Saturday, January 08, 2022

Mel Lewis master class

Here's a one hour master class lecture given by Mel Lewis in the early 80s at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas). Embedding on blogger is weird now, so you'll have to follow that link to watch it. 

Lewis extremely opinionated as always, going into detail about everything that's wrong with everyone and everything. It's good to hear this stuff, without resisting it, whether or not you run with all of it for the rest of your life. He makes an important point around 44 minutes in, that listening to old music is about education— he's not telling you to play like it's the 1930s. You take him seriously, while understanding it's not just about accepting opinions, it's about paying attention to the things the opinions suggest. 

There's an extended sequence about keeping time with the bass drum— “feathering.” This is one thing Lewis says that has become an article of faith today. I still have a more nuanced view of it— soon I'll revisit my old 2012 post on the topic.  

I talk about about the drum set as being a very right handed oriented instrument— Lewis's solo break near the end of the video is a graphic demonstration of that.  

Timely reference: there's a question about Joey Baron— this is early in his career when he was with Carmen McRae. I just played a session with Ed Bennett, who was the bassist in that band. There must have been a buzz about Baron then, that I wasn't aware of. I was younger, and only learned about him later, when he played with Bill Frisell.  

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