This is my 14th Chapter in an ongoing series of conversations, quotes, commentary, and updates with drumming legend Mike Clark. Mike’s keen observations provide numerous insights into ‘all things music’. I ask Mike to just tell it like it is… Including the good, the bad, and everything else in between.
"Drummers ... Be honest about this... For those that started playing in a style like Max Roach and changed with Elvin Jones and Tony Williams…Is it tongue and cheek when you try to go back, is it less interesting?
Do you feel like it is more advanced for you to keep moving forward, or is it just the opposite? Is it a no brainer to switch in and out - or do you sort of play out of one bag and call it a day?
I ask this question because a friend of mine did a gig and the cats he played with said he swung and it was very musical, but he was kind of coming out of Roy Haynes and Elvin Jones with his concepts. Although they said it fit, they wished he was more out of Max Roach. There’s not much you can do about that as he said the music didn't necessarily ask for any certain style…So he went with his own thing
Yeah, Herbie Hancock was like please, ‘Do Your Own Thing’. Not some other guys’ thing - But based off all those guys, which is what I do.
Somebody just reminded me of when I used to work with Oscar Brown Jr. He wanted fair treatment for all people knowing full well who was getting shafted the most, and of course this was his biggest concern. However he was inclusive when it came to brotherly love I can tell you that! He also knew how to play the stock market… On a side note he gave me a few good tips, and I made a little extra taste!
When I use the word funk, it usually isn’t about "funky music" as it has come to be known. For me, it's usually about where any instrumentalist puts his or her phrases, ideas, and groove…Or how he or she lays it out to make their case. The challenge is to get my students to understand this so that when they copy Max Roach or Philly Joe Jones and get the licks pretty good and the phrasing during trades or comping, it doesn't sound ‘sing – songy’ and dumb.
When those guys played… It was nasty and intellectual to say the least! I’ve also said this before because it does happen, I have two students who try to play like Elvin Jones, and I'm not sure they hear where he puts it, or what he does with it. But when they play, it sounds like a bunch of triplets, and not an internal message, not to mention one of them tries to make faces like Elvin did and I have to stop the guy and say – “Please Don’t Do That” !!!
RIP Chuck Berry and Thank you!!!"
Mike Clark’s New Website – Check It Out !!