Frankie Dunlop – Complete Interview Pt 3 of 7

SKF NOTE: Over the next few weeks I am making available my full interview, no edits, with Frankie Dunlop. The interview took place in 1984 in two sessions. The first session, on October 16, 1984, was at my former in-law’s New York City apartment.

The December 13, 1984 second session took place at my rented cottage home in Washington, CT.

This third part of Frankie’s interview, at the time, was a little frustrating. Here Frankie focuses the entire 45 minutes on his 18-months of being drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. But I also realized at the time how much his Army experience impacted Frankie. Because this experience was so important to Frankie, I was careful not to interrupt him, or to steer his conversation in a different direction.

Frankie was a young man on track to be a professional drummer when he was drafted. As you will hear, getting drafted was, at first, so depressing, Frankie seriously thought of committing suicide. Instead, he reassessed his situation and, in the end, he ended up playing drums in the US Army.

I’ve cleaned up the sound from the original audio cassettes with compression, and also noise reduction, to minimize tape hiss. Now and then there are sound hiccups. Otherwise the sound is intact. The taping starts and stops are not seamless. Our conversation does not flow undetected from one side of a tape to the next, or from one tape to another tape. While interviewing, I tried to keep my eye on the time, but didn’t always succeed.

However, where Frankie was making an important or interesting point and a tape abruptly ended, we picked up the point when the next tape started rolling.

There are seven approximately 45-minute sessions in total, roughly three-and-a-half 90-minute tapes.

I will give each session a full listen before uploading them, and provide topic highlights — an index — for listeners.

I believe this is the only taped interview with Frankie Dunlop in existence. Since 1984 no other taped interviews have surfaced. For that reason I would like to make these tapes available to the public for posterity. Especially for drummers and music historians.

I’m happy to answer questions. The best way to contact me is through this blog.

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Frankie Dunlop – Complete Interview Pt 2 of 7

SKF NOTE: – In this second session Frankie and I focus on his formative years. Key names discussed here are Maynard Ferguson, Moe Koffmann, Thelonious Monk, The Five Spot, John Coltrane, Wilbur Ware, Shadow Wilson, Charlie Mingus, Dannie Richmond, Sonny Rollins, Local 802, Jake Hanna, Birdland, Joe Zawinul, Jaki Byard.

Over the next few weeks I am making available my full interview, no edits, with Frankie Dunlop. The interview took place in 1984 in two sessions. The first session, on October 16, 1984, was at my former in-law’s New York City apartment.

The December 13, 1984 second session took place at my rented cottage home in Washington, CT.

I’ve cleaned up the sound from the original audio cassettes with compression, and also noise reduction, to minimize tape hiss. Now and then there are sound hiccups. Otherwise the sound is intact. The taping starts and stops are not seamless. Our conversation does not flow undetected from one side of a tape to the next, or from one tape to another tape. While interviewing, I tried to keep my eye on the time, but didn’t always succeed.

However, where Frankie was making an important or interesting point and a tape abruptly ended, we picked up the point when the next tape started rolling.

There are seven approximately 45-minute sessions in total, roughly three-and-a-half 90-minute tapes.

I will give each session a full listen before uploading them, and provide topic highlights — an index — for listeners.

I believe this is the only taped interview with Frankie Dunlop in existence. Since 1984 no other taped interviews have surfaced. For that reason I would like to make these tapes available to the public for posterity. Especially for drummers and music historians.

I wish someone had recorded Frankie in Monk’s Quartet with John Coltrane. Musician’s Union Local 802 insisted Frankie hadn’t been a NYC resident long enough to work that gig. Shadow Wilson was Frankie’s replacement. And I would like to have heard Frankie in Sonny Rollins’s Trio.

I’m happy to answer questions. The best way to contact me is through this blog.

Posted in Audio, SKF Blog | Tagged , , , ,

Frankie Dunlop – Complete Interview Pt 1 of 7

SKF NOTE – Over the next few weeks I am making available my full interview, no edits, with Frankie Dunlop. The interview took place in 1984 in two sessions. The first session, on October 16, 1984, was at my former in-law’s New York City apartment.

The December 13, 1984 second session took place at my rented cottage home in Washington, CT.

I’ve cleaned up the sound from the original audio cassettes with compression, and also noise reduction, to minimize tape hiss. Otherwise the sound is intact. The taping starts and stops are not seamless. Our conversation does not flow undetected from one side of a tape to the next, or from one tape to another tape. While interviewing, I tried to keep my eye on the time, but didn’t always succeed.

However, where Frankie was making an important or interesting point and a tape abruptly ended, we picked up the point when the next tape started rolling.

There are seven approximately 45-minute sessions in total, roughly three-and-a-half 90-minute tapes.

I will give each session a full listen before uploading them, and provide topic highlights — an index — for listeners.

I believe this is the only taped interview with Frankie Dunlop in existence. Since 1984 no other taped interviews have surfaced. For that reason I would like to make these tapes available to the public for posterity. Especially for drummers and music historians.

In this first session Frankie and I focus on his formative years. Key names discussed here are Georgie Clark, Gene Krupa, Johnny Rowland, Maynard Ferguson, Ed Shaughnessy, Louis Bellson, Charli Persip, Max Roach, US Army, Korean War, Nelson Boyd, Symphony Sid, Birdland, Charley Wilcoxon’s Rolling in Rhythm.

I’m happy to answer questions. The best way to contact me is through this blog.

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Levon Helm’s Down Home Style and Sound

SKF NOTE: This terrific Levon Helm video arrived yesterday on my Twitter feed. Thank you, Daniel Bedard, for your original posting.

I’m reminded of what a powerhouse musician we had in Levon Helm. He sang with one of pop music’s classic voices. You never wondered who was singing when Levon was singing. He played a number of string instruments well, notably guitar and mandolin. And he created his own down home drum style and sound that was, as they say, often imitated, but never duplicated.

Former members of The Band are here with Levon. Rick Danko on bass/vocals, and Garth Hudson on keyboards.

When I think of Levon I see him first behind his set of old wood rim Ludwig drums. Secondly, I picture Levon at his old Gretsch kit. While it’s not true, Levon at other drumsets, like the black set he’s using here, always seem to me someone else’s drums. Not Levon’s.

There’s some very good camera work here. Fun seeing Levon play from above and behind him, and from his left side. This isn’t drum method book drumming. It’s drumming learned by ear, trial-and-error, on-the-job training; drumming learned by watching and asking questions of admirable players.

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In Love with Art Blakey’s Minimalist Drumming

SKF NOTE: Art Blakey is well-known as a powerful drummer, a great bandleader, and one of jazz’s best talent spotters. His near constant hi-hat played on beats two and four, his musical drum soloing, his press roll — these are pieces of Art Blakey’s drum style people write and talk about most often.

But, Art Blakey is a superb drummer in at least two other areas I find mentioned less. Blakey is an exceptional big band drummer. That was clear to me back in the mid-1970s on my first listen to a live 1945 recording of Blakey in the Billy Eckstine Orchestra playing Blowin’ the Blues Away. A young professional drummer then in my mid-twenties, Blakey’s playing on Blowin’ was a pivotal moment; a great lesson in swinging a band hard without overplaying. Also, a great lesson in using the bass drum to accent horn lines.

Then there is what I think of as Art Blakey’s minimalist drumming. He has perfected his ability to pare down his drumming to only what is absolutely necessary to accompany soloists, and to keep the tune swinging.

Blakey’s drumming on the title track from his Blue Note label Jazz Messengers album, Like Someone in Love, is a classic soundscape of his minimalist side. My ears always welcome this beautifully arranged medium tempo ballad. From Bobby Timmons’s introduction, through Lee Morgan’s unbelievable trumpet solo, and Timmons’s excellent piano solo, Like Someone in Love is very high on my list of favorite jazz tracks.

And Blakey? For most of the song, with drumsticks, Blakey limits his accompaniment to playing time on a riveted ride cymbal, clipping beats two and four with his hi-hat. Add a couple of snare drum taps, one soft roll, and some easy ride cymbal accents — a perfect performance, a perfect example of a drummer supporting his band members and never getting in the way.

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Kenny Clarke – Magic Brushes 1961

SKF NOTE: Some eye opening brush work from The One, The Only Kenny Clarke with the Bud Powell Trio. Phew!

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Von Ohlen – How the Blue Wisp Big Band Got Started

John Von Ohlen

SKF NOTE: This exchange is from the full transcript of my 10/12/1984 phone interview with John Von Ohlen. He was at home. I was in my Modern Drummer office in New Jersey.

Scott K Fish: How did the Blue Wisp Big Band get organized?

John Von Ohlen: Well, we’ve got fine players in Cincinnati, and all the guys were doing was playing shows. That’s a drag if that’s all you’re doing.

We all need to make money. So I thought we ought to start a band, play what we like to play and just interest a club owner. You can usually interest a club owner real easy by saying that you’ll play for the door.

We came into the Blue Wisp Jazz Club and played on Wednesday night and got the best players in town for this kind of thing. It’s a real natural band and fun to play with. We’ve been together for about five years with the same guys.

When you start a hometown band, that day of your first rehearsal you might as well figure that those guys are going to be in that band for the rest of your life because they’re your friends. Even if you find out down the road that you don’t like the way they play — you can’t fire your friends. You know, you have to go to dinner with them. So they’re in the band. That’s it.

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