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Walt Dickerson

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and I too am glad to see these being reissued

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ooops sorry .....got in the way there...CONTACT WALT!

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Fresh Sound recently reissued the two rare albums Walt Dickerson recorded for the Audio Fidelity records:

'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Unity' in a single digipack:

c4322.jpg

A superb release in excellent sound and packaging!

And on vinyl too I believe, Brownie.

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Doubt this. The CD runs for 64m15s!

FreshSound does miracles but there is a limit to miracles ;)

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up for progress re: contacting Walt.

I gave the info to Mark back in March. AFAIK, he was unable to get in touch w/ Walt.

I just sent an email to the addy linked at the end of the article. It was bounced back as "undeliverable". :(

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Fresh Sound recently reissued the two rare albums Walt Dickerson recorded for the Audio Fidelity records:

'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Unity' in a single digipack:

c4322.jpg

A superb release in excellent sound and packaging!

Thanks for posting this information. A kind board member made me needle drops of these two albums a couple years ago, and I've loved the music since the first time I heard it. This is a dream come true! :tup

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Doubt this. The CD runs for 64m15s!

FreshSound does miracles but there is a limit to miracles ;)

I've seen a brand spanking new vinyl with this cover in the racks ! (in Rotterdam - and definitely not an 'original').

I suspect that it might be just the 'Arabia' session.

Edited by sidewinder

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Fascinating interview. I wonder which record label the 'one which shall be nameless' was? Savoy? Prestige?

It couldn't have been Prestige, since he made several records for them. Could it have been Blue Note? :huh:

Naw... Ornette recorded some cuts during the Blue Note heyday--and he was/is pretty clean, right? I doubt cats like Sam Rivers would still be appreciative of their BN legacies if the label were up to such unsavory dealings.

I assumed that he was talking about Blue Note, since he'd mentioned Lee and Hank previously. I could be wrong in my assumption.

So if it wasn't Blue Note, then who could it be?? Or, was it Blue Note??

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I don't think this has been posted anywhere on org.org... I came across this after a PM with Chalupa!

Here's the Walt Dickerson interview published in "JazzTimes" last winter by Hank Shteamer:

> >>< < >>< > >

Walt Dickerson

by Hank Shteamer | "JazzTimes," Feb. 1, 'O4

From a shaded table in the backyard of his home in a suburb of Philadelphia,

the great vibraphonist Walt Dickerson describes a performance during the

1960s with his longtime friend and collaborator, drummer Andrew Cyrille.

"There was a very strong rhythm-and-blues element at the club, and they were

used to the backbeat and so forth. So, I started to play in that area just

for the hell of it, and Andrew picked it up and began to apply the backbeat,

and we got into a thing there. I never will forget it-we brought the house

down with this blues excursion. After it was over, Andrew ran up to me and

said, 'Damn, Walt, I never knew you could play that shit!'"

The vibist is laughing hard at the memory.

Though some might associate Dickerson specifically with the jazz

avant-garde, this anecdote and those that follow indicate that his mind is

wide open; limitations of musical genre, nationality, academic discipline,

etc. do not obstruct his worldview. Even his concept of chronology is

unfettered by traditional demarcations; when asked his birth date, Dickerson

replies, "I don't really adhere to dates. To get caught up in the

chronological aspect of things can have a detrimental effect on the mind and

body; so I remain ageless."

For the record, Dickerson was born in 1931 in Philadelphia He grew up in a

musical family and was encouraged early on by his mother (a pianist), father

(a singer) and his eldest brother (a concert violinist). Outside of the

home, he discussed musical ideas with "The Two Johns," Dennis and Coltrane.

(Dickerson played with Coltrane in a big band led by Jimmy Heath that also

included the likes of Benny Golson and the bassist Nelson Boyd.)

Dickerson speaks with supreme fondness about Dennis, a pianist who recorded

one album for Debut, New Piano Expressions, in the company of Max Roach and

Charles Mingus. (Dennis also appears on the Debut LP The Fabulous Thad

Jones.)

"We were inseparable coming up," Dickerson says of Dennis. "He was allowed

to create when he came to our house; he could not create the music that he

desired to create in his house because of the restrictions leveled by his

'religious' parents. John also had a photographic mind, very capable of

doing three things simultaneously. As so often happens in America, his

genius did not yield the fruits that it should have."

After graduating from Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1953, serving

in the armed forces-Dickerson played in the Seventh Army Symphony in

Stuttgart-and spending time in California, Dickerson arrived in New York in

1960. A hometown friend, drummer Philly Joe Jones, helped him secure a

recording contract with the Prestige label offshoot New Jazz. It was during

this early period that he made his first landmark recording, 1962's To My

Queen, devised as a tribute to his wife, Elizabeth, and featuring such

future stars as pianist Andrew Hill and Cyrille. "There is a way to talk

about a person that you find ineffable through music," Dickerson explains,

"and my queen, being that ineffable person-music was the way that I could

express those very beautiful, poignant, intellectual, brilliant, beautiful

sides of her. So therefore it couldn't fall in the realm of most songs or

most compositions in the genre but had to escape those restrictions in order

to exemplify her; and in doing so, it opened up a new vista of explorations.

It was a very, very happy experience, and I return to that periodically,

restating that which is ongoing in our relationship." Indeed, Dickerson

reprised the album's title track-a midtempo ballad infused with grace and

mystery-on a 1978 Steeplechase recording appropriately titled To My Queen

Revisited

Spend even a few minutes with Dickerson and you will realize how much his

family means to him. As he and I spoke, he constantly showered Elizabeth,

who was working in the garden, and his son, Nate, who served up a delicious

meal of breaded fish and spicy eggplant, with both verbal and physical

expressions of love. In Dickerson's mind, his relationship with his family

is not incidental but rather essential to his music. "[A man] is not a

separate entity from his [musical] projections," he says. "They're one and

the same. Treat them as such, view them as such and then you get the

complete picture. Isolate them, and you'll get a distorted picture, subject

to your assumptions, which are erroneous 90 percent of the time."

This insistence upon unity is a constant theme in Dickerson's life and work.

Though he counts among his close friends many professors and scholars, he

remains skeptical of academia in part due to its narrow definition of music

education, which tends to separate a person's life from his creations. "What

one espouses verbally is what you'll hear musically; they're one and the

same," he insists, "but of course, that isn't taught in academia; those two

areas are separated. 'Now let's talk about the man. We've discussed his

music; now let's talk about the man' is the way it goes. Well don't you

know, when you discuss his music, you discuss what he's about; you're

discussing what the man stands for."

In the '60s, apart from his work for New Jazz, Dickerson recorded two

unusual albums that featured jazz interpretations of the scores from the

films Lawrence of Arabia and A Patch of Blue. For the former, he recruited

bassist Henry Grimes, who has recently resurfaced after a three-decade

absence from the scene. "Yeah, I was glad to hear that Henry was back-a very

fine bassist," Dickerson says proudly. "He's from Philly. He came right in

and did a fantastic job." Among his other illustrious sidemen on these dates

were Cyrille, drummer Roger Blank and none other than Sun Ra.

"Philosophically we had nothing in common," Dickerson laughs of himself and

Ra. "Strangely enough, that's why I enjoyed his company. I used Sun Ra on

several of my recordings because I wanted that difference, that uniqueness

that he brought to the table."

During the late '60s and early '70s, Dickerson did not record but

nevertheless led a full life. In a recent interview with Dimitri Zhukov, he

made this simple statement regarding this period: "I performed in clubs, in

colleges, universities, did seminars, enjoyed my life, my wife, my family."

In 1975, he returned with the remarkable Steeplechase recording Peace as

well as a Japanese-only record, Tell Us Only the Beautiful Things (Whynot),

which again featured Cyrille as well as bassist Wilbur Ware. These dates and

the series of Steeplechase records that followed showcased a freer musical

direction than Dickerson had pursued previously. The music featured on such

fascinating subsequent LPs as Divine Gemini (a series of duets with bassist

Richard Davis), Visions (another duet program, with Sun Ra on piano) and To

My Son (a heady trio session) is often sparse and ethereal.

It is characterized by Dickerson's fleet, delicate lines, shimmering

ambience created by his multilayered vibrato and his trademark "plush tone"

(the vibraphonist's preferred term), which he achieved in part by stripping

his mallet tips down to their rubber core.

When asked about his musical influences, Dickerson responds with a

characteristically broad-minded manifesto: "You know, I had models early

on," he says. "Then your quest becomes all-consuming, and you've accessed

the unlimited area of creativity. So, occasionally, I'll listen to John and

John in my relaxing moments-occasionally. Other than that, I'm listening to

the sound waves, the music that's carried by the ether that surrounds us.

See, those sounds that are put into the air never leave. It doesn't matter

the confines; there are always sounds around us."

Gesturing upward toward the trees, the source of a lively chattering of

birds, he continues, "You hear the sounds now. That evokes other sounds;

hence, there's a sea of sound. We just don't consciously listen and hear

that sea of sound that we're in. So much to draw on! And that's 24 hours! It

doesn't matter where you are-so much to draw on. We're so rich; our library

is inexhaustible-sounds, infinite sounds."

Much as Dickerson refuses to allow the passage of time to limit his

creativity, so does he refute the limitations of musical classification. "I

understand the categorization of music, but I really don't adhere to

categories at all," he says. "See, I see things in their totality, not in

their segmented manner that man has superimposed upon them. 'Did you like

the music?' 'Fine.' That's all that's necessary."

From the early 1980s to the present, Dickerson has released only one

recording, 1982's Life Rays on Soul Note, which features Cyrille and the

one-name bassist Sirone. He has performed infrequently in the United States.

The vibraphonist has hardly been inactive, however: he has toured Europe

extensively, both as a solo act and with sidemen including drummer Jimmi

Johnsun and bassist Andy McKee, both of whom appeared on To My Son and To My

Queen Revisited, among other Dickerson dates.

Dickerson marvels at the gracious receptions he has received abroad: "In our

travels, [my wife and I] found beautiful people everywhere, and we've been

guests in the homes of many people. When our children were younger, this

[backyard] used to look like a U.N., children from many nations in the

summertime coming to visit and stay with us and our children; that's how

they grew up. This enriches one's life outside of the cubicle of their

'country' or 'community.' I don't see lines: 'these people, those people.' I

know better than that. Again, that is a superimposition by man, creating

differences where no differences in reality actually exist."

Consistent with Dickerson's inclusive view of humanity is the fact that he

counts among his fans a wide range of people. He recalls being surprised to

find one of his New York concerts attended by "over 50 leather-wearing

bikers; after which, they asked for a meeting with me. I obliged; they

procured a room outside of the auditorium for us to meet. It was one of the

most interesting meetings I've ever had. I didn't know I had fans that were

bikers. You see, I didn't see them any differently than anybody else; they

were just people to me. So therefore, 'Let's talk; let's communicate; let's

exchange views; let's get into each others' heads; let's enjoy each others'

company.' And that we did, the wife and myself; we had a ball. Unusual? Yes.

Different? Yes. A ball? Yes," Dickerson laughs.

Surprisingly, Dickerson's absence from records over the past two decades has

not been voluntary. Rather, he states, "You would have to ask the recording

industry about that. I'm not one to go in search of [a record label] because

I am; therefore, if you are knowledgeable, intelligent and about the process

of the music and your position is that of a recording entity, then you

should be ringing my phone, giving me a call or knocking at my door.

"Walt is here, ready to record. Give me a call; let's sit down at the table

and do what is best for mankind."

Though the latter statement may seem arrogant, it merely indicates

Dickerson's confidence in the beneficial effects of his brand of art. "We

must remember that the creative flow is a life-giving flow," he asserts,

"and those that are about creativity are projecting and injecting life into

the recipients, which I think is most noble and wholesome."

As one might expect, Dickerson reserves his highest praise for his fellow

creators. When speaking of the musicians on the To My Queen date, for

example, he appears deeply moved: "Andrew Hill-beautiful projections;

[bassist] George Tucker-a rock, sensitive; and of course Andrew

[Cyrille]-flourishes, nuances, bracketing the different motifs; he was

awesome, and remains to this day, as does Andrew Hill. Two awesome, creative

musicians." Here, Dickerson clarifies his statement: "I don't consider them

musicians; I consider them artists in the highest sense. They've surpassed

that category, musicians. Periodically those are the individuals I miss

because now I do just about exclusively solo performances."

Just as he still desires to record, Dickerson is enthusiastic about the idea

of performing Stateside in the future. He has had many offers to perform in

New York but has refused the majority of them due to his strict code of

physical well-being. He stipulates, "No clubs, no smoke environment. Concert

hall? Fine. I've seen too many suffer from various maladies due to those

environments. It's quite a workout performing; you do take in what is around

you in great amounts, and it does have an effect. I care not to expose my

body or mind to those things that are going to be detrimental to my body and

mind-my being."

Therefore, circa 2003, Walt Dickerson is simply waiting for the right

opportunities through which to make his return to performing and recording.

In the meantime, he occupies himself with daily "workouts" on the vibes in

his basement studio and the enjoyment of life's basic pleasures.

Raising a glass of ice water and sipping, he reflects: "This is a pleasure.

Beautiful day; I just drink it in, just sit out here and drink it in."

Dickerson is confident in the knowledge that when the opportunity to

reemerge arises, he will be ready. "[My next recording] is completed

already," he reveals "I'm not playing every day for naught; I'm creating

every day. That's why I said, 'The next outing is already done.' When the

call comes, that'll complete it."

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No luck on the fax. I keep getting a "busy/no response" message.

I know that he's living in Willow Grove, PA. The only Dickerson listed for WG is Lucille. Could that be his daughter???

Edited by Chalupa

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Hi everyone, my first post on here ! .:impossible/ Cary sent me the link, as we have been in discussion about Walt on thevibe.net message board.

Anyways, reason I'm posting here was that I was interested to know that there had been some talk here about trying to contact Walt, which is what I've been trying to do, regarding a possible gig in London, England. Briefly, some promoter friends of mine are trying to put together a 'vibraphone night' gig on in the city, featuring solo sets by vibes players, and they'd be very keen to put Walt on. They've done this kind of thing before (including trumpet and drum nights), and as musicians themselves are very much fans of the music (rather than the money !), financing these nights themselves, so hopefully they would be able to give Walt all due respect in their dealings with him.

Having read the various posts above, I gather getting hold of him is tricky, but I was wondering whether some of you guys would be able to help - Dimitri/ ALankin/ Chalupa ? I would be happy to email an introduction to someone who can forward something to him, if that's most appropriate.

Hope you can help !

Oli/ London

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Fresh Sound recently reissued the two rare albums Walt Dickerson recorded for the Audio Fidelity records:

'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Unity' in a single digipack:

c4322.jpg

A superb release in excellent sound and packaging!

I don't like to disagree with Brownie but I was very dissappointed with this release. The music's OKish, not up to Walt's best, I feel - but the sound is very poor with all but the vibes muffled/lost in the mix. It's something I've noticed on a number of Fresh Sounds releases so I can only assume they must have used either an old master tape or perhaps, heaven forbid!, taken it from 'other sources'.

It would be interesting to hear from someone who has the original LPs as to whether the sound was OK on them.

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I've got original Audio Fidelity vinyl of these two. I'll dig them out over the next few days and check. Sound as I recall was OK without being outstanding.

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It appears that Walt is not willing to come out just yet, despite his comments in the following interview. This is the unedited interview that Hank Shteamer conducted four years ago... since June 29, 2003, Walt has not returned any calls.

p.s. I posted a copy of Dmitry's interview at the site.

Hank Shteamer interviews Walt Dickerson June 2003

copy/pasted the interview in full here:

Walt Dickerson Interview

near Philadelphia, PA; 6/29/03

HS: So you’re from Philadelphia?

WD: Philadelphia, yes, place of birth.

HS: And you were born...

WD: Obviously [laughs]. I engage in a bit of levity from time to time; that makes it very wholesome. I don’t really adhere to dates. To get caught up in the chronological aspect of things over a period of time can have a detrimental effect on the mind and the body, thinking in such a restricted area as the chronological factor or that mode. Since yesterday and tomorrow are today on the space-timeline of infinity, that helps me to remain free and unfettered. So that’s my response to “When?”

I’ve seen some things happen to many people that were caught up in the chronological aspect of things: “This is supposed to happen at a certain point in your life. That is supposed to happen at a certain point in your life.” Part of what makes that happen is that belief that it should happen at that point in one’s life. There again one brings it on one’s self because of choice; the choice is believing in that chronological aspect of things. So I remain ageless; beautiful dynamic, vital and strong.

HS: You’ve said that two of your biggest influences were “The Two Johns,” Dennis and Coltrane. Can you tell me about your relationships with them?

WD: Well we came up in the same era, the same vicinity. We shared thoughts about life, which cannot be separated from our musical projections. What you hear in the musical projections are really our view and study of life, and we had tremendous interchange. The interchange was heaviest between John Dennis and myself; we were inseparable coming up, like the inseparable twins as such. He was allowed to create when he came to our house; he could not create the music that he desired to create in his house because of the restrictions leveled by his, quote [finger quotes], “religious” parents. My parents were religious also, but they loved music. My mother was a pianist; my father sang in a choir. And my mother always encouraged John and myself, and he would play for her and she enjoyed it tremendously. John also had a photographic mind, very capable of also doing three things simultaneously. As so often happens in America, his genius did not yield the fruits that it should have.

Trane, we discussed things a lot, and the discussions were very thought-provoking; they stayed mainly in the musical sphere: things we could do, superimpositions in particular. Because this was not embraced by the main cadre of musicians. They called it [finger quotes] “safe ground”; they’d rather be on safe ground. For some reason even early on, to me that was very restricting because I heard things outside of, quote, safe ground, beautiful things that were even against some of the things that were taught in the universities, as far as musical projections were concerned. So sometimes at first, you would venture and then you would withdraw from that area; when you were aware that you were there, you would withdraw. But while you were there, it was so enjoyable, and the only reason you withdrew was because the teachings, the Western teachings that we were exposed to in the university, conservatory, we realized later how restricting some of these tenets were. I had nothing but the greatest of admiration, love and respect for the genius of John and John. And I realized later that we were not part of the herd mentality—not abjugating [???] anyone, merely stating a position of choice. John and John.

HS: So Philly Joe Jones and Eric Dolphy were the ones who welcomed you to New York?

WD: Well, Philly Joe I knew from Philly [i.e., Philadelphia]. Eric I ran into when I went to the West Coast, and we had a nice relationship. When I performed in Los Angeles, Eric used to sit with my wife most of the time, just about nightly. So I knew Eric from Los Angeles, but Philly Joe was the one that told the people at Prestige about me, and that was the beginning of that relationship, Prestige and myself. That’s Eric and Philly.

HS: Can you tell me about “To My Queen”? It seems like that record was a real breakthrough for you.

WD: Well, there is a way to talk about a person that you find ineffable through music, and my queen [Dickerson’s wife, Liz], being that ineffable person, music was the way that I could express those very beautiful, poignant, intellectual, brilliant, beautiful sides of her. So therefore it couldn’t fall in the realm of most songs or most compositions in the genre but had to escape those restrictions in order to exemplify her. And it doing so, it did open up a new vista of explorations, followed later by several not-to-be-mentioned musicians. It was a very, very happy experience, and I go back to that periodically. I return to that periodically, restating that which is ongoing in our relationship, which is forever.

The individuals that I chose for that outing knew my queen, and their artistic projections spoke of that. Andrew Hill: beautiful projections. George Tucker [sighs]: a rock, sensitive. And of course Andrew [Cyrille]: flourishings, nuances, bracketing the different motifs; he was awesome, and remains to this day, as does Andrew Hill. Two awesome, creative musicians. I don’t consider them musicians; I consider them artists in the highest sense. They’ve surpassed that category, “musicians.” Periodically those are the individuals I miss because now I do more, just about exclusively, solo performances, which by the way that’s what John Dennis did after his stint in New York, after his stint with Max and Mingus. He didn’t care any more for the New York scene. And if you listen to that album which is now a CD, you will understand why. The album that he made with Max Roach and Charlie Mingus, it was originally on the label created by Max and Mingus called Debut, that was the label, and if you listen to that, you’ll understand more and share in his wizardry. After that, solo performances exclusively, John, which I enjoy, solo performances—free and unfettered, initiated by To My Queen; I think that was the subject; that was the premise of this particular theme.

HS: It seems like you and Sun Ra had a lot in common philosophically.

WD: Philosophically we had nothing in common [laughs], strangely enough; that’s why I enjoyed his company. No, we didn’t. I was the reason why he made certain changes in his surroundings at my suggestion, but I enjoyed what he was about, and therein was the camaraderie. Sun Ra was a teacher, and sometimes teachers need to be fed other than what they teach; that’s where I came in. That’s why I used Sun Ra on several of my recordings. He did a marvelous job; I wanted that difference; I wanted that uniqueness that he brought to the table.

The sad aspects of the journeys of the individuals that we speak about I don’t discuss because I negate that from the ether that surrounds me. That’s not compatible with my cosmic surroundings; therefore, it has no place in my mind or my speech patterns except to say that it did exist. I deal exclusively with the beauty of the person and the person’s artistic projections.

See these are themes; these are motifs that we’re talking about. This is all part of a performance. As we discuss things, these are themes; these are motifs. That’s what life is about. Let me share something: [reads] “Consider the seemingly infinite number of ordinary conscious beings wielding power throughout the rational civilizations, existing among the universes - plural. Most of those conscious beings have the power to create far beyond any imagined creations of a mystical god, and unlike the miracles of a made-up god, conscious beings’ creations are real, accomplished naturally within the laws of physics. Each such conscious being, for example, has the power to create an endless number of universes from an endless number of universe-containing black holes existing at every space-time point throughout eternity. Even so, most of those conscious beings have technologically and economically advanced so far that they have long ago in their illustrious forgotten histories abandoned the creation of universes as an inefficient, primitive activity.” Motif number three.

Now we’re beginning to see where our power lies. Now we understand why we’re not one of the mass. Now we better understand our inescapable uniqueness. Now we better understand the circuitous route we have chosen. Now we better understand the awesome powers that each person has. Some are consciously aware of that power while others are not, but all have that power; all are born with that power, but because of the system that they’re born under, that power is usurped, negated, and they are taken on another route. Many never access it- the power that is theirs, the creativity that is theirs, the beauty that is theirs, the geniuses that they are. Computer technology? Ten-thousand units of information density per inch. Human brain? One-hundred-thousand units of information density per inch. Central nervous system? Approximately one-hundred-billion cells, which means you have the capacity to store all of the information in the world today with space left over. Fact and honesty liberates you from the confines of the system. Oh, what a genius you are! That’s motif number ten.

HS: I think I lost count!

WD: They all intertwine, like the music; that’s what they are. That’s where the music that comes forth; that’s what it’s about. Some say, “In the beginning...”. That always stirs a bit of curiosity in me: “In the beginning....” That’s interesting. Existence. Well, existence is axiomatic; existence has always existed. Hmmm... Existence has always co-existed with human consciousness. Hmmm... But they said, “In the beginning...,” but what I just said... Non-linear, far-from-equilibrium situations bifurcate into potentially endless fractals in any finite space. This process self-organizes into patterns of near-perfect order, reaching over potentially limitless distances. Thus evolves not only the cosmos and life itself, but all productive work, creative thinking, and limitless knowledge. “Oh, there’s a tie-in to what you just said.” Of course they all dovetail; that’s a part of the infinite flow.

“Gee whiz, I haven’t heard you in New York lately; I really would like to hear you play, Walt.”

“Are you reading this interview?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re hearing me play. Take a listen.”

“Yeah, Walt, but I’d like to hear you play-play.”

“Just give a call; that can be arranged.”

Next.

HS: You mean you would play?

WD: Am I playing?

HS: I’m sure you’ve been asked to come to New York to play...

WD: Oh, I do have restrictions; you’re right. I do have restrictions; yes, I have. I’ve been asked. No clubs, no smoke environment. Concert hall? Fine. Simple. I’ve seen too many suffer from it- various maladies due to those environments- smoke-filled. It’s quite a workout performing. You do take in what is around you in great amounts, and it does have an effect. I care not to expose my body or mind to those things that are going to be detrimental to my body and mind- my being. A home can be very spartan. The people [are] who make it a beautiful affair; that’s all that’s necessary. And I’d be in New York to perform in a New York minute.

HS: So it could be a private environment?

WD: Private? Public? Like one of the theater complexes that used to be down around Houston. Yeah, they have many of them in New York, those venues. That is where I would perform. Yeah.

HS: I would love to arrange something. Would you perform on campus?

WD: Of course. I performed on campuses many times.

...[discussion of arranging a performance at some point]...

WD: Beautiful day. I just drink it in, just sit out here and drink it in. Usually my spot is right over there- Right over there I take that lounge chair, and I put it all the way back, and I take off everything off but my drawers, and I stretch out in the sun right there. Yeah. My wife says, "Now don't stay there too long," but I love the sun; it seems to pull out all the impurities.

HS: Why were there such long breaks between your recordings?

WD: You would have to ask the recording industry about that. I'm not one to go in search of because I am. Therefore, if you are knowledgable, intelligent, and about the progress of the music, and your position is that of a recording entity, then you should be ringing my phone, giving me a call, or knocking at my door. I mean individuals are put in that position to expose the public to the best. And I realize that they don't do that; they don't go in search of that. It's convenience factor, whatever it is, or a hunger factor that they look for. Whatever; only they would know, but it hasn't and will not ever inhibit my creative flow; that's ongoing. So if they care to give the public something that is life-giving because we must remember the creative flow is a life-giving flow, and those that are about creativity are projecting and injecting life into the recipients, which I think is most noble and wholesome. So, Walt is here, ready to record. Give me a call; let's sit down at the table and do what is best for mankind.

It's so revealing when you say, "Well, this is a wonderful, civilized society, so this should never be overlooked." But unfortunately, since it is overlooked in many instances, then we have to ask ourselves, "Is this a civilized society, or anti-civilization?" Hmmm. Ooohhh! [sarcastically] Now we realize that civilized societies do exist elsewhere, far more advanced than this society that we're exposed to, realizing that where I'm from- Maybe that's the fear. Maybe the creations of one not restricted by this society in one's artistic projections is speaking about a civilized society or a society other than the present that we exist in. Now does that bring about a fear in the upper room? In the glass chamber? ... and facts. Therefore those being exposed to those projections will be awakened. Now that's something to consider when you realize the concerted effort made to avoid sitting down talking to one of that ilk. One has to think about those things and then put it in its proper context, and this counters what the attempt is to suppress which causes stress, which takes one out of the picture, causing all types of maladies, resorting to irrational behavior. But it doesn't have that effect on the ones that we're talking about, that we've discussed because they're aware, they're much too aware of the overall structure of things to allow that to happen to them. Yes, they've seen it happen vicarously, and then they made a concerted effort: "No, not yet; no." So, in all the attempts to do that, to suppress it, it still rises up; periodically, it rises up: a recording over here, a recording over there... It still rises up, but you say, an American company to embrace this, to embrace these unique individuals and say, "Well, this would put America at the forefront, because that would take America forward." Why? Because they don't fall into the pattern of playing what is expected or what has come before? Yeah, I guess there obviously is fear of what it might do to the individuals who hear, really hear the music because all of it has an effect. They realize the detrimental effect that some music has. Well, it has a detrimental effect; it has a beneficial effect as well, and this being what it is, it would have to have a super-beneficial effect on those individuals whose ears behold the music.

So, we're about America progressing; we're about people all over the world progressing because we bring the civilization of the universe to a decadent anti-civilization. I don't have to point out to you, a very intelligent young man, the signs of decadence that abound, the destruction, carnage that abounds, the wars, the greed, man's inhumanity to man that abounds. That is the opposite of what the music is about, and most people are starved for the opposite of those things. Therein lies the power of the music: enlightenment, awareness, uplifting, inspiration, never be the same, clarity, vision, heightened, senses heightened; facts and honesty.

Statements made to me by people in general, by, quote, "classical performers" who comprise a good percentage of my audience in many places, one thing in common they say, this statement: "I never heard jazz like that," which denotes quite an obvious restriction in the projections that they have been exposed to. But you see, when it comes from beyond here [gestures to body], of course it wouldn't be what they're used to; it would be outside of those limitations, those unhealthy boundaries. I say, "No"; my reply would be, "It is music for your mind, not your derriere." "Oh, I see; good." And we end on a jovial note. They're happy with the explanation, and I'm happy that I could give them that explanation. Enlightenment. That's why I think discussions are very helpful concerning the music, not from the technical aspect of the music, but from what the music encompasses, what it consists of, what goes into it.

I think schizophrenia, what a segue, [reads from notes]—“Contrary to common belief, schizophrenia is not a split or a dual personality, which is just one of the many possible symptoms of schizophrenia. Rather, the disease of schizophrenia is the detachment of consciousness from objective reality, which is required to convert one's precious conscious life into a destructive parasite or into a humanoid.” Schizophrenia: Motif #12.

Where we live, where we live presently, not restricted by because one does have the choice. My choice? Not to be restricted.

HS: Why do the Steeplechase records sound so different from your earlier recordings?

WD: That's part of the continuous development of the artist. Segment, segment, segment comprising the infinite flow; that's part of the segment, yes. And for you to be aware of it means that you're at the top of your game in analyzing the segment, segment, segment. Yeah, that's part of the flow, that's part of the creative process, that's part of development, yeah; that's part of the growth patterns. And we're either part of the growth patterns or stagnation becomes the modus operandi. Yeah, that's what it is.

HS: So many musicians make the opposite movement, a creative regression.

WD: Well, anything that goes forward can go in reverse.

HS: Do you notice that pattern in other musicians?

WD: Um, no; no, I haven't noticed that pattern. And if I noticed it, I wouldn't say it. The beauty is in evolving. [to Liz] Hi beautiful! ... Yeah, that takes care of that.

HS: Could you discuss your unique use of vibrato?

WD: Because of the things that I hear, it requires more dexterity to play what I hear, and the overtones, or overlapping of sound is part of what I hear because that's part of the whole. See there's a lot of things going on, and I'm familiar with the speed of sound, or maybe with those things approaching, or maybe with those things equated to, and that's part of my overall persona. So what is done pianistically with ten fingers, I enjoy attempting to do it with two mallets because that's what I hear. So what you hear becomes you quest to produce, and in that quest to produce, you find a way to do it. Again, there's no format on it having been done before, which makes it a unique approach, an innovative approach to the instrument, which is where the intertwining, the overlapping of harmonies come into play because I hear outside of the, quote, "normal progression of things." And in order to do that, to perform that, there are various things that I have to do to access those things, and they come to you.

You see, it's already there, it's already there how to do; the "how-to-do" is already there; the book has already been written, how to do whatever it is you want to do which may sound strange to some people, but I told you previously, your powers that all of us have.

So, when you realize certain things, it opens up the door to other things. Knowledge begets knowlege, compounded; ways to do come to you. You don't have to go to the library; I never went to the library to find out, to the library of music or looked in any particular repertoire to find out. It's there; the book is already there! Open up the book! Written a long time ago. You would understand what I'm saying because of the previous things that we've discussed; you don't have to go outside of one's self for certain information; it's already there. Focus; focus on it! What is it you're looking for? Focus on it! It's there; the answer is there, but we've been taught, "Go over to that station, and pick up the information; go over to that station, and pick up this bit of information." I understand that! I too was a victim of that. That's how I know, from experience. That's how these things come about, the way that I play came about and continues to come about. Remember, creative flow is the infinite flow: limitless, unending, forever. What an awesome realization.

See, in our discussion, or rather, this interview, I'm really telling you about yourself: things for you to think about, meditate on, turn it over, inspect it, doubt it, prove it wrong, and in the process, in the final analysis, one day, I'll see you, and you'll come to me, and you'll give me a big hug, and you'll say, "Thanks, Walt." I'll say, "You're welcome, Hank." That's my purpose for being: disseminate that information which is beneficial to all. It takes one life, one's life and puts it on another level: comprehension, apprehension, not an evasion of, but an apprehension of reality qua reality.

I'm looking forward to my next release. It's already done, whenever they call me.

HS: You’ve recorded something?

WD: I said, "It's already done." It's completed already. I'm not playing everyday for naught; I'm producing; I'm creating everyday. That's why I said, "The next outing is already done." When the call comes, that'll complete it...

HS: Is the vibraphone integral to your concept?

WD: I feel as if the vibes are my natural instrument, yeah. It's just that the things that I hear are outside of the things that had ever been done on the instrument. And it's because of where I draw from, the source that I draw from. No precedent has been set in that area, no reference to that area, and I respect everyone that attempts to play any instrument, and in particular the vibes because I'm aware of the enormous difficulty involved. But because my pursuit has been one of not having been before, the area, and not what is expected, maybe that's the fascination I have with the instrument, with music per se, and in particular with the vibes because the area, the limitless area that I care to become involved in, therein lies my uniqueness, yes.

HS: Do you hear other musicians exploring that limitless idea?

WD: You know, Hank, I had models early on. Then, your quest becomes all-consuming, and you've accessed the unlimited area of creativity. So, occasionally, I'll listen to John and John, relax, in my relaxing moments, occasionally. Other than that, I'm listening to the sound waves, the music that's carried by the ether that surrounds us. See those sounds never leave that are put into the air; it doesn't matter the confines; there's always sounds around us. You hear the sounds now [motions upward to birds singing]. That evokes other sounds; that's audible. Hence, there's a sea of sound. We just don't consciously listen, open up, auditory perception, and hear that sea of sound that we're in consciously. So much to draw on! And that's twenty-four hours! It doesn't matter where you are; so much to draw on. We're so rich; our library is inexhaustible: sounds, infinite sounds.

When I do listen to John and John, I'm saying, "Thanks, buddy; thanks; thanks." Then I realize how much work I have to do. Inspiration point, back to work. Work is pleasure; pleasure is work. Playing is pleasure; pleasure is playing. There all one mass of pleasurable pursuits, so therefore, the hope is that it gives the listener, the listeners, pleasure because that's what it's embedded in; the projections are embedded in pleasure. Pleasurable pursuit. It's a pleasure to learn; it's a pleasure to grow; it's a pleasure to think; utilizing one's faculties to the utmost is a pleasure. Choose the pleasures in life. Whatever you do, make it pleasurable, and life becomes pleasurable. What a way to spend every day. It doesn't matter the task, doesn't matter. I choose happiness; I choose to be happy. This is a pleasure [sips water].

HS: I think your music demands to be heard on a very focused level, with undivided attention; so it cultivates the type of deep listening you’re speaking of.

WD: That's interesting, Hank; that's interesting. And you said it; in your statement you said it: It demands to be heard. That's it. You can think that you're not hearing it, ok. Sometimes, you know, you might have a young lady, you might go out to listen, you might have a date, say, "Let's go hear some music." Maybe she's not aware of the music. Maybe she's aware of the music per se, but she hadn't heard Walt, and heretofore, you go out, you have a cocktail or two, you listen; what you're doing while you're listening is you have your periods of conversation. Understandable; that's the usual. But, when you go out to hear Walt, something happens; there is no conversation, only periodical, only periods of making a statement, one to another, concerning music, what's happening with the individual concerning the music, how it is affecting the person with regards to the music. So, then the music is demanding, and it's also all-encompassing, so that after that performance the two of you have a lot to talk about, but it isn't usual, how you usually come away from a performance and what you usually speak about after a performance; yes. And that's the beauty in it, hopefully more stimulating, and maybe you remember some things, maybe you feel some things that you haven't felt. And it wasn't a meter thing—tick, tick, tick, tick, tick—it wasn't a meter thing; it wasn't a groove thing, but there was a stirring of the emotions on another level, and this hadn't been invoked before. It's what I've been able to gather from the remarks brought to me.

I know some things of a very personal nature have been told to my wife by women concerning what was happening to them while they were listening to the music, which I found very interesting. [laughs] But so be it; it was good, or wonderful. What an experience: the power of the music. I know it has allowed me to focus in a very positive area.

I understand the categorization of music. If you care to categorize a music, I could hear, irreversibly, but I really don't adhere to categories at all. I see things in their totality, not in their segmented manner that man has superimposed upon them. "Did you like the music?" "Fine." That's all that's necessary, but I understand why. But on another level, as you and I talk, again, it should be part of the educational process, but unfortunately, it isn't, which again falls into the category of limiting, limiting unfairly.

But then again, having lived in many countries, I don't even adhere to that; I don't subscribe to that: this country, that country. In our travels, my wife and myself—because I never travel alone; my wife is always with me—we found beautiful people everywhere, and we've been guests in the homes of many people. When our children were younger, this [backyard] used to look like a U.N., children from many nations in the summertime coming to visit and stay with us and our children; that's how they grew up. This enriches one's life oustide of the cubicle of their, quote, "country" or "community." I don't see lines: "these people, those people"; I don't see lines; I know better than that. Again, the superimposition by man, creating lines of differences where no differences in reality actually exist. These divisions don't exist in the civilization of the universe which periodically tries to come here and is here in the presence of some of us.

And we've been places, very posh restaurants, elsewhere (that's how I state it sometimes when we get outside of that context: "elsewhere"). When the beautiful people that we were guests of in their homes would say to us, "Walt, Liz, [let me] show you something," and we'd say, "What?" This happened several times, in various places. "We're going to show you; when an American walks through that door, we're going to show you the difference. See if you can pick them out when they come through that door; it's a game." And invariably, you could pick them out when they came through the door: attitude, pompous, too-grating mannerism, acrimonious tongue [sighs]. We never had a problem with anybody; anywhere in another country did we ever have a problem.

So there were times when it would be discussed, the mental attitude: attitude, attitude. Those that are in touch with the civilization of the universe are cognizant of this. And there have been artists—artists, not musicians; artists—that have been in touch with the civilization of the universe, and we know by their projections that they have been in touch and are in touch. Better stated, one of their kind, we're aware of the institutions and the disservice that they have done to mankind on this planet, and coming to rectify the situation is a tremendous task; but then that is our duty, and we perform it with grace and honor in the face of constant opposition which does nothing but crystallize what we're about.

These are the things that in my discussions with students in particular I talk about, I discuss with them. That's why there's always such a variance in an audience that will come to hear me perform, a variance in all areas, they would say; a variance. I remember a concert at a church in New York where the promoters said, "I never saw this before in my life." There were over fifty bikers there, leather-wearing bikers. After which, they asked for a meeting with me; I obliged. They procured a room outside of the auditorium for us to meet; it was one of the most interesting meetings I've ever had. I didn't know I had fans that were bikers; you see, I didn't see them any differently than anybody else; they were people just to me. So therefore, "Let's talk; let's communicate; let's exchange views; let's get into each others' heads; let's enjoy each others' company." And that we did, the wife and myself; we had a ball. Unusual? Yes. Different? Yes. A ball? Yes. [laughter].

Life's experiences are something else, things of beauty that you never forget, forever. And it goes on and on with, as they say, "different groups" again; "You were with these people?" "You were with those people?" This is how others view meeting. Or, "You were with those people?!," "You were with those-?" Ahhh, please, please, please; people are people; let's get together, c'mon! [laughs] When will the madness cease? "Ok, we're doing our best, we're doing all we can to eradicate the madness" because that's all it is: madness. Irrationality; irrationality. Oooh; aaahhh: perceiving that group as that group as that... Irrationality, a prime example. Let me see; let me see; let, me, see. Aaahhh.

Motif number twenty: [reads] “What does it do? Irrationality. Today in our young, earth-bound civilizations, the eventually fatal disease of irrationality is eradicating the future of all human beings.” Hmmm... "Would you clarify that a bit Walt?" "Sure." Irrationality reduces and eventually stops the accumulation of new knowledge needed to prosper and ultimately to survive. Hmmm... Irrationality does that and more. Irrationally damages and eventually destroys the conscious mechanism for processing and accumulating knowledge. Motif number twenty.

I have no part in it. Honesty and facts are what we're steeped in. I have no part of irrationality or any of its neighbors; I'm aware of the lethal effect that it has upon one. Knowing that, we cast it aside; if someone cares to project it into our space, we just as quickly eject it, rendering it harmless to us, of non-effect. Not a part of the civilization of the universe, not akin to in any way. The awareness of it is quite a beautiful motif; it brings forth a beautiful motif: the awareness of the irrationality, yeah.

And they build upon each other; one beautiful motif yields another beautiful motif; that motif in turn yields another beautiful motif, ad infinitum.

[to be continued...]

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Armin Büttner posted parts of a 1954 live recording of Walt Dickerson with Lou Blackburn in Germany on his blog...

http://crownpropeller.wordpress.com

(which is worth checking out for various other reasons as well)

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Armin Büttner posted parts of a 1954 live recording of Walt Dickerson with Lou Blackburn in Germany on his blog...

http://crownpropeller.wordpress.com

(which is worth checking out for various other reasons as well)

Terrific post. For a big Walt Dickerson fan, this is a wonderful treat.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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i'm only the messenger! that blog is a treasure trove of the highest order, previously unseen (?) Tapscott and Mingus, the elusive Vonski/Patrick/Hill recordings, Grant Green/Sam Lazar recordings beyond Space Flight... sounds to good to be true imho

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Many thanks for the link :tup

Great opportunity to listen to early Dickerson!

Full details on the broadcast open the Discography thanks to Michael Fitzgerald.

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Many thanks for the link :tup

Great opportunity to listen to early Dickerson!

Full details on the broadcast open the Discography thanks to Michael Fitzgerald.

Looking thru the discography, I see two private recordings, one with Sun Ra and one with Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. Are those things available anywhere? St. Louis Blues and Over the Rainbow by Walt Dickerson and Sun Ra has got to be worth the price of admission.

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Many thanks for the link :tup

Great opportunity to listen to early Dickerson!

Full details on the broadcast open the Discography thanks to Michael Fitzgerald.

Looking thru the discography, I see two private recordings, one with Sun Ra and one with Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. Are those things available anywhere? St. Louis Blues and Over the Rainbow by Walt Dickerson and Sun Ra has got to be worth the price of admission.

They do both circulate among collectors. There are also a 1979 solo performace om Worcestor, MA and a short (eleven minutes) solo from 1986 that circulate, which are not on the discography.

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Many thanks for the link :tup

Great opportunity to listen to early Dickerson!

Full details on the broadcast open the Discography thanks to Michael Fitzgerald.

Looking thru the discography, I see two private recordings, one with Sun Ra and one with Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. Are those things available anywhere? St. Louis Blues and Over the Rainbow by Walt Dickerson and Sun Ra has got to be worth the price of admission.

A clarification regarding the Dickerson/Sun Ra recording: the two only play together on the final improvisation. The rest is solo performance. Sun Ra performs the two above tunes solo.

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