SKF NOTE: This exchange is from my interview with Alan Dawson for Modern Drummer’s January 1986 10th Anniversary Issue. The interview took place sometime in 1985 in Alan Dawson’s Massachusetts’ home living room.
Alan Dawson: I’ve always admired the sound of what things were. When I’ve seen a drummer who can twirl his sticks and do this and that, I’ve said many times that that’s fine. But what about a record? What happens on a record?
Well, that’s as if I was saying that the record is the real thing. There’s a turnaround in that, because what you hear on a record today is something totally different than you’re bound to hear on a live performance — unless someone has access to all of these technological advances.
When you really come down to it, each guy does his own thing. I never particularly went out for the flamboyant, visual thing. Certain things came about, however.
When I think about it, Jo Jones impressed me very much. I heard him before I saw him. I certainly was impressed with his sound. There was nothing else that influenced me then.
When I saw him do a solo cross-handed, I must say, I was very impressed: Here’s something that’s proven itself soundwise by my just hearing it — and on top of all this he’s got this wonderful visual thing too. In that sense, that’s great.
Jimmy Crawford was a fine player. On top of that he was a master at twirling sticks. Sonny Payne too. It didn’t hurt that they could entertain you as well as the fact that they could play.
If it’s a case of entertain or play, if you can’t play, I’m not interested.