time being. What’s that like?

Charlie Haden: Hard!

Audience Member: Do you get to do that often? Especially performing or anything, and what are the different problems it presents; what do you have to do differently?

Charlie Haden: Well, I play sometimes without drums, in different situations. It’s the same, um, as when you’re playing…we never play with a chordal instrument playing with us, sometimes Don plays piano, but usually when we all play together we’re playing without a piano. And we all make the chords happen when we play. And when you’re playing without a drummer, if you’re intentionally playing without a drummer, then that’s the way it is, but if…part of it is missing, that makes it…’cause Blackwell is really a very special person, plays drums, he plays drums the way no other drummer plays. As a matter of fact I was just saying yesterday, we did an interview and Don and I were talking about him and how great he is, and I was expressing my feeling in the way that sometimes I feel like he’s playing for me; he’s so powerful and uplifting….and his sensitivity, the way he hears and feels. He’s very sensitive to each instrument and the range and timbre and sound of each instrument…he can play something on a cymbal or something on one of the drums that brings out a certain range of an instrument that’s just phenomenal, and that’s (inaudible), so I missed him.


Don Cherry: Well, one important thing is, for instance, when we speak about our drummer, his concept and playing with him, which plays a major part in the music, in the phrases and music…he has a special thing, Blackwell has, uh, independence. He can play with his left foot, on the sock cymbal, he can play, say, ‘1, 2, 3…, 1, 2, 3…, 1, 2, 3…, 1, 2, 3…, chick, chick, chick…,’ and with his bass drum at the same time, he’ll say (speaks drum syllables). And then with his hand he’s playing a whole different rhythm, all different, and the importance of that is the One, and he can do that because of him realizing what that, what that One is. And in rhythm it’s so important…really knowing what the One is, because once you really feel where the One is, then you can stretch it out to different…you can change it in different cycles, or you can go all around and come back, long as you know where that One is. And you have to have a good concept of where that One is, and that’s how you can always be able to come back and you always know where you are, because you know where the One is.

Audience Member: Is there always a One?

Don Cherry: Yeah. I mean, that goes back to a whole mess…a lot of things, there’s always a One.

Part 2:

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