This is Chapter 16 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.
In the time I came up, we didn’t’ transcribe, so we had to come up with what we thought were the stickings of Buddy, Philly Joe, Elvin, etc. I heard them all live and tried to develop my two cents on phrasing, and the ride cymbal thing. Hence you developed your own style. You had to buy those cats drinks, to try and figure things out that were way deeper than stickings or chops. I’m still trying to understand.
Stupid Things To Say To Drummers…
"Man, he played all that stuff on only a bass drum, hi-hat, snare, and ride cymbal."
Excuse me, you can play the same stuff on a floor tom that you can if you had 1,000 drums. You don’t need tom toms, its nice, but your playing stuff on whatever. Even worse, is…WOW !! - He played that with one hand and he was fantastic. Anyone who knows how to play the drums, plays with one hand. Worse yet...WOW !! - He played the whole gig on just a ride cymbal with one stick. Yeah, he played the ride beat which is what you play on a ride cymbal…Gimme’ a break !
Guy walks in off the street and starts playing brushes on a newspaper he threw on top of the piano and plays with the duo, He was as good as anyone I have ever heard, and no one knew who he was. He got into a cab and drove off... Love New York City !!
Just did a cool interview for Jazz Times...Told a ton of lies…Good ones though !!
The thing about Kenny ‘Klook’ Clarke that many don't get is not only was he an innovator, and groundbreaker…But also the reason most of us are able to do what we do, Kenny had some super hands! He played with his thumb, which many did back then. I shredded backstage a bit with him in France kinda’ goofing around…He had a single stroke roll like Buddy Rich...It was strong and really fast !!
I'm trying to get back in shape - I ran 600 miles yesterday.