Conversation with Dave Capello- drums, poetry, analysis, excitement

Helen Gillet(Cello); Dave Capello(drums)I first met Dave Capello through Bill Milkowski.  I remember Bill shouting out somewhere on Frenchmen St in the early 90's that I really needed to play with Dave.  I'm glad that happened.  I loved playing with Dave from minute one.  It just made sense to me.  He didn't waste time, behind the drums, trying to prove anything so you could more quickly move toward the possibilities of developing something organic.  Before he came to New Orleans, he had been the drummer for the Bern Nix Trio through Theater for the New City.  I was fascinated with that too because I was (and still am) under the spell of Prime Time (Ornette Coleman's electric band.) I was fascinated to try to talk about that in those days but Dave was really more intrigued with the New Orleans scene around him.  

The earlier interview on this blog with saxophonist, Tim Green gives a rare look at the background behind the ideas and experiences that make up some of the forces in Tim's playing.  Here is another very rare piece and, like the interview with Tim, much can be learned about Dave's music and the worlds it comes out of without being familiar with his work.

Some of the best work I've heard him on lately is trombonist Jeff Albert's records.  Check those out at Jeff's site

In this conversation, Capello brings up a whole lot of his experiences from radical cultural scenes in New York and Kansas City.  Some have been scantily documented and Dave sheds some light on that, particularly the goings on in New York's lower East Side around free, conscious, creative music. 

Part 1- Bill Milkowski; the Kansas City jazz scene when Dave was growing up there; the influence of his Father and his jazz records; Bird at St. Nick's; Roy Haynes; how he came to the drums and his first teachers; learning timpani; "bar-b-q jazz"; wrestling with technique; getting into writing early on and the decision to not specialize; writing poetry and analysis and history; interest in drama; leaving Kansas City and why; going to Northwestern

Part 2- Leaving "Heavenston;" going back to Kansas City and landing his first regular gig at a colorful bar; playing jazz in KC; Pat Metheny; playing jazz and the features of Kansas City jazz styles as that time; swinging and schmaltzy as an aesthetic; going to Evergreen in Olympia, Washington; playing at the Rennaissance Fair in Eugene, OR with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Rev Chumley etc.; Tommy and the Snakes and other experiences in country music; back to Kansas City and then being drawn to New York in the late 70's by friend at Parsons; the New York scene- at Hurrah's, James Chance, James White and the Blacks; No Wave; getting into the publishing business and then writing through that; going to Hunter; meeting Bern Nix and the Theater for the New City; Crystal Field; William Parker joins to make the Bern Nix trio; the aesthetics that were, how they came to be that way, and how they became so misunderstood; not wanting to be bourgeois in New York.

Part 3- Bill Milkowski; New York going broke and the effects on the New York art scene; cultural wars; the evolution of the Knitting Facory and incidental exploitation; Zane Massey; polarization along class, race, and sex lines; being chased out of New York by the rising rents, along with a lot of music venues; working at Simon & Schuster and stumbling into market analysis; ending up being a part of the problem and having to work out a way out of that; the change in jazz from originality to conformity; reactionary politics working its way into jazz; changing role of the artist in society; the hideous ways of denigrating the artist and various negative reassociations; problems with cliques in New York; coming to New Orleans and the comparative fluidity of the scene; being a New York exile.

Part 4- what happened when he got to New Orleans; falling into what he was trying to get away from; on the other hand...; punkfunk scene dying in New York and the reasons; getting into New Orleans and the beat and syncopation; hitting some hard times in New Orleans and leaving for a while- Ithaca; problems with the music press in New Orleans-suppressing innovation; insoucience; desire to push the limits; studying with Andrew Cyrille; more jazz pondering; the failure of imagination; bitter-sweet New Orleans; separating marketing from music; inspiring ideals embodied in jazz; where he is going now.