Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quincy Jones: A Reminiscence

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“I remember playing with Lionel Hampton—who was really the first rock 'n' roll bandleader, even though he had a jazz background—and we were at the Bandbox in New York City, which was next door to Birdland. Clifford Brown, Art Farmer and I were in the trumpet section. We had to wear Bermuda shorts with pur­ple jackets and Tyrolian hats, man, and when we played "Flying Home," Hamp marched the band outside. You have to imagine this—I was 19 years old, so hip it was pitiful, and didn't want to know about anything that was close to being commer­cial.

So Hamp would be in front of the sax section, and beating the drumsticks all over the awning, and soon he had most of the band behind him. But Brownie and I would stop to tie our shoes or do something so we wouldn't have to go outside, because next door was Birdland and there was Monk and Dizzy and Bud Powell, all the bebop idols standing in front at intermis­sion saying, "What is this shit?" You'd do anything to get away.

I was always on the edge. Even as a kid in Seattle, we'd play anything, for strip­pers, for comedy acts, while at the same time harboring our love for bebop. At that time you didn't want to communicate, but then you had to get it out of you. Herbie Hancock said he had the same problem. It's like that old Sid Caesar joke: "We used to have radar in the band to let us know when we got too close to the melody." It was that kind of attitude.”

Frank Alkyer and Ed Enright, Downbeat – The Great Jazz Interview: A 75th Anniversary Anthology, pp. 233-234.