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The Randy Resnick Interview

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Back in the seventies I stopped by this Orange County bar and inquired if they had any live music. The waiter said, nah is just jazz tonight."

People like Larry Taylor and Paul Lagos didn't consider charts jazz. For them jazz was the idea of improvising on a theme. I mean Carlos Santana played Rock but he also played Jazz.

There is a sound of jazz but then your getting into what kind of jazz it is. Is it romance, bebop? In my mind jazz is what I first started listening to- Coltrane, Sun Ra.

I wasn't around when Coltrane or Sonny Rollins or Bill Evans were starting out so I'm not sure how much rehearsing they did. Most of the time when they got in the studio they learned the tune 20 min or an hour before they cut the album. When we made "Fresh Cuts" there was little or no rehearsal. Rehearsal is either non existent or inconsequential.

Paul Lagos put our band together. He had been playing with John Mayall. First Mayall went out with no drummer just Sugar Cane and a bassist. After that tour he decided he wanted a drummer so they brought Paul in. John and Paul immediately hit it off for a variety of reasons. So Lagos calls me up and says, "hey we got this really heavy thing going on. You should come check it out.

Sugar Cane rarely practiced. He was a classically trained musician. He had certain personality things in combination with drugs that doomed him. Someone would have had to kidnap him and put him in a cage with a whole bunch of manipulations for him to reach his potential. He was very much like Jimi Hendrix. When we played people went nuts. Sure there were a lot of drugs in the audience some people were in paradise some were leaning on the stage. Don's playing was incredible, he would play this screechy violin and sing. Sometimes he was out of tune but he was a very soulful player. For someone who was trained as a classical player his technique was horrible because he could play "out." Still he had incredible chops. He was so soulful and funky and had the most incredible ears. He sang through his instrument so well.

I think Lagos is the most underrated musician around. You ask any of the cats, Hal Blaine everybody knew about Lagos. Ray Brown the famous bass player knew about Paul because they served together on the LA musicians union board.

My brother Art Resnick and I had a band with him. He would come out and rehearse meaning "jam." He liked to play so much he would come, set up his drums and play for free in front of people before he died.

The first question people ask when there's a gig is; "how much does it pay?" And I get that. Lagos was the opposite. He always wanted to play and always shared.

I know Rock bands who practice tunes 40 times before they record it. I could never do that. I was busy bailing Sugar Cane out of jail.

There has always been ways of getting expression out. In the sixties I was in High School we had AM radio and FM radio. There was a show called "Morning Becomes Eclectic," that was on a station that played a little of anything. That had all kinds of music including free jazz. In the bigger cities like Los Angeles in the late sixties and early seventies they had everything. There wasn't a lot of country western actually, you had to drive up to Bakersfield to hear that.

When I first moved out to California The Whiskey A-Go-Go was in its heyday.

 Taj was playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go with Jesse Ed Davis. Jesse got off the stage and I went up on stage and said, "hey man you sound beautiful."

Paul introduced me to Don and Larry Taylor and we did a couple of gigs at The Troubadour. They were pretty well received and then Larry said, "man this ain't it, this is jaaassss...he wanted to do something else and he left. I brought in a friend of mine from Fresno named Victor Conte. Victor became famous for a couple of other things- he played with Tower of Power-he's a great, great bass player. I'm willing to bet that if he hasn't touched his bass in ten years he could pick it up and be as funky as anyone on the planet right now.

Bad jazz is when people are playing real hard and nobodies listening.
Lagos used to call it "Bar Mitzvah Jazz."

No matter what kind of music you play people kind of expect a show. There's so much offer on cable, concerts are huge and the magic of ensemble playing which is people who can play even if there just playing chords behind somebody else. Even when it's a singer it can be smokin" if its ensemble playing and people are listening to each other.

Don't get me wrong, we practiced for hours. It's not a question of practicing, what it is a question of is hearing the other person. Getting off on backing up, you don't have to take a solo to get off. It's not like watching a porn movie. Your part of it. If your playing rhythm guitar behind Sugarcane, your part of it.

Paul (Lagos) knew so much. He used to study Joseph Schillinger compositions. He and Cane used to play duets that would just fly off, you can hear that on the recordings but we did that all the time. Sometimes that's shit would last 15 minutes. We do the intro to the song, Don would sing a couple of versus, he'd take a solo, sing another verse. The bass player and I would stop and he and Paul would play for 15 minutes. When we came back in it was knowing when to come back in. This isn't to say that Victor and I were so brilliant we just came in at the right time. No one ever said, "I needed you cats to come in later or early because their was no later/earlier it was just so obvious from the ensemble playing that we were doing. We would bring it down to a certain level and come back in and that's called music."

 

Randy Resnick [Download]

 

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