Courtesy of Roy Campbell

Delmark Records

AUM Fidelity




Other Dimensions in Music is heavy improvised music. It has next to no crossover appeal and thank God for that. Crossover, what is that anyway? Selling out is a couple of words that come to mind. And selling out is not in Roy Campbell's vocabulary and considering he is the vibe behind ODM, they, along with the David S. Ware Quartet are now the two groups that I am lobbying for to come to Cali. And considering my background is in politics, I can lobby with the best of them. I am pleased to present, Roy Campbell, unedited and in his own words.

FRED JUNG: Let's start from the

ROY CAMPBELL: First of all, my father was a trumpet player and he played saxophone when I was a child. He used to practice trumpet. My family had a lot of music around the house. They had rhythm and blues music and jazz. When I was a kid, I used have a 78 record player and I used to play Walt Disney records, soundtracks, TV soundtracks when I was young. When I was six, I started taking piano lessons for a couple of years. In elementary school, I played flute and recorder. Then in junior high school, I started playing violin. I was into a lot of different music, but I started with classical music first. When I got up to about twelve, I really started to really seriously listen to jazz music and my father had records around the house, Charlie Parker with Strings, Clifford Brown with Strings, Jimmy Smith, and also some John Coltrane records he had. I like Blue Train and Jackie McLean. He had a record by Jackie McLean called New Soil. I basically grew up listening to jazz. Then when I was about twelve or thirteen, they used to have concerts with artists like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley, and Aretha Franklin. I used to an usher at the shows and so I heard a lot of music. Also, there were clubs in my neighborhood too. I met Lee Morgan when I was fifteen years old. I met Woody Shaw when I was sixteen. He played a local club here. I also saw Stanley Turrentine, Lou Donaldson, Art Blakey, a lot of people. I also saw Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington at Carnegie Hall. I have seen Coleman Hawkins. So I was very into the jazz music. I really started buying a lot of jazz albums when I was thirteen, fourteen. I bought a lot of Blue Note records and Prestige records of great jazz artists that I liked. When I bought one record, I found out about another artist and then I would buy their record. When I was fifteen and sixteen, I had a good knowledge of people that had played jazz through my record collection. The music motivated me so much that I wanted to play an instrument, so I was thinking about playing tenor saxophone. I didn't get a saxophone so I started picking up my father's old trumpet when I was about seventeen. He told me to get a book and I started teaching myself. Then when I was like eighteen, I started becoming very serious about music and so I went to a workshop and Lee Morgan and Kenny Dorham taught there and I had lessons with them in group situations. I also went to a jazz interaction workshop where Howard McGhee and Thad Jones were there. I went to Manhattan Community College in New York and they had a jazz program. I studied with Yusef Lateef. I studied composing and arranging and theory with him. I was going to these different workshops, studying in school, and studying privately. I got a well-rounded background.

FJ: Is there one record that you wore out the grooves of?

ROY CAMPBELL: Yes, The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan. He had an album also called The Gigolo. That was out at the time I met him. That was a record that I wore out too.

FJ: All those releases are pretty much the jazz standard. How did you go from there to the more turbulent material you are playing now?

ROY CAMPBELL: Well, when I was fifteen, I started listening to the avant-garde music because I had met Sunny Murray. I saw Cecil Taylor perform solo and Sonny Rollins do a solo concert at the Whitney Museum too. My father used to play with Ornette Coleman in the early Fifties when he was out in California. They used to play rhythm and blues gigs and bebop gigs along Central Avenue. There used to be a lot of clubs along Central Avenue in the early Fifties. I also was into Albert Ayler too. I got interested in that music. There used to be a record shop on 42nd Street and they used to have ESP albums there for 99 cents. I didn't even know who some of the artists were, but I would end up buying albums by Charles Tyler, Frank Wright, and Sonny Simmons. I found it interesting because I have perfect pitch and if you have perfect pitch, you can hear every tone that is possible with a tempered scale and non-tempered.

FJ: That makes playing the trumpet easier.

ROY CAMPBELL: Yeah, it does, Fred. I didn't realize that I had perfect pitch until I studied with Yusef Lateef. He was showing the class intervals one day and I didn't know about intervals. He ran up and down the piano and every note he played, I told him what it was. I was born with perfect pitch and I didn't discover that until I was nineteen years old. I thought all musicians that played music had ears like mine. When I was in junior high school, I didn't want to play violin, but the music teacher insisted I play the violin because I had a good ear. I wanted to play the bass or saxophone or trumpet, even in junior high school. They wouldn't give us a choice of instruments.

FJ: What is it about advanced avant that inspired you?

ROY CAMPBELL: It was interesting because it wasn't predictable for one thing. You would hear like half tones and quarter tones and atonal stuff that would be different from conventional jazz. With what I knew about conventional music and jazz, I really could see the relationship, but when I heard some of Albert Ayler's music, it was like, to me, his music was like a three hundred and sixty degree circle. His music was New Orleans march things and then when he would solo, they would go outside that basic stuff. It was different. No matter what point you hit on a circle, it is still a circle and that is how I regard the music. I am not just into jazz. I am into reggae, country, classical, and world music.

FJ: You met all these legendary players, what is the trait that all of them had?

ROY CAMPBELL: You know what it is Fred? They had their own voice, their own sound, and their individual way so you know that that is them. It was like their fingerprints or signing their signature.

FJ: Do you have your own musical fingerprint?

ROY CAMPBELL: Yeah, I do. When I was playing for three years, a lot of people that heard me then could tell. They knew I was playing and there would be other trumpet players there, but they knew it was me because I had something that was me. I think over the years, I have just been refining that and enhancing that and developing that more.

FJ: Let's talk about the two albums you did for the Chicago Delmark label, New Kingdom and La Tierra del Fuego.

ROY CAMPBELL: I think New Kingdom, when I first did that, it presented a lot of the different styles of jazz that I am capable of playing. I called it Roy Campbell 101. So it is like an introduction to some of the things I do. There is a variety of different styles of music on there. It also was divided between a trio and a sextet. I was working with Bryan Carrott, playing vibes on that CD. I was in Billy Bang's band and we started doing some gigs with Thurman Barker. Thurman Barker was in the band. I started playing with Thurman and I heard how the vibes combined with the trumpet and that is when I knew that this was the other sound that I was looking for. I had played with piano players and guitar players too. I didn't have the opportunity to play with vibe players that much. La Tierra del Fuego was more of a compositional type of thing, the arranging capacity and the compositional capacity and arranging the horns because there are a few tracks on there that had a nine piece band.

FJ: William Parker contributes to New Kingdom. He worked with you in your Pyramid Trio. Not too many in the general public are familiar with him outside of certain circles, but he is a phenom bass player.

ROY CAMPBELL: He sure is, Fred. Me and William are like brothers. We have been playing together since 1978. The first time we met each other and played with one another, it was like kindred spirits. There was very good chemistry there. We played with Jemeel (Moondoc for ten years. And we played with all kinds of bands in the early Eighties that a lot of people don't know about that were underground and an extension of the loft scene. We played a lot together. Me and William are like musical brothers and everybody over the years knows when we are together, something special is going to happen. There is chemistry, a likeness in spirit and mind and we just connect, Fred.

FJ: Let's talk about Other Dimensions in Music. You have a record coming out in March on AUM Fidelity that is cryptically titled Time is of the Essence is Beyond Time with Matthew Shipp, a follow-up to the kick ass, Now, you put out a year ago on the same label. ODIM really caters to what you do best.

ROY CAMPBELL: I created the band with just that concept in mind. I have played in big bands. I played with Carlos Garnett. He had a big band in the Seventies. I went through all the traditional steps and that was fine, but after a while, I wanted to do something else. I met Daniel (Carter) in 1974 and when we used to rehearse with Jemeel in '79 ad '80, a lot of times before we would do the actual compositions, we would just improvise. Some of what we would improvise, I would listen to on tapes later. I created tunes from some of the improvisations. I had a group in 1974 and Daniel Carter came to some of the rehearsals. I liked the way he played, but he said he didn't want to play written music and he was off into another concept. So I said, "OK, you are welcome to play with me anytime." I met him again at an after hours jam session in 1981 and when Jemeel went away to Germany, I grabbed Daniel and formed Other Dimensions. Other Dimensions has been around since '82. We all went into different directions for a period of time and we started to get back together and we recorded a CD for Silkheart.

Fred Jung is the Editor-In-Chief and Interview mogul. Comments? Email Fred.