Monday, July 16, 2007

Interview to Don Baaska and Valli Scavelli

I know you went to Puertorico in the mid 50's , many musicians did the 
opposite , see the New York Barrio Bands and musicians ..
Which were your musical influences in the beginning ?

Baaska : Nat Cole and Teddy Wilson were my first influences. Then Errol Garner & 
Monk. Currently my favorite pianist is Jay McShan. He takes it back to 
basics. I didn't go to Puerto Rico to play music. Just got drunk one night in Key 
West and the bartender & I ended up in San Juan on a DC 3 with a load of 
live chickens and decided to stay and got a hotel gig.

Many of your compositions tastes Latin but with a strong American Jazz 
feeling , how did your musical taste changed during your staying in South 

Baaska : Necessity. I don't do day jobs and Latin music was what was needed and 
wanted although the musicians I worked with appreciated my Jazz harmony and 
phrasing. I absorbed the clave by osmosis, playing with some great Latin 
rhythm sections.

Talking about the famous " Get off the Ground " aka " The Bottom End "...
I own the Acid Jazz reissue from the late eighties , many time i was looking 
for the existance of possible LP or other things about the Band called 
Brother Davies Miles ...
I Spoke to Eddie Piller about where he get the record from , but he were 
always not clear about the origin of that tune , just says " Its a very rare 
tune ".
From Gilles Peterson I already heard about the " Short " version sunged , 
but I thought it was a Janet Lawson tune..and I was not the only one ...
At the end , thanks to DJ Seymour Nurse I realize that it was a Baaska and 
Scavelli song, made during a kind of "rehearsal" and recorded to test a Sub 
Woofer ...incredible , isnt it ?
It's true the fact that you did'nt know that tune were released , and that 
it was also one of the more Jazz-dance tunes in the London Jazz scene ?

Baaska : Yeah, that was a big surprise!

A thing that I always liked on that track was the Jazz Trio combo with 
Electric Piano feeling ...very underground in that way ..In wich occasion 
you use to get the Fender Rhodes sound ?

Baaska : I was enamored with the Rhodes and used it with effects and for a while in 
the 70's preferred it to acoustic and used it on all gigs. It also 
complimented Valli's voice very well. I wish I still had it. But I found a 
new love in the DX 7 and gave the Rhodes to a kid to practice on. Right now 
I record on a Roland EP 7 but really prefer an acoustic for performance when 
available. Hell, whatever has keys on it I can make do with.

I really like " Floating " tune sound , can you tell us if there are more 
Baaska tracks that sounds like "Get off the Ground" so you can save us other 
20 years of researching ...ha ha !

Baaska : Yeah, the whole Album "Planet of the Seven Moons" 12 songs. It's on my web 
site with some sound samples. Can send you a copy if you like. The production on some of 
the tracks is a bit primitive but the feel is good.

At the end, whats your feeling about all whole story that takes people more 
than 20 years to realize that you are the composer and performer of that 
amazing Rare Jazz Dance track !?

Baaska : Hey, shit happens

Mrs Valli :

Which where your musical influence when you start to sing ?which singers did 
inspire you?

Valli Scavelli : My first love was Sinatra and of course Sarah, Ella & Billie. But Annie Ross 
was the big one.

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