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Old Oct 13, 2007, 10:16 AM
John Doheny John Doheny is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: New Orleans
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Kenny Colman interview

Many thanks to Melody Diachin for an illuminating interview with Mr. Colman.

I can't remember the first time I heard Kenny. It might have been at the Three Greenhorns, but I'm not sure. I'd certainly heard of him long before that, he's the kind of guy musicians tend to talk about among themselves. The book on Colman was that he wasn't always the easiest guy to work for.

The interview sheds a great deal of light on Colman's motivations and interior life, and I think he deserves serious props for being so forthcoming. Of course he's never tried to rationalize his sometimes prickly behavior or iron out his numerous contradictions. He's always been one of those 'take me as I am or not at all' kind of guys.

My good friend Tony Foster held down a gig with Colman at the Four Seasons for a number of years, and about three years`ago when I was up in Vancouver to play jazzfest he suggested I drop by and sit in. I'll admit I was a little apprehensive (I'd heard all the stories about Colman's notorious temper) but I love playing with Tony and I respect his judgement. It's turned out to be one of the best musical experiences I had that summer. The band was Dave Guiney on bass with Joe Poole on drums (Tony on piano). You couldn't ask for a better rhythm section. And Colman was, to my surprise and delight, a real honest to god jazz singer, not someone who just sings the heads and gets out of the way for solos. He has a thoroughly grounded sense of swing and fully participated in the internal dialogue that is always present in small-band jazz. He's the genuine article and any musician who's ever played with him will say so.

He was also a perfect gent, though at one point in between-sets conversation he did say something to the effect that he figured sooner or later he'd 'forget who the boss is and lose the gig.' In light of Melody's interview I'd be willing to bet he really meant that at some point his determination to maintain high musical standards and present himself in the best possible light would collide with the budget cutting mania that room managers are so often afflicted with.

Sure enough I heard from Tony about a year later that they could no longer afford the bass chair and he was playing left hand bass.

I'm saddened that Colman thinks he 'didn't make it.' But then, by the standards of people like Sinatra and Bennett, almost none of us do. I would hope that he's able to make his peace with that, and understand that the music, whether it achieves broad popular appeal or not, is it's own reward.
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