Jazz Monthly: In his eighties. And you also studied with the great jazz pianist Sal Mosca, who I believe passed away almost two years ago, right?
PA: Yes, I believe you’re correct about that.
Jazz Monthly: I’m noticing here that I mentioned “jazz pianist” here, and I’m saying that here in bold letters, “Jazz Pianist”, Sal Mosca. Now why the heck is a young kid, who plays flute, who sings beautifully and who is playing saxophone… studying with a jazz pianist?
PA: Well what I was studying with these people in general, with Bob Mintzer, it was more to do with the instrument, but even with Lee, it was more about improvising. That’s basically what I was studying. I knew what to do with the instruments as far as technique went… I could play the instrument, I just wanted to get more knowledge about: harmony and improvising, and that’s what I was studying.
Jazz Monthly: Yes. And it shows with your performance, because I noticed when I was listening to you playing a solo on the sax, you could tell that there was a lot of study, hearing, and listening involved.
PA: I try to always learn. I still practice and listen all the time. I really think that life is an opportunity to learn your entire life. You can grow and learn if you stay open to it… I plan on doing that.
Jazz Monthly: On your new CD “ Groove with me” let’s start with the only cover tune that you choose to do. And you pick a great one! Its “You’re All I Need To Get By.” And it was written by that great husband and wife R&B duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. There’s really a lot of solid “funk” playing by you and the band here. And that song was recorded by so many people, every one from Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, to Aretha to even Tony Orlando & Dawn who recorded it. (Paula laughing) But I tell you, the one thing I found in your version of it, is that it’s very hip. You’re true to the tune… and yet you made it your own. That’s hard to do sometimes when you’re doing a cover, isn’t it?
PA: Yeah it really is. This is a particular song that… when I play live, this is one of the tunes that I usually sing. It’s great to do live because the people in the audience, while they might be seeing me for the first time and maybe don’t know some of my originals, if I do a song like that… well it’s something they can relate to and get in to and gives them a good feeling to be part of. So for the recording “Groove With Me,” we wanted to do something that was a little bit different, because the song has been covered so many times, as you mentioned.
So I was talking to Lou about it and we threw around the idea of a saxophone/trumpet duet. So we scored out where it would go… where we would play harmony… and where to put the solo section. I asked Greg if he would guest on this, and he said “yes” – which was wonderful. We got him the track and he played on it… and the rest is history.
Jazz Monthly: And it’s a great great… I don’t even want to use the word “cover”… record. By the way, when you mentioned that you often sing “You’re All I Need To Get By” perhaps to start some of your concerts, your point is well taken in that you want to give the audience something that they can relate to and that they might know… and then once they know the song and they are snapping their fingers or stamping their feet, then some of your originals will be more acceptable and digestible… right?
PA: Well, you’re a musician, you understand what I’m talking about… if you perform something that someone can relate to, and then they are kind of like “with you.”… I hope I’m explaining this right…
Jazz Monthly: You’re doing great. Keep going! Keep going! (Paula Laughing)
PA: It’s easier to go from “there.” It’s like you both speak different languages and you found a few words in common that you can both understand… and that’s what a “cover tune” can accomplish.
Jazz Monthly: Very good, Paula. That’s as about as close you’ll come to an analogy. What you just said. A few words… and now you’re on the same plane – you’re on the same level! You’re right. People are kind of dipping their toes in the ocean water so to speak. If you just dive right in, and the water temperature is 58 degrees, you can have a heart attack! But, if you just kind of ease into it gently, right?
PA: Yes, absolutely. You know we were speaking earlier about the “Groove With Me” being eclectic. Now you know Joe, nobody who is thinking about “You’re All I Need To Get By” is really going to call that a jazz tune, right?
Jazz Monthly: Yes. Good point.
PA: That’s more the genre that I was speaking before: “Old School R&B” and “Funk” which is definitely evident in a bunch of tunes on here. So again, it’s an eclectic recording that definitely has “Contemporary Jazz” elements in it. It seems to me that contemporary jazz has come to encompass things like: Old School R&B, Funk, Latin, etc., all under that umbrella.
Jazz Monthly: Wow! Well said.
Let’s talk about some of the other cuts. Some of the originals. And again my friend, you really aced this project. You really did! I mean it was worth the wait… four years.
The first cut is “Marimba Island.” It has a nice hint of the islands here and it has a real solid groove.
PA: Yes, thank you. Dave Delhomme did some really wonderful keyboard work on this particular cut. We’ve got Schuyler Deale on bass and Lionel Cordew on drums… of course Emedin Rivera on percussion. Emedin is on every cut on the CD… and Lou playing guitar… electric and acoustic guitars actually on this particular cut.
Jazz Monthly: You know when you go into the release of the tune, there’s a deep, deep groove there, and really a lot of fine soloing.
PA: Thank you. This is the only song that has a flute melody or solo on it.