Interview with Claudio Slon: January 10, 2000
Subject: Joining and Working with The Walter Wanderley Trio
Interviewer: B.J. Major
(This interview was obtained via email.)
Q. Claudio, I'd like to begin with you telling how you first met Walter while in Brazil and how you initially became acquainted with him--and then later on, how did you find working with him?
When I was 16, I started my professional career
playing in Brazil with a very good jazz singer and pianist, named
Dick Farney. Walter was a very well known performer of Brazilian
styles, so I never considered playing with him, as I was a jazz
drummer. But he thought otherwise, and when my work with the jazz
singer was over, Walter invited me to join his trio.
Q. If I could ask a bit more about the days pre-1966 when you and Walter were still in Brazil and recording there, could you tell me something about the popularity of the Trio in your home country and if you were touring at all in Brazil during that time, or making personal appearances--in addition to the albums?
The WW trio was very famous for recording songs of young composers like Jobim, Marcos Valle, Joao Donato, and also older ones. Also for dancing purposes, as Walter's rhythm was always very contagious and lent itself in those early recordings to make young people feel like dancing. We made a couple of appearances on big TV shows, and performed in several clubs. The records sold well, and we made a good living.
Q. How did your initial visit to the U.S. for the recording of "Rain Forest" come about and what role did singer Tony Bennett play in helping to make that happen?
After working with the trio for almost a year, Walter told me we were invited to come record for Creed Taylor in NY. It seems some fan kept showing our records to Creed, until finally he and Verve records sent recording contracts for us to sign.
Q. Were either you or Walter married at that time? If so, what was the reaction of your families to the news of your coming to the U.S. to record?
I was married and we already had a 3 yr. old daughter; but fortunately my wife knew how much I had dreamed about coming to the States to record and work. So she stayed at my parents' house, and after getting settled in Los Angeles, I went back to Brazil, and we all came back to the US as residents, with Verve records as my sponsor. Walter wasn't married, as far as I know.
Q. Did you originally think that any Trio members would be coming to the U.S. to stay?
I was the only "jazz player" of the three, always dreaming about eventually coming here. Walter and the bass player were happy to come, but for them it was more for the obvious financial rewards.
Q. How did you get along/find working with the U.S. studio musicians at Verve?
On that first "Rain Forest" recording at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey, I made some lifelong friends, like Bobby Rosengarden, drummer for the Tonight Show that loved Brazilian music so much as to play percussion on the records we made. Trombonist Urbie Green is another, and also Bucky Pizzarelli that played guitar with us on our first recording. I'll never forget my excitement and emotions on those first dates.
Q. Did you and Walter speak both English and Portuguese, or were you still learning English when you first arrived here?
I was the only one with a good idea of the language, as I went to an American school in Brazil. But Walter learned so fast, he was talking fluently to girls after only one month...
Q. What was your reaction (and Walter's, if you remember) to the initial success of "Rain Forest" in the U.S. once the album was released?
Complete disbelief. When the single "Summer Samba" was released, the radio stations started playing it solidly about 4 or 5 times EVERY HOUR! Then after months, they started playing side B, "Call Me". And when the album came out, it sold very well. It was certified Platinum (1 million units sold) after a couple of years.
Q. You have mentioned to me before that after you recorded "A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness", and then "Chegança", you left the Trio to go to New York to record the A&M "Wave" album with Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as Astrud Gilberto's second LP for Verve. Did you have any regrets leaving the WW Trio at that time?
None whatsoever. It was the right time for me to move on. I had offers to record with Jobim, Sinatra, Astrud, and to perform and record with other Brazilian artist, like Edu Lobo, Marcos Valle, Sergio Mendes-Brazil '66, etc.
Q. When did you personally make the decision to stay and live in the U.S.?
About ten minutes after arriving!
Q. I get the impression from the few photos I've seen that Walter was basically a very shy person. Would you say that is correct, and if not, how would you characterize his personality?
You are very observing. Yes, Walter was an extremely shy person, and that got in the way of his reaching higher fame, fortune, and recognition.
Q. To your knowledge, does Walter still have family members in Brazil?
I believe he has a daughter.
Q. Is there anything else of interest you would like our readers to know about Walter or his work?
Only that what now can be easily labeled by some as "lounge" music, at the time it was recorded [it] showcased the talent of a great player and artist that made his mark in the music world, and will never be forgotten. I know I will never forget him.
Thank you, Claudio for the interview!
All my best to you and your readers, and thank you for the interest.
Donato and Claudio share a light moment in shopping...!
below interview material has been transcribed from "The Brazilian
Fantasy" Program on KUVO-FM, April 1999,
hosted by Disc Jockey/Hostess, Cenir. A Special Two Hour Interview with guest Claudio Slon.
Reprinted here with permission.
Transcribed by B.J. Major
DJ: I'm going to play one song next with Astrud Gilberto from the album "Beach Samba". I want you to play close attention to the drums!
SONG: [Astrud Gilberto, "A Banda" from Beach Samba]
DJ: Well, the drum player there was Claudio Slon. Claudio Slon is here with me, finally. Hi, Claudio!
DJ: Finally I got him to come here, his schedule is SO busy. He is here, and we are going to talk and play old songs. The renowned Claudio Slon. It's a great honor to have you here, really.
CS: It's my pleasure, my pleasure. By the way, I want to apologize to you and all your listeners for all the changes and the cancellations, because when I arrived here, I thought it was going to be like, you know, just getting to know people--very slow and working here, working there. But there is so much good music and so many good musicians that, like all of a sudden I'm playing with everybody--and it's great.
DJ: You are such a genius there, well, I have to accept that and say "sorry", and well, "it happens". So let's see, let's talk--let's talk about you.
CS: All right.
DJ: Oh, let me tell you first--when I went to Brazil this last trip in February, I was walking up to a store and I saw a HUGE poster of you, at the door. Of course, I entered the store (they sell records and CDs but I was not planning on buying anything), so I entered there and I said "I know him!". And I pulled your cards and I said "look, he's my close friend from Boulder!" I don't know if the guy believed that. I love it. [laughs]
CS: In Brazil they are remembering the Bossa Nova survivors now. They are honored; only a few of us left!
DJ: I was really honored and happy to see you [pictured] there. And to be your friend.
CS: Thank you.
DJ: And so, your name is Claudio Slon. S - L - O - N. Right?
DJ: And tell me, how did it begin, the beginning of your musical life? How old you were, where did you play and where did it start?
CS: Ok. I was born in Argentina; my parents are from Argentina. They are classical musicians, both of them. So I started studying and practicing drums and playing classical music. Then, thank God we moved to Brazil; the music in Argentina is nice, but it's tango and the music in Brazil is much more rich rhythm-wise. And then I studied, still playing the drums. I played with jazz groups; the first professional job that I had was with (maybe you're too young for this)...a guy called Dick Farney?
DJ: Know him?! Yes, I do. [laughter]
CS: And he was like, a very famous singer and also a jazz pianist. So I studied with him--and also, I didn't play a lot of Brazilian music until I joined Walter Wanderley's Trio, which is a trio that we were in when we came to New York to record for Verve and Creed Taylor producing. And that was the beginning of the U.S./International career for me. Before that, it was like, just playing jazz and some (not too much) Brazilian music.
DJ: How old were you when you started?
CS: I started when I was 16, when I got my first job I was a minor, so my father had to go to the nightclub and take the court's representative to grant me permission to work in a place that serves alcohol, then the judge looked around and said "oh yes, this is a respectable place". So he gave me permission to play there. Little did he know that I was going to turn the place into a non-respectable place!
DJ: [laughter] Oh, that's wonderful. How did it start? Did you start with drums?
CS: Yes. I started with drums, but I studied piano, then stopped because it was too difficult, of course. I was very young (10 yrs. old) and my parents wanted me to play a "legitimate" instrument. And then I studied with my grandmother who was a classical piano teacher, but then I changed to drums. And then I started banging, you know, like everybody does. Like everyone does in Brazil! Here [in the U.S.] they go to school and they learn the RIGHT way. We just played. And then I started and my father said "are you sure you want to play THAT instrument?" because he is a concert master, so music for him is much more serious. Then he said, "well, at least join the symphony orchestra and play percussion for me, for my sake, so I can introduce you as 'this is my son and he plays classical music'". Then I said, "ok", so I lasted a year and a half playing classical percussion, but then I couldn't do it anymore so I said "that's it, I'm going to play jazz". And then I got a regular [drum] set.
DJ: I'm glad you did. We are all glad that you did! So, do you play other instruments? Piano?
CS: Piano was the beginning, but I never used it. I played drums and then now I [also] play a little percussion.
DJ: I know, because I heard you. Claudio Slon plays at Vartan Jazz every Saturday with the Pau Brasil Band and with any famous artist that comes to town. And I heard you doing the Pandeiro with the drum set. It's amazing.
CS: Thank you.
DJ: So, let's see. I know how you came to the United States, that you came with Walter Wanderley. When was that?
CS: That was 1965. Actually, our hit "Summer Samba" was right after "The Girl from Ipanema" (which was your opening number, your theme song), we came in right after that and we recorded an album and it went to Billboard number 3 out of the Billboard top five and then we recorded with Astrud Gilberto and then you know, we recorded another album called "Chegança", then after that I left the group and I started my recording career with Jobim and all the other guys. Then Walter moved to L.A. I stayed in New York a few more months, then I moved to L.A. also.
DJ: And you've lived in L.A. since you moved there?
CS: Yes, I lived in L.A. for 32 years.
DJ: And let me tell you, that Claudio's discography is very impressive. It's beautiful; we have here that you recorded with Tom Jobim, with Sinatra, with Joe Pass, Dori Caymmi, Edu Lobo, etc. We are going to try to play one tune of each one of them because they are all wonderful. So let's do that; we are going to play one song from this album with Walter Wanderley - the beginning of the United States era, right?
CS: That's right.
DJ: This is "Chegança". There is an interview here in the album [liner notes] with you and let's see, this was released by Scamp, right?
CS: Yes, it was a compilation of our best songs.
DJ: And, here I am going to read what you said. You said to the interviewer here that "when we did Chegança (Chegança is the name of the song I am going to play next), we took over. We said to Creed, we are going to play more aggressive." And this is the Claudio I see here, at Vartan Jazz, really. So, you have two sides: you play that soft beautiful bossa nova style and you play aggressively, too. So I'm going to play this (I love this). It seems that Creed did not want that way?
CS: He wanted us to keep the same style as the beginning, in the first album--which was very soft, and it was a success. And I'm sure everybody made money, so they wanted us to keep the same sound. Then, we felt that it was time for us to show that Brazilian music can be aggressive like, with an inference of jazz and it doesn't have to be "elevator music".
DJ: So let me play Chegança, and you [audience] pay close attention to what he does with the drums in this song. It's really beautiful. Let me play that and we will return to talk.
SONG: [Walter Wanderley Trio, "Chegança" from Chegança]
DJ: Who else was playing there, Claudio?
CS: Bobby Rosengarden, a very good friend, was playing percussion. José Marino was the bass player who came from São Paulo with Walter and myself and we were the Walter Wanderley Trio.
DJ: How was Walter?
CS: Very talented and very,
very good with arrangements. I remember that there was a famous jazz
organ player and arranger, Clare Fischer, and when we arrived, we
were playing in L.A. and Clare was sitting next to Walter and paying
attention to all the sounds and everything and he told me "my God, I
heard this guy's albums for ages and finally to be able to look at
him and see how he does it..." So, you know it was very impressive
because he was famous in Brazil [Clare Fischer] as a jazz
player, so he was very very good. He died some years
DJ: And tell me, do you still practice?
CS: No, not anymore.
DJ: Oh my God...! [laughter]
CS: I hope nobody's listening that is studying the drums because they should study very hard. I did, at the beginning. So now I don't have time, I just play (which is a form of practicing).
DJ: When did you stop practicing?
CS: When I got busy! [laughter] It's easy to practice the drums when you don't have work and have a lot of time. But when I got busy I just play, and that keeps me in form.
DJ: Do you work exclusively for Vartan?
CS: No, I'm going to go on tour in about two weeks from now to Germany with Herbie Mann. I worked with Herbie Mann, Dori Caymmi, and a lot of people. We have an arrangement with Vartan in while I am here, I play as many days as he wants me to play. On Saturday I play with Pau Brasil, I play with other different groups, but then if I let him know ahead of time what my schedule is, he gets a replacement. It's a good arrangement.
DJ: And, tell us how did you end up in Denver?
CS: Well, Vartan had a former jazz club (at an old address) and he would call me every 2-3 months to come over, and I always felt great in Denver and in Colorado. I liked it, but I'd go back to L.A. And then finally, something happened in L.A. in 1994, in the big earthquake that year my house got completely destroyed, so my wife and myself agreed to go someplace else. So we went to Arizona, Florida, and a lot of other places and finally said, well, I like the west coast. So Vartan said, "Well, while you're going back slowly to the west coast, why don't you stay here for eight months to a year and see what happens?" So I thought that sounded good and then I came by myself and I really liked it as I discovered more and more. I discovered friends, musicians, the nature and the climate. Then my wife joined and she likes it even better than I do, so it's going great.
DJ: Are we going to lose you to the East Coast?
CS: No, I love it here.
DJ: So tell me about your recording with Tom Jobim. He is a master in Brazilian music, number one.
CS: I was so happy to be at the right place at the right time when Jobim recorded the "Wave" album for the first time with Claus Ogerman arranging, Ron Carter on Bass, and everything. It was a great time to be with him. Then after that, we recorded, I went back to L.A. and he called me back again, and we did the tv special with Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald (the Jobim segment), and I got to meet Sinatra. And then he called me for the second Sinatra/Jobim album, so it was great. To work with Jobim even without Sinatra, it was the high point in my career. But to put together Jobim AND Sinatra...!
DJ: Yes, many Americans don't know Jobim, but they know Sinatra, definitely. I have both albums and I'm going to play from both of them. But I want to know how was Tom Jobim as a person?
CS: To tell you the truth, to me he was more than a person; he was just somebody you listen to and learn from, because he was interested in everything; languages, geography, in the birds of the United States - comparing them to the birds in Brazil, of course, without even mentioning music, because he knew Villa Lobos, Stravinsky, Debussy, etc. We talked and drank beer; he loved beer (and unfortunately I do also), so sometimes at 3 or 4 in the morning we would be just talking about art or music and the situation in Brazil, etc. It was unbelievable, he was like one of a kind. I don't think we'll ever have another person, musician, friend, or even another regular person like Jobim. And, since he died, a lot of tributes, a lot of people discovered Jobim - which is great - but to be there with him when he was making music for the first time with Sinatra, the first time he recorded "Wave", and to participate in that is something I'll never forget.
DJ: Was it hard to record with him, like did he ask you to repeat the same thing over and over, or no?
CS: No, he was always going for the feel of the music. In other words, if there was any little mistake by anybody inside the studio but it felt good--he would tell Creed Taylor or whoever the producer was to "let's keep this one because it FELT good." And he wasn't too concerned about the little details. And he was right, of course, because that's what music should be.
DJ: How did it happen, how did you meet him?
CS: Well, he knew about me because of the Walter Wanderley recordings, and I was working in San Francisco with another Brazilian guitar player named Bola Sete. . .
DJ: Bola Sete, everybody!!! That's great because I receive lots of calls on him.
CS: That's good and that was great. So, I was there and Jobim called and said "listen, I'm recording an album and there are no drummers here." Because at the time - you know - now, we Brazilians, we took over; anyplace you go in the United States there is a Brazilian group, Brazilian percussion, etc. But at that time, it was maybe one or two. I'm talking about 1966, '67... And then he called and he said "you have to. . ."...and I said "but Tom, I cannot do it because I have another week" and then he said "well, it's going to be like this record, then Sinatra's record, then a Sinatra special." "So, do you want to do that?" And I said, "yes, I guess so." So I went to Bola Sete and I said "Bola, I hope you understand, I should stay here, but.." And then I told him and he was great. He said, "listen - you are talking about Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sinatra, ... go ahead, just get me another drummer." So I called a friend of mine, an American drummer, and he was great. And that's it. I never played again with Bola Sete!
DJ: So, you recorded the first version of "Wave", right?
CS: Yes. It was the original, the first time.
DJ: So how about that. I'm going to play the first version of "Wave", that was recorded with Tom Jobim and Claudio Slon on the drums.
SONG: [Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Wave" from Wave]
DJ: You just heard the first version of "Wave" with Tom Jobim and Claudio Slon was on the drums there. And, Claudio, tell me about the other Brazilian musicians. I know you recorded with foreign musicians, American musicians, and even Josee Koning...
CS: Yes, Josee Koning was a Dutch jazz singer and then she came to Los Angeles and she wanted Brazilian; she wanted to do another "Jobim-only" album, and she called myself and Dori Caymmi. I work with a lot of people and the funny thing is that I never worked with any Brazilian composer or player IN Brasil! I came to play with everyone, Brazilian and otherwise, in the United States - like Marcos Valle, Edu Lobo, Dori Caymmi, Paulinho Da Costa, Sergio Mendes - everybody I met here.
DJ: Great! You know what, I'm going to play one cut of the Edu Lobo album - it's new for me, it's new for my audience, but I had one question for you: tell me about the bossa nova. Is bossa nova dead?
CS: No, it's not dead - it just changed the "clothing". It went into a different... like, bossa nova as it started, if you don't change it, it's for "elevator music", Muzak, etc. and that's very sad. But it changed and it became like a little more aggressive, with a little more edge, etc., like Chico and Pau Brasil - that gave it new life. Because I feel like, if it stayed the same, then it WOULD die because it was very soft and for romantic purposes only, so thank God it changed and became something with a little 'edge'. But, it's still alive.
DJ: Good; and I also heard you playing jazz and I think you really surprised me, so much that I questioned how long you are going to be surprising me!
CS: Thank you, thank you.
DJ: Beautiful, beautiful.
CS: And I love jazz, that's my first love. I started playing jazz, and then as I told you, I changed into Brazilian music and that was what I did for the rest of my life. But I told you that every time I have a chance to play with good musicians, it's a pleasure. I love it.
DJ: What kind of rhythm do you prefer to play? Whatever style of music is being played, you play magnificently. But which one do you prefer?
CS: It all depends. I don't want to get away from your question, but it depends on how good the song is, if you play a great frevo, a great march, a great samba, a great anything, then it's great. If you play a song that is not very good, it doesn't matter what the rhythm is, you are just do the basic...Really, it's the truth. If the guy, the artist who is playing is playing well, and it's a good guy, then you feel like you're doing great, even if you are playing a bolero or a tango or anything. Waltz, polka, they're all good rhythms to be played IF everything comes together. If it doesn't...
DJ: So, let's listen to "Zanzibar" with Edu Lobo and pay attention again to the drum performance that is Claudio Slon's, our guest today.
CS: By the way, can I interrupt one second with something? The guy who is playing flute and keyboards is Hermeto Pascoal - who is one of the talented musicians we STILL have. That record's pretty old, but he still one of the most talented.
SONG: [Edu Lobo, "Zanzibar" from Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo]
DJ: That's beautiful.
CS: It is.
DJ: Divine! Do you remember that session?
CS: Oh yes, of course. That was at A&M, when A&M had studios and it was a bunch of very talented people, as I told you [it was] Hermeto, Sebastian Neto, & I think it was Oscar playing 12 string guitar and Sergio Mendes was producing and Herb Alpert was there also helping, and it was great.
DJ: And this was made in Japan...??
CS: This record is out of print, it was released as a long playing record in the United States. When I wanted a CD, I could only find it in Japan, unfortunately.
DJ: And you know what, Brazilian music now is very heavy in percussion, right?
DJ: How important are the drums in Brazilian music?
CS: Well, it depends. If it's urban music, then it's very important; if it has jazz influences, then it's very important. But if is sambon, like João Bosco and stuff like that, then you need all the percussion from carnival, the snare drums, etc. Then the drum set that I play is not that important. The important thing [then] is to get the Escola de Samba. But if you are playing like this, a jazzy king of thing or Jobim's delicate music, then, thank God, I'm still important! [laughter]
DJ: [laughter] Thank God you exist! We are talking with Claudio Slon who plays at Vartan Jazz from Wednesday through Saturday. So if you want to see a famous Brazilian drum player who can play any kind of music, you go to Vartan Jazz. He is Claudio Slon and he is always there. Wonderful. Claudio, I would like to play one cut of this album because Sinatra is known to all Americans. And, how is Sinatra in person?
CS: I heard so much; we all heard so many stories about Sinatra and Sinatra connections and the bad moods and the temper and the security around him and everything - well, there WAS security around him for the recording session, but once you got past that, he was just, a singer. And he was very polite, very nice. And after we finished the recording session, he invited Jobim and myself to have dinner at an Italian restaurant, and he didn't know what to do to make us feel comfortable, so personally, my own experience [with him] was great. But I understand that some other people, maybe they knew a side of Sinatra which I fortunately didn't, but it was, like another thing, musically - he wasn't only a star but he was a musician. A very, very good musician. Like in the session we started rehearsing, then he stopped everybody and said "there is a note in the trombone section that is not right." And then everybody said, "I don't think so". He said, "no, check it." And for sure, there was a misprint. So he hears everything.
DJ: Was he the big star as everybody thinks that he is?
CS: Well, it's hard to say because around him, he was surrounded by the entourage and everything, so everyone treated him like what he was, a superstar and everything. But once you sat down and talked to him about anything, he was just a regular person. Especially with Jobim. He loved Jobim's music so much that he wanted to make him comfortable in every way he could; musically, and otherwise.
DJ: Did he make any comments on your performance?
CS: No, no. When Sinatra doesn't say anything, it means that he feels comfortable. That's enough for me!
DJ: Then, for us too! The album's called "Sinatra & Company" with Antonio Carlos Jobim and of course, Claudio Slon. It was recorded - when? Do you remember?
CS: Unfortunately, I am not sure.
DJ: 1971, could it be?
DJ: So let's listen to "Agua de Beber" (Drinking Water) with Frank Sinatra and Claudio Slon on the drums. Isn't he important?!
SONG: [Sinatra/Jobim: "Agua de Beber" from Sinatra & Company]
DJ: Claudio, tell me what do you recall on this recorded session?
CS: First of all, the band was the cream of the studio musicians, in L.A. Everybody, trumpets, trombones, violins, saxophones, everybody was the top.
DJ: So it was recorded in L.A.?
CS: Yes. Now, the arranger was Eumir Deodato, a Brazilian arranger; he did a great job, and I remember Don Costa, the famous arranger who used to do all of Sinatra's arrangements, he was there and listened to Eumir's arrangements for Jobim, and he made a joke that he shouldn't be allowed to work in Los Angeles anymore because he lives in New York, so he said "don't come to this town anymore, this is not a big enough town for both of us." It was great.
DJ: Good, beautiful! And let's see, what else...how about, I want to play something that you . . . oh, who was the bass player there?
CS: Ray Brown.
CS: Yes, and he was very excited to be playing Brazilian music and I was very excited to be playing with him, any music! So I told him, "my God, I remember you with the Oscar Peterson Trio in Brazil, you are a God!" And he said, "yeah, but forget about that. Teach me how to play Brazilian music! That's what I want to do!" So that is the beautiful thing about this country, you come to know and play with all your idols, and it's very important.
DJ: How long did it take you to record each take?
CS: It was one take only. Sometimes there would be a technical problem, then we would go back to two and do two takes. And Sinatra didn't overdub. See, sometimes the big stars record the orchestra, then at night they come in alone and do it; Sinatra had like a glass cage in the middle, in the center of the orchestra, and he records everything live. At the same time. It's a performance.
DJ: What a memory. Are you going to write a book?
DJ: You SHOULD! With all those memories; it is beautiful. I love that. So let's see, I have here in my hands, Dori Caymmi "Kicking Cans". That's the name of the CD. Who are the players?
CS: That's another CD I did that I am really proud of. It has Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci playing bass, Dave Grusin playing piano - a lot of talent. And I think it is by far the best CD he [Dori] did. I don't know if you are planning to play it, but there is an old Brazilian song called "Brasil" that he arranged and he changed all the chords around! And I remember Herbie saying "Oh, we're recording 'Brasil'. That's a simple song." Then Dori said, "Well.." Then he opened the lead sheet and he looked at the music and Herbie said "Oh my God, what did you do with with this?" And Dori said "Oh, I just changed some chords around!" And it was very difficult because it was, like it was not like you expected - it was backwards, and then Herbie sat down and in one take - he did it like an unbelievable piano solo and that was it.
DJ: This song was also recorded by John Coltrane and he has a CD called "Brazil".
DJ: So, let's listen to that song. Dori Caymmi with Herbie Hancock and Claudio Slon on the drums. Of course, there are other musicians but those are the most famous ones here! The song is called "Brasil" and the CD is called "Kicking Cans".
SONG: [Dori Caymmi: "Brasil" from Kicking Cans]
DJ: Well, that was Herbie Hancock on the piano and Claudio Slon on the drums. Dori Caymmi on the vocals on the vocals...
CS: And guitar.
DJ: Right, do you only play on CDs or do you do other work with CDs (arrangements, etc.)?
CS: I produce. I produced the first album that Paulinho Da Costa, the percussion player from Brazil did for Pablo Records. Norman Grantz (the owner, wanted me to organize and play, so I did that, and I had the idea (it wasn't too much done at the time) - like a big band. So, we called all our friends like Lee Ritenour is on guitar at that time (at that time, it was a big deal to get him) and my friend Octavio Bailly on bass, and then the guy who played keyboards for Michael Jackson, and who was his musical director, Greg Phillinganes is playing piano. We had a lot of very important people and it came out pretty good! It had good reviews. And it's been playing until today in Europe, in Japan, we still receive royalties, etc.
DJ: Excellent, so that is Paulinho Da Costa and the name of the CD is "Agora", right?
DJ: And we are going to play "Belisco". Who composed the songs?
CS: Paulinho and myself. And "Belisco" of course, itself means pinch. That's the reason that the orchestra, [playing] the theme that we wrote sounds like that. It's like a little pinch! [laughs]
DJ: [laughter] OK, so let's listen to that. This is the Brazilian Fantasy, my name is Cenir and I'm here with Claudio Slon, the Brazilian drum player who lives, thank God, in Denver, and who is at Vartan's from Wednesday through Saturday. Any time you want to go to Vartan Jazz you can go there and see how marvelous he is! He's now playing Saturdays with Chico and the Pau Brasil band. Also, we have Felipe on the percussion, we have Beijo on the bass, and Chuck Lam on the piano, sitting in for them. It's been wonderful for you to play at Vartan Jazz, right?
DJ: How would you describe the Pau Brasil band?
CS: It puts together the ideal world, which is like entertaining the people and still having fun when we're playing. It's very good music; at the same time we're entertaining the audience (and they love it - you know, you've been there, they stand up and dance, and it's like a party). At the same time, we can afford to have fun with the music we're playing which is ideal! The ideal combination.
DJ: That's true, yes. I love being there on Saturdays.
CS: That's fun.
DJ: And my listeners, if you haven't been there, it's a must. You should go there because Saturdays there is Chico and the Pau Brasil band, Claudio Slon on drums, and it's marvelous. And every time you solo, oh my God, the audience just gets crazy! Yeah, that's true!
CS: Thank you, thank you.
DJ: So let's play this CD.
SONG: [Joe Pass, "Corcovado" from Tudo Bem]
DJ: Well, that was Joe Pass on the guitar, and let's see, Paulinho Da Costa on percussion, Don Grusin on keyboard, Oscar Castro Neves on guitar, Octavio Bailly on the bass and Claudio Slon on the drums. This CD is called "Tudo Bem". So you mentioned that you played before with Oscar Castro Neves and Don Grusin.
CS: The funny thing is I witnessed Joe Pass' master class that he gave at the Guitar Institute in Los Angeles, and when he finished, all the students ask questions. So they asked him "that scale that you do, this scale, that scale..." And he said "everybody stop right now asking about scales. Listen to me. Pay very good attention. Do not worry about practicing scales. Memorize songs because you don't get girls with scales. You will get girls with songs." So forget about that. That's Joe Pass.
DJ: [laughter] Excellent. That's true! Wonderful. [public radio announcements and advertisements here] Let me remind you that Claudio Slon plays every week at Vartan Jazz from Wednesday on. And on Saturday he is there with the Pau Brasil band, Chico on the guitar and the vocal, Beijo on bass, Felipe on the percussion, and we have Chuck Lam sitting in on the piano with the band. It's really great and it's a must if you haven't been there. So let's go back to our music. I have here, what can you tell me about Guilherme Vergueiro.
CS: Guilherme Vergueiro is a very talented Brazilian piano player. He lives in Los Angeles and he writes very good songs and he plays all the jazz clubs and a friend of ours Teco Cardoso is an excellent horn player, [saxophone] and everything - all the reeds, and he came to visit and he wanted to record four different songs for Brazil and we got together with an American bass player (Tony Dumas) and then we did a very interesting recording of those four songs in Los Angeles, for him.
DJ: This CD is new for me, it's called "Meu Brasil" with Teco Cardoso. I'm going to play it.
CS: I think you will like it...
DJ: Uh-huh. I will go along with my listeners, too, so let's see what we think of that. And I would like to tell my listeners that we received a call from someone who went to Boulder to the performance there this past weekend and she said that we should tell Claudio that you are really wonderful and that is one of the best concerts she has heard lately.
CS: Great, thank you very much, I am honored that she thinks that. Great!
DJ: She should come to Vartan Jazz to see you perform live.
CS: That would be good also.
DJ: Wonderful. So let's listen to Teco Cardoso and Claudio Slon on the drums.
SONG: [Teco Cardoso, "Meu Brasil" from Meu Brasil]
DJ: That song is from the CD that's called "Meu Brasil" with Tony Dumas on the bass, Claudio Slon on drums and Teco Cardoso on soprano saxophone, right?
DJ: Claudio, tell us more about your private life. Are you married?
DJ: Are you available?
DJ: Oh, too bad!
CS: Well, I was married 36 yrs. ago. I got married when I was 19. I found my wife, I met my wife - she was a dancer. My mother had a ballet and she was the first ballerina, and then I used to go out with every ballerina. You know, on dates and that kind of thing. My mother was the owner of the [dance company]...then, I met her [my wife] and I said, "ok, should we go out?" And she said "no, why?" And I said "oh, no, this one's going to be different!" And then, you know, we became friends. Then one day she went away to another city and then I felt SO bad, I was without her and I said "what's happening"? So then I went to my father and I said "I feel terrible, she left." And he said, "well, be careful, you know you're too young for this." And I said "what do you mean, 'be careful'?" So finally, anyway, we got married, we had three daughters, the oldest daughter is living with us here in Denver, she moved, and that's it. Thank God, happiness until now and forever, I'm sure.
DJ: Wonderful! Is she patient with your career?
CS: Yes, she's one of a kind. When we were living in São Paulo in Brazil, I said "I have to go to New York to record because that's what I always wanted." And we already had our first daughter and she said "go and you have to do what you have to do. I'll stay with my family and everything."
DJ: Is she jealous of the listeners in the audience who are going to make a pass at you?
CS: No. She knows that all there is for me is her, so she sleeps well at night; she knows!
DJ: Wonderful! She should come to Vartan Jazz to see you there.
CS: Yes, she will.
DJ: So, what I'm going to play next is your jazzy side. It's Marcos Valle's "The Face I Love" from "Beach Samba". Then after that I'm going to play Josee Koning from a CD called "Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim". I will play "Samba de Uma Nota So." Where was this recorded?
CS: It was recorded in Los Angeles for Holland. It was a Dutch record.
DJ: When was that? Is this new?
CS: It's not that new, should be like 4 or 5 yrs. old.
DJ: Oh, 1995.
CS: Ok, four years old, then.
DJ: Ok, so let's listen to Astrud Gilberto "The Face I Love" and then we are going to listen to Josee Koning "Samba de Uma Nota So." And I have here as my special guest Claudio Slon. He is a Brazilian drum player who lives in Denver and he plays at Vartan Jazz Wednesday through Saturday. On Saturdays he plays with Chico and the Pau Brasil band.
SONG: [Astrud Gilberto, "The Face I Love" from Beach Samba]
SONG: [Josee Koning, "Samba de Uma Nota So" from Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim]
SONG: [Edu Lobo, "Jangada" from Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo]
DJ: Well, that was Edu Lobo, and who was the vocalist there?
CS: That was Gracinha Leporace, Sergio Mendes' wife.
DJ: Claudio, tell us why Herbie Mann is coming back to Denver?
CS: Well, we are going to release the 2nd CD of a group that I had with M. Leviev, the keyboard player, and myself and we did a record (CD) with The Beatles' music (Lennon/McCartney) and he [Herbie Mann] played as a guest. On our CD he played two songs, so he is going to come here and help us release the CD at Vartan's and play those two songs, plus do the show (which is a great show). He's a very good showman.
DJ: And grab you to take to Europe, after!
CS: And after we finish that, we just go to Germany. To 2 or 3 jazz festivals there.
DJ: How long are you staying there?
CS: About ten days. Three festivals and some time off to eat the sausage and potato salad in Germany and gain a few pounds with the beer!
DJ: Are you going to play Brazilian music there?
CS: Oh yes, his show is like 80% Brazilian music and just 20% of the old R&B and funk, etc. But it's a lot of fun. And we have a good group with us.
DJ: Now we have a drum player here and it was very smart of Vartan to bring you here!
CS: He's a smart club owner.
DJ: And that's a wonderful way to end a week, right, to go to Vartan's?
CS: Yes. It's a beautiful club; not only a club, but it has a restaurant, a smoking section, it's beautiful. Usually, a jazz club is like Blue Note - very small room, smoky, then you just go there to listen to jazz and it's not comfortable. But Vartan's club is one of the few that I've ever played in that it's very comfortable; it's open, big, and there is a non-smoking section, a smoking section, the food is good; it's a very nice club for Denver. People should go there and support it; it's not everyday that you find a nice club like that!
DJ: And you can dance if you like, you can dance everywhere!
CS: That's on Saturdays only, because the rest of the week the music is not that well suited for dancing!
DJ: I dance everywhere, in spite of the complaints, I don't care! I am here, I like to watch the band, I like to watch what you do there.
CS: It's great to see you dancing.
DJ: [laughter] And definitely we have fun every Saturday. So, I'm going to play another cut from this Edu Lobo because I am in love with this CD, I'm going to order one for me, does not matter where it comes from, it's all written in Japanese?
DJ: [laughter] I wonder how your name is in Japanese?
CS: I cannot even find it! It's all Japanese, I don't know where I am [credited].
DJ: So I'm going to try to play this "Casa Forte". Claudio, have you ever played at the Blue Note?
DJ: You have?!
CS: Yes, in New York with Sergio. Sergio Mendes.
DJ: Oh, wow. We did not talk about your work with Sergio Mendes. Before we go back to Edu Lobo, tell us about your work with Sergio Mendes.
CS: I spent a LOT of time in his group, like nine years total. Everybody told me that nobody can work with Sergio Mendes. And I did and it was fine. He's a very intelligent, very professional person, good player, but he doesn't play a lot anymore and now worries about business and stuff like that. But he can play when he wants to play. And I joined the group and we did 2-3 recordings every year; we toured Japan, Europe, everywhere in the world we toured it was great. The music was great; he always had the best singers, the best group - Paulinho Da Costa was playing percussion, Oscar Neves was playing guitars, then he had Gracinha Leporace singing, and it was a great time. I got to know the world and I got very well paid, which is a good combination!
DJ: Was it always crowded when you toured?
CS: We did tours like in Venezuela, Japan - in Japan, for example, we did the Budokan which is a place that holds 50,000 people and it was sold out. And Edu Lobo was opening the show for us and he looked at that huge amount of people waiting for him and he said "I'm not going, it's too scary! I don't want to go on that stage, it's too many people! I'm not used to that." And we pushed him on stage and once he started playing, it was fine. We [also] played at the Lincoln Center, the White House for Nixon, (I have a photo taken with Nixon), so I did a lot of very important performances with Sergio.
DJ: What I'm going to do right now is play one tune of Sergio Mendes' - you are not in this recording, but at least my listeners will know who Sergio Mendes is if they don't know. I will play that because I don't have any here [of Sergio's] that you are on. Since you moved, you could not get your albums [laughter]....
CS: I have all the albums and they are all in storage!
DJ: So I will play this so you know who Sergio Mendes is, I'm sure you will recognize this, he is really really famous. Claudio Slon is not playing the drums there, but he played with this group for nine years. So let me play that and then I will come back and have time for Edu Lobo, my last song.
SONG: [Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, "Mais Que Nada" from Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 Greatest Hits]
DJ: So that was Sergio Mendes and Claudio Slon played with him for nine years. It's very significant. That means you're good! So I have time for my last song, Edu Lobo "Casa Forte" and there Claudio Slon plays the drums for Edu Lobo. And I am going to thank you very much for being here and for taking your time to come here. I loved our interview and talking here.
CS: It was my pleasure.
DJ: Thank you very much!
CS: Thank you!
SONG: [Edu Lobo, "Casa
Forte" from Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo]
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