Hamp would ask me about tempos in the band: 'Jacquet,' he'd say, 'knock off that tempo.' A lot of jazz musicians didn't prefer to play for dancers, which was their loss, really. But good jazz has always had that dance feel.
When I was 16 or 17 I heard the Count Basie band with Jo Jones and Lester Young and Herschel Evans and I couldn't believe it. They were the greatest swing band. I really fell in love with that sound. Everybody danced!
The patterns of big-band music are smooth and classical. It's got to be fresh. The brass section should crackle, like the sound of eggs being dropped into hot grease.
Their eagerness for the big-band music and their ability to grasp the essence of it made me realize that today's generation has not been properly exposed to the big-band sound.
People like to hear songs that they can dance to. Even if they're sitting, they like being made to want to dance and move. By me being a dancer, I know how I'd dance at certain tempos. I was always good at it.
When I got my band in 1983, I knew what I had to do. If I'm going to have a big band, they're going to have to sound equally as good as what I'm used to hearing.
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