My parents worked with Herb in the 70s and onward, especially recording jingles for David Horowitz Music Associates. I don't know exactly when, but I met Herb when I was a kid.
Herb Bushler was one of the busiest working bass players in New York from the mid-1960s into the 80s. With a classical background, he discovered jazz at the dawn of the 60s and worked with prominent artists while becoming very busy in the recording studio business. He worked with Gil Evans, Tony Williams, Bill Evans, George Russell, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joe Farrell, Ted Curson, James Moody, David Sanborn, Paul Winter, Enrico Rava, David Amram, Burt Bacharach, David Peel & the Lower East Side, Tom Paxton, Blossom Dearie, and Warren Smith and his Composers Workshop Ensemble, among countless others.
via Zoom: November 3, 2020
AG: I got distracted. I got a text right as I was connecting, about what’s going on at work in December and… gotta put that away for now.
HB: Well, hopefully this country will be awakening from its four-year nightmare, you know?
AG: Oh, my goodness…
HB: I don’t know … I’m sort of cautiously optimistic.
AG: Alright. That sounds good. I kind of can’t really think about it. I mean…
HB: I know, well, I haven’t been able to think about it for months now. I mean, every time I turn on the news and see any of it… such overkill. I just couldn’t watch this guy anymore, and I didn’t want to listen to any of the talking heads spinning their bullshit anymore, and I felt the same way you do. But, today is an election, and from what I’m seeing, I have to pay attention to it now, and… a little bit optimistic from what I’m seeing, basically because of the turnout.
HB: A big turnout is always better for the democratic party, basically.
AG: That was a thing last time around, right? Who all showed up?
HB: Yeah, that screwed things up good. A couple years of this orange asshole and… I just hope that we’re rid of this guy. Anyway, I wore my voting hat. You see what this is? I wore this to go vote in person with my friend Mara Horowitz, right? When I came out there was like this big trump-supporter guy who said, “were you in the military?” And I said, “yes.” He said, “thank you for your service.” And I said, “you’re welcome.” I was in the military, but if you take a look at that…
AG: I can’t quite make it out … Nostromo.
HB: That’s from Alien.
AG: I love it.
HB: I actually am a veteran. The definition of a veteran is somebody who served in the armed services and was honorably discharged. I was very lucky, I was in between wars. That was between Korea and Vietnam. So I lucked out.
AG: Perfect timing.
AG: Well, I had a few ideas of what to talk about, and… you know, there’s a couple things online [when searching for information about you]. I saw a brief Wikipedia entry and a… what’s the other one?... I didn’t have full access to one that was trying to be in greater depth, but even looking at their abstract, I could tell they hadn’t done their homework. It’s always interesting to look at discogs dot com.
AG: At least they’ve got some 88 record credits for you on there. I don’t know when I found that you were a bass player, because I never knew that when I was a kid. You know, I think at that time you were always referred to as a contractor.
AG: So, I don’t know when we started going to the parties at the lake house or whatever, but I was probably a teenager. Mid-eighties…
HB: Yeah, well, I was still a bass player then. I was still playing bass and contracting. After a while though, my hands just couldn’t do it anymore, ‘cause I blew my hands out driving those big bands so long. I used to carry Gil Evans’ band on my fucking shoulders every night, you know? I remember we’d do one number that would last 45 minutes. I’m playing my fucking ass off, me and the drummer, we’re playing our fucking asses off, right? at this hard fucking tempo. And I remember Lew Soloff was in the band and he took a solo and then everybody in the band took a solo, right? And then, Lew stood up again… and I said, “fuck you!” I put the bass down. I said, “fuck you, motherfucker! You play the bass. Then sit your fat ass down!”
You fucking guys will kill us, man. You know?
Anyway, my hands can’t do it any more. You see this finger is a little crooked? That’s from playing this way, like… [gestures as if playing bass guitar and then compares two forefingers] …and then this one is sort of bent over there, you know. So, if I can’t do it the way I really want to, I don’t want to do it at all. You know?
AG: Talk about not being the same, right?
HB: If there’s anything I miss about the old days it was like being on the top of the pyramid. You know? Knowing that, that I can, that anybody who wrote anything for the bass, I could play it. Without ever having seen it before, I could play it at performance level the first time. And, once you’re like… that’s like something you can’t ever get back to again, you know?
AG: Yeah. Then you could see it and not necessarily play it after a while.
AG: See it and hear it maybe … I’ve got some notes so I could just ask about some things.
HB: If my memory still works, I’ll be able to tell you. Luckily dementia has not been a problem of mine. I may be one that I remember who fucked me over about 40 years ago, so… [laughs] So, I’m still okay that way.
AG: Let’s see here… Born in New York, March 7th, 1939…
HB: Yup. Brooklyn.
AG: You started on piano and changed to tuba?
HB: Yeah. What happened was I wanted to be in the band, and I was in junior high school at the time, which they call “middle school” now, I believe, right?
AG: We called it both.
HB: Anyway, I wanted to join the band, so I went to the band room and the band director and I said I’d like to join the band. And he said, “what do you play?” I said piano. So he said, okay. Sit down at the piano and he put a John Philip Sousa march in front of me, he said, “play that.” So I played it, you know. He said, “I got just the thing for you.” [laughs] He came out with a fucking tuba. [laughs] That’s what he needed, you know? [laughs] I actually failed typing because of tuba. In the first period, I remember we used to go out on the football field and practice these formations, you know? It’s cold as hell out and carrying a cold steel tuba, they didn’t make them out of plastic back then, they’re made out of, like… heavy shit, man, and it’s cold. I go back in, in the second period I had typing, my hands were frozen, I couldn’t even move them.
AG: So, you started destroying your hands back in the beginning.
HB: Yeah, right. And then from there I realized the repertoire for tuba was so limited that I really didn’t want to do it anymore. That’s when I switched to upright bass.
AG: How did that happen? I mean, it’s like a natural transition for some people, tuba and bass, but tuba wasn’t necessarily your choice, which is kind of a lot of people’s story about going to the band room and whatever instrument was left or something.
HB: Yeah. Well, the thing is is that… Playing bass, to me, was just a dream because, I mean, if you’re playing the piano you had to worry about ten notes. Playing bass, you only have to worry about the bass line. So, for me, it was like, hey, I like this, you know? And then I got into very heavy classical from then and I started… actually, I was going in and doing concerts in New York when I was in high school. Legit, you know?
AG: What kind of concerts?
HB: Well, my brother was, at that time, …I think you’ve met, haven’t you? He was the Dean of Music, at CCNY, and I remember your mother calling me and asking, because you had some kind of a problem, and I called my brother up and he said, well, tell him to call my office and we’ll talk. So, I didn’t know if anything ever happened with that. But anyway, he was going as a student then, and they were doing concerts at Town Hall and they’d need a bass player so, next thing I knew I was kind of living on Long Island as a kid, you know. I’d just take the train in, go to CCNY uptown, play, like Beethoven’s 8th, and “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla. I remember Bartok’s Divertimento.
HB: A couple of other things as well. I was in a lot of different community orchestras, and in the town where I was in Long Beach, Long Island, there was one guy (…?...) in the Catholic church, he used to call me twice a year. Once was to play Handel’s Messiah at Christmas time, the other one was to play Bach’s B minor mass at Easter, you know?
AG: Yeah. Let me see what this entry is I’m looking at really quick. Oh, it’s Oxford Music Online. You have to have a subscription or whatever. So it says, “played as a soloist with several major symphony orchestras,” and that would have been news to me too. Presumably any of that happened after high school.
HB: Yeah, that was 1970s. The reason that’s worded that way, it’s sort of misleading. David Amram wrote a concerto for jazz quintet and orchestra, and the jazz quintet was him, me, Jerry Dodgion, Pepper Adams, and Al Harewood. So, I was in a solo capacity in that sense.
HB: But we did that with a lot, we did that with the Philadelphia Orchestra, you know, we did that with the Rochester Symphony - we recorded it with the Rochester Symphony also - and we did it with the Cincinnati Symphony, and we did it with the Toronto Symphony, and a whole bunch of others also.
AG: That’s amazing to get the stuff, I mean, especially from the perspective of today, but even going back, just to get pieces played is difficult for a composer.
HB: Well, this is back in the 70s. The whole atmosphere back then… When I first got out of the Navy in 1960, there were just a lot of places where you could play all the time, you know? Just go sit in. Learn how to play. Everybody was playing the same tunes, you know? “Stella by Starlight.” Whatever, the standards. You got up there, you blew. But, that just shrunk and it went away.
AG: Yeah, it seems like the 60s to the early 80s, there was just so much more work than any other time between networks, TV, radio, records …
HB: It was a great time. I was very, very lucky to be active in the time that I had, because there was just so much going on. There was, like, a recording studio on every block. I mean, there was, like, god knows how many fucking night clubs you could play at. I mean, I used to go up to Bradley’s with Joe Beck and we’d go in there for like six weeks at a time. And the Blue Note or the Half Note or the Bottom Line, the Vanguard, you know? We used to live at the Vanguard when we were, Beck and I, with Joe Farrell. So, that’s all gone, man. There’s no way for somebody to make a living as a freelance musician in New York City anymore.
AG: Amazing. So, I’d like to clarify, sort of the transition from classical to the Navy to the 60s and… I guess those are formative years. You already had your chops together in high school…
HB: yeah, I had my legit chops together, and I was basically self-taught also, because.. there were certain methods, books, that you could get where you could learn how to play. That was the whole thing with the Fender bass though, a lot of people don’t understand that, that… it was every man for himself. [18:33] It was only invented in the 1950s. So, I mean like, nowadays, if you have to go to play the piano, or you play the violin, or the trumpet, or drums, or anything, there are certain books, there are methods, that have been around for years and years that you can use, or teachers will use to teach you with, but it was every man for himself with the electric bass. You could play it with like your fist, you know, up your like you’re jerking off a horse [laughs]
So, I mean, everyone had their own technique. Nobody learned from any method. [19:12] Oh, I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself, … so, yeah, I was classical chops, and I was into classical music only at that time. I just hadn’t found jazz yet, or jazz hadn’t found me.
AG: We’re still talking high school…
HB: We’re talking high school and just getting out of the Navy. When I went into the Navy for four years, they asked … I purposely did not want to be a musician in the Navy, ‘cause I didn’t want to play four years of John Philip Sousa.
AG: Oh, right. Got enough of that in middle school.
HB: Oh, man (shakes head). So I was a radioman in the Navy. And it was very easy for me. I finished second in the class. Of course, Morse code is basically rhythm. So, if you can hear that, it was very easy to pick up. And when I got out of the Navy, I got a job with the New York Central Railroad, and that was my first brush with corporate America, and, like, the whole idea of being part of a company for 40 years or something like that. It just didn’t appeal to me. So, I just quit and I just started hearing jazz. I just started hearing all this new music that was going around. By 1960, ’61, and I started practicing it and playing it every day.
AG: So you’re like 20, 21. You went to the Navy right out of high school?
HB: Yeah. And, meanwhile, I gave myself a college education, because I started reading everything that I could, you name it. I was like a sponge with books, man. I used to read three, four books, every two or three days, you know? And I realized that… it was something creative going on here. I was not being satisfied with the classical music and I came to a bunch of realizations then. There really isn’t anything creative about being a classical musician. I mean… Mozart wrote the g minor symphony 200 years ago. That’s the creative process right there. And he’s dead. And if there’s anything that can be even considered slightly creative, it’s the interpretation of the work, and that’s up to whatever prima donna is standing on the podium, you know? It certainly isn’t up to the second chair bass player or the third chair violist, you know? A few of us have jokes about that… What’s the difference between a bull and an orchestra? With the bull the horns in the front and the asshole is in the back. (laughs)
So, I decided I just had to get into that [jazz/creativity] and I just started practicing and I quit my job at New York Central Railroad and I started washing dishes for a living, which is a very interesting thing to do, it’s like trying to get calluses on your fingers and then putting your hands in hot, soapy water every night, you know? I remember once, I used to go to a club and Charlie Haden was playing there and he’d let me sit in, and my fingers were actually so soft I’d tear them open and I’d be bleeding all over his bass. There’d be blood dripping off of the bridge, man.
AG: Oh, man
HB: Yeah. That’s some heavy dues-paying right there. So, I did that for like, just playing, sitting in, getting my chops together, until 1964. That was the first real gig I ever had was with Ted Curson.
AG: Oh, yeah. So, backing up just a little bit, like… when you first started hearing jazz, could you say, like, what you were really into? Like, what was most exciting, or was it just, like, anything, all of it. Gimme what ya got.
HB: Well, for me it was like a whole new, a whole new experience that was tempered by certain things. For instance, I remember one trumpet player friend back then, Jimmy Owens, the trumpet player?
HB: I knew him back before we really made it, you know? And he said, who would you rather work with, Duke Ellington or Count Basie? And I said I’d rather work with Count Basie. And he said why? He said, Duke Ellington’s a genius. Yes, but I don’t wanna work with a genius. I mean, Count Basie just wants to swing, you know? And, that’s the one thing that always killed me about young musicians back then, is that all the trumpet players wanted to sound like Miles Davis. And my premise was who the fuck needs another one?
HB: You know? And all the bass players, especially the white ones, wanted to sound like Scott LaFaro. And I didn’t want to do that. I mean, if you don’t have a certain sound of your own, you know, all you’re gonna do is be… (gestures (laterally?)) right in the middle there. Stay there, you know?
AG: Well, I mean, I think it’s appropriate, like… if you’re… if you’re learning, I mean… when I was in high school I wanted to play like Miles Davis, but I didn’t know how to play anything, so that was okay to imitate him then, you know… ten years later, it’s like, if you’re still doing that, then it’s not working out.
[Most of the time, I think I’m too busy listening to the spark in my sky, and sometimes I don’t think I have the kind of talent to be such a consummate imitator, but I’m dedicated to loving this other inspiration, the firefly I follow through the wild in the dark.]
HB: That’s what I’m talking about. There were guys that just never got past that, you know. And Miles Davis fucked up a lot of trumpet players, just like Charlie Parker screwed up a lot of alto saxophone players … it’s like … Heifetz screwed up a lot of violinists. Nobody’s gonna sound like them. But, I just… I just started looking for a sound of my own, which I think I got. You know?
AG: It’s interesting about the Count and Duke thing, but I think we’ll come back to it, and go back to Ted Curson now, because he must have been playing with Mingus around that time.
HB: Yes, he was. I used to go to the Jazz Showplace every other night, man. I’d sit and watch it. Mingus had - the place would be empty - Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Dannie Richmond, Ted, and Yusef Lateef would come by a lot of times.
AG: Oh, yeah!
HB: and it was great because Jim[Paul] Eiler (?) was the guy’s name, the guy who owned the place, it was on 6th Avenue around 4th Street. You know? I used to go there. Since I had very little money, I would have to nurse a beer until it was like warm as milk, you know?
Yeah, but I didn’t really know Ted at the time; I just saw him play there. And my mentor, actually, at that point, was Warren Smith.
HB: So, Warren used to, he took me… he would do things, like, he’d scream at me, say, “you’re rushing! You’re rushing! Relax, motherfucker!” You know? And then he was heavy into the recording business, and, of course he was an excellent percussionist. He played four-mallet vibes, and, you know, he was like…..
AG: Well, yeah, he was a network guy at that time too, right?
HB: Yup. Yeah, he was big into that. And he used to take me to all the gigs that he was doing. So, you know, like, find myself in a band room, Basin Street East, you know, when he was working for Peggy Lee. Or else I’d meet him at Columbia 50th Street, watch him do a recording. So, it was just interesting. He opened up a lot of doors for me that way.
AG: That was one of the main people I wanted to ask you about, ‘cause… he’s a little bit of a mentor of mine too, not on the same scale, but I used to go to his studio every week in the late 90s. It was
HB: Yeah, __1st Street? Yeah, I played that place a lot, man
AG: No, this was on Franklin, I think. He’d have, every week he’d have his band in there and usually running some of the same music and most of the time I’d play some hand percussion – you know, he could have like ten percussionists there, so…
HB: Yeah, he was always a mellow guy. As a matter of fact, he loaned me the money for the first gig I had. Ted Curson said he had this gig in Europe, but you gotta pay your way over there, you know?
HB: That’s why, when people say, would you rather do a jazz tour or a pop tour? I’ll take pop every time. (laughs) So he loaned me the money to go over there. And at that time the cheapest way to go over there was, like, Icelandic Airlines, and it was a DC-6, and it’s like 14 hours. They stopped in Reykjavík for breakfast. So, that’s how I started playing with Ted. That’s actually, that record, Tears for Dolphy, that was done in Paris; we recorded that in Paris.
AG: Right. That year, right?
HB: ’64. That was my first record.
AG: Bill Barron on there, Kenny’s brother…
AG: I never saw him
HB: Yeah, he was good. He was sort of, like, torn between two influences. He wanted to go outside, but he was sort of scared of going outside, you know?
So I went over there, of course, it spoiled me, because I was not used to being treated like an artist. I mean, you go over to Europe, I mean, the people treat you like… not like here, like a second-class citizen, you know? They really appreciate you as an artist. I wasn’t… and also, I got very spoiled, man, I was over there, first time I was there, for ten months, right?
AG: Oh, wow
HB: Then I was playing just about every day. If I wasn’t in the club, I was practicing every day. I practiced, like, five to six to eight hours every day, you know? So, I’m playing every day and I got used to the idea of having a gig every night, you know? And then I got back to New York (laughs) and reality (laughs) reared its ugly head (laughs)
AG: Sure. Did you guys have, like… a week or a number of weeks at one room before you moved on? It wasn’t like a lot of one-nighters.
HB: No, no… we’d do a couple of one-nighters every now and then, if there was a jazz festival. Most of the time they were these awful saloons, you know, where they screw you out of the money out of the exchange rate. Really low bread, you know?
AG: You can stay as long as you like
HB: Yeah, really, you can. But there’s like different triangles. There was a triangle up north where there was like Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. And then the southern triangle was like Paris and Barcelona… and then there was like, Germany, and then you, actually, the first time I went to Berlin the wall was still up. It was 1964, you know? And Berlin was like right in the middle of East Germany. So you had to go through East Germany to get to Berlin. And it’s like… just out of a movie. Stop at the border, and the machine gun towers, and the watchtowers with the search lights, and the guards looking underneath the train with the mirror, you know. It was wild. And play behind the iron curtain, and if you played in places like Poland or, you know, like that, you couldn’t take the money out. So what you did at the border, they had these stores where you used to buy gold, right? So you’d pay, pay and buy gold, you’re paying for, you know, gold watches and stuff. And then on the other side of the border there was another store that bought it from you.
AG: (laughs) what a racket!
HB: Right. (laughs) It was great. Going on the road when you’re young is really wonderful, you know? You just eat, sleep and fuck, and play.
AG: I thought I could do it forever. I was like… I was always the first one up. I used to exercise, I’d get up… I might have only slept a few hours, but I’d get up and exercise and find some breakfast before anybody else was even up. I just loved playing every night.
HB: Well, I have some great stories about, like, the road and why I stopped going on it. I remember I was with David Sanborn, and we were in Greensboro, North Carolina, and we just finished the gig, and… everybody was looking for a place to eat, and I knew where there was one. Now, it’s one thing if you know Chicago like the back of your hand, but if you know where the IHOP is in Greensboro, time to go home.
HB: So, I mean, like I said, it’s great when you’re young, but after 35 or so, it starts to get a little old. When Sanborn and I were opening up for James Taylor, I mean, that’s like, when you get there I mean… Okay, you get to the place, you get to the city you’re going to, you go to the hotel room, you check in, go right to the concert hall, do a sound check, you know, do a rehearsal, go back to the hotel, you know, get something to eat, go back to the concert hall, do the concert. Now, okay, after that your time is your own, but 6 o’clock in the morning, you’ve got another plane going somewhere else, you know? It’s a great way to save money, but it’s awfully wearing sometimes.
AG: No, I didn’t get to do it that much, maybe I’ve gone 12 times, and never for 10 months or anything, but… but a bunch of one-nighters.
So, I was going down the discography, there was a Harold Vick record that was released later, but that must have been recorded on the heels of that first stuff with Ted Curson.
HB: Yeah, it was back in like the early, early 70s. Mickey Roker and Victor Feldman… Who the fuck else? Walter Bishop, Jr.
AG: Yeah, and Malcolm Riddick…
HB: Malcolm Riddick on guitar.
AG: It said recorded in ’67 and then released in ’74.
HB: Yeah, it was recorded in ’67 though, that’s true. Harold was one of those guys who was colorblind. He didn’t… because back then, like I’ve told you before, a lot of white musicians ran into Crow Jim a lot. But Harold wasn’t like that. I just enjoyed… he was just a mellow guy. I did a lot of gigs with him.
AG: So, it must have been the late 60s, then, that more work just started coming in. I mean, you’re talking about the gig with Ted Curson is still kind of humble times, but within a few years there was more work, right?
HB: Well, yeah. ‘Cause I got back and I had chops were ferocious, you know? But, at that point, in 1965, I realized that, if I wanted to get studio work, I had to get the electric bass. And a lot of bass players were furious, you know. They would refuse to deal with the electric bass, like, …the thing is people are not going to call on acoustic bass when they want an electric one. And, you know, there are a lot of people don’t realize that all of Elvis Presley’s records, that’s all on acoustic bass on those things.
HB: It wasn’t electric at all. Billy Haley and the Comets, I mean, all the old rock’n’roll groups back then. But then, when the electric bass was invented, you know… So, I just had to get my chops together on it and I realized, damn, I gotta do some different shit, because I can’t… you know, positions on the bass, it doesn’t work on a fretted instrument. So, I just had to woodshed that thing all the sudden. And that’s some of the happiest times that I ever had, was when my chops on electric and acoustic were commensurate.
AG: That makes me think about the Wrecking Crew out west… When certain musicians didn’t want to deal with pop music or rock’n’roll or whatever, and then the Wrecking Crew, Carole Kaye and all of them, had all the work in that vein because they were willing to deal with it and they came out on top.
HB: Well, that’s how I started off was that, I start off being really busy in August or July, because that’s when all the first call musicians would take vacation, and that’s how I got my name spread, that’s how people started hearing me in the studio, you know? So, that worked out for me in that way.
AG: Herb’s not on vacation.
HB: (laughs) Right! Not at that time. (laughs)
But, you know, like, I did a whole lot of stuff that… like I said, I got screwed on also. I mean, there’s some credits that I had that I never got that really pissed me off. I mean, I’ll tell you, one was Jobim. I did two albums with [Antonio Carlos] Jobim. The first album I did was called Jobim, and I really enjoyed working with this guy. This was… fabulous… and, I was waiting for the album to come out, and it came out, I look at the album and it says, “bass: Ron Carter,” you know? I said, what the fuck is that? I did half the album, you know? Nothing I could do about it. Then six months went by, and the producer, Claus Ogerman, right? He called me up, he said, “you know, we really enjoyed the way you played on that first album.” I said, “well, if you enjoyed it so much, motherfucker, why didn’t you put my name on it?” And he went into his Nuremberg trial shit, “Oh, I wasn’t responsible,” you know, “just following orders” or whatever.
(laughs) So, I did the second one too and he did it to me again.
AG: Just following orders. Wow.
HB: I mean, and this was the days when everybody was making records. There was no ___ embargo yet. I mean, [they were] grabbing them off the street and giving them record contracts, you know? I mean, record dates were like a dime a dozen in the studio, and I mean there was so much garbage, so much bullshit, you know, that if you squeeze it all together and reduced it to its original petrol-chemical base and got a quart of oil out of it you’d be better off. But there are certain records you make where you say, I really want the credit on that because it… you know who you’re working with.
AG: and you liked it!
AG: After the last ten, this is one I actually like.
In your discography I start seeing, like,… Oh, okay, like Melvin Van Peebles in 1969, that’s Warren Smith and Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson, that’s another person I wanted to hear about.
HB: Yeah, well, Cole Perk was like… He was probably, there were very few composers I know, like… He was fucking genius. Perk was like… one of the few originals. I’ll tell you what, if you listen to… there’s an album of his called, Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson, A Celebration. Get that record, it has his classical works.
HB: It’s brilliant.
AG: I had heard about it him… Michael Carvin said they had a group with him and… I think he said it was Coleridge Perkinson and Eddie Khan, and they did some Motown stuff or something. Rhythm tracks.
HB: I worked with Carvin once with Billy Harper. Live gig. Loud fuckin drummer, man. He starts at that fortissimo.
AG: He was another one that told me to learn to play quiet, [along with] Richie Pratt and Grady Tate …
HB: Richie Pratt! Jesus Christ. There’s a name from the past. I did an off Broadway show with Richie. Man… ever [seen] the scars on his knees?
HB: He was like a fucking pro football player.
HB: But his wheels didn’t make it, you know?
AG: He was a big guy, with that big smile.
HB: Yes! He was sweetheart.
Perk and I… I was his contractor for a few years also. And we did lot of ballet scores and a lot of off Broadway theater.
AG: Oh, okay. So, that’s the… How far does that stuff go back, the contracting? I mean, did you start contracting when you, they overlapped, right?
HB: Yeah, well… I contracted for, like, three or four different people. I contracted for Gil [Evans]. I did his band and recordings. Perk’s, I did everything of Perk’s. And I had a couple of out-of-town guys that would call me up now and then. This was before David Horowitz even had a company. So, I wasn’t exclusive with one person. I did a… I’m trying to remember what the hell it was. There was so much stuff back then that… it just, like, runs together in my mind sometimes, you know? But Perk was just one of the… and that was the rhythm section, was always Perk, me and Grady Tate.
AG: Oh, man!
HB: And Grady used to call me “Heeb,” and I used to call him “Greedy.” I used to call Perk, “Puke.” Said, “Hey, Puke!”
AG: When I was just starting out I used to call Grady on the phone. I didn’t take any lessons, but I could call him and ask him questions, and he was super supportive. I just remember calling and saying I didn’t like the sound of this one cymbal I was lucky to have to play with, but I was trying to get a tone and he heard me out and he just said, “if you’re making music, you can play on a fucking trash can lid.”
HB: That’s sounds like Grady. Once he told me that he was working at the Apollo and he parked around on one of the side streets, and he got in his car, and there was a guy that slid in the other side with a gun. And he took his watch and he took his wallet, you know? And he says, okay, so, I’m going now, he said, but you sit here in this car, you don’t move; if you move or get out of the car, I’ll fucking kill you, you understand? Grady said, yeah. So he gets out and says, by the way, man, I really dug your last record. (laughs)
He’s no longer with us, unfortunately.
... to be completed by April 11, 2023