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Dale Fielder "THE MUSIC OF PEPPER ADAMS" Interview 07/25/2007 Clarion Jazz Notes Jul 2007
Dale Fielder "The Music Of Pepper Adams"
Interview (Excerpt)
July 2007
By Leslie Colrane


Saxophonist/composer Dale Fielder’s new CD, DFQ~Dale Fielder Quartet plays The Music Of Pepper Adams (Clarion Jazz CJ80707), is 12th in a series of recordings that began in 1993. It is his first recording since his 2005 release, Baritone Sunride (Clarion Jazz CJ80412). In a 10 tune set that lasts for a generous hour and eleven plus minutes, Fielder chose to explore the music of the man who inspired him to play the baritone sax, one Park “Pepper” Adams III. Recorded June 9th of 2007 and speedily released on July 25th, I got together with Dale Fielder just before the eve of his CD release performance at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles to discuss his latest recording.

Leslie Colrane: I was privileged to be present at the taping of your new recording. I know you had some trepidation about recording another live CD.

Dale Fielder: Yeah, as with any artist struggling for recognition and to be able to continue working, you never want to experience a negative response to a recording. The jazz radio and critical community tend to frown on live recordings, and justifiably . . . especially in jazz radio as live recording quality can be variable and a badly recorded CD can be untranslatable for radio. But I’m a jazz artist who has to play and after years of watching and experiencing this, I’m convinced that our best playing does come before a live audience. It’s like Sonny Rollins says, that he considers live performance as the only genuine jazz experience. And the dynamics on an emotional level and other levels as well are certainly different than the studio performance. There is more of a sense of immediacy in the front of an audience of listeners and also a sense of danger without the safety net of the studio that helps you find the focus that spurs a higher level of creativity. So this is why I tend to not mind going with the live performance because there’s a higher percentage of a successful performance. The only thing that could really prevent it is a bad recording of it. So it is crucial that it be as well recorded as possible.


Leslie Colrane: How is it that you decided to record the music of Pepper Adams?

Dale Fielder: It was just the natural process of what I was doing musically . . . especially so since I decided to pick back up with the baritone sax in 2002. It brought me back to my initial fascination with the sound of Pepper Adams when I first consciously made the determination to be a musician when I was a kid about 10 years old. My first heroes of any sort where of 3: Sonny Rollins and the sound of the tenor sax, Jackie McLean and the sound of the alto sax, and Pepper Adams because I also loved the sound of the baritone sax the way he played it. I first started to play that way in high school from 7 to 12th grade as I enjoyed the new Selmer Mark VI baritone sax the school provided for my use for 6 years. So when I bought my new bari in 2002, I simply picked up where I left off all those years, which of course brought me back to a reexamination of Pepper Adams. I really wanted to know more about the man and all his music and began a study process of him and his work. This CD is a documentation of what I learned from him and an expression of love and respect I have for the man and his music. You know, even before I picked back up with the baritone in 2002, Pepper was an influence on me in all the earlier years as an alto and tenor player. In listening to him, I often imagined that this would be pretty close to how Charlie Parker would sound had he continued to live on. Pepper was among the great improvisers in jazz. But he was also a great composer and was the perfect example of the composer/improviser perfectly relating what he does improvisationally to his compositions. I wanted to not only bring attention to him as our greatest baritone saxophonist, but also to his compositions. This is why I also played the other saxes because I wanted people to hear how beautiful Pepper’s melodies are on some of these tunes that I think get lost or unappreciated played in the lower register of the baritone sax.

Leslie Colrane: How would you describe the music on your new CD?

Dale Fielder: Hhmm? I’d probably call it “The New West Coast Cool!” (laughs) You know what I mean? Listen to the beginning of Jane’s solo on “Rue Serpente!” How more cool can you be than that? But seriously, what I believe I’m trying to say is just a testament to Pepper Adams’ writing. The music is kind of moody. (The music) sets a vibe, you know? Tunes like “Rue Serpente”, “I Carry Your Heart” and the ballads. Pepper’s tunes always create a vibe, a sense of intimacy. I think this is what has always been meant by so-called “Cool Jazz” which to me means music with the right balance of being laid back and being intense in the same space. Which in a way is like life. Well, true music always mirrors life. In life you never get “one or the other” or “black or white”. You get “both/and” and everything in between, kitchen sink included, you know? So to be so-called “cool”, we have to learn how to handle or resolve differences or different energies so to speak and still remain ourselves. But I know, I’m digressing. So, hey . . . you got this new “Chill Jazz” phenomenon? So you can say the music is “Chill Jazz with just a touch of intensity” (laughs). Anything that might help us get more work ‘cause the “Chill Jazz” cats are really working!