Paul Bley Quotes
When I first went to Juilliard I encountered something called The New Jazz Society in New York City. It was a group of people who met at a club on West 54th Street that Charlie Parker played at. Barry Ulanov organised it, he was working for a magazine called Jazz. Mingus was also working at this club on certain nights, Bird would work weekends and Mingus would work other nights. I had occasion to sit in at the club. Mingus was very friendly and when I went back to Montreal for one of the holidays I was offered two jobs in Montreal, which meant that I was making a great deal of money, as I was living at home, and it seemed that I was never going to get back to New York. The phone rang one day and there it was — Charlie Mingus was on the other end of the phone, saying, “Paul, you’ve got to help me out, I need a conductor for an octet.” It was quite complex and he felt that he wasn’t able to do the conducting and would I do that, and “by the way would I also do a trio date with him and Art Blakey?” Which was my first record.
When I arrived in New York I was definitely the worst player in town! It was just a measure of how far I had to go. It took years, while I was at Juilliard I worked different weekends with different people.
There’s a tradition in New York that for twelve months you’re supposed to be seen and not heard. It’s very presumptuous to think that you can come in being the hot flash from Cleveland and expect to impress anybody in New York. So you’re supposed to just very quietly make friends and do a great deal of listening. It took me four years of listening before I was really ready to jump on a great deal of the bandstands. At Juilliard Phil Woods was a student, Teo Macero was a student, there was a band there I had an opportunity to play for John Higgins’ class. I had a chance to do a lot of work as a leader at that time.
Category: Music Quotes