How did the gigs with Kenny Garrett, Christian Scott and Warren Wolf come along?
“Well Warren and I pretty much grew up with and with Kenny I just knew his drummer John Lamkin who also was from Baltimore. Christian came through Washington DC and often because of the state or the economy they can’t afford bringing a band from outside of town, and I ended up doing a weekend with him and was in need of a bass player. Basically, pretty much either “who you know” or “(the) right time” can get you a gig — and I happened to be there. It’s mostly luck.“
Did you meet Christian before you recorded his first album?
“The only reference I knew about him before playing with was that drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. (who is a year younger than me) was a good friend Thomas Pridgen who played with Christian in the early 2000s. Eventually I played with Christian at The Cavern in Washington DC and it was a nice hit.”
How did you prepare for the gigs?
“It’s funny. Kenny Garrett called me and the conversation sort of went, “…so you got all my albums right?” and I answered, “Yes, I got all of them” and I didn’t have one. The next day I was supposed to go to his house for a rehearsal and as soon as I hung up I started calling all of my musician friends and collected his entire discography and practiced it all night. I went to his house and he said I could do the gig that weekend and he then asked me to come to his house outside New York to rehearse and then we toured. With Christian, I started playing with him after he recorded Live at Newport — and the good thing was we were both young and Christian was creating a new group that eventually recorded Yesterday You Said Tomorrow; we all learned it together because we were composing in rehearsal. Warren is a machine and a specimen so he will always have sheet music and call any standard. Warren is very organized.”
The Baltimore scene
“There’s not many places to play anymore, which is sad — but my theory is that we had nowhere to play, so I just practiced a lot. I don’t know why so many musicians are coming out of Baltimore now. When I was growing up, there was a lot of music there but after college I couldn’t move back because I couldn’t make a living there making music. There is a specific sound that is very soulful with throwback; I think that sound eventually disappeared and became more of a commodity so a lot of bass players: Myself, Ben Williams, Ameen Saleem, and Rashaan Carter ended up getting jobs in New York because the bass players in New York weren’t really playing that kind of music. That’s what Kenny told me because he couldn’t find that sound in New York, because everyone were doing this odd meter thing 10-15 years ago. That’s my theory about bass players and drummers popping up there.”
What’s the touring life like and how it transitioning between gigs with different artists?
“That’s a good question. It’s very different and transitioning from Warren into Christian. Something I tried was not to listen to the exact same music as the artist I’m on tour with, but got my brain working in that space. With Warren I would listen to more straight ahead. For instance, I wouldn’t listen to rap all day up to a gig with Warren.”
You are here in Boston to promote Christian’s new album?
“Yes, it’s called Stretch Music and he has an app with it and he did a presentation of it today. It’s basically aimed at younger musicians. He takes the record and a mixing console on your phone. It has a sheet music icon so you can play along to it and turn it up, slow it down, speed it up, and loop it. This is great, especially for drummers, because you can turn down the drummer and play along to it.”
How is the new album compared to the new one?
“The last one, Christian aTunde Adjuah, had hip-hop and indie rock influences. Stretch Music is similar in style, but a bit more condensed and agile. It’s very hard to describe. It’s more mainstream. Warren is on and is playing with us at the show. There’s also two drummers on it, Corey Fonville and Joe Dyson, who play at the same time.”
What’s happening for you in the future?
“Since the new record with Christian has just been released, we are gigging a lot and soon going to Japan to play Blue Note Tokyo; then we go to Europe in November. I also started writing a few years ago and would like to release an album, hopefully in the summer of next year, because I’m getting old. I don’t to be that old guy whom releases an album when I’m too old. Hopefully next summer!”