W. o’ W.: Henry Threadgill

“I had a guy in my house the other day who was helping me work on my papers and stuff, organizing a whole bunch of stuff—I got so much stuff—and I had… a record of Miles in Chicago at the Plugged Nickel. He said, ‘Were you there?’ I said, ‘Of course, I was there. Where else would I have been?’ Younger players now, they don’t be at anything. They don’t be at anything! They say, ‘I can’t afford this; I can’t afford that.’ These people have 500 times more money than we ever had [Laughs]. It’s amazing. ‘Oh, I can’t afford this CD—I’ll just take it and replicate it, download it, take it and copy somebody’s copy of it. I can’t afford that. I can’t spend $55 to go see so and so.’ Why not? Who would you spend $55 to go see? You mean to say, if the Balinese company orchestra was here in front of you, or the kabuki theater was here in front of you, or Charlie Parker and strings were here in front of you, you wouldn’t spend $55? If Horowitz got up to play, if Monk got up, you wouldn’t spend $100? You’re a damn fool—that’s what you are. That’s like, here’s a guy wants to be a scientist, and it’s a $50 lecture to get in and it’s Einstein, and you’re not gonna pay $50? What are you, stupid? What’s wrong with you? What is it that you don’t understand here? Did you miss something about one and one is two? [Laughs] Shit, you better get yourself out there and sell some hot dogs or something to get the money, or you better climb through the window. You gotta be an idiot.

“This guy asked me, he said, ‘You made a night?’ ‘A night? What you talking about, a night?’ He asked me about Sonny Rollins, when Sonny Rollins was coming out of the street, and coming up and down into the club playing, and this kid said, ‘Did you hear about it?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t hear about it—I was there! What you mean ‘hear about it’?’ Coltrane concerts, he said, ‘You probably too young. ‘Too young?’ I said. ‘What, 16? I was there! What are you talking about? Till 4 o’clock in the morning.’ I went to see Rubenstein; I used to sit up under all the great conductors in Chicago. You can’t learn things about music looking at hillbilly music or somebody playing just jazz. You got to look at music… the world is too big.