Thursday, September 30, 2021

Very occasional quote of the day: Shelly Manne on soloing

“I think you should approach every drum solo the way a good improviser approaches soloing; you shouldn't know what you're going to do until the time comes to do it. Miles Davis said that you should aim a little farther than you think you can reach.”

“The artist should never play and say, "Hey, this is going to knock them out!"”

- Shelly Manne, Modern Drummer interview with Dave Levine, 1981


Michael Griener said...

Here's another quote, "A drummer's thinking should be a year ahead of his technique."

Here is a man who has played with everyone from Louis Armstrong to Frank Zappa (and with Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits and Charlie Parker), yet has such a distinctive style that you know he's playing drums after just a few bars of a Hollywood blockbuster soundtrack. (Pink Panther or The Thomas Crown Affair, for example).
If I had to pick a single role model, it would be him.
Especially since he was married to a beautiful dancer with the Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall, cross-subsidized his own jazz club with his Hollywood Studios earnings, and raised horses. All this while he was probably a pretty nice and personable guy (I haven't found anyone who has said a bad word about him).
But I still have a long way to go to accomplish all that.

Todd Bishop said...

That's a great quote. The opposite of now, where everybody thinks about a decade behind their technique for fear of screwing up.

Erksine talked a lot about what a great, supportive person he was.

What records do you like with him?

Michael Griener said...

Shelly considered his duo with Russ Freeman "The Two" one of his best recordings, which is available on CD along with a trio with Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre "The Three".
I like both recordings very much.
Shelly's IMPULSE recording 2-3-4, which he recorded in 1962 while visiting New York, is also great.
But I also have a soft spot for Shorty Rogers' "The Swinging Mr. Rogers," which is full of Shelly-isms.
Great drum intros, intelligent interactions and really swinging.
And Shelly's solo on "Un poco loco" from his recording "Swinging Sounds" remains for me one of the most musical and intelligent drum solos ever! I don't think it's possible to improvise more coherently; it really tells a story.
Indeed I have trouble not mentioning too many recordings, but often he is the most exceptional player on these recordings.
His duo with Tom Waits on "Small Change"is fun; Shelly drumming is always about playing in the moment, I guess.