Tag Archives: Pierre Favre

“YOU DIG IT, SON?”: PIERRE FAVRE REMEMBERS PAPA JO JONES

Jo Jones, the Sage, by Chip Stern

Jo Jones, the Sage, by Chip Stern

An excerpt from an interview with drummer Pierre Favre, published in CADENCE:

Cadence (Ken Weiss): What unforgettable encounter did you have with Papa Jo Jones?

Favre:  I’ll never forget that.  I had a drum clinic at the American Hotel in New York and many drummers were there and Papa Jo Jones was there and I was playing that free business.  Everyone later went to the buffet, of course, and Jo Jones came over and said to me, “Son, come here.”  He sat at my drum set with two brushes and he was just stretching the drums, not hitting, just smiling.  It was like some fresh air came into the room, you know?  This is all he did for a few seconds, just stretching the instrument, and then he said, “You dig it, son?  OK, let’s go have a drink.”  It was a short lesson but it was a lesson for life in a few minutes.

Cadence:  So that encounter changed how you played?

Favre:  No, it was confirming what I was looking for, otherwise it would not have worked.  If somebody puts his finger exactly on what you are looking for, boom, then you have it.  He was a wise man, the drums were his world.  I know he was not always gentle with young drummers, he was very hard on them if he didn’t feel they were really concerned about it so his interest in me was a real compliment.

(CADENCE, Annual Edition 2012, 174-5).

A lesson for sure!

And now a word from me about CADENCE — that honest long-running magazine of Creative Improvised Music, whose reach goes from ragtime to the most extravagantly independent expressions imaginable.  I used to be a Cadence freeloader — leaning against the browser in Tower Records, reading the new issues for free.

Then I came to write for the magazine (I still do) and I admire its continued intelligent independence.  It was the first jazz magazine I’d ever written for where candor was prized, so that when I timidly sent in a negative review of a reissue by a very famous player, I was delighted to find that the then Editor, Bob Rusch, applauded my undiplomatic truth-telling.  And it continues on its honest ways.  Learn more about it here.

May your happiness increase.

THE MUSICIAN and THE JOURNALIST: CONSIDERING BIG SID

By chance, the March 2012 issue of the NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD has an intriguing concentration on drummers — or improvising percussionists.  And I was delighted to see two portraits of my hero Sidney Catlett in the opening pages.

The French jazz drummer Pierre Favre, who will turn 75 this April, writes: “Big Sid Catlett . . . was my biggest influence.  He was like a sorcerer.  He was precise and fluent when he played time and when he played the melody his unexpected rim shots shaped it and made it swing.  I was talking to Tony Williams and he told me: ‘Big Sid Catlett was my biggest influence too.'”

Jazz journalist and blogger Clifford Allen hears Sidney in these ways: “There’s dynamism in Catlett’s swing, his brushwork weighty yet particulate, deft and muscular pushed up against the velvety wall of [Ben] Webster’s tenor . . . . Catlett’s pared-down, seemingly effortless swing was a far dry from drummer-showman contemporaries and helped knit together the rhythm section . . . . His work . . . may have paved the way for what would become a penchant for traditional and early bebop sides, since most of the . . . musicians played with one foot in ‘the new thing.’  Very few drummers traversed the eras of ragtime / Dixieland, Swing and bebop, but Catlett is one who was broad-minded and creative enough to do so.”

Sidney Catlett, so substantial, lends himself to a variety of empathic interpretations.  Listen!