David Hazeltine: Modern Standards
I did one arrangement of an Earth, Wind, & Fire tune. But it was one of their simpler ones. In order to mess with the music, in order to make it my own, in order to arrange it and do something different with it, so it doesn't just sound like a cover of something that's already been done, it has to have some openness to itnot so much going on. I always feel, with an Earth, Wind, & Fire tune, if I eliminate something, it would ruin the tune. Or if I didn't do it exactly like they recorded it, something big would be missing. So it's hard to add anything to what they do, because it's so highly-produced, with so much going on.
That's the thing about Bacharach. The other composers I chose for this particular CD (Modern Standards)I think that could be said of all of them. There's some relation back to the formats used by people like Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Kurt Weill, and an openness to it that allows me to insert jazz harmonies and do different things that are pleasant for jazz people to hear. So it's not just, "Oh, that's a Beatles tune, horrible." (Laughs) Not that Beatles tunes are horrible. But if you buy a jazz record and all of a sudden you hear some real simple triads, real simple chords being played, you might be a little disappointed.
AAJ: Right. Like starting to drink a glass of ginger ale, thinking it's ginger ale, and it turns out to be beer. It's just a shock.
DH: Yeah, right. Exactly, yeah.
AAJ: The thing about Bacharach going to see Parker and Gillespie early in his lifethat's interesting. Maybe the harmony seeped in but his personality comes out strongly in the melodies. To me it seems like his melodies are very straight forward and simple, very personal...
AAJ: ...and combined with that harmony stuff it's probably really fun to play.
DH: Yes, and he puts a stamp on all of his music. But again, the important thing about Bacharach's tunes that I've recorded (about one per record for the last eight or nine) is they all have that quality of being typical Bacharach. I think that if I just heard them, and I didn't know they were Bacharach, I could identify them. Like you said, it's a very personal thing and he puts his stamp on the music the way the melody goes with the harmony. Again, the point being that it's open enough for a jazz musician to [add harmonies], and for an arranger to try to develop it into something interesting as opposed to just a pop tune.
AAJ: Yeah. For me that seems to be the main modus operandi for this record, you taking these tunes and arranging them in your own way. Adding lines to connect parts of the tunes that maybe have a rest in melody, or putting in little rhythms or lines that the bassist cops with you.
DH: Yeah, that's right.
AAJ: That's real nice. When you decided on what tunes you wanted to do for this recording, did you play them with the group for a while to get a feel for how you wanted to arrange them? Or did you come in with stuff you knew you wanted to do?
DH: I came in with everything done. If you notice, there's a lot of space for drums. Like the Bee Gees tune. There's a drum solo every four bars...
AAJ: Let me just say that's my favorite cut on the record.
DH: Oh really, you like that one...
AAJ: Very cool.
DH: Oh good. Now, you probably knew the tune.
AAJ: Yeah, definitely.
DH: That helps. That's what I like about doing this project and will always like about arranging music. That's another thing about the 'modern standards' idea. I don't know how many people around today have a personal relationship with the tune "I Got Rhythm" for example, you know? I mean, not many. Because there's probably not many people alive still that remember how "I Got Rhythm.".. I never even heard "I Got Rhythm," the Broadway version. I have no idea what that sounds like.
AAJ: Right. We may have a personal relationship with it, but it's, like, five times removed from the original thing.