Dancing to a Different Drummer
An Interview with
by Paula Edelstein
Alphonse Mouzon is the founding drummer of the great group, Weather Report, the Chairman and CEO of his own label, Tenacious Records, a composer, arranger, master musician and man for all seasons! It just doesn’t get any better than this. As one of the architects of the “smooth jazz” movement, Alphonse was one of the first to record what was previously known as “quiet storm” music back in the 70s. As many of you know, this sound has gone on to become the trademark of many new artists and has come into its own with the likes of Alphonse Mouzon, Dave Koz, Chuck Loeb, and Warren Hill. Whether composing original smooth jazz, straight-ahead, acid jazz or a classic arrangement for one your many favorites, Alphonse Mouzon is all that and more. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s up with one of jazz’s greatest innovators.
JazzUSA: Hello Alphonse! So nice to speak to you again. We appreciate having you discuss some of your more recent projects with us. There have been many, many projects since you co-founded the band Weather Report with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. Now as the President and CEO of Tenacious Records, the “Mouzon Sound” is quickly being embraced around the world. What new projects have you been working on?
AM: I currently have six new CDs in production that I plan to release in 2001. There are three “live” CDs with my quintet featuring Sal Marquez on trumpet, Chuck Manning or Doug Webb on tenor saxophone, David Goldblatt or Mitch Forman on acoustic piano, Dave Enos on acoustic bass, and myself on drums. The other three CDs were recorded in the studio. The first studio CD is a smooth jazz production called SMOOTH AS SILK that features Warren Hill, Chuck Loeb, Paul Taylor, Nelson Rangell, Larry Coryell and many more artists to be added. The second studio CD is a straight ahead jazz production called ANGEL FACE that features myself, along with pianist Cedar Walton, trumpeter Shunzo Ono, and many more artists to be added. The 3rd studio production is a fusion/acid jazz CD called THE SEVENTH HOUSE that features myself, along with Shunzo Ono, Larry Coryell, Jeff Richman, Welton Gite and many more artists to be added.
JazzUSA: WOW! Which format do they feature and if this is a distinct difference from the usual style/formats you work in, why have you chosen to change?
AM: The three styles (straight ahead jazz, acid jazz and fusion) are completely different from my past recordings. Even the smooth jazz on SMOOTH AS SILK is much more different than the music I’ve released in the past. I think my fans are going to really love it, while my critics and jazz fans are going to love the three “Live” straight ahead CDs with my quintet.
JazzUSA: I’m sure we will. Is there a favorite multi-cultural ensemble that you like these days?
AM: I’ve only been listening to smooth jazz and straight ahead jazz music at home and while I’m driving my car. My 4 1/2 years old daughter Princess Emma Alexandra always make sure that I turn on Radio Disney for her but she also loves jazz and classical music.
JazzUSA: As a drummer, trumpet, pianist, composer, arranger, which aspect of your career brings you the most fulfillment?
AM: I enjoy each one equally. I also enjoy producing my own recordings and running my label Tenacious Records. Five months ago, I taught myself how to play the alto sax. It was easy because I had been playing the flute for over 10 years. I will feature my trumpet, flute and alto sax playing on some on my upcoming acid jazz and smooth jazz CDs.
JazzUSA: Has working as a jazz musician ever been more than you imagined it would be? This means has it been more fun than not?
AM: Working as a jazz musician has been rewarding and fun for me. It’s more than what I had imagined when I was a kid growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. I love being autonomous and free to record whatever I want.
JazzUSA: Have you signed any new artists to the Tenacious Records label? If so, whom?
AM: No. I haven’t yet. I have a few group projects (jazz, acid jazz, dance, smooth jazz and straight ahead jazz) that I will produce next year for my label that will feature myself along with guest artists. Information is posted at my website at http://www.tenaciousrecords.com
JazzUSA: We’ll be looking forward to it. Alphonse thanks so much for this interview. We appreciate your great sounds and many great achievements. The world could use more innovators such as you. Thanks a lot.
AM: You’re welcome. Thanks a million Paula!