Thursday, August 30, 2012

With Ornette at the Five Spot

Ornette Coleman
Another little excerpt from Scott K. Fish's  November, 1981 interview with Ed Blackwell, from Modern Drummer. Just a little snapshot of the scene at the Five Spot and the neighboring Jazz Gallery in New York in 1960, back in the days when "a gig" meant you played a club every night for several weeks or months.

SF: Was The Five Spot a good scene?
EB: It was a very happy scene. We were there about three or four months and every night it was packed. A lot of people really began to hear Ornette.
SF: Would horn players sit in with the band?
EB: No. The only person that sat in while I was doing the gig was Lionel Hampton. He came in one night and wanted to play the piano. So he sat in and played the piano!
SF: How about John Coltrane? Did he ever come down to check out the band?
EB: Coltrane would come down but he wouldn't sit in. He'd sit down and listen. During the break he and Ornette would talk quite a bit, but he never sat in. He just wanted to listen and he did a lot of listening. The scene was phenomenal. The same people that owned The Five Spot owned The Jazz Gallery. That club was about two blocks away, around the corner. When Ornette was at The Five Spot, Thelonious Monk was at The Jazz Gallery. He had a very good group: Charlie Rouse on tenor, John Ore on bass, and Frankie Dunlop on drums. They stayed there for quite awhile. After Monk left, John Coltrane went into The Gallery and he had a lot of different people playing with him. We used to go around and listen to him. We were off on Monday nights, so on Monday nights I always made it a point to come down and listen to John. Billy Higgins was drumming with John then. He was the drummer before Elvin joined the group.

Here's a little more historical detail about Ornette Coleman's career during this period

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