CM: Well‚ we all have. I mean‚ anyone in our generation grew up with hip-hop. We kind of back-peddled into jazz.
MM: Right. But in the nature of the music‚ it's kind of seeping into it. Or all these things kind of seep into it.
CM: Yeah. Absolutely! And it should. That's what's supposed to happen with a living‚ breathing art form. It's supposed to change.
MM: Yeah‚ it's supposed to evolve. So‚ taking this‚ rough edges and all -- you've got DJ Logic adding this layer on one part‚ and Scratch beat-boxing or Charlie Hunter playing guitar‚ and Jenny Scheinman playing violin. It's crazy. It's really cool.
CM: It was very cool. You know‚ you talk about a ten-to-one gamble: we're playing in a place that we'd never played before with only two nights. That's really not a lot of time when you're talking about recording a live album‚ because now you only have two chances to get stuff right. So we're playing in a new venue‚ only got two nights‚ and we have brand new special guests that‚ you know‚ are just going to jam; we're not even gonna rehearse. And then make it into a CD. That's really nerve-racking. We knew we were going to release it. We just didn't know how much. Maybe we would release a double CD‚ or combine stuff and make it one CD. So we went to go edit it and we just couldn't do it. It just made sense to put it out as is.
MM: Three discs‚ lots of music. Bringing the conversation full circle‚ like what you were saying: jazz is one big family or big band. It's kind of an extension of that idea. It's also like your discography‚ everyone you've played with. I think it's over 200 albums?
CM: Yeah‚ something like that.
MM: That's a lot of playing.
CM: Yeah. You know‚ you look at the discography of the guys who were around in the '40s and '50s and '60s when the sessions were really happening -- you know‚ guys were doing three‚ four sessions a day‚ when there was that amount of work. So‚ it's all relative. I think probably my discography compared to someone who was recording in the '60s probably wouldn't even scratch the surface. Ron Carter could look at my discography and go‚ "That's all?" [Laughter]
MM: "I did that in a year."
CM: "Son‚ you need more work!" [Laughter] But‚ you know‚ once again‚ in this day and age that would be considered a lot‚ so it's all relative. But I will say that I do feel like I've played with every single person I've ever dreamed of playing with.
MM: Wow. Really?
CM: There's only one person in my life I really‚ really wanted to play with that I never got to play with‚ and that was Art Blakey. Because when I moved to New York City in 1989‚ he had just been diagnosed with cancer. So he died less than a year after I moved to New York. But what young jazz musician didn't want to be a Jazz Messenger?
MM: Right‚ right‚ of course.
CM: But even still‚ I kind of feel like I played with Art Blakey through osmosis‚ because all of the musicians who I've been associated with played with Art Blakey -- like Freddie Hubbard and Benny Golsen and Benny Green and Bobby Watson.
MM: So many people came through that channel.
CM: Exactly.
MM: So‚ what is it about Blakey?
CM: Oh man‚ Art Blakey was just … here's a man who just played with fire and guts all the time. Highly intelligent music that was entertaining. You know‚ if you ever saw Art Blakey live‚ he was very much a stickler about stage etiquette. It was very tight and very uniformed‚ but with a lot of energy and guts. I think Ray Charles was kind of the same way: very highly stylized‚ but it was guttural at the same time. How do you get that balance? I don't really know. But Art Blakey was able to do that in jazz.
MM: The finesse‚ but they're so real.
CM: I mean‚ James Brown was like that. I always tell students‚ if you were deaf and could only watch James Brown‚ it would still be exciting. And if you were blind and could only hear him‚ it would still be exciting. I think as a musician‚ that's what you strive for. And only a few people in music have been able to do that.
MM: Absolutely. Who are some of the other people you said you got to play with that maybe changed…
CM: Well‚ certainly‚ playing with Freddie Hubbard's band. That was one of the highlights of my life‚ getting to play with him when his chops were still strong. When I joined his band in 1990‚ he was still playing really‚ really‚ really great. And by the time I stopped playing with him in '93‚ his lips were starting to falter a little bit and he couldn't play that strongly anymore. I caught the tail end of all that badness. You'll never hear another trumpet player play like that. Him‚ McCoy Tyner -- I've been honored to have a relationship with -- and Chick Corea -- played with him a lot through the years. Roy Haynes. And a lot of my peers‚ like Roy Hargrove: I mean he's one of my favorite trumpet players ever. I have no problem ranking him right up there with the Freddies and the Dizzies and the Lee Morgans. I think Hargrove's right up there.