May 21, 2024

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An interview with Alex Bailey: I raised in the same city Charlie Parker … Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Alex Bailey. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Alex Bailey: – Well, I was born in Kansas City, and raised in the same city jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was from. I grew up in the Black American church where my father was the minister of music. My father also has a degree in Music Theory, and my mother studied music education in college. That’s where the music came from for me.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the drums?

I actually wanted to be just like my older brother. He began playing drums when I was about 4 years old, and I began shortly after that around age 5. My brother is now a professional bassist and has toured with Arianna Grande and Lalah Hathaway, and I still want to be like him!

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the drums?

Before college, I grew up around a lot of really great drummers. Lester Estelle, Jr., who is currently touring with Kelly Clarkson was one of my main influences. Later, I took lessons with a great jazz drummer, Michael Warren, who taught with Bobby Watson, Jr at the college on the other side of the city. And when I got to college, I studied with the late Kim Plainfield, who was a good friend. With him, I learned about all the great fusion drummers. Because of my brother, Timothy Bailey, Jr., I chose drums. Then I learned to play through the other guys!

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

I’m actually still finding my sound. Growing up in the middle of the States, my sound was more of the Midwest gospel drumming style. But once I got into high school, I began to favor the west coast sound, more clean and polished. When I arrived to college on the east coast, I developed more of a gritty, darker sound of the jazz players in New York. Now, I try to incorporate all of those influences; the gospel style of the Midwest, the precision and power from the west coast, and the dark complex jazz styles of New York.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

I’m currently producing 3 records, and I released my own record this past March. Over the last 2 years, I’ve worked really hard on maintaining a level of precision that’s used in the studio, as well as my drum tunings, approach, groove, etc. So, not just technically, but even how hitting the drums a certain way produces a certain sound. That’s been a lot of my practicing: through producing.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

I do play bass guitar and keyboards as well, so, although my drums don’t follow any particular harmonic structure, my playing is sensitive to melodic and harmonic structures, especially in Marcus Miller’s band, where the music is very simple melodically, but complex in harmonies.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album: <Searching for something>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

My own album, ‘Searching For Something’ is a collection of songs written over the last 10 years. In my 20s, I experienced a variety of emotions while becoming an adult, and the best way to describe them was through the music. There are some similar chordal structures I developed through listening to The Yellowjackets and Pat Matheny, and some rhythmic patterns I developed through studying Marcus Miller and The Brecker Brothers. Currently, I’m working specifically on bringing some strong elements of American hip hop and trap drum grooves with some African influences to create a unique sound. I’m very excited about it!

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

My experience has led me to understanding that the music that flows out of you is a reflection of your life. However, because this is a business, there will always be some sort of compromise between the art and the administrative side. My advice is to first, understand what you want out of the business side. Personally, I play music for a living. I feed my wife and children through it. There are musical situations where I may not musically agree with, and I have to be okay with it. But the beauty is that I have an opportunity to find the joy in the little things. And that brings me much joy. Find what you want out of the business side, study the business side, then make it work for you. Learn how to balance what your audience wants from you and what you want from you. That’s what makes Marcus Miller a genius; his music is commercially acceptable, but it is complex enough for musicians to enjoy. And that’s the reason I enjoy playing with him!

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

I think Jazz will always be a business. In the United States, jazz isn’t a very popular style, which is why the best artists tour in Europe and all over the world. But there’s always an audience who wants to hear jazz in all forms. So it will always be a business.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

Jazz is improvisation. In order to do that, one must know it’s history. As I travel to different countries, I learn their history through songs that are even older than jazz standards, yet it is taught to the youngest children. We learn language through letters that are old, we learn religion through stories that are old as well. The same, in my opinion, should be applied with jazz. Learn the old, then make it new.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

Like I said earlier, music is based off of life. When the greats like Miles, Trane, Bird, and Elvin were making the classics we consider great, there was a spirit that resonated through the music that was a sign of the times in the US. That same spirit resonances through all music, especially through Black American music. Gospel, blues, jazz, rap, rock and roll, etc. I feel like that spirit flows through me to whatever music I’m playing. And although there’s a lot of pain from its history, there’s a sense of hope that I try to invoke. And that, brings life.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

My only fear is that music as a whole won’t be appreciated The same way in the future. And something that us artists spend our lives working on being taken for granted is quite fearful. But again, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to see different countries, breathe different air, hear different music, eat different food, see different art. And at the end of the day, whether people think so or not, their lives are enriched tremendously by the art we create. So, that takes the fear and anxiety away.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

I’m going to continue to produce and perform, but I’m also heavy into music education, and that will be a major part of the future!
While the framework of what makes jazz ‘jazz’ is different than other world music, the similarities are very evident. The basic fundamentals, evolution, and even cross pollination of styles, these are the things they all have in common.

JBN.S: – JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

My music library is insane. As of late, I’ve been revisiting some old music, from the jazz classics of Elvin Jones, Paul Chambers and the jazz legends to classic rock and the introduction of sub genres of rock like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen, and the list is countless. I’m also going through Prince phase. I’ve been experimenting with drum samples from The Linn Drum Machine which was very popular in the 80’s. Thanks Prince!

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

My current setup includes, 8,10,14 and 16 inch toms, 2 14 inch snare drums and a 22 in kick drums. My cymbal setup normally consists of 3 crashes, an effects crash, a Chinese cymbal, a 22″ ride and a pair of 15″ hi hats. The big thing with Marcus’ gig is including electronics. We’re utilizing the Roland SPDSX electronic percussion pad, and will be adding some elements in the near future including triggers. We’re having a ‘Blast!’

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Фото Alex Bailey.

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