Presented by the Jazz Workshop
This was my first album. It came about as a result of playing at The Jazz Workshop, the then famous jazz club in San Francisco. It went on to become a strip joint. (Well they always said that jazz was brothel music)
I was playing on a Monday Night (the off night for Les McCann who had played all the week before). Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, the owner of SABA Records, Baldhard G. Falk and another person came to see Les, and decided to stay and see me upon learning that Monday was Les's night off. I didn't know who they were, so I was kinda loose and having a lot of fun. Besides, the house was light.
The year was 1966. At that time I was studying at The San Francisco Conservatory Of Music. They approached me at the break and asked me if I'd like to record an album. Needless to say, I was in a state of shock. Baldhard asked me to give him a call at his office. As fate would have it, I made an appointment, went to see him, and signed an agreement to record one LP for SABA records.
Without a doubt this is the worst record I've ever made. I was quite nervous and had been studying John Coltrane. For some reason I thought all I had to do was play the head of a tune real nice and then proceed to rattle off myriads of notes at high velocity. This did not make for a pleasing result, but it was all I knew. Actually I have tapes that predate this LP that are far superior, because I was relaxed and not in a studio environment.
The record took six hours to record. We did three tunes a day in three hours. On the record was a young bass player named John Heard (I grabbed him after he left John Hendricks) whom I worked with for many years.
Baldhard Falk had tipped me off that Jean-Luc Ponty was coming to Los Angeles to record. I knew instinctively that this was a great opportunity for me, not only to make a name for myself, but also to play with the world's greatest contemporary jazz violinist. I can't tell you how I knew this, but I did. Opportunities sometimes don't come around twice, so I made the best of this one. Many good things happened as a result of these sessions with Jean-Luc.
Actually, we recorded an album at Donte's Jazz Club first. The trio featured John Heard-bass, and Al Cecchi -drums. I played no electric instruments and the music was pretty daring for its time. That record was recorded in March 1969, but was not released until many, years later.
Dick Bock, the owner of Pacific Jazz Records thought it would be great for us to record the same music in a rock club. Jean-Luc was not hot for the idea as I remember, but eventually said OK. I was really into playing the piano then, and requested to Dick that they have one there for me to play. Having grown up in San Francisco during the Height Ashbury days, I had been to many rock clubs that had no piano available. Dick promised me there would be one there.
As fate would have it, when I arrived at the gig, there was no piano! The only thing I saw was a silver top Fender Rhodes. I was pissed. Dick had invited all the LA heavies, so, I knew I had to be on anyway. Jean-Luc and I had developed a buzz on the West Coast because of our high intensity progressive jazz style. Dick Bock was convinced that our brand of jazz could get over to an opened-minded rock audience. He was right! I took on the challenge of playing the Fender Rhodes with ferocity. The date was September 27, 1969. The drummer was changed, for what reason I don't remember. Dick Berk was the new drummer.
In attendance were Frank Zappa, Quincy Jones, Gerald Wilson and Cannonball Adderley to name a few. The club was packed! By the way, the name of the club was "Thee Experience."
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s