"This is a dream band"

Top Drummer Doug Hammond plays in Passau (...)

The Cultural Capital goes on tour – with one of the most formative jazz drummers: Doug Hammond (66), who is also a singer, composer and poet by the way, has assembled a tentet for Linz ’09 and has written a suite for it. After the premiere yesterday in Linz, Hammond will play in the Czech Republic, on Wednesday at 8.30 p.m. at the Café Museum in Passau, and on Friday at the Inntöne Festival in Diersbach. The PNP spoke with the very well-tempered musician about dreams and roots.

Mr. Hammond, is this tentet the band of your dreams?

Hammond: I hope it will be fulfilled (laughs) – Certainly, this is a dream band!

How does your composition sound?

Hammond: Unfortunately, I can never describe music well … but there are many different pieces combined into an “Acknowledgement Suite.” Each one is dedicated to a person from the last one hundred years who helped me in my career, such as the pianist Kirk Lightsey or the trombonist Julian Priester – many musicians and, of course, my mother.

A great thank you to your ancestors?

Hammond: Well, they’re not all dead yet (laughs).

Which role does your mother play in this context?

Hammond: The ballad for her is called “Rose: Sister,” because her name was Rose, but everybody called her “sister.” I called her “mother” for the first time when I was over 30, and she liked it (laughs). I had stipends for all the schools in Florida. But I told my teachers that I only wanted to study music, mathematics and English, and nothing else. They said: That is impossible, but I didn’t want to do that. And my mother said to me: I’m with you no matter what you want.

That is rare.

Hammond: Oh, yes, very rare!

You taught for a long time at the Bruckner University in Linz – How do you estimate the future of European jazz?

Hammond: I tell the people that they should go to the major centers, to Paris, Amsterdam, New York, so that they come into the right school after their studies. School cannot prepare you for life as a professional. There are wonderful, talented musicians here, but many are afraid of going out into life.

You say that everyone has to study the tradition. Why should I play blues if I want to become a free jazz musician?

Hammond: Every tree needs roots in order to grow branches. And to decide at the age of 21 which branch is the right one - that would be very stupid.

The interview was conducted by Raimund Meisenberger

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