Ron McClure: Lookout Farms and New Moons
AAJ: Tell me about San Francisco, The Fourth Way and Joe Henderson.
Quest, from left: Ron McClure, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Richie Beirach
RM: In 1970, I was living in San Francisco and playing with the Fourth Way. It was one of those '70s jazz/rock/alternative bands with Michael White on violin, Mike Nock on piano and Eddie Marshall on drums. In San Francisco I was working with Bobby Hutcherson and through him was recommended to Joe. Joe was brillianta great writer and great improviser.
AAJ: Would you agree then that you're comfortable playing a wide variety of things?
RM: I take the music seriously. I played electric bass with Blood, Sweat and TearsI got a Grammy nomination for a tune from the album New Cityand later I played, with Herbie Hancock, on a Pointer Sisters album.
AAJ: What about the Charles Lloyd experience?
RM: Steve Kuhn hooked me up for an audition and Charles hired me. It was a great learning experience; we went all over the world. Charles said to me at one point, "You don't even have to play the bass, if you don't wanna. If you can think of something else to do on the bandstand, go ahead." It was that free. But really, it was tight too because we played everything.
AAJ: And the group playing at Birdland?
RM: It's the 35th anniversary of the group that [saxophonist] Dave Liebman and [pianist] Richie Beirach startedLookout Farm. Frank Tusa was the first bassist and so I came later. But Dave and Richie created this group that kind of pushed the limits but also had a strong, individual personality. For the reunion, Jeff Williams will be playing drums. After Lookout Farm, they formed Questin 1983and I played bass with them after Eddie Gomez and George Mraz. The music was and will still be free but also structured and a beautiful expression of the visions of Dave and Richie. They're like soul mates. I had played with Dave Liebman and his quintet on recordings for Timeless.
AAJ: Who are the musiciansbassists and otherswho've most influenced you?
RM: I'd say Herbie Hancock would have to be at the top of the list. He can play any style and he's played with everybody. He's been part of so many of the great recordings. Then, of course, there's Bill Evans and Miles and Wayne Shorter. I learned more about music from Richie Beirach than from anyone else. He's so knowledgeable and generous with his knowledge. When you play with people like Richie or Jack DeJohnette, they're in your blood. They make you play in the here and now. For bassists, it's Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware, Albert Stinson, Steve Swallow, Jaco [Pastorius}... And of course [Charles] Mingusbecause he represents a body of music, which I am trying to do.
AAJ: And your latest recording for Steeplechase?
RM: It's called New Moon (SteepleChase, 2009) and has Rich Perry on tenor, George Colligan on piano and Billy Drummond on drums. Rich Perry is the best-kept secret in the world. He is the best saxophonist anywhere right now. He plays my melodies, takes artistic license with them and makes them better! Colligan is another genius. He sees what your music is about, plays it, swings and is totally supportive. Billy is as clear as a bell, he's the nicest cat and plays brilliant solos. I love this record!
Ron McClure, New Moon (SteepleChase, 2009)
Ron McClure Sextet, Double Triangle (Naxos Jazz, 1999)
Ron McClure, Tonite Only (SteepleChase, 1991)
Quest, Midpoint: Live at Montmartre (Quest III) (Storyville, 1987)
The Fourth Way, The Sun and the Moon Have Come Together (Harvest, 1969)
Charles Lloyd, Soundtrack (Atlantic-Rhino, 1968)