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Photo of Daniel Slon in 1981.

THE OFFICIAL CLAUDIO SLON WEBSITE

Interview with Daniel Slon: May 18, 2002.

Daniel is a percussionist, psychologist and musical producer who lives in São Paulo, Brazil.

He is the brother of Claudio Slon.

This interview obtained via email on May 22, 2002.

Q. Daniel, I'd like to begin by asking if you have played any musical instruments yourself over the years? If so, did you ever consider going into music as a career?

A. Yes, I have always loved percussion and I used to play on tables, chairs and cans since I was a kid. When I was in my twenties I started studying drums and congas here in São Paulo and I used to play with friends. In 1978 I moved to Paris after having graduated from College. I went there in order to study with Guem (a top African percussionist and teacher) and six months later, he invited me to join his percussion group. I began to work as a musician and also as his assistant, teaching percussion and accompanying him in his workshops and concerts in France. I spent 4 years in France playing with Guem and teaching. I came back to São Paulo in 1982 and I continued teaching percussion until 1990. So my career as a musician and mainly as a teacher lasted 12 years.

 

Q. What made you want to be a psychologist?

A. Psychology was my second passion, after music. I was always interested in everything related to human behavior, relationships, education, etc. I wanted to go deeper into my mind and try to better understand human kind. I've never worked as a psychologist, although I used a lot of what I've learned with my pupils. Sometimes my percussion groups were more "therapy groups" than just music groups!

 

Q. What is the earliest age you recall Claudio having drums in the house and playing them there?

A. I recall Claudio practicing on a rubber pad before having drums when I was a kid. I was 8 and Claudio was 15. And when Claudio was 16, my parents gave him a drum set and he would spend hours and hours practicing. He used to listen to Joe Morello and Shelly Manne's LPs and he used to practice a lot!  My family still to this day has the rubber pad where Claudio began to practice!

 

Q. There was seven years difference in age between you and Claudio. How old were you when you began to listen to Claudio's music seriously?

A. I guess it was when Claudio recorded the "Chegança" album with Walter Wanderley. I remember when this LP came to us (Claudio sent it) and my parents and I sat down to listen to this LP. I would have been 16/17 years old. I was so proud to have a so marvelous drummer as a brother! Since these recordings with Walter Wanderley I noticed that Claudio had his own style, his own "brand". He certainly was "one of a kind"!

 

Q. Did you follow Claudio's career--including when he moved to the U.S., from your earliest memory?

A. Oh! Yes! I followed each step, each moment of my brother´s career. I have been his fan from day one he began to play and I´ll be his fan until my last second on earth! For me he was a giant! The way he played was simply divine! Let me tell you some very important moments of his career for me: a) when he went with Walter Wanderley to the USA. b) when he recorded Wave with Tom Jobim. c) when he recorded Sinatra & Co. with Jobim and Sinatra (I was visiting him in Los Angeles). d) when he was hired to play with Sérgio Mendes & Brazil '66 ( I remember when he called us telling the news! I couldn´t believe it! This band, at that time, was one of the most famous groups all over the world and my brother was in it!). e) when he recorded the "Tudo Bem" album with Joe Pass and Paulinho da Costa. f) when he recorded the two CDs along with Milcho Leviev ("Jive Sambas" and "When I'm 64"). In my opinion, Claudio and Milcho formed a "golden association", musically speaking!  So, yes, as a fan and as his brother, every beautiful recording or concert he did, I followed with my heart!

 

Q. What is your favorite recording that Claudio plays on? Why is it your favorite?

A. It´s a very difficult task [to choose]! I have more or less 25 CDs that Claudio plays on. All of them are beautiful. Claudio has always played with top musicians and it´s almost impossible to pick up only one CD as my favorite. Allow me to pick four CDs as my favorite ones, OK? 1) Wave (Claudio, Ron Carter, Jobim and Claus Ogerman! Do I need to explain why?) 2) Tudo Bem (Claudio playing with Joe Pass, one of the most gifted jazz guitar players of jazz history! Claudio is there, as always, giving the rhythmical support allowing Joe Pass to "fly freely"!) 3) Sinatra and Co. (Claudio recording with Sinatra! Can you imagine how proud the Slon family was about it? Claudio was playing along with Ray Brown (one of his idols), Jobim (a genius) and with "The Voice" (the biggest myth of all times). 4) Jive Sambas ( If I force myself to choose only one CD, this CD would be the one! The intimacy between the 4 musicians is really impressive! Claudio plays jazz, samba, does a beautiful solo on "Milestones" and is playing with Milcho Leviev, an incredible piano player! On this CD one can appreciate Claudio in his plenitude!

 

Q. What was it like for you to be a part of that concert in São Paulo (2000) with Claudio in the Joao Donato Trio performing with the Jazz Symphony?

A. It was wonderful! Let me tell you the real story about this release concert. In October 1999 I was hired by Vartan Tonoian as his Director for Latin America. He wanted me to organize the release concert of the CD "Amazonas", recorded in Rio in September, 1999. The trio for the release concert would be João Donato, Claudio Slon and Luiz Alves. One night I was having dinner with my parents and talking to them about this concert, all of a sudden my father asked me: " Why don´t you organize this concert along with the Jazz Sinfônica Orchestra?". Something exploded inside me and I told him: "Yes, that´s it!".  My father plays [violin] in this orchestra.  Well, I called Vartan right away and I told him about my father's idea. Vartan agreed and made another wonderful suggestion: "Why don't we benefit by releasing "Amazonas" and at the same time we can record the concert and release in 2001 a "live concert CD" with João Donato Trio and this Orchestra?"  I was very excited with the idea.  I was alone to do everything, but I like challenges!  I had a meeting with the Director of the Orchestra and little by little things began to work out. The Orchestra called the best arrangers of São Paulo, Vartan chose the repertoire and I called the best recording engineer to do the recording during the concert. I did all the press work in order to pack the concert hall and this concert was memorable! It was absolutely packed and the CD that came out from this concert is just beautiful. It´s called "The Frog". I'll never forget this concert!

 

Q. Are there any interesting stories you could relate here to our readers concerning events in Claudio's recording or performing career?

A. Yes, I remember one event I'd like to share with your readers: In March 1975, Claudio came to São Paulo with Sérgio Mendes´s band to do a concert at a big concert hall, called Anhembi. Claudio's drum set was very impressive, all transparent: 5 toms, 4 cymbals, timbales, water drum and a huge gong! The toms were lightened with different colors and Claudio´s drum set was put in a higher level on the center of the stage, just behind the piano. After 30 minutes the band stopped playing, all the lights went off except those on Claudio´s drum set. Claudio began his solo playing the gong creating a very mysterious climate. The gong sound was still in our ears, when Claudio took his "water drum" which he played with a bow, making special sounds with echo effects. It was incredible! The 2,000 people in attendance were completely mute. You couldn't hear even a tiny sound or noise in the audience. And all of a sudden Claudio went to his timbales continuing his improvisations "ad libitum". Finally he began to play drums!  He played samba in an unbelievable speed, introducing at the same time rhythmical phrases of frevo/baião and mixing all these rhythms with 5/8 and 7/8 measures! It was astonishing! It was impossible to believe that only one drummer was playing everything at the same time! When Claudio finished his solo, the audience was screaming, jumping in a standing ovation that lasted several minutes! I´ll never forget this day, it´s printed inside my soul! I felt so proud, moved, thrilled and happy! It was my brother! One of the best drummers of the world! Nobody could believe that the same drummer who played in a soft way on Walter Wanderley's LPs and Astrud Gilberto's LPs could do such a fantastic solo, with a tremendous technique and with such complexity! This was Claudio: the giant of the drums, a real musician, he always knew when and how!!!

 

Q. What is it that you would like people to remember about Claudio as a musician--and also as a person?

A. What I would like people to remember about Claudio as a musician is the message he left for posterity in his interview for Modern Drummer (Feb., 2002), because I know how important this was for him. When he was asked by MD: "Do you have any other advice for young drummers wishing to make a career in this business?", Claudio answered: "Don't ever be influenced by applause. Just play for the music. Don't worry about being flashy. Don't get frustrated if you're not the most important part of the band in terms of the show, because you are the most important part musically".

As a person, I would like people to know that Claudio was a very cultivated person (he was always reading books), a very intelligent person and, most of all, he had a tremendous sense of humor (he loved good jokes).  He was always making us laugh with his intelligent jokes! Definitely, I would like people to remember Claudio as a "bon vivant"!

Thank you, Daniel for giving us this interview!!

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[Webmaster's note: the album listing "O Universo Rítmico De Guem" where Guem & Daniel Slon play percussion and Claudio Slon is the musical producer is listed elsewhere on this website.]


 

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Alan Ripa

THE OFFICIAL CLAUDIO SLON WEBSITE

Interview with Alan Ripa

Alan is a composer, pianist, and recording artist in Arizona who worked directly with Claudio Slon.

This interview obtained via email on July 14, 2002.

Q.  Alan, I'd like to begin by asking you when and how you first got acquainted with Claudio Slon.

A.  I met Claudio in May of 1997 when I was in the progress of recording a new album called "Highway 88". How I found Claudio to begin with was, I received a call from my bass player Mario MendviI, who told me that he heard Claudio was in Phoenix.  Even though we had the rhythm tracks already laid down....Mario had said he thought Claudio also played percussion and maybe Claudio could do the percussion parts. Mario said "Alan, I know how much you like the Brazilian feel.....Claudio is the real thing." At the time, I already had one of the top percussionists in Phoenix lined up to play on the project.

So I called Claudio. In the initial phone conversation I had with him, he said before he would agree to work on the project.....he wanted to hear what I had done on the project so far.....he said that the "work tape" would be good enough....he just wanted to hear what were doing. So... I got a work tape and drove over to his house and met him briefly at the door when I was dropping off the tape. He was very nice and said to give him a few days and then to give him a call back. So when I called him back a few days later, he said he would be very interested in playing percussion on the project for me. He said he had a lot of good ideas that would fit nicely on the different cuts. He said he was flexible with his time and to just get the studio booked and he would be ready to go.  I was so excited that he was going to play for me! But then, I had to make the call to the other player that I had already lined up. When I called the other player I told him there was a change in plans and I had decided to use someone else. He asked who? When I told him "I'm using Claudio Slon".........he was thrilled for me and said "WOW.....he will do a great job for you!" He didn't mind being cut for Claudio. A few days later we were in the studio with Claudio. Being a trap player, Claudio was very impressed with the trap player that I used.  His name was Donnell Spencer Jr.  Claudio kept saying that the guy I had was "great" and that he was "rock solid".  I have not been able to let Donnell know yet that he was complimented by such a great musician. I now must find Donnell and let him know!

 

Q.  Did you get to work with Claudio often during the time you knew him?

A.  The only time I had the privilege to work with Claudio was when I had been recording "Highway 88".

 

Q. What is your favorite recording on which Claudio plays, and what makes it your favorite?

A.  My favorite, well.........now that's a tough one! Claudio played so tastefully on all my songs.....no matter what tempo or style the song was....he had great ideas and always played right in the pocket. I can easily say that song number 15 "Next Door Girl" and song number 2 which is the title song to the album "Highway 88" are my absolute favorites. I know you only asked for one, but I just had to put those two in there.

 

Q.  Were you a fan of Brazilian music and Brazilian rhythms?

A.  Yes... I am a huge fan. I have loved Brazilian music and rhythms as long as I can remember. LOVE IT! Every since I was little.....that music & rhythm always seemed to grab me. I can remember my mom playing "The Girl From Ipanema" all the time or hearing it on the radio and just loving it.  I enjoy playing it today!  I have often said that I would love to write an album of all Brazilian & Bossa Nova type tunes.......maybe some day I will!

Another recording that seems to come to mind when I was little and was a big hit with me was the song "Down in Brazil" by Michael Franks. The groove on that tune is just sooooooooo cool. Love Jobim too!

 

Q.  Did you ever record any albums with Claudio? If so, when? Are they still in print?

A.  I think I covered that above and yes it is still in print.

 

Q.  Do you have any interesting stories to relate here to our readers about Claudio's life and/or your own personal experiences with him?

A.  The most time I spent with Claudio was in the Studio during our session. The session was about a half a day.

The other thing that I thought was neat was, I had been recording the album mostly in Los Angeles at "Mad Hatter" recording studios owned by the legendary Chick Correa. In fact, the only thing that I recorded on this project in Phoenix was Claudio's tracks and electronic keyboards. Everything else was recorded in L.A. at Mad Hatter. Following the session with Claudio, during my next visit to Mad Hatter, I find out that Claudio had just been in Mad Hatter doing a session just prior to my return. The studio manager said that Claudio played the drum set with a technique that he never saw before. He said Claudio was just "awesome" in that session.

Claudio wanted me to send him "Highway 88", the finished project.  Unfortunately, it wasn't finished until January of 2000.....about 3 years after Claudio's recording session with me. I was not able to find where Claudio had moved to, so he never got to hear what we had done.

 

Q.  I've heard that Claudio had a tremendous sense of humor - what is your own experience with that, if any?

A.  I don't recall anything particular, not anything that jumps out at me.  The time we spent together was very productive and the day was over.

 

Q.  What would you like people to remember most about Claudio--as a person and as a musician?

A.  As a person, I found him to be very kind, down to earth and had this certain coolness to his personality. Not one ounce of arrogance or "I'm too good for you" attitude was ever present, when he certainly had the credentials to do so. During the session, he had his jazz festival shirt on and never took off his dark shades.... even though the studio was dark. He was someone that I felt knowing for a short time was like I had known him for years.

As a musician....well, what can I say?  He is admired by musicians all over the world....played with some of the most talented and gifted performers of our time.....He was a true pro! He was a musicians' musician!

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B.J.:  Thank you, Alan, for doing this interview!

A.R.:  It was a privilege to have someone so gifted and accomplished to even consider working on a relatively unknown artist's project. I was truly humbled. The brief moment that we worked together has provided a profound experience that I will remember forever.

Thank you B.J. very very much! I am truly grateful to you for tracking me down and giving me the opportunity to share my brief cameo appearance with Claudio Slon. Since I have learned of Claudio's passing, I have played "Highway 88" over and over again intently listening to the percussion tracks, flashing back and remembering that day I was given the gift of a lifetime.

He will be missed!

[Webmaster's notes:  be sure to visit Alan's website at http://www.alanripa.com - also, there is now an entire page of photos featuring Claudio and some of the other musicians who play on Alan's "Highway 88" album. The page of photos is located here.]



Scott Martin

THE OFFICIAL CLAUDIO SLON WEBSITE

Interview with Scott Martin

Scott is a pianist and recording artist in Colorado who worked directly with Claudio Slon.

This interview obtained via email on July 18, 2002.

Q.  Scott, I'd like to begin by asking you when and how you first got acquainted with Claudio Slon.

A.  I met Claudio in Jan., 2001, on a gig at Vartan's, in Denver, when I was called in to sub for Jeff Jenkins on piano. Paul Warburton, a great bassist, who played with Bill Evans, was on the gig, too. I remember the first song we played, Love for Sale, felt so good right away that I knew I was in the company of a master rhythm section. I was surprised at what a big man Claudio was, because I was picturing a much smaller person. He explained to me that Slon was Russian for elephant.

 

Q.  Did you get to work with Claudio often during the time you knew him?

A.  After that night, I called Claudio for a wedding gig I had, not sure that he would be interested, but he was and after that we worked together a lot on gigs I booked at clubs, concerts, and private events.

 

Q. What is your favorite recording on which Claudio plays, and what makes it your favorite?

A. I haven't heard many of his recordings, but what I have heard always sounds great. For that reason I'd have to say my own CD "Fascinating Rhythms" is my favorite. The great thing about his recordings is that he sounds exactly like he does live. He doesn't change his style at all- a totally natural player. It was great to hear him on my CD, because I could really focus on all the amazing things he was doing in a way I couldn't when I was playing, too.

 

Q.  Were you a fan of Brazilian music and Brazilian rhythms?

A.  I already loved Brazilian music when I met Claudio, that's why it was so great to play with him, because whatever I played, I heard the classic thing coming from him.

 

Q.  Did you ever record any albums with Claudio? If so, when? Are they still in print?

A.  We recorded my CD on Memorial Day, 2001, and I got my web site up and copies pressed in early 2002. I recorded it mostly to get gigs, but I also wanted it to be something that jazz stations and record companies might be interested in.

 

Q.  Do you have any interesting stories to relate here to our readers about Claudio's life and/or your own personal experiences with him?

A.  I loved talking to Claudio, not just about music. He was well informed about everything and had a cynical, humorous take on everything. I remember being impressed with his library - lots of books on Stravinsky, Nabokov, Bernstein, LBJ, Kennedy, etc., and millions of tapes, CDs and LPs. He played us a scratchy tape recorded at Jobim's house where everybody's hanging out drunk late at night and Jobim is talking and playing the piano--explaining something about a new song--amazing.

 

Q.  I've heard that Claudio had a tremendous sense of humor - what is your own experience with that, if any?

A.  I did a lot of gigs with Claudio and another Brazilian, Bijoux, on bass. It was fun for me to hear them joking and laughing non-stop in Portuguese. Occasionally, when something was especially funny, they would translate. Claudio always had a joke for any subject that came up. When we were joking about people who call you for little gigs months in advance, he told this joke about a contractor who had booked a big band for New Year's Eve way in advance. By the day before the gig, everyone had canceled. He tried frantically to find people, but all he could do was book an accordion and a bassoon. The day after the gig the hotel called to say it was the best music they'd ever had and they wanted them back next year. When the contractor called the duo and told them they had a gig for next New Year's, they said "great, we can leave our instruments there."

 

Q.  What would you like people to remember most about Claudio--as a person and as a musician?

A.  Claudio was a unique person, a combination of lots of different influences. He had a serious side and a humorous side. That shows in his playing style. Totally unique and irreplaceable. For me, hearing the history of jazz and bossa-nova in his playing was the biggest satisfaction, because a younger drummer couldn't have that depth. On the other hand, his style was current, not dated. He could also play very light, but with intensity, or really dig in. His uniqueness and genuineness as person and a musician is what I'll remember.

Thank you, Scott, for doing this interview!

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[Webmaster's note:  be sure to visit Scott's website at http://www.scottmartinmusic.com]


 

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