Brian Melvine arrived at NO99 Jazz Club already an hour before the event. He wanted to get the feeling and the vibe. That evening it was time for his documentary film screening “Reflections” followed by the concert with his latest project, Brian Melvin’s Global Village. I was able to have a chat with him just before the event.
Kristina Pärtelpoeg talked with Brian Melvin before the concert.
Whats the story behind Brian Melvin’s Global Village, how long have you been playing together?
“We have been working as a group for about a year and a half. Not a lot of concerts, maybe we have done three or four but its growing, its a great group, its given me a chance to blend in all the music I have absorbed in my whole life. All the San Francisco stuff, the psychedelic music, the jazz the rock. It really came about when I was doing the film about my time with Jaco (Pastorius). It just really made me wanna get back more to the electronic sounds. The guys I am playing with, Karel (Liiv) and Raun (Juurikas) we were all excited to make Global Village happen!”
During Mondays gig the group had an extra player on the stage, the guitar virtuoso Jaak Sooäär?
“It is really cool to have Jaak with us, it adds an other really beautiful element to it as he understands lot of the different music, he is really open to all kind of music and that what fits.”
The music your playing is said to be a Pastorius electric jazz-rock. What is it exactly?
“The whole music is weird, everything has labels. The minute you say rock it can be anything, the minute you say jazz it can mean anything. So basically our band is liable to play anything. We do not limit our music. We do a tune by Bob Dylan, we do a tune by Bob Marley, we do originals, we do Indian jams. That’s the thing I use to do with Jaco and what I learned hanging around with Grateful Dead. Its like you let all your influences straight come into the music. You do not say that we cant do this or that or this is good or this is bad. There is no dualism, there is no borders, no passports in this band!”
So everything is allowed in your music?
“Well, yes! I think that’s the way how good bands get to the sound, I think great bands allow that to be part of it.”
What are the future plans for the Global Village?
“What I really want to do with Global Village is that I would like to, maybe, record it live and to do a double CD set . To do both, to be able to show the band live and in the studio.”
There is an other project, Brian Melvin East-West Rhythm Band, he wants to continue with and wants to get recorded. So far they have been able to record two songs.
You got the bug for drums in 1964. When and how did you get the bug for Indian drums? Many of your projects have the Indian touch.
“It still had to do with Beatles, subconsciously, because it started coming out on their movies like Help and their CD’s. And then about when I was 12 or 13 a friend of mine drew my attention to drummers from India. I listened to them and I said WOW!! Just a sound completely blow me away. And then I think, when I was maybe 16 or 17, Mickey Hart, a friend of mine and also a drummer in Grateful Dead had a band called the Diga Rhythm Band. They had like ten drummers, all based on Indian music. Mickey was hanging out with Zakir Hussain who is this master tabla player from India. I took my first lesson with Ustad Allarakha, Zakirs father in 1976. And both Allarakha and Zakir became my teachers. I am still amazed about the whole Indian traditional music and its possibilities.
But it was Mickey and the guys in the Grateful Dead I would say turned me on to so many different kinds of music and had such a huge impact on me as a teenager in San Francisco and what was going on in late 60s and 70s. It was a very good soil for planting lots of seeds and there was lot of experimentation, the hippie movement the drugs the music, it was all part of the change, the change was in the air. And it still is.”
Same way as a drumming is an integral part of Brian’s life so is the practice of Tai Chi. He is up every morning at 6 or 6.30 to practice Tai Chi in the park and he does it all the year around, no matter what the weather is, -20 or pouring rain! Its his time with himself, time for reflection and to gain energy!
For Brian Melvin everything around us is connected and at the same time everything around us keeps changing so if you want to keep up with it and have fun you have to be strong, you have to be open minded, you have to care about people and you have to help people around you.
“I have been learning drums for 46 years and I am just starting to, like, understand it or not understand anything I thought I understood!! And that’s the fun part now. Do I know how to play drums? YES! At the same time you kind of get rid of what you think it should be, which is the hardest. Just getting out of your own head. And trusting other musicians.”
23.4.2012, NO99 Jazzclub
Brian Melvin’s Global Village (Eesti-USA)
Brian Melvin – drums
Karel Liiv – bass
Jaak Sooäär – guitar
Raun Juurikas – keyboards