Kenny Clare and Jake Hanna talking to Les Tomkins in 1975
Kenny & Jake Hanna Parts 1 2 3
Every night a first night
Atmosphere and adaptability
Would you say there are some really worthwhile advances being made these days in drumming as such?
Hanna: I dont pay too much attention, to tell you the truth. If I go out to hear Stan Getz, Im listening to Stan mostly. If the drummers lousy, hes gonna stick out, but usually Stan has Billy Hart or somebody like that.
As for advances, I believe a guy sits down and plays himself; Buddy Richll always sound good, whatever the situation. Bill Cobham is making a lot of noise nowhes a hell of a drummer. I remember when Billy Taylor brought him out of Fort Dix he scared everybody then. Then theres Alan Dawsonhes always been great. Hes been a sensation since 1947, and theyre finally just waking up to this guy.
Clare: I went to a clinic that he did in Vegas, and he was sensational. He was singing all those songs in seven . . . playing a solo while hes singing the songyou say, Wait a minute . . .
Hanna: Hes still the most frightening drummer Ive ever seen. Now theyre being aware of him. But its hard to get out of town. You know, I told Bill Taylor about him years ago, and Billy was so knocked out, he said: Gee, Id love to have himyou couldnt move him out of town with a bulldozer, this guy. Anyway, Dave Brubeck got him out of Boston for a while. Hey, know what1 caught Joe Morello a while back, down in Houston. Have you seen Joe lately?
Clare: Nonot for a while.
Hanna: Hes bigger than ever, and hes playing even better than he used toif thats possible. Man, hes wailin; he had some girl student there, who was wailin too. And Lou Bellson sat down and playedLouie sounded as smooth as glass, you know. Very good. And Bernie Purdy that was the first time I got to hear him play, and hes great. Sounded even better in person than on records. Larry London was there, toodynamite.
Clare: I heard a record of Alphonse Mouzon the other dayhe sounded frightening. This record was probably two or three years old; I guess he was still playing kind of time, then playing around with the time.
Hanna: I caught him in person in Houston, just before we went down there with the saxes. He was playing timehe was with Larry Coryell and Randy Brecker. You used to go down there, a hundred bandsd show up, and these guysd pick out the band they wanted to hire. Youd do a college or something like that. Maynard did it, and did very well. But Ill tell you who really knocked me out down thereLennie DiMusio. He played some great stuff Id never even heard, with the cymbals and the drumsa hell of a drummer.
Tell you another guy whos really good; I heard him in DallasBill Lacombe. He was playing a gig with a good little Dixieland band. There was no bass fiddle in the bandbut,wow, he sounds good. Thats hard to do.
Clare: Yeah, hes a good guy. I did a clinic for him down there one time, withwhats that girls namethe bass guitar player?
Hanna: Carol Kaye?
Clare: Carol Kaye, yeahwho is great, too.
Hanna: Howd you bump into that?
Clare: Well, she did an hour-and-a half and I did an hour-and-a half.
Hanna: Oh, I thought you played together.
Clare: Well, we did at one point.
Hanna: Yeahno kiddin?
Clare: Shes good, too. Fantastic, you know . . . incredible.
Hanna: Nice chick. Buttalking about playing without a bassGeorgie Wettling was good at that. Zutty Singletons always been a bitch at it such a good sound. But Bills a hell of a drummer. Very surprising.
And Jimmy ZitanoI finally bumped into him again. J. Z.hes writing songs, everything! Oh, hes one of the most imaginative drummers Ive ever heard. I think Shelly Manne and him are the quickestwitted guys ever to play the drums. Always coming up with something different. Remember him with Herb Pomeroys band in Boston many years ago?
Clare: I worked with a Berklee band with Herbhes a marvellous player, too.
Hanna: The best musician I ever met, that guy. Herbs something else.
Clare: Where did we do the gig now? Utacah, thats itTorrie Zitos home town. So we used a Berklee band, you know, and Herb was there. It sounded great.
Youre speaking of working with Tony Bennett, of courseTorrie Zito being his MD. What is this knack Tony has of picking up the best of the local players wherever he goes?
Clare: I think Tony knows more about the good musicians in every town in the States than anybody else ever.
And if he knows that theres nobodv around, then he brings somebody in.
Hanna: Thats righthe grabs Zoot. He always has Zoot there. He had Ruby there for a while. And Bobby Hackett.
Clare: Now, the first time we worked Vegas, we used Vido Musso. And Vido sounded beautiful.
Hanna: Oh, Vido! He didnt try to sing, did he?
Clare: Oh, nonot with Tony there! But every time we went after that, Vido could never make it. He had some gig in a bar down the street somewhere. So then Tony got Harold Land in from L.A. And it was always Harolds gig. Then, when he found that James Moody was in town, the next time Moody did it too. So we had a tune, It Dont Mean A Thing, that people could stretch out onit was, like, fifteen choruses of saxophones. And Carl Fontana on tromboneor sometimes we had Benny Green and Tommy Turk. Oh yeah, he gets good playershe really knows what hes doing.
He believes in promoting jazz, doesnt he?
Hanna: Good music.
Clare: He doesnt believe in bad music at all. He wont be pressured into singing anything he doesnt like to singno way.
Hanna: Outside of Sinatra, I think hes about the only singer who went straight ahead, all through that rock nroll period. And if he did a Beatle tune, he did it his own way, and he fixed it up so it sounded believable.
Tony Bennett is a bitch. Hes a director, producer, the whole thing. Hes always working on his actalways honing his craft, this guy. Hes not trying to be progressive and all that junk. He just gets what he does: Stardusthell do it in a way thatll knock you dead. He does It Had To Be Youits him and the piano player, and a cigarette. He paints too, you know.
Well, hes a music fan, and hes indulging himself all the time.
Hanna: Thats righthes just crazy about it.
Clare: Hes not only indulging himselfhes actually doing it, and it pays off. I mean, Ive never seen Tony play to a bad crowd, or an unresponsive audience, because of all these factors that he thinks are important. They really prove to be important. I dont think you can fluff the people off.
Hanna: Hes a pretty sincere guy.
Clare: He really is, yeah.
Hanna: And it always comes out in his work. Youve seen the frauds up there, and you wondered how the hell they ever got there. Then theyre real jive when they come off, too. You see Tony later, he talks to you just the same way as when hes right up there.
Clare: Rightand Ive been with Tony when the show has been fantastic, a standing ovation, everything, and hes still not satisfied. He still wants it to be better. And not in any egotistical wayjust for the sake of music in general. Perfect tonight is ordinary tomorrow night.
That is the musicians attitude, isnt it?never to be satisfied with his own efforts.
Hanna: Should be. Course, I was very satisfied with my work in 1946I shouldve stayed there! Ive been scuffing lately!
Clare: I always rememberabout three or four years ago, I came home one day, and there was nobody home; so I put on some old records that I made when I was a kid. You know, either they tape a broadcast or you go to some studio and do it with the local guys that you were working with. I couldnt believe how bad I played! It really sounded rotten, with all the influences on me at that time Don Lamond, Dave Tough, Klook and all that. I thought I was doing something at the timeobviously I wasnt.
But any influences eventually merge into your own playing.
Hanna: Right, I believe thatits a compilation of all the outside influences.
Clare: Well, you have to take the influences, and then take over from there. I mean, theres a few people that slavishly copy, and thats no good either. Thats hopeless, because youre just a carbon copy of somebody, with never the incentive, or the idea of where youre going to do it, anyway. You have to kind of forget the influences at some point, and become yourself. You steal from everybodythen all of a sudden youve .got something of your own.
Hanna: Who was the guy you listened to a lot?
Clare: When I was a kid? Well, I started playing in about 1942, and I saw Buddy in a movieI didnt even know who he was. I just said: Thats what I want to do. He was also doing a dance with Eleanor Powell; I didnt want to do the dancejust the drum bit. I liked it. Chewing the gum, and all that.
Hanna: I remember. Buddy was doing all that juggling stuff, toohes great at that.
Clare: But then it took me years to find some other people. Like George Wettling, for example. One night I went to see Eddie Condon in a midnight concert at the Festival Hall and George played an eight-bar drum break that was sensational. Id never heard anything like it. Nothing technicaljust one of those things where they play the last chorus, the drummer plays eight bars, then they play the last eight again, with the tag. And he did a beautiful oneit fitted the tune, it fitted everything. And Condon just put him down for itwhich knocked me out.
Hanna: Yeah, hes really the most musical guy Ive ever heard. But you know, I didnt get hip to him until the fifties.
Clare: Oh, I didnt get hip to Duke until the sixties. Well, nolate fifties. And Id been around a long time by then. I think when youre young you like everything thats new; later on you think Wait a minute, and then you start to go back to look for where it all started. Thats when you find all kinds of great people. Like, Zutty is great, Chick Webb, Baby Doddsall those guys were fantastic.
Hanna: One afternoon we played a benefit for Teddy Napoleon, who was with Gene for so many years. It was at one of the old Dixieland joints in New YorkCentral Plaza. What a turnout they had; it was packed. And we came downWoody Hermans band. It was a hot afternoon, no air conditioning, but the people didnt careit was jumpin in there.
Just like the old days, I imagine, in the heydays, I was just a kid, couldnt get in the joints: I was relegated to the radio. Tony Parentis band was playing, and dont you know the guy that tore it up more than anybody in that jointZutty Singleton.
Man, did he sound good! I said : Its a good thing we got sixteen guys to follow what Zutty just laid down there. So I used his drumsI wanted to see just what I could really play. And there was the time, too, a guy says to me: Do you want to hear a great drummer? I want you to hear George Wettling. I said: Whatisnt he the old guy used to play with Condon? I dont want to hear that. But he persuaded me to go down one afternoon. He was playing opposite Roy Burns, Sol Yagedthey were the hot guys there, supposedly.
George was playing with some hopeless little bandbut Id never heard a guy make music like this with a drum set in my whole life. He was the guy making the musicnot the other two guys. I said to him: Man, youre the greatest artist . . .
Clare: Didnt that cymbal youve got belong to him?
Hanna: Thats Georges cymbal. 1928, Armand told us. They dont make that cymbal any moreabout 32 is the latest they could have made it.
Oh manwhat a drummer. And Jo Jones, of coursehes the greatest all around man. But George Wettling that was an artist. I guess if Billy Gladstone played jazz, thats what he would have sounded like. Bill was a sensationhe just played with a snare, thrilled the hell out of you. You said : What the devil is that? Billy Gladstone wasnt much of a reader, either. All symphony music, he had it all memorisedhe told me that.
Everything he played on the piano, same thing. One of the worlds great piano playershim and Walter Gieseking, you couldnt tell those guys apart. He wasnt after Gieseking, it was just the way he played. That was his touch; he was soundconscious all the time, had to get the sound better and better. Well; Georgie could do the same thing, just dropping his hand on the drum. Whewwhat a musical guy he was.
Clare: Thats the best eight bars I think Ive ever heard.
Hanna: Thats him on Cant Get Started with Bunny Beriganthat little lick he plays there. right on the bridge. Joe Coccuzzo hit me with that: Listen to that lick. I said: Jeeztheyre using that now, man. Georgie Wettling. Beautiful tone, everything was matched perfect when he played.
Clare: I was knocked outI saw Cliff Leeman a few weeks ago. Ive heard records, but Id never seen him play before. Oh, he sounded beautiful 1 couldnt stop laughing the whole time.
Hanna: Yeah, hes a funny guy. Great drummer. He has to be great, because hes still here playing greatthats the only way to survive.
Clare: Most of the new guys dont have that much to offer. You know, they have a lot of chops, a lot of tricks . . .
Hanna: AhBuddy Richs got the greatest chops in the world.
Clare: Oh, sureBuddys something different. But I mean, the real new guys, they can play out and the time is not so good; if they play time the out is not so good, or anything. But the older guys just seemed to have the whole thing covered.
Hanna: Well, they know the music. Theyre musical guys.
Clare: Thats right, yeah. They make me smile. As much as I might admire the new guys, think what great chops theyve got, or whatever, meanwhile the old guys are the ones who make me smile when Im sitting down cause I feel comfortable.
Hanna: A good feeling. Cause you know you can cut their ass!
Clare: Like, I went down to Florida to see Don Lamond play; I hadnt seen him for years. He sounded sensational.
Hanna: Oh, well, he is sensational.
Clare: Just incredibleI couldnt believe it. I mean, it was a dance band.
Hanna: Is that the one that Sam Marowitz and those guys are in? Oh, that should be a hell of a band.
Clare: YeahSam sounded fantastic, too. Its a great band.
Hanna: Dean Kincaid wasnt there, was he?
Clare: NoI think he might have been sick at the time: he didnt show. But Gene Traxler was on the bass. On the bass guitar, actually, and sounding marvellous. I cant remember all the cats, but it was great. They played dance music, and just knocked me out. And they played for Helen Forrest in the cabaret, too.
Hanna: Thats sort of a weird place to get to, isnt itthat Disney World?
Clare: Yeah. I called Dons wife, and she told me where to stay; then, when I finally got there. I couldnt stay therethey were full up. So I called and said Help, and they said: Well, come and stay with us. So Don came and picked me up at the airport, took me home, and took me up to the gigotherwise Id never have got there. Its in the middle of Disneyland, which is about a fifty square mile area.
Hanna: Don turned drumming around single-handed. One guy did itnot Dave. Dave didnt do itDon did it.
Clare: A completely new conception and still as fresh today as it was then.
Hanna: Well, it cannot be imitated, thats the whole thing about it. Like trying to imitate Dizzycant be done. No possible way you can do it. Cant imitate Charlie Parkerbelieve me, millions tried. No possible way. Cant imitate Bobby Hackettotally impossible. A lot of cats tried; they even tried to get other guys to do those records with the strings that Bobby did. Save some money, get a cheaper guy. Nobody even came close; they did it nicely, but nobody can do what Bobby does. Thats the hardest style to do, everno extra notes, and some of that hard middle register, where the lip has got to do all the work.
Clare: I did a couple of albums with Bobby, and its easy to play with him. That is the criterionif its easy to play, that means its right. The minute its hard to play, then its wrong, because it means its putting pressure on you. Because if its perfect from the front, its perfect every way.
Copyright © 1975, Les Tomkins. All Rights Reserved.