SKF NOTE: From the transcript of my interview with John Von Ohlen, published in the March 1985 Modern Drummer. This interview was done by phone. I was at home in Connecticut taping with a telephone answering machine that recorded sound to audiocassettes. John was home in Indiana. My introduction to John’s playing, years earlier, was through Stan Kenton’s Live in London album.
You’ll hear me at the very start of this excerpt mention the name Szantor. I’m referring to John Von Ohlen’s March 16, 1972 Down Beat magazine interview with Jim Szantor titled, “Let the Limbs Fly.”
Mel Lewis, who I had befriended by the time of this interview, spoke very highly of John. I happened to be in Mel’s apartment for one of his birthdays when he received a Happy Birthday phone call from Von Ohlen. “He always calls me on my birthday,” Mel said.
And prior to this interview I had listened a few times to John’s Blue Wisp Big Band albums. A terrific big band.