Best advice from Buddy Rich “See that guy over there? Play with HIM! Not the guy in your head”….love that one.

An interview with Jim Black for Jazz Australia.

JA: This isn’t your first visit to Australia. In 2005 you performed in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne at Bennett’s Lane. You will be collaborating again with a few of the musicians you worked with last time, namely Carl Dewhurst (guitar), Steve Magnusson (guitar) and Julien Wilson (tenor). Was there anything that you remember/discovered from that trip about Aussie music or Australia more generally?
JB: What struck me the most was really how great the musicians were that I got play with when I visited. I had never heard any of their names in NYC or Europe, so that was a privilege for me. Now thankfully, post internet revolution and social media, there have been more opportunities to spread their names and music across the globe, hopefully opening up more possibilities for them to travel and share their art. It’s nice that my friends know their names now and I wasn’t the only one to tell them.

JA: What can audiences expect from the Jim Black Quartet shows in Sydney and Melbourne this time? What repertoire do you plan to play?
JB: As far as from me, songs from my AlasNoAxis band and piano trio books, but this is a collaboration, so you will hear the writing of everyone involved along with their spontaneous composition skills. This is a total treat for me to get improvise with the musicians.

JA: You often get the title of jazz drummer but your music is not strictly jazz. Your band AlasNoAxis for example is a quartet that draws as much from rock as jazz improvisation. What music might we find on your playlist that could surprise some fans?
JB: This week was the Carpenters, Meshuggah’s latest, ceremonial court music from southern India, 2 Brian Eno albums from the 70’s, Miles Davis Session Tapes Vol. 5…..the point for me is that should be no surprises anymore, all my friends listen to everything seeking out great music of any sort, period. At least that’s what I see the majority of my generation doing.

JA: You will be conducting a workshop at the Sydney Conservatorium on June 4th, what is the best/worst advice you have ever gotten as/from a drummer?
JB: Best from Buddy Rich via a friend: “See that guy over there? Play with HIM! Not the guy in your head”….love that one.

Worst, high school guidance counselor: “Well that’s great you got a scholarship to Berklee College of Music….but you know music is more of a hobby not a job…maybe you should get business degree from community college first then pursue your music.” She meant well but it wasn’t going to work that way for me.

JA: I heard you’re a bit of a foodie – you’ll miss mango season, but is there anything you’re looking forward to eating/drinking while you’re in Australia? Roo, Croc, Lamingtons, Pav?
JB: Yes, I am…. Australian Pinot Noir, very curious to taste more of them. But since I have no idea what your talking about when you say “Lamingtons”, I guess I have some tasting to do in very short order.  Roo and Croc, lol, oh no…. Pav???

Editor of Jazz Australia, formerly contributor to Sydney Morning Herald and Women's Money MagazineMusic programmer and producer