Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ralph Peterson interview

Here's a nice interview with Ralph Peterson by now-Portland pianist George Colligan. They talk about a lot of things, but I've pulled out the bits most related to actually hitting the drums, because that's what we do around here- definitely go read the entire piece.

Andrew Hare @ The Melodic Drummer has a little Peterson post up now as well, with a clip from the Jazz Heaven site.

Alan Dawson's method
So, I was always talking about my philosophy regarding any kind of musical information: take what you need and leave the rest. And don’t buy in lock -stock-and-barrel to any philosophy that is not based in your own experience. Because then you are not living your life. You are living somebody else’s.

And so, to the extent that the program is now moving back towards a complete embracing – of every idea that Alan had, every idea that Alan has is not going to work for everybody, and what Alan taught, he lived, and he might have taught it differently to Kenwood Dennard, and then differently to Terri Lynne Carrington, and that might have been different from the way he taught John Ramsay. Because Alan is making you do three rudiments at a time, and you don’t get anymore rudiments until you come back for the next lesson. Maybe it's because he doesn’t think you can handle any more information than that. Maybe another student who has either a better work ethic... or ability to absorb information at a greater rate… they might get more. You can give information many different ways. But I‘m personally not going to hold somebody back based on a pre-described formula.

Drummers have to learn tunes. The other thing I teach is break your dependence on the Real Book. First of all, 60% of the Real Book is wrong. The other thing is if you only learn repertoire out of the book? Then you won't learn application. You won't learn the syntax and the language.You will learn the syntax and the language by listening to the recording. And you can learn the melody, but, to hear how the melody was..... most creatively improvised on, you have to listen to the records.

Musical heroes
I think if you don’t know how to play like somebody else first, you can never arrive at what somebody can identify as your own style. That’s another problem with what’s going on right now. All these institutions are pushing kids to have their own style. [...]

I’m telling you… they ain’t got no f__ing style. I don’t have no f___ing style. My style is copying the style of the people I love and the way I combine it and that’s nothing more.

GC: But it has come out as your own identifiable style?

RP: Yeah, the way I combine these musical things is not going to be the way you combine them, even if we study the same guy’s playing. Because it’s art and art is subjective. Subjective means two people standing in front of art and coming away with different things from the experience that’s the nature of art.

The line of the interview, from Colligan:

"Stablemates" can be revealing for a drummer….

Get Stablemates mp3 | Get Miles Davis' New Quintet (featuring Stablemates) | Get Stablemates lead sheet

1 comment:

Mark Feldman said...

One of my favorite things about this interview is that Ralph, like a lot of great drummers, including Gadd, actually plays down his own stuff as just new ways of combining the stuff he has stolen from the "greats." Humble. I agree with what he says.....ignore the history of the instrument and you miss the opportunity to become truly great.....