In the course of discussions around my post about Hilary Jones' racist rant, I started thinking about reasons i didn't like her playing in the first place. BTW, I would never normally mention a player I didn't like by name, but I make exceptions for hate-spewers! Anyway, while doing research for this, which wasn't easy because many websites have taken her videos down. Thank you drummerworld! Anyway, while watching her play a sort of quasi-African groove (oh, the irony upon irony) I found it to be not only stiff feeling, but also cold and distant sounding. I surmise this came from her distance from the actual musicial materials she was dealing with, as well as her prejudice towards many of it's innovators and practitioners. I'm not even sure if she notices this herself, but I heard it loud and clear!
I think what has been going on for me, is I think you can be a capable, maybe even good musician if you have hate in your heart, but I don't think it's possible to be a great one.
I mean, listen to Elvin Jones' performance here with John Coltrane on "Song of the Underground Railroad". Talk about joy and love emanating from the drums!
Let's conclude with wise words from a Baby Dodds interview from the '50s
Now I know that sounds very funny to a drummer to hear me say spirit, but drummin’ is spirit! You gotta have that in your body, in your soul. You gotta have it even in your drumming that go along, you gotta have that spirit. And it can’t be an evil spirit—it’s got to be a good spirit. Now I know it puts you way back to thinkin’, why? Because music is no good if you’re evil. That’s no good. If you are evil, you going to drum evil. And when you drum evil, you goin’ to put evil in somebody else’s mind. Now, first thing you know somebody put the evil in somebody else’s mind, well, what kind of band have you got? Nothin’ but a evil spirit band. That’s what I mean by spirit.