Well, the first memory I ever had of seeing live music and sitting there, I would have been like five or six or seven, and my mom took me to see a George Shearing concert. And I think that was totally wild, just because somebody was up on stage. And I remember — what I remembered about it was a lot of this — my mother used to listen to this Easy Listening station. And a lot of the songs he played were things I remembered from the Easy Listening station. And that made a little impact on me. I mean there’s been so many.
I had a really great experience of seeing the great Alicia de Larrocha, classical pianist. I saw her live when I was a teenager, and she was playing some Beethoven Sonatas. And I just never saw a sound like that come off a piano, that she got. And there was another pianist I saw around the same time, Michael Steinberg was his name. I don’t think he’s very well-known, but he was a Beethoven specialist. And he actually could really make this stuff come alive, even though he was just super nervous, and mess up a lot, but actually added another whole layer of intrigue to the concert.
And let me think; there was loads of jazz concerts I saw. There was a club called The Flight Deck in Wilmington, Delaware when I was a teenager. And they knew who I was, because I used to do some jazz lessons around there. So, even when I was underage, they’d let me in.1 And there was a whole load of concerts I saw as a kid that were like holy shit. Off the top of my head, I remember seeing Lou Donaldson there, and it was just almost like hearing really authentic bebop, which you know, is such a rare thing.
And I remember hearing Yusef Lateef there. And in fact, he did this bass clarinet solo that affected me so much. I mean this might sound weird, but I almost threw up. I like lost control, and started like convulsing in my body, and I almost like — and I didn’t almost throw up in a negative sense. It was just like it affected me so much, I actually like lost control of my body. I actually, at the time, back then, I would smoke a lot of pot. But you know, like a few years after that I stopped, but I had a lot of high concept revelations with music, let’s just put it that way. But there were a lot of instances like that.
I remember seeing George Cables with Bobby Hutchinson at that club, and that just really, really affected me a lot. I mean there are so many actually in that period, especially between the ages of 18 and 22, when you’re just really open to stuff, or maybe 15 to 22. There is just so many. Yeah, and I was going to — there was a Sun Ra concert I saw in Boston in like 19 — because I went up to Boston for a summer. Well, this was before I went to New England Conservatory, but I actually went — I hate to admit it, but I went to Berklee School of Music for one summer semester. I don’t talk about that a lot, but I saw a Sun Ra concert up there, that really blew my mind.