I played sometimes about as dull as you can play it. I did things the right way, you know. I think I modeled my playing ability after one of the all time greats, Joe DiMaggio. You always found Joe, when he played, you know, he always threw to the right base. He ran, he caught the ball. He did all the right things. He was an idol of mine in the outfield. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played.
I think my first impression (of Bix Beiderbecke) was the lasting one. I remember very clearly thinking, 'Where, what planet, did this guy come from? Is he from outer space?' I'd never heard anything like the way he played-not in Chicago, no place. The tone-he had this wonderful, ringing cornet tone. He could have played in a symphony orchestra with that tone. But also the intervals he played, the figures-whatever the hell he did. There was a refinement about his playing. You know, in those days I played a little trumpet, and I could play all the solos from his records, by heart.
The career I chose was a drama major in college, at Yale, when I played a 90-year-old woman. One of my most celebrated roles. Then I played a really fat person. I played a lot of different things. That's how I thought I loved to wrangle my talent, my need to express myself. I like to do it that way.
I've played Latin, I've played Italian. And I've played the all-around regular girl. I think the thing about the way I look, is that I can look like many different things. People sometimes ask me if I'm Russian. I don't think I specifically look like a Puerto Rican or an Italian. Wouldn't you agree?
The guys that I played with, Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes - just about all the great musicians from Muscle Shoals.We played fraternity parties and kids' dances. They were called "lead outs" for kids in high school. We played wherever we could - in the down time when you weren't recording, people had to make money.
He wanted us to play whatever we played in the most characteristic and appropriate style. Even it was the theme from 'The Godfather,' you needed to play that then the way that a Hollywood producer would expect it to be played. Whether it was that or the posthorn solo from Mahler's Symphony No. 3, he would expect that to be played in the way that Leonard Bernstein wanted to hear it. In retrospect, I think it was a sensational way to teach this particular group of students. By the time you graduated you could absolutely read anything with any trumpet.
<< previousnext >>