Go Get Your Horn

FULL EPISODE

Go Get Your Horn

Every month they gather to jam - Rich, a sax player with a PhD in physics. Sleepy, a Gospel-trained drummer who’s an IT specialist. And their mentor, Cliff - a legendary trumpet player long retired from all his day jobs. Tonight they welcome George to his first jazz jam ever. Enjoy this musical celebration of mentorship, community and the art of listening.

AIRED: February 10, 2017 | 0:22:13
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TRANSCRIPT

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>RICH: A big part of that jam

session is it gives you a focus.

you're going to go to that

session, so I've got to work on

my stuff.

¶ [Smooth jazz music]. ¶

>>JARED: My first exposure to

that already knew the language,

that knew how to communicate the

language, and I was just trying

to get where they were.

A lot of places like the

Chatterbox, the Jazz Kitchen...

>>SLEEPY: I grew up, you know,

All my life that's all I knew

growing up, and that's all still

a huge part of my life to this

day.

Just, you know, being in tune to

what's going on onstage at

church and on the bandstand;

there's a lot of

¶ [Bass strumming]. ¶

>>GEORGE: I've always been sort

of drawn to it without knowing

it.

Trying to do classical music was

a lot of the other side of the

brain of that creative spirit

My first jam at the Kitchen is

tomorrow, and I'm feeling

excited, anxious, and hopefully

pleased by the end of it.

¶ [Lively jazz music]. ¶

>>NARRATOR: On the last Monday

of every month, there's a jazz

jam session at a club called the

There's a four piece house band

and a whole lot of guests -

students and pros, first timers

and fans - and at the center of

it all, a local trumpet player

>>RICH: Cliff is really known in

the Indianapolis area for being

the guy that helps out all young

>>GUS: They get up there.

They huddle for sixty seconds,

Then they say one, two, one, and

they play.

That's magic for me.

¶ [Lively jazz music]. ¶

>>JARED: Cliff is a mentor to

me.

>>SLEEPY: Man, Cliff has been

>>CLIFF: It's always great to

It's a good feeling that you

have on the inside.

And then you might not see them

for five, six, seven, eight

years.

Then, all of a sudden, they come

back and they said, "Mr.

Ratliff?

Man, I appreciate you, you know,

you letting me come in and play

with you."

>>GEORGE: I heard he's very laid

>>RICH: Whether you're a guy

like me who moved here in

midlife and came to a jam

session and was looking to, you

know, sort of connect a little

bit and network, to somebody

who's a Butler student, you

know, coming in for the first

time and, you know, and trying

to get up there and play.

He's such a welcoming person,

and he's like that with

He'll give everybody a chance.

>>CLIFF: Well because everybody

gave me a chance.

My neighborhood was full of

musicians, you know, from

around, and Indiana Avenue

wasn't very far away.

>>SLEEPY: He's one of the last

great Indiana Avenue cats

>>NARRATOR: In the 1930s and

'40s, Indianapolis boasted over

thirty jazz clubs, and the heart

of the scene was Indiana Avenue.

>>CLIFF: My next door neighbor

was Melvin Rhyne at the time.

He would always try to get me to

>>NARRATOR: Melvin Rhyne

performed up and down Indiana

Avenue and played with names

like B.B.

King and Wes Montgomery.

>>CLIFF: And one day I just took

him up on it.

He told me to just meet him down

at Sunset, and I knew I didn't

know nothing, period, and I'd go

around and talk to the other

guys, older guys, and they'd

tell me, "Go get your horn," and

that was it, you know.

I'd throw my horn in my coal

shed in the evening, and then I

would always tell my parents I

was going to a dance, which was

at the Y, which was right around

the corner from the Sunset.

And I'd just take off, and go

somewhere else, and start

playing with the other guys, and

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>JARED: 2004, I'd just

graduated from college, and I

thought I was good, you know.

I just I really thought I had it

together.

He heard about me coming back

here.

You know and you walk in, and he

couldn't remember your name for

anything, but he'd be like,

"Hey!

It's Mr. Whoever!"

You know.

>>CLIFF: And I forgot.

I forget everybody, you know

and...

>>JARED: Every time, he'd just

say, "Hey, you have your horn,"

even before he'd say hello, "You

bring your horn?

You bring your horn?"

>>NARRATOR: In order for both

students and pros to feel

comfortable sitting it, Cliff

relies on a core band made up of

Fred, Mike, and Kevin, each of

them fluent in the language of

>>KEVIN: The strange thing about

jazz and American music where

you're improvising almost

constantly, is that while you're

speaking in your own voice,

everyone else around you is

speaking in their own voice at

the same time, so you have to

talk while three or four or five

other people are talking, and

that's a challenge.

>>JARED: I mean the first stage,

for sure, is just listening.

It's getting that sound in your

>>SLEEPY: I really feel like the

listening part is what gets

skipped over a lot.

>>CLIFF: You know I studied

classical music.

I got to high school, started

playing jazz, and then my

brother bought me a couple

albums while I was playing with

this rock group, and it was

Electrifying Dizzy Gillespie and

Sketches of Spain by Miles

Davis.

Ever since I heard those two

albums, I haven't looked back.

Like I had always had a hard

time practicing, but when it

came to jazz you know if you

want to do it, you know, you had

to sit down, listen to some

records.

I might listen to it for most of

the night, most of the evening,

just to learn these songs you

know.

>>SLEEPY: I basically just went

in intensive study for about ten

years of just listening to

records like Philly Joe Jones,

Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Tony

Williams.

I got in trouble with my parents

a little bit because I mean I

basically maxed out a credit

card just getting like CDs and

¶ [Jazz piano music]. ¶

>>TIMOTHY: I grew up listening

to classical music just 'cause

that's what my dad had.

piano when I was four.

¶ [Classical piano music]. ¶

>>TIMOTHY: So when I went to

¶ [Jazz piano music]. ¶

>>TIMOTHY: It feels amazing.

>>RICH: I think maybe part of it

too is that unlike classical

music, where it gets obviously

very emotional too, in jazz

because you're improvising, I

think there has to be kind of an

emotional connection there.

You know you're trying to, it's

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>RICH: I mean I've had some

moments on the bandstand where,

you know you're playing with

players, and you play something,

and they respond to it, you

know, right then and there.

>>JARED: The blues is the best

example of that, and that

happens a lot in improvisation

over the blues.

So if you had a riff that

That's the call.

The response...

So those are just

you've got your first statement

and the common response

¶ [plays blues response] ¶

So if you put

that in context of, let's say

that that...let's say that it

originated out of a field song.

Let's say that whoever's out in

the field keeping everybody on

track is going to lead with you

know singing some kind of task

or whatever with that [singing].

"Bo bo dat bo dat n do dah" and

then the [singing].

"Ba dah" would be the field

responding, saying that they

heard you know the person

calling the shots and what

>>RICH: That's why I like to

think of jazz as speaking.

You don't speak in words that

you've never spoken before.

You just make up sentences that

you haven't necessarily

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>RICH: So the words are already

fixed, and the grammar is fixed,

but the conversation is not, and

that's what jazz improvisation

is.

I'm practicing licks.

I'll play some of those licks,

and that's fine.

Those are like words in

language, and it's the way you

put those licks together to make

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>RICH: That's what jazz is.

You know jazz musicians are not

making it up on the spot like in

>>KEVIN: And it involves a whole

lot of ears and a whole lot of

you know subjugating yourself to

the moment and being willing to

not speak when it's appropriate

and finding the right times to

speak.

>>INTERVIEWER: How does that

apply to life?

>>KEVIN: Yeah, shut up and

¶ [Gospel music and singing] ¶

¶ If he been good to you, ¶

¶ then you ought to get up ¶

¶ and praise him. ¶

¶ If he made a way for you, ¶

¶ then you ought to get up ¶

>>CLIFF: Gospel music is really

a form of jazz really.

>>SLEEPY: Gospel music, I mean,

it's all uplifting.

It's meant to uplift and to

empower you, and the same thing

can be said for for jazz.

It's usually happening in real

time.

It connects inside of me just by

you know whatever I'm feeling at

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>SLEEPY: You know if I'm having

a great day, you know, I can

find that spiritual place to

celebrate that in the music.

If I'm not feeling all that

great, I can still find that

¶ [Drum solo]. ¶

>>JARED: It's a way for people

to turn to laugh at their pain

or just get it out.

I mean everyone has trials and

tribulations and you know ups

¶ [Smooth jazz music]. ¶

>>JARED: Jazz music for me

helps.

If not, it would just be so

depressing.

>>CLIFF: And I hate playing when

I can't play what I want, what I

feel, you know.

When I've got to play something

just straight up and down, that

¶ [Smooth jazz music]. ¶

>>DENNIS: Just sit around, and

they talk.

You know they shake hands.

You know that's like a

brotherhood too.

>>GUS: Yes, yes.

>>DENNIS: Just the females, the

¶ To hear her laugh ¶

¶ and see her smile. ¶

¶ That's how ¶

>>RICH: It's sort of an instant

>>JARED: It felt like I was

being introduced into a

>>NARRATOR: In the footsteps of

his mentor, Cliff, Jared hosts

another jazz jam Sunday nights

>>JARED: My perspective changed

from I'm going to be good, and

I'm going to do this to I'm

going to try to pay as much

homage and reverence to the

people who were on this stage

before me because they set a

standard, and it's my

responsibility to keep that

standard where it is and then do

>>JARED: That's Carrington

Clinton on drums this evening.

>>JARED: The drummer that was

there last night, Carrington

Clinton - he was twenty-three or

twenty-four.

He's a little baby, and

Carrington has been coming in

and sitting in for about the

last two years.

And the way it started, he

wasn't asking to sit in right

away.

He would come and listen, and he

started recognizing our tunes,

and he'd be next week I want to

play that song.

Cool!

You got it.

So he got up there and played

it, played it well, and then we

were able to say, 'Hey man, that

was great you know.

Let's do that same song next

week, and here's what you need

to work on on that song.' So

fast forward you know a year and

a half, two years to last night,

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>GEORGE: This is going to be

definitely like a new experience

of a bunch of people I don't

know who are really good

musicians and getting to sit in

>>CLIFF: A lot of people get

nervous, you know, it's just one

of the things that come with the

¶ [Singing Scat]. ¶

>>CLIFF: I'm just listening to

you.

We're going to do a rhythm

¶ [Lively jazz music]. ¶

>>CLIFF: There's not a book in

the world that can teach you

what that stage can.

I don't care how many professors

you talk to or whatever.

Once you step up on that stage

and mess up like everybody has

done, they keep you going, can't

¶ [Lively jazz music]. ¶

>>RICH: Like you hear somebody

playing some kind of like

interesting you know kind of

outside modern lick, and you're

like hey.

This cat has listened and tried

to cop something.

That's really important in the

music thing, especially in the

jam session thing.

You sort of encourage somebody.

Hey, keep working on that

because you've got something

going on there.

Almost like a parent and child

¶ [Jazz music]. ¶

>>JARED: Mentorship's important.

You have a few factors.

You have a trust element, a

respect element, and then

there's individual dedication

that's involved.

And those are things again in

parenting, in music, these are

how you raise proper human

beings.

This is how you raise people to

successfully navigate through

all the stuff that we have to go

through in the little bit of

time that we're here.

>>CLIFF: All the older guys

always, you know, they reached a

hand out to help you out.

You know tell you what you're

doing wrong with the play, and I

never even seen a chart or music

they had.

They never had any chart.

They just said you'll hear it,

and I just listened real good

>>CLIFF: Alright, over there

Greg on the drums, George on the

bass, and Timothy on the

keyboard.

We're going to bring Timothy

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶

>>GEORGE: I think it went really

well for my first time here.

I've got like a hunger now.

I want to keep going.

I've got this this energy built

up inside of me that I want to

keep going.

>>INTERVIEWER: What did Cliff

say to you?

>>GEORGE: I think he just forgot

¶ [Smooth jazz music]. ¶

>>CLIFF: Jazz is my heart.

>>GUS: Everyone likes to come

where they really feel loved and

welcome.

>>TIMOTHY: They show me that

we're all really the same.

>>RICH: And they do something

that makes you do something a

little different.

When those moments happen,

that's total magic.

There's nothing better than

that.

Then you feel like man, we just

¶ [Staccato jazz music]. ¶


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