Idris Muhammad: Coming to Grips with His Greatness
IM: I wanna play when I wanna play because I wanna play. Not because I gotta pay a mortgage, you know what I mean? Not because I gotta pay the rent and the light bill and all like that. I wanna do what I wanna do. A lot of us, we don't get a chance to do that. And when we do, we're too damn old. We live a little while and the next thing you know, we're dead. Because the system's got it set up like that. You can't retire until 65, and at 65, man, you might be crippled or some shit. [laughter]
So I'm trying to do it now. I like to play, man. I like to make people happy. But I just came off a tour with Joe Lovano in Europe. I just was out in California with the Newport Jazz things, then Joe and I left there and went straight to Europe. So for the whole month we were on the road, man. We was playin' music, movin' from one country to the other. It's good and it's great, you know? But I think I got somethin' nicer to do in my life these days [laughter]. It's just that I think I'd like to do something else. I don't wanna be uptight for some money. If I'm gonna do it, it's because I wanna do it, not because I need the money to do it.
A lot of us don't get this chance and they love the music so much that they do it until they say "He used to play better than that." I don't wanna do that, man. If it gets to that point, I'm goin' fishin'. If I can't make you happy with this job, then I'm not gonna do it. It's my outlook of how I wanna play this music. I've had a wonderful career and I wanna keep it like that. I want to leave you with how good it was and how much fun we had and leave it like that.
AAJ: No regrets?
IM: Yeah. I had a good life, man. And I'm healthy. That's the other part of it. I survived through a lot of stuff, man, and I'm still healthy. And I still can play. My kids is sayin' to me, "Pop, you ought to go to Florida, go back to New Orleans, go someplace." I gotta check it out. I was thinking of going to St. Lucia. But these days I don't wanna be no place ... I lived eight years in England and nine years in Austria, because I took my kids abroad to be educated. Now they're grown up. I lived in Europe a lot. These days in crisis, I don't wanna be outside of the country no more. I don't wanna have to be some place and then have to get back to the States. I think I'll just stay in the States somewhere, get me a warm climate and go fishin', man.
I just wanna enjoy life a little bit and have good vibes and good spirits around me.