[JPL] The Tracks of Our Times with Joel Dorn, Interview by Randy Ray:

Bob Stockton drbob at modernjazzclassics.com
Fri Sep 22 05:02:36 EDT 2006


At last the mystery of the "Masked Announcer" is revealed to me. O 
Announcer, pray reveal to us the number to call in New Jersey!

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "J Stein" <jstein at berklee.edu>
To: "Jazz Programmers Mailing List" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 11:44 PM
Subject: Re: [JPL] The Tracks of Our Times with Joel Dorn,Interview by Randy 
Ray:


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Arturo,

Thanks for sharing this, really a great interview!

Best,

John


On Sep 21, 2006, at 8:40 PM, Arturo wrote:

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> Children of Coincidence – Randy Ray
>
> “There’s a great line about committees. A giraffe is a horse  designed by 
> a
> committee. These A&R committees—I’ve just never had much luck with  them.”
> - Legendary music producer Joel Dorn
>
> Joel Dorn is not just the legendary record producer who was able to  draw 
> the
> line from “Roberta Flack to Bette Midler to the Neville Brothers to  Leon
> Redbone to Rashaan Roland Kirk because I can.” He is also a gifted
> storyteller, seasoned industry inside/outside veteran and a longtime
> survivor of the lengthy and wicked transition from family-run, no- college
> degreed music business cats to the tightly-controlled, rigidly- hampered,
> genre-specific, committee-addled conglomerate of today’s jukebox.
>
> He’s a music connoisseur who knows what he knows and he can get  just that
> right sound. After working as a disc jockey early in his career, Dorn
> achieved his dream of producing at Atlantic Records. From  1967-1974, he
> garnered two Grammy Awards for consecutive Record of the Years with 
> Roberta
> Flack. He has also worked with a legion of giants—illustrious names 
> dropped
> include Cannonball Adderley, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, Bette 
> Midler,
> Leon Redbone, Joe Williams are to name but a few of the more  influential
> musicians that have crossed his storied past.
>
> Dorn’s base of operation has shifted from the glory and toxic days of
> Atlantic Records in the 60s and early 70s to the Brooklyn-based Hyena
> Records which has a stable of groundbreaking acts—many of whom are 
> featured
> on Jambands.com—like Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Skerik’s Syncopated  Taint
> Septet, James Blood Ulmer, and, of course, the equally legendary  Dr. 
> John.
> Dorn was selected by the New Orleans musician to assemble the best  of his
> live dates from the last twenty years and Hyena Records has  recently 
> issued
> All By Hisself and Right Place, Right Time in a continuing series  of Dr.
> John vault releases produced by Dorn. He was also jazz multi- 
> instrumentalist
> Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s producer. While at Hyena, he has released  several 
> of
> the late Kirk’s extraordinary live dates—recently, the mindblowing
> Brotherman in the Fatherland —the man played three saxophones at  once, a
> nose flute while shouting into a microphone—an hour of searing 
> improvisatory
> music captured live in Germany, 1972. As I pointed out to Dorn, the  music
> sounds like it was recorded yesterday and tomorrow—there is no  accurate
> timeline for the heady and exuberant experimentalism that Kirk  displayed 
> on
> stage.
>
> Dorn is a lively and engaging conversationalist as well as a gifted
> writer—he crafts all of his own fairly hilarious yet insightful liner
> notes—photographer and astute art historian. His discussion  regarding the
> relationship between surrealism and the sound of a recording is both
> illuminating and uniquely visionary—hence, his 40 years on a curiously
> magical journey through the evolutionary jungle of jazz, R&B, pop  and 
> rock
> music. Jambands.com offers this portrait of Joel Dorn—a man who  knows the
> value of random coincidence and humble servitude: “I’ve always been  drawn 
> to
> stuff that’s left of center. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been  able 
> to
> select to work with people who aren’t what’s happening but are the  thing
> that isn’t what’s happening that could happen.”
>
>
> Track 1 – Rules of the Game
>
> JD: Kevin [Calabro from Hyena Records] sets up all of the  interviews 
> because
> he knows what I like to do and what I don’t like to do. (laughs) I  trust 
> him
> implicitly and I remember he said it was with Jambands.com so I said,
> “Cool.” Are you taping this?
>
> RR: Yes, I am. I’m pretty well versed with the transcribing, sir.
>
> JD: I gotcha. You call me ‘sir’ again and I’m going to punch you. 
> (laughter)
> I’ve done some interviews for liner notes and I always send it to a 
> service
> to transcribe because I couldn’t imagine—that to me would be like  being 
> back
> in school.
>
> RR: I like doing it myself because I can capture the flavor of what is
> happening plus I’m usually subconsciously structuring the piece as I
> transcribe.
>
> JD: Yeah, but you’re a real writer. For instance, I did an  interview with
> T.S. Monk—you know, [Thelonious] Monk’s kid—and I did a Monk album  which 
> had
> notes and to have the son of a giant who is in the business that  has a 
> real
> understanding of his father was number one, he had a real  understanding 
> of
> what his father did and number two, you got that insight into what  it was
> like to have Monk as a father, what it was like growing up like  that and 
> I
> thought that was something I didn’t want to sit down and talk and  then go
> back and say, “Last Tuesday, I spoke to Monk’s kid and  blahblahblah,” so 
> we
> sent it out to get transcribed and it was like 70 pages. I reduced  it and 
> it
> was great. It was one of the few times that I did that. I loved  having 
> that
> inside look. For anyone who has been in the business as long as I  have, I
> know what Monk did and I know what I think and I know what other  people
> think but to be able to talk to his son about playing basketball  with his
> father, how his father hung out at a firehouse as a kid and liked  to sit 
> in
> the truck, his high school stories about Monk—you can’t get that  stuff 
> any
> place else.
>
> RR: Thelonious Monk liked to hang out at fire stations?
>
> JD: He grew up in the West 60s in New York and when he was a kid,  he was 
> the
> mascot of a firehouse. It’s very interesting to get a son’s view of an
> eccentric legend who also was a father, you know—a genius who was a 
> father.
> But, I digress.
>
>
> Track 2 – The Jazz Police
>
> RR: I love the liner notes that you write for albums. Some people lean
> towards dry, historical pieces but your writing is filled with  refreshing
> irreverence and insight.
>
> JD: Well, first of all, I’m not a writer writer—a literary writer.  I 
> write
> because I enjoy it and because I have to opportunity. If you buy an  album
> that I produce and you’re looking for the government-approved liner 
> notes,
> you came to the wrong place. It’s another part of the record for  me. I’m 
> a
> really old school producer. I generally find the artist; I make the 
> record;
> I pick the pictures; I work on the cover; I write the liners and  it’s not
> just the music—it’s a total package.
>
> It’s more like you’re not a record producer but a director. I’ve  always
> enjoyed making the package. For instance, when I get taken to task,  I 
> love
> it. Anything I do with Rahsaan [Roland Kirk] is really a specialty 
> because
> he was a special artist in my life and he understood. It’s amazing  that a
> blind guy understood the totality of the record package.
>
> If you need me to explain the music to you—and I’m not putting down 
> anybody
> who writes standard liner notes because some of my best friends are  great
> liner note writers like Nat Hentoff. I just love to write. It’s  taken me 
> ten
> to fifteen years where I don’t cringe about what I wrote. I  probably like
> writing more than I like records now because, I kind of know how to  make
> records—or I think I know—(laughs) but I’ve been learning how to  write,
> seeking a voice and it’s a lot of fun. But the Jazz Police—more  than any
> other music that I record—boy, the Jazz Police, if you don’t write  a real
> set of liner notes, they certainly break out in hives, these guys,  you 
> know?
>
> RR: It’s funny how jazz—even to this day—still has the rep of a
> stuffed-shirt club.
>
> JD: Yeah. What the fuck is wrong with them?
>
> RR: You know Nat Hentoff? He wrote the liner notes on Bob Dylan’s  debut
> album and that excellent first Dylan profile in The New Yorker.
>
> JD: I know Nat very well; he’s a good friend; he’s one of my early 
> heroes.
> It’s funny because I was talking to David Ridge today about a  project 
> that
> we’re doing together and we’re going to include Nat in it. I  remember 
> when I
> was a kid boy, I would race to get Downbeat or when he used to  write that
> music column in Esquire. I was around 12, 13, maybe, 15 years old  and I
> loved Nat’s work. He’s not just a jazz writer; he’s a political  writer 
> and,
> especially, a first amendment expert so the bulk of his writing now  isn’t
> about music. Lots of times when I do a project, I ask him to be a  part of 
> it
> and boy, does he write great stuff.
>
>
> Track 3 – The Golden Era of Music
>
> RR: Let’s talk about your work as a disc jockey at WHAT-FM.
>
> JD: Well, when I was in college, my major was Communications, which  was
> basically radio, television and journalism. I always wanted to be a 
> record
> producer but I also always wanted to be a disc jockey. I thought it  was a
> good way to meet the artists, the record companies and get a leg  up. 
> Plus, I
> just wanted to be a disc jockey—I thought it was a cool thing to  do. One 
> of
> my professors at school—Jeff Sherman—paid his way through college  by 
> being
> an all night disc jockey on the jazz station in Philadelphia, WHAT- FM, 
> which
> was one of those early FM 24 hours, 7 days a week jazz stations  that were
> popular back in the 50s and 60s. We became friends even though he  was a
> teacher.
>
> In September of my junior year in college at Temple University,  there was 
> an
> opening for a weekend guy at the radio station and he got me the  job. 
> When
> one of the guys quit that had a regular six-day-a-week shift, I got my
> break. So, I was 19, going to college and I was on the air as a  full-time
> jazz disc jockey, which back in those days was like a hip thing to  be. I 
> was
> working all night, hanging in the clubs with the cats—it was cool.
>
> RR: I imagine that you were turning yourself onto a lot of new music.
>
> JD: Well, you know, I was a music junkie since I was a little kid—I  mean
> real little and I always knew that I’d be in some kind of music but  I 
> have
> no skills, I only have ability. I can’t play an instrument, I can’t  sing, 
> I
> can’t arrange, I don’t know how to engineer—I don’t know how to do 
> anything
> but, I do have an instinct for producing records so I always knew  I’d be
> doing something in music.
>
> People tend to think that jazz is the music I like best because  I’ve made 
> so
> many jazz albums but it is one of the musics I like best. If I had  to 
> pick
> them, my two favorite musics would be gospel and doo-wop. I don’t  love 
> them
> more than I love jazz or pop music or Motown or New Orleans or  bluegrass 
> or
> a lot of other musics that I love but I’ve made a lot of jazz  records so 
> I
> get this rattle. I read about myself from time-to-time and I see “Jazz
> Producer Joel Dorn” and I’ve made a lot of jazz records but I was  turning
> myself onto as much music as I could when I was a kid. I was a  sponge; I 
> was
> one of those kids, you know? There was so much. I grew up in the  Golden 
> Era
> of Music so if you had a radio, you could hear Ray Charles, Hank  Williams 
> or
> Frankie Lyman. There were just so much and so many different kinds  of 
> great
> music around.
>
> RR: Was ‘less is more’ the key to some of that timeless music? The
> technology was simpler; yet, much of that music holds up very well as
> producers captured the atmosphere of a room, which I feel is  incredibly
> crucial to a record’s sound.
>
> JD: Listen—you used whatever technology was available but the  technology
> didn’t drive the music; the music was served by the technology. I  don’t
> think there’s anything wrong with what happens, now. My youngest  son, 
> Adam,
> under the name of Mocean Worker, is an electronic artist. He has  his own
> studio at home; he doesn’t have to go any place. I can’t do that. I  still
> need to be in a room with people who play; I capture it and,  hopefully,
> complement it and do it right.
>
> I’m a big sports fan, a big music fan and a big art fan so there  are 
> Golden
> Ages. I think by birth, I was lucky. I was born in 1942 and I  caught the
> Golden Age of sports, cars and music. I still make records the way  I made
> them, then. I use Pro Tools and lots of digital stuff but,  hopefully, it
> serves my approach rather than me being a slave to technology. It’s  just 
> a
> function of when I was born more than anything.
>
> Track 4 - The Legend of the Masked Announcer
>
> RR: You worked at this station and suddenly became the Masked  Announcer?
>
> JD: I guess it looks odd—Produced by Joel Dorn for the Masked  Announcer.
> When I left the radio to go to Atlantic Records in 1967, UHF stations
> started showing up—you know, the high numbers like Channels 17, 48,  29 
> and
> basically they played bad movies, horrible local shows and reruns  of 
> series
> as it was the very beginning of syndication so they also had lots  of 
> local
> sponsors. They’d be selling nine rooms of carpeting for $99 or  cheap 
> vacuum
> cleaners, food choppers or clear plastic slipcovers—so they would  hire 
> local
> talent to do their commercials.
>
> A friend of mine had a place that sold clear plastic slipcovers and
> carpeting and he said, “Why don’t you do the commercials on  television? 
> Do
> some of your crazy stuff.” So, I created this character the Masked
> Announcer. I’m really going to tell you the truth, what I would do  is 
> take
> three, four hits off a joint and babble aimlessly for an hour. We’d  cut 
> like
> thirty commercials. I did my brand of humor. The Masked Announcer  became 
> a
> local character in Philadelphia on these stations. I would babble  in a 
> mask,
> cheap suit and a hat and had a lot of fun doing it for about a year.
>
> My last contract with Atlantic let me do outside productions and I  had to
> find a name for the company so instead of ‘Produced by Joel Dorn  for Joel
> Dorn Music’—which sounds insane to me because how many times can  you 
> mention
> your name on the back of a record?—I said ‘Produced by Joel Dorn  for the
> Masked Announcer.’ For some reason, it strikes people oddly.  Usually you 
> see
> ‘Produced by Whoever for Zenith Productions’ or some shit like  that. I 
> just
> like the way it sounded and how it reads. People are so funny; I’ve  been
> using it since the mid-70s and people say, “Awww—I saw your thing; so,
> you’re the Masked Marvel.” “You’re the Masked Marauder.” When you  want to
> make yourself into a cartoon or a comic book character: THE MASKED
> ANNOUNCER. It’s so stupid when you think about it and if you saw  any of 
> the
> commercials, you’d see how stupid it really was. Kids loved it, you  know. 
> He
> was insane. He’d come on and babble aimlessly and we sold lots of  slop—I
> can’t tell you how many $19.95 vacuum cleaners and food choppers.
>
> RR: Do you have tapes of the Masked Announcer anywhere?
>
> JD: There is one tape that exists, a two-inch tape that I haven’t  heard 
> in
> years; I’m not sure what is on it. Sometimes, it worked; it was  always 
> nuts
> but sometimes it was really funny. We’d do thirty of them and we’d  pick
> three or four that actually worked and put them on the air. The  funny 
> thing
> was that it moved the products that people wanted to advertise—it  was so
> insane but kids loved the character and they would call the stations
> incessantly. It was really weird.
>
> After a year, I just got tired of it and enough was enough. At that 
> point, I
> was living in New York, working in Philly and I was commuting. The 
> producing
> just exploded and I was spending so much time in New York so I  really 
> didn’t
> have time to do it anymore. It was fun while it lasted—half  Kingfish, 
> half
> Sgt. Bilko. When I was a kid we’d spend our summers in Atlantic  City and 
> I
> was fascinated by those pitchmen on the boardwalk. I used to go and 
> listen
> to them and a crowd would gather. After a while, the pitchmen knew  me and
> they’d say, “Come up, young man! Have you ever tried to squeeze an 
> orange,
> before?” [affects a young boy’s voice with the proper cracked  modulation]
> “No, I haven’t, sir.” They would put this thing in the orange and I  knew 
> I’d
> have to do it, you know. I would be like ‘The Show’ for the house.  I had 
> an
> older buddy who sold newspapers so I would work the boardwalk by  these 
> big
> newsstands and I’d scream these fake headlines. I’d loved to do  that 
> stuff.
> It was great.
>
> Track 5 – Tales from the Atlantic Crypt
>
> RR: How did you get involved with Nesuhi Ertegun at Atlantic Records?
>
> JD: When I was 14, I was listening to a radio station, WBAS—AM 1480  and 
> it
> was Georgie Woods, the Man with the Goods—heavy into black music.  At 9:15 
> on
> a Friday night in March of 1956, he played a record by Ray Charles  called
> “Ain’t That Love” and my whole life changed. I had never heard of Ray
> Charles in my life. It was as if somebody had hit the brakes on the 
> planet
> and then, it started up again. But when it started up again, man, I  was
> headed in a different direction. My parents had gone to New York  and my
> brother and I were staying with my grandparents. When I heard that 
> record, I
> just went berserk.
>
> I went looking for Ray Charles records the next day; I couldn’t  find them 
> in
> the white neighborhoods so I went to the black neighborhoods; I found
> something but I couldn’t find that record. I asked the sales  person, 
> “What
> record label is Ray Charles on?” He said, “Atlantic,” so I looked  on the
> back of the album to see where Atlantic Records was because I was  going 
> to
> write them because I had to have that Ray Charles record. I  happened to 
> pick
> up an Atlantic jazz album and I think it was 1-something West 57th  or 
> 56th
> Street [in New York City]. It had a name on the back of the album  that 
> said
> Supervision – Nesuhi Ertegun. Well, he did the jazz so I wrote him  a 
> letter.
> About eight or ten months later, he wrote me back and sent me the Ray
> Charles record.
>
> When I wrote him the letter, I told him I wanted to be an A&R man— back 
> then
> they didn’t call us producers, they called us A&R men—and produce  records
> for Atlantic. I gave him ideas for records that I thought would be  good. 
> He
> sent me a letter back and said, “I like your ideas and I’m going to 
> mention
> them to the artist.” I still have that letter on my wall. We stayed  in 
> touch
> for years through high school and the beginning of college. I’d  write him
> letters and he’d write back and send the different Atlantic  catalogs and
> stuff like that. We spoke a few times and I told him about three or  four
> million times that I’d like to work at Atlantic Records just as  soon as I
> got out of high school. (laughs)
>
> When I got into college and got on the radio, my theme song was an 
> Atlantic
> record, every third song was an Atlantic record and he started to  invite 
> me
> to New York to be at sessions. I was actually apprenticing to him.  At the
> same time, I had secured some independent financing from a guy that  owned 
> a
> record shop in Philly and I started making records on my own and he
> distributed them for me.
>
> I made some records with Sonny Stitt, Duke Pearson and, sadly, with  a 
> fellow
> that just passed away recently, Rufus Harley—a jazz bagpipe player in
> Philly. Of all the records that I produced that was the one that  sold the
> best and that was the record that got me to New York and got me off  the
> radio and into Atlantic Records. Nesuhi was my mentor and without  him I’d 
> be
> working at the post office or be in prison.
>
> While I was on the radio, I was plotting and scheming for the  artists 
> that I
> wanted to take away from other labels and bring to Atlantic. When I  did 
> come
> to Atlantic, I brought guys that I had seen in the clubs, who I had 
> become
> friends with and had been making records with and playing their  records 
> on
> the air. I had people that I had a definite idea that I could make  better
> records than they were making on the labels that they were on— Rahsaan 
> Roland
> Kirk, Yusef Latif, Les McCann.
>
> Nesuhi had given me a shot at a point when I was still on the  radio. He
> said, “Here’s what I’ll do for you. Find an artist who has never  made a
> record as a leader before, sign him to the label, make an album,  and if 
> it’s
> successful (which in those days meant that it broke even and got good
> reviews) than I’ll let you make a second record.” There was a guy  in 
> Philly
> who owned a club called Peps, which was one of the two jazz clubs— Peps 
> Show
> Bar. He was very nice to me; he used to let me into the club while  I was
> underaged because he knew how much I loved music. You hang out at  night 
> and
> go get breakfast. It really gave me a chance to meet a lot of the  artists
> and to see them perform—not just hear them on records. He was just 
> another
> nice person who was a great help to me. His name was Jack Goldenberg.
>
> I told him that the man at Atlantic Records said that if I could find
> somebody that he’d give me a chance. He called me up one night when  Mongo
> Santamaría was playing at Peps and he had a big record with  “Watermelon
> Man”—that Latin jazz was a very popular commercial brand of jazz at  the
> time. Jack called me up and said, “Are you coming to the club,  tonight?” 
> I
> said, “Yeah.” He said, “I’ve got your guy for you.”
>
> When I walked in the door, Hubert Laws was playing a version of  “Manha de
> Carnivale” and I had never heard anyone play the flute like that in  my 
> life.
> I introduced myself, ultimately signed him, brought him to  Atlantic, made
> his first album The Laws of Jazz and it sold pretty well. Back then  if a
> jazz album sold between five and ten thousand copies, it was a big  deal.
> Nesuhi gave me $1,500 to sign the artist, make the record, do the  cover,
> give myself a $50 producer fee (laughs), and the record did well.  It 
> helped
> me a lot. Along with that Rufus Harley record and the years that I  had 
> spent
> watching Nesuhi do sessions with the MJQ, Betty Carter, Herbie Mann  and 
> Hank
> Crawford and all of these people—so, that was my schooling.
>
> RR: You really didn’t come from a musical background other than the  love 
> of
> music. How did you acquire production skills just by watching Nesuhi
> Ertegun?
>
> JD: I was a music nut like a lot of guys who came into the record 
> business
> back then. Don’t forget—the record business was a cottage industry  in the
> 40s, 50s and into the 60s.
> At a certain point, it exploded and when it did—I mean, by the 70s  they 
> were
> teaching Entertainment Law at Harvard. You could go and learn how  to be a
> recording engineer at some place. Record companies started to  become 
> places
> where kids who might have gone into a variety of other fields went 
> because
> music became such a big part of the American fabric at that time.
>
> I was in the generation before that and I was still there when it  was a
> cottage industry. When it exploded, all of sudden, the  conglomerates 
> started
> buying the record companies. Record companies that were little  family-run
> businesses were suddenly doing $30, $40 million dollars a year. The  whole
> thing changed. Now, entertainment is probably America’s biggest  export. 
> It
> all started happening for real in the late 60s, early 70s. I left 
> Atlantic
> in the mid-70s; I think it was ’74.
>
> The music business was an American business. It wasn’t a bunch of  Jewish
> guys and black guys and Italian guys who loved music and it wasn’t  a 
> bunch
> of gangsters who controlled it—which was my favorite time, by the way.
> (laughter) Back in the 50s and 60s was the Golden Age of American  Record
> Companies. By the time it exploded and the conglomerates bought up the
> companies, the magic was gone. I usually analogize my years at  Atlantic 
> for
> playing for the ’55 Dodgers [first year that the boys from Brooklyn  won 
> the
> World Series before their infamous departure to California in 1958  along
> with the New York Giants]. Then I woke up one morning and Atlantic 
> Records
> was part of a multi-national corporation. Wildcatters like me—well,  the
> Atlantic Records that I dreamed about joining and ultimately joined  didn’t
> exist anymore. For someone like myself, it was over. I was a kid; I  didn’t
> understand that things changed, that Atlantic Records goes from  becoming 
> the
> hippest, greatest record company in the history of the world to a $100
> million dollar a year corporation. I just went out on my own because I
> figured I could keep it going the way it was.
>
> I didn’t realize that it would be difficult and that those years  would 
> never
> come back. I always use sports analogies but the way sports was  when I 
> was a
> kid is not the way sports is now. It wasn’t a billion dollar
> business—seventy-five cents and I’d sit in the bleachers
> and watch the Phillies. You go to see the Philadelphia Warriors and  in 
> order
> to get a thousand people in, they’d have to have a doubleheader.  Football
> was played by guys who got $200 a game! (laughs) It’s not that it’s 
> better
> or worse or anything; it’s just that certain things happen in a  certain 
> way
> at a certain time. The romance and the magic and the talent at that  time 
> is
> what hooked me and what I still relate to, you know?
>
> RR: Let’s talk about your time at Atlantic. You produced records  there 
> for
> about seven years, right?
>
> JD: I did some independent producing from ’63-’67 before I joined them
> full-time from ’67 to around ’74.
>
> RR: I know that Atlantic Records changed significantly in 1968 when  they
> started signing heavy groups like Led Zeppelin to huge advances— whereas
> before, the label had been predominately an R&B, jazz and soul  music 
> label.
> That had to increase the wave of rock acts on the label, which  produced
> extreme revenue at a time when the business really kicked into  gear. I 
> mean
> giving a band like Zeppelin that hadn’t proven themselves yet a  $200,000
> advance really changed the whole ballgame.
>
> JD: Listen—the R&B and jazz label that Atlantic was was the basis  for 
> them
> becoming a major label. At that time—they always had their ear to the
> ground. Ahmet [Ertegun, Atlantic president]—well, Nesuhi stayed  with the
> jazz and Jerry Wexler stayed with the R&B but Ahmet had the vision  to see
> the new musics that were coming so we got Zeppelin, Cream, Blind  Faith 
> and
> we ended up with the Stones. I mean, you know, Ahmet was on top of  that.
> There’s never been a record executive like him. Don’t forget that  he and
> Nesuhi grew up in the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. Their  father was
> the Turkish Ambassador to the United States during the Roosevelt  years.
> Nesuhi left Europe at the beginning of World War II. He was studying
> literature at the Sorbonne. Ahmet and Nesuhi speak four or five  languages
> apiece. They fell in love with the blues and jazz and started this  record
> company in the late 40s. There were no other executives like them.  When
> Jerry Wexler came in, he was the bright young journalism student  who 
> loved
> music so that combination of Nesuhi, Ahmet and Jerry—there’s never  been
> anything like that and I doubt that there will be anything like  that 
> again.
>
> Aside from the fact that the music at Atlantic was so spectacular,  the 
> look
> of the label—Nesuhi hired Lee Friedlander to be the house  photographer 
> and
> Marvin Israel to do the layout and design. There were no labels  that had
> black artists that had album covers like Atlantic’s. Take a look at  some 
> of
> the stuff on King or Powell or any of those labels—it was ghastly. 
> Atlantic
> treated the artist with respect. When you got an R&B record that  came out
> like Clyde McFadder or Drifters, they had a look. It looked and felt
> different. If I had never worked for Atlantic and I was just a guy  that
> loved music and the record business, I would say the same thing.
>
> As Ahmet got into the larger record business, he snared acts and 
> developed
> them. He went to England and he mesmerized these people. So he got Led
> Zeppelin and all of that other stuff. They kept doing R&B. At the  same 
> time
> they had Zeppelin, they had Aretha [Franklin]. Same time they had  Cream,
> they had Otis [Redding]. Atlantic was still mining the R&B vein and
> expanding into new music.
>
> Track 6 – Roberta Flack, Winston Churchill and Clint Eastwood
>
> RR: I read voraciously but I tend to get hazy on the details so please
> forgive me. Did you win two Grammys for producing Roberta Flack?
>
> JD: We won the Grammy for Record of the Year in, I think, ’73 and  ’74 for
> “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly.” I think  that 
> is
> the only time that an artist has won back-to-back Grammys for  Record of 
> the
> Year. That was fun.
>
> The first time I heard about Roberta Flack she was married to a  bass 
> player
> in named Steve Novosel; he was in Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s band.  Rahsaan 
> called
> me at 7 in the morning one day and he said, “I’ve got your next  artist.” 
> I
> said, “Who’s that?” He said, “It’s a girl, she’s a singer, she’s my  bass
> player’s wife and her name is Roberta Flack.” And I asked him what  I 
> thought
> was an innocent question, “What did she sound like?” And he  screamed, 
> “She
> sounds like a colored lady!” and he slammed down the phone. We  never 
> talked
> about it again.
>
> About a year later, I had made the first album at Atlantic with Les 
> McCann
> and Les called me up at the same time—around 7am and neither time  had I 
> been
> asleep. He said, “I got it.” I said, “We’ve got what?” He said,  “I’ve got
> your next act.” I said, “What is it?” And he said, “There’s a chick  down
> here named Roberta Flack and she’s unbelievable.” I thought, “God—I  don’t
> want to ask what she sounds like.” (laughter) He said, “Just sign  her, 
> man.”
>
> I went to Nesuhi and said that Les had found a chick singer in D.C.  that 
> was
> the greatest singer he had ever heard. The beauty of Atlantic at  that 
> time
> was that Nesuhi said, “Have you heard her?” I said, “No, but I’m  telling
> you, he went nuts.” Nesuhi said, “Well, you know—let’s make a  record with
> her.” He gave me a $10,000 budget and we signed her before I had  heard 
> her.
> I went out to D.C. on a Tuesday night. She used to play at a club  near 
> the
> Capitol called Mr. Henry’s—she had been there for six or seven  years; she
> was a real solid attraction in Washington D.C. There’s a guy named  Tony
> Taylor that had owned a jazz club there called Bohemian Caverns and  he 
> had
> made some live tapes of her performing and had sent them to every  record
> company in the world and they all passed on her. Atlantic Records  was one 
> of
> the companies that had passed on her.
>
> So, here I am. I signed her without hearing her, I go down to see  her 
> and,
> look—I had no idea she was going to be the giant record seller that  she
> became. At Atlantic, the thing was “is she good?” or “is he good?”  so I
> heard her and thought, “well, this is great.”
>
> Each song was a gem; she had a way in which each song was just  perfect. I
> remember the first time I saw her, there was me, four gay chicks  sitting
> right in front of the stage, a bartender, a waiter and a waitress.  Those
> four gay chicks were screaming and yelling. I remember she did a  Jim Webb
> song called “Do What Ya Gotta Do” and all four of them stood up and
> screamed. I never saw a standing ovation in an empty club.
>
> RR: Did you record Roberta Flack immediately after signing her?
>
> JD: I just knew she had it and I loved the way she sounded so I  brought 
> her
> to New York and she insisted on recording the album with her band  who had
> been with her for years—she was loyal to them. She also wanted Tony 
> Taylor
> to bring up—Cannonball had a device he used like “Mercy Mercy” and  all of
> those songs that were recorded live? They were recorded in a  studio; they
> weren’t recording in clubs.
>
> RR: Cannonball Adderly?
>
> JD: Yeah, Cannon. They’d go to the Capitol studio in L.A. and  they’d 
> invite
> an audience, lay out a spread with food and drinks so they’d have a 
> studio
> sound but the benefit of guys playing and relating to an audience.  Tony
> Taylor—who was friends with Cannon—said that he wanted to make her  first
> record like that so they brought a bus of 30, 40 people and we made  the
> album and her group didn’t cut it.
>
> RR: Her group was weak?
>
> JD: I went to Nesuhi and said, “Look, she’s great but the album  isn’t. 
> Could
> I have another $10,000?” (laughter) I don’t know if you know what  $10,000
> was back then.
>
> RR: I don’t know if I know what $10,000 is now.
>
> JD: Nesuhi said, “Do you really believe in this?” I said, “I really
> believe.” He said, “Do you really believe?” I said, “I really  believe.”
>
> So I said to her, “Look—I want to do the album again but I want to  use my
> guys. So I got Ron Carter and Ray Lucas—the drummer I loved—and we  did 
> the
> same songs again with Ron and Ray on that first Roberta Flack  album, 
> which
> was First Take. The reason we called the album First Take was that  before
> the first time she sang I told her to sing something and the  audience 
> were
> all fans, loved her and they all started to applaud. I said, “O.K.  Let’s 
> do
> it again.” And the audience all turned around at the same time and  looked
> through the glass and they said, “What’s wrong? That was great.” I  said,
> “That’s just a first take.” So when we put the album out with Ron,  Ray,
> Bucky Pizzarelli and Bill Fischer who wrote the strings, Nesuhi  said, 
> “What
> do you want to call the album?” I said, “I want to call it First  Take.” I
> just remember those people turning around and saying, “What was  wrong 
> with
> that?!” We didn’t even have a drum sound yet.
>
> The album came out and it was on the Jazz Series. Now, she’s not a  jazz
> singer but there were lots of people like Shirley Horne and Nina  Simone 
> who
> were these trio singers and it just fit into Atlantic’s jazz  category. It
> wasn’t a pop or R&B record so since it was a vocal with a trio, we  put it 
> in
> the Jazz Series and the record started to sell—mainly off of jazz play
> because there were still plenty of FM jazz stations at that time.  Also, 
> it
> got a little bit of late night R&B play—they’d put in some adult- kind of
> things after midnight.
>
> In the first year, we probably sold around 150,000 records and I  was 
> already
> almost done with the second album, Chapter Two when I came into the 
> office
> one morning and one of the guys came into the office and said, “Clint
> Eastwood’s on the phone.” I thought it was one of my friends  goofin’, 
> right?
> I went and picked the phone up and said, “Clint?” He said, “Yeah.”  I 
> said,
> “Jesus, I’d love to talk with you, man but I’ve got Winston  Churchill on 
> the
> other line so as soon as we’re done, I’ll give you a buzz.” (laughter)
>
> Track 7 – The Lost Art of Song Editing Secretaries
>
> RR: So, you quickly wrapped up the call with Winston Churchill.
>
> JD: Clint said, “Joel?” And I recognized it because he has a  recognizable
> voice. He said, “This is Clint Eastwood. Listen—I was driving to  work 
> this
> morning and I was listening to KBCA (which was the FM jazz station  in 
> L.A.)
> and they played this Roberta Flack record called “First Time Ever I  Saw 
> Your
> Face.” I just got done directing my first film called Play Misty  For Me 
> and
> I want to use it as the background music for the pivotal scene in a 
> redwood
> forest. Can I get permission to use it?” I said, “Could you get 
> permission
> to use it?! You sure can. You can do whatever you want.” He said,  “Look—I’m
> all out of money. I only have a thousand dollars.” I said, “Doesn’t  make 
> any
> difference. You’ve got it.”
>
> I went to Nesuhi and said, “I just got a call from Clint Eastwood.  He 
> wants
> to use Roberta’s song, “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (which was  the 
> cut
> that a lot of jazz disc jockey cats were telling me that every time  they
> played the song, the phone lights up at the studio.) I tried to get it
> released as a single but they wouldn’t release it because it was  too 
> long,
> too slow—it was too this, too that. So, here’s Clint Eastwood, right —he 
> puts
> it in the movie. When I told Nesuhi that Clint only has a thousand  bucks,
> Nesuhi said, “We get much more than that for a song in a film.” And  I 
> said,
> “Yeah, but its Clint Eastwood’s film and it’s going to be the key  thing.”
>
> We work it out and the movie comes out and the next thing I know,  radio
> stations all of the country are getting calls for the song but it  was 
> still
> too long. Back then, there were rules about how long a record could  be to
> play on a radio station. This is really a funny story. I get a call  from 
> the
> pop station in New Orleans. He said, “We’re getting a hundred calls  a day
> for this Roberta Flack record but it’s too long to play. Would you  edit 
> it
> and send it down here?” I said, “Sure.” I went in and took about a  minute
> off and
> he called back and said, “You know the edit’s no good. It doesn’t  feel 
> the
> same.” So I said, “Well, you know, that’s the only way you can  edit. I 
> don’t
> know another way to edit it.” He said, “Well, my secretary says  that she
> knows how to edit it.” I said, “Oh, yeah?” He said, “Yeah.” I said,  “Put 
> her
> on the phone.”
>
> She said, “Hi, Joel. Look—you did it wrong. Here’s what you should  have
> done.” I said, “O.K.” For some reason, I went back and edited it  the way
> that the program director’s secretary said and she was 100% right.  Now, I
> sent it back down based on her edits and the next thing I know we  sold 
> four
> million singles and two million albums. The second Roberta Flack  album 
> comes
> out and it ships a million the first day. When you want to talk  about how
> brilliant you are and all of your great accomplishments, I think  the 
> first
> thing to realize is how much randomness plays in your life and how  lucky 
> you
> can get.
>
> Track 8 – The Sleeping Gypsy Meets the Extroverted Bass Drum
>
> JD: My engineer Gene Paul, Les Paul’s son, had an idea to make the  bass 
> drum
> a lead instrument on a record.
>
> RR: On any record? He had an epiphany that it would be a great idea?
>
> JD: He wanted to do a record where the bass drum was the lead  instrument.
> (pauses) (laughter) This is a wild story. It took us two weeks to  mix the
> record until we figures out how to make the bass drum be the lead 
> instrument
> without making the record be lopsided and tilted and get all of those
> elements in. At that time, I was heavy into surrealism. I was more
> influenced by movie directors and painters than I was by other music
> producers although I was overwhelmed by Leiber and Stoller and Phil 
> Spector.
>
> RR: Did you get into Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau and—
>
> JD: Mainly Magritte but in getting into surrealists I went back and 
> studied
> Rousseau. I saw that painting The Sleeping Gypsy and—it’s hard to  explain
> something like this because I can’t explain the picture I had in my  head. 
> If
> you look at The Sleeping Gypsy, there are only three or four  elements in 
> the
> picture—you have the lion, the man in the stripped coat, the sky  and the
> ground.
>
> With Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, you have that bass drum,  Roberta,
> background voices and the little percussion stuff that Ralph  MacDonald 
> did.
> I acquainted the mix of that record with The Sleeping Gypsy and Gene’s
> engineer work on the bass drum. I don’t want to get too artsy but  we 
> really
> worked on it and for some strange reason, I knew it was going to  win the
> Grammy; I knew it was spectacular—not because Idid it. It’s because  so 
> many
> elements came together at once. Roberta Flack heard the original on  the
> plane, Gene wanted to mix it a certain way, I was heavy into  Frankie 
> Lyman
> at the time and I remember that we had that instrument section in  the 
> middle
> and Roberta asked, “What are you going to do there? I thought  maybe, we’d
> put a flute solo or something.” I said, “Do that shit that Frankie  Lyman 
> did
> in all of those great records—that vocalese thing.” She did it, we  put it
> together and here’s the kicker—I turned the record in and I was  still a
> young producer because I’d only been making records five, six years  but, 
> I
> said, “Well, this is it, man. I know it’s going to win the Grammy.  I know
> it’s going to sell millions. I know it. I know everything.”
>
> I turned the record in and they had just formed an A&R committee at 
> Atlantic
> because before that I was Nesuhi’s guy. We just worked; there were  no A&R
> committees. I turn it in and they said, “Ahmet wants to see you.”  And I
> figured he was going to tell me what I genius I am and how much he  loved 
> the
> record. He said, “Nobody likes the record. That bass drum—what is  wrong 
> with
> you? The bass drum is horrible.” I got insane. I went upstairs and  told
> Nesuhi that I was quitting. I said, “This is the best record I’ve  ever 
> made
> in my entire life. It’s going to be a smash.”
>
> Anyway, Nesuhi went to bat and they put the record out. I did not  endear
> myself to the rest of the gang at Atlantic with that move, by the  way. It
> was probably the best record that I was ever associated with in  terms of 
> an
> original piece of work and it did win the Grammy but when you think  about
> the Clint Eastwood thing and the secretary thing and Roberta  hearing it 
> on
> the plane and them saying that you can’t put it out, isn’t that an odd
> combination for two records that went on to become classics?
>
> RR: Very odd plus the element of “let’s see, the bass drum as a lead
> instrument.”
>
> JD: Yeah and that was because that was what Gene wanted to do. We  tried 
> it
> on a Ray Bryant album and it was terrible what we did to that record.
>
> RR: The other thing is if you had used the flute in the  instrumental fill 
> of
> “Killing Me Softly,” it probably would have dated the song.
>
> JD: I just don’t know. I just know that when she went into that  thing I 
> said
> to do that Frankie Lyman thing because I was heavy into that thing.  I 
> wanted
> to dedicate the record to him on the label but somehow or other it  got 
> lost
> in some nonsense.
>
> I can take a compliment as much as the next person but so much has  to do
> with luck and the randomness of things. I once made a record with Dory
> Previn and she had a song called “Children of Coincidence” and the 
> opening
> line was “if I hadn’t made a left turn, if you hadn’t made a right”  and 
> it
> talks about how much randomness plays a part in our lives—so many  other
> factors that come into play that sometimes if you allow yourself to be
> lucky, you do your great work. Sometimes you’ve just got to wander 
> aimlessly
> but if you know how to wander aimlessly properly, stuff happens.  90% of 
> what
> I’ve done has to do with wandering aimlessly the right way.
>
> Track 9 – The Neville Brothers, Leon Redbone and Saturday Night Live
>
> RR: I picked three acts out of my mental hat that you produced—Roberta
> Flack, the Neville Brothers and Leon Redbone. Let’s talk about the  latter
> two acts, now.
>
> JD: Sure. I’m glad you picked those three acts because number one,  I’ve
> always been drawn to stuff that’s left of center. I’ve been lucky  enough
> that I’ve been able to select to work with people who aren’t what’s
> happening but are the thing that isn’t what’s happening that could
> happen—you know what I mean?
>
> Like Bette Midler back in the 70s. Everybody said that she was a  live act
> and she was all visual but the second I saw her I knew how to make  that
> record. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, another example—“well, he plays three
> saxophones, it’s a circus act” and no, it ain’t.
>
> Anyway, the Neville Brothers—one of my best friends was Doc Pomus.  He 
> called
> me up one night and said, “What are ya doin’ tonight?” I said,  “Nothin’.”
> And he said, “Ya wanna hear the greatest singer in the  world?” (laughs) 
> You
> know—who wouldn’t want to hear the greatest singer in the world? He  said,
> “Meet me at the Bottom Line. The Neville Brothers are in town from New
> Orleans. Aaron Neville’s there and you’ve never heard anybody like  him in
> your life.”
>
> I went down there and sat at Doc’s table and they came on. I love New
> Orleans music. I love the Meters, Dr. John, all of those Allen  Toussaint
> records that sounded like no other records in the world. The Neville
> Brothers came out and I’d never heard anything like it. They were  the 
> best
> bar band you’d ever heard in your life. When Aaron sang— forgetaboutit. I
> went backstage and gave them my credentials and walked up to Aaron  and 
> said,
> “Hey, how are ya doin’, my name’s Joel Dorn. If I made a record  with you,
> what song would you sing?” He didn’t blink. He said, “Mona Lisa.” I  said,
> “How come?” And he said, “Because when I was in prison, I used to  sing 
> that
> song to myself all the time and that’s what kept me from going crazy.”
>
> I made the record for A&M Records and I went out there and,  (laughs) once
> again, this will spill out into the Leon Redbone story. A buddy of  mine,
> Harold Child from Philly was one of the two or three key guys at  the 
> label.
> I said, “Harold, I got one. This is going to be a smash.” He said, “Be
> careful. They don’t like it.” I said, “What do you mean—they don’t  like 
> it?”
> He said, “They can’t get any R&B play on it because it won’t go on  black
> radio.” I said, “It’s not supposed to go with black radio.” The  Neville
> Brothers were black but it was a white act. It was a bar band that  was 
> all
> white college kids—that was their constituency. So I went and had  this 
> big
> mistake and I did my pitch and the guy in charge of promote got up  and 
> said,
> “Well, listen—I’m glad you like your work and I’m glad you like  your 
> record
> (he gave me this snotty fucking blow off) but, we ran the record by  black
> radio and they don’t like it.” I said, “FUCK black radio. It’s not  a 
> record
> for black radio. It’s a record for white FM rock stations—that’s  who 
> should
> play it.” He said, “They’re a black act and a black act belongs on  black
> radio.” And I said, “Yeah, just like Jimi Hendrix, motherfucker”  and 
> walked
> out. That didn’t serve me well, by the way. The record bombed and  then, 
> of
> course, it went on to become a classic.
>
> Once again—when I talk about these things, I’m not talking about  me. You
> understand? I’m talking about the record. I’m not Phil Spector. I  don’t 
> have
> a sound. I have a good instinct for talent and a way to capture it  and,
> hopefully, complement it properly. The thing that makes it work is the
> artist. If I don’t get in the way of it and fuck it up then, that’s  what
> makes it work. Phil Spector, Leiber and Stoller, Allen Toussaint  and 
> George
> Martin in partnership with the Beatles knew how to make it work but 
> beyond
> that, other than a Motown sound, it’s the artist or it is for the  kind of
> stuff that I like to do.
>
> I felt validated when it was picked as one of the most important  albums 
> of
> the last 50 years or something in Rolling Stone magazine. The Neville
> Brothers went on to become successful, you know. I really wore my  welcome
> out at A&M. This was back in my crazy days. I would just as soon as  pick 
> up
> a table leg and hit them with it as opposed to listening to that shit.
> [Author’s Note: My beloved editor has hit me on numerous occasions  with
> heavy furniture when I’ve asked to introduce more metal to our site.]
>
> RR: Was this your transitional period after Atlantic?
>
> JD: Uh, you have a better way of saying it than me. (laughter) I  was high
> all the time. I was crazy. It was great! It’s great to be able to  have 
> that
> in your life, live through it, come out on the other side of the  tunnel 
> and
> get a grip on yourself.
>
> RR: I’m very familiar with the phenomenon.
>
> JD: I can actually listen to that Neville Brothers record—it holds  for 
> me.
>
> RR: So how did you hook up with Leon Redbone?
>
> JD: Here’s the story on Leon Redbone. There was a chick at Warner 
> Brothers
> Records named Mary Martin and I was doing these off-the-wall acts  like 
> Bette
> Midler and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I had kind of settled into things  that 
> were
> outside the white lines but were selling or were successful. I was 
> getting
> calls about every odd act, anything that was goofy that came down  the 
> pike
> but there was only a certain ‘odd’ act that worked for me. Mary Martin
> called and said, “There’s an act I’d like you to see at the Bottom  Line 
> but
> there’s going to be a lot of producers there.”
>
> I had cooled off at the time and I went [to see Redbone] and there  were a
> lot of guys who were at the top of the charts—and me. If you don’t  have a
> hit record for six months, you’re not a hot producer. I went in  there and
> see this guy and I flipped: “this is my kind of guy” but I figured  I’d 
> never
> get him. I was sitting there and I said, “Goddamnit—I wish I had 
> something
> going so I could have a better shot at getting him. (in a near  whispered
> voice) I knew I could make that record, right? (pauses) So…I catch  his 
> set
> and I’m seeing that little by little all of the other producers are 
> leaving.
> By the end of the set, I was the last guy left; nobody dug him so I  got 
> him
> kind of by default, you know? I made that first record—just like  with the
> Neville Brothers (laughs), how did you pick these two acts to talk  about?
> Just like the Neville Brothers record—when I got done, I flew to 
> California
> with their record because I thought it was a sure thing. I did the  same
> thing with Leon Redbone’s Warner Brothers record.
>
> I flew to California; I got wine and cheese and there was a room  with all
> kinds of plants—it was a Friday afternoon and everybody was done  for the
> week and they were headed to Malibu or wherever the fuck they go. I  threw
> this party and it was the first record I had made for Warner  Brothers so 
> I
> figured, “Wait until they hear this.” I put the record on and there  was 
> like
> 40 people there and by the time I got to the third cut, there was  me and 
> two
> other people. The sales manager came over and said, “Listen—I know  you 
> think
> this is a record but it’s not. This should be on Folkways.” I  figured, 
> “How
> many times can I do this, you know?” (heavy sigh) I went home  depressed. 
> I
> had seen Leon in the club a few times and I saw how people reacted  and I
> just knew it worked.
>
> There was a new T.V. show starting and I figured if people saw him  then,
> they would get it—you had to see him; there was no radio station  playing
> this record. He never busted character; he was one of a kind; he  was so
> brilliant; he really became Leon Redbone. This new T.V. show was  starting
> called Saturday Night Live and every week I went there and bothered  the
> people and said, “I’ve got an act for you that is perfect for you  show. 
> You
> could break this artist.” Nothing for around six months. I got a  call on 
> a
> Friday and the act that they had cancelled and they couldn’t book 
> anything
> else up in a day and “we’ll take a shot with your guy.” Warner  Brothers
> wouldn’t put a penny behind it and we had sold around 1,000 records  and 
> we
> got him on Saturday Night Live and when we came in on Monday  morning, 
> there
> were orders for 25,000 records. That record went gold, the next one 
> almost
> went gold and there was another one, then the movie was over.
>
> I’m really glad that you picked those artists to talk about—Roberta 
> Flack,
> the Neville Brothers and Leon Redbone—because they all come with these
> stories. The thing is that when you have success with odd acts,  there is 
> no
> continuum in a record companies mind. That’s why I’ve pretty much  been in
> business with myself for the last thirty years. I can’t explain  what I do
> but I know what I do. You can’t draw a line from Roberta Flack to  Bette
> Midler to the Neville Brothers to Leon Redbone to Rahsaan Roland  Kirk 
> but, I
> can.
>
> Track 10 – Oh, but I can. Ladies and Gentlemen: RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK
>
> RR: Brotherman in the Fatherland does not sound like it was  recorded in
> 1972.
>
> JD: Because he never sounded like the time he was in; he always  sounded 
> like
> he was on his own plane, his own dimension. It’s really  interesting. 
> Either
> you’re a genius or you’re an aimless wanderer because the first  night 
> that I
> was at the radio station, I was really nervous. I was 19, on the  air, it 
> was
> a Saturday night and the disc jockey who was on before me said,  “It’s 
> real
> important that you end up at the top of the hour so you can do the  news 
> at
> the right time. If you time your records out and you have two or three
> minutes to fill (and I was too nervous to talk for two or three  minutes), 
> we
> have a whole bunch of really short jazz singles that you can throw  on and
> it’ll fill the time for you.”
>
> The first or second weekend, I look up at its like three and a half 
> minutes
> to 11 and I’m too nervous to talk. I reached into the drawer and find
> something that said “Roland Kirk-3 for the Festival.” It’s a single,
> right—they used to make jazz records for jukeboxes and, hopefully,  get a 
> hit
> every once in a while like “Take Five” or “I Love You, Porgy.” I  had seen
> Roland Kirk’s name in the Downbeat columns. They would have a  different
> column for each city and he lived in Chicago. I remember it said
> “multi-instrumentalist.” I didn’t know that he played them all at  once. I
> put this on, heard this record and it’s wild—the phone starts  ringing and
> it’s “Whose that? What’s the name of that group?” I went on got the  album
> that it came from and I dug that he was playing three saxophones at  once. 
> It
> wasn’t a group; it was a guy—I dug that.
>
> I got into him and started playing his records and they were wild— there 
> was
> nothing else like that. Now, there was a jazz festival a couple of  months
> later. The Philadelphia Academy of Music is like the Carnegie Hall of
> Philadelphia. Every two months they’d have jazz concerts, which  would 
> have
> Cannonball [Adderly], Nancy Wilson, Ramsey Lewis and Count Basie.  The 
> next
> month they’d have Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Gloria Lynn and Duke
> Ellington. So, anyway, Cannonball’s stuck in a blizzard in Buffalo  so 
> they
> called the Roland Kirk Quartet to fill in and I had never seen him.  I’m
> standing in the wings; it was my first jazz concert that I didn’t  pay $4 
> to
> see because I was a disc jockey now and I was backstage.
>
> Half the audience dug the shit out of him; the other half was an  inch 
> away
> from booing. He’s playing these three saxophones in his mouth, he’s  got
> flutes in his nose, he’s screamin’ into the fucking mike so when he  came
> off, I said, “Listen, man—I love your records and I just saw you  and I 
> love
> you (I started to babble) and I want to be your record producer  when I’m 
> a
> record producer. As soon as you get done with Mercury, I want to be a
> producer at Atlantic someday,” and he calmed me down a little bit  and we
> became pals and I became his guy in Philly because he didn’t get a  lot of
> airplay. The critics hated him but I knew he was special, you know.
>
> He signed with me because I was much easier to control than a hot 
> producer,
> Creed Taylor, who also wanted him. He just wanted to do what he  wanted to
> do. He didn’t want anybody telling him and I was a young kid and  I’m 
> deaf. I
> only have half hearing in my right ear—about 60%—and I’m deaf in my  left
> ear. So I always thought that besides the fact that he could  control me, 
> he
> dug the idea that he was blind and I was deaf. (laughter)
>
> -------------------------------------------
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-------------------------------------------

If you're a subscriber to the JPL and NOT a subscriber to the weekly PDF 
edition of JazzWeek, you're missing out! See the latest jazz, smooth jazz, 
college jazz and world music charts powered by Mediaguide, as well as 
interviews with artists, industry and radio.  Each issue also has reviews, 
listings of current releases and add dates, and music and industry news.

Musicians, broadcasters, industry personnel, students and educators can 
subscribe free -- and paid subscribers can receive extra features and/or 
Wednesday delivery.

Visit http://www.jazzweek.com/ to find out more.

ALSO: Coming this fall -- an expanded JazzWeek website with enhanced 
features. Watch for it.



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