Interview with pianist, Tom McDermott

Tom Mcdermott is an interesting sort of player.  There is a humility about his approach and he doesn't display the rambunctiousness of many players in the New Orleans scene.  That really doesn't go for his piano directions.  Especially once he gets rolling.  He is always looking around for new places to go, it seems.  He has been through many explorations of local New Orleans musics and piano styles and, as the interview reveals, he came to New Orleans because of James Booker. 

Where things get interesting in Tom's music is in explorations and integration of other world musics that have had an influence or connection to New Orleans music.  He goes deep but he also stays close to the visceral ends of being a New Orleans player, but he always seems to have another angle- either in people with whom he collaborates or the influences he is endeavoring to integrate. He has some very interesting records in this light and they demonstrate what a lot of others' recordings don't--a developmental story.

Tom is also very much a composer and there are interesting features to that because sometimes he is delving into very formalised, traditional or classical, directions.  He eschews messing with certain aspects and so his way into composition is quite particular.  This interview gives some insight about being creative while being heavily in love with traditional elements.

The Interview 

Part 1- Tinnitus; working with Meschiya Lake; what makes a jazz player and why he feels he is not really a jazz player; interest in world music that relates to early jazz; 'Best of' record to be put out by Van Dyke Parks; Choro, Ragtime, Musette, and Tom's re-usage of the forms for improvisation; being from St. Louis and University experiences; forays into music journalism; the problems in rock journalism; Tom's music background; examples of his brother's musicality; being uncomfortable with pop music; affection for Brazilian pop music; Tom's process of composing in vernacular forms; Tom's harmonic language and process of deriving form.

Part 2- Coming to New Orleans for James Booker; the different rhythms in traditional jazz- tresillo, cinquillo; working with Lil Queenie, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band; starting the New Orleans Night Crawlers; what's changed in New Orleans music over the years; loss of older players and lack of replacement; John Cleary; Dave McKenna, Dick Hymen; attempting music journalism; playing with Trolsen, Matt Perrine, Evan Christopher.