Lance Kaufman

Interviewed For The Continental Magazine, Issue #2

 

Sean: Tell me a bit about the recording of your first album.

Lance: It was recorded in 3 days at Dionysus' studio in Los Angeles. There was

already a Gulbransen organ there but I couldn't play the footpedals so, after

recording one song on which I literally got down on my hands & knees to play

the pedals (I knew I was going to have some real trouble on the faster

songs!), I used a portable organ to record the organ bass track & then

overrdubbed the other organ parts. The percussion was great fun & I think

everyone (including me) was amazed that it came out so well because I am NOT

a percussionist. The engineer was a good friend of mine who I've known for

years. He came out with me from Arizona (where I presently am living) & the

two of us just knocked the whole thing off. It was really pretty basic.

 

Sean: Besides the obvious, what musicians have influenced your work?

Lance: I'd have to say Les Baxter & Richard Hayman. In fact, Les Baxter's "Sacred

Idol" is probably responsible for my "ancient city" concept with all the

pieces related. Likewise, Richard Hayman's "Voodoo" album. I also listen to a

lot of North African, Middle Eastern & Indian music & I suppose there's that

influence as well. And, I guess, Martin Denny & Arthur Lyman. And, of course,

Korla. Not even so much in copying what he has done but more intaking someone

you really like & respect & using that image to do your own music based on

their general influence & image. As Lance, I also have done other music that

ranges in influence from Eugene Chadbourne to Cecil Taylor to Flipper to

who-knows-what-else. As a jazz player, I'm probably influenced by Monk, early

Herbie Hancock & McCoy Tyner, as well as early Les McCann & an obscure fellow

named Horace Parlan. I like people who are communicating something rather

than "showing off".

 

Sean: What was the first song you came up with?

Lance: Well, I came up with the idea of the suite ("Journey to the Ancient

City")as a whole & then just started imagining subjects for songs about this

"city" that would be fun & interesting. So, I had all the names to the pieces

before I wrote any of them. Once I started writing, I think they went pretty

much in the order of the album unless I suddenly got a brainstorm & went with

it out of order.

 

Sean: Describe the equipment you use.

Lance: For the "Karla' project, I' used the studio organ but, out of the studio,

I'm using a chopped Hammond B-3 (heavy parts removed to make carrying it at

least a slight possibility) with a leslie speaker and a Korg CX-3 for my

"snake noises" on "Hall of Snakes".

 

Sean: You performed all of the music on your first album. Would you like to work

with a group in the future? If so, who would you like to work with?

Lance: Yes, I've already been rehearsing & have worked with a group. I couldn't

possibly duplicate what I did on the album by myself & I like the idea of a

"band" & one that isn't necessarily background music. My friend, Jack Dorsey,

who lives in the San Francisco area, is a great precussionist who has a good

feel for a lot of different styles - both playing regular drum set and

assorted percussion instruments. Because of the nature of this music, I

prefer to go without standard Western drums.

 

Sean: You are currently living in Cleveland. What are some of your favorite haunts

there?

Lance: Well, I actually am originally from Cleveland but haven't been back there

for years. That's part of the "joke" part of the record. I'm actually from

San Francisco but am presently living in Flagstaff, Arizona (NOT at the Happy

Saguaro, I might add). In San Francisco, places I enjoyed playing at were

Cafe Du Nord (before it got trendy & stupid) & Club Deluxe on Haight Street).

I've been doing some playing & recording with Oscar Brown, Jr., the jazz

singer who was quite popular in the 60's & is making a comeback recently &

we've enjoyed playing the Elbo Room there several times. He's 70 years old &

still a great performer & should be on the Downbeat Jazz Polls & stuff like

that. I just don't get it.

 

Sean: What is your favorite cocktail?

Lance: Favorite cocktail? Probably anything with rum. I like rum gimlets or

Pimm's cups with Indian food (there is a bit of the "Karla" in me) & there's

a great Malaysian restaurant in San Francisco called the Straits Cafe that

serves wondeful exotic drinks of which my favorite is the Funky Monkey - a

gooey, chocolatey concoction. Actually, you can't go wrong for me with

anything that's got a little umbrella or plastic umbrella or plastic souvenir

figure on it.

 

Sean: Do you perform live shows? If so, what are your favorite songs to perform

live?

Lance: Yes, I am trying to get started doing live shows. As a 6 piece band, we

played at "Pyscho Exotica" in Los Angeles on Nov.24th & have another date at

the Rhythm Room in Phoenix on Feb.4th- I believe opening for the Friends of

Dean Martinez. Thus far, I've been a bit hampered by not having the people I

can count on consistently to be available but things seem to be taking shape

& I hope to do alot more live shows. I really enjoy being "Karla"! The live

performance begins with "March of the Pundites", which I wrote basically to

introduce the group. Then I yammer a bit & we do "Journey to the Ancient

City" without stopping. I'm planning to add a few pieces from my "other"

albums that are, let's say "out-of-print" but, for now, it's just the

"Journey".

 

Sean: What is your favorite Frank Sinatra song?

Lance: Oh, probably something like "They Can't Take That Away From Me" or

"Night & Day". I tend to like the "swinging" stuff best but he did one album that I

believe is on Reprise called "The Concert Sinatra" that's mostly slow stuff

but it's all arranged by Nelson Riddle & it's beautiful!

 

Sean: What are your plans for 1997?

Lance: Plans. Well, as Karla, I want do play out more, probably do another

album, tour. Karla is just one part of my musical life; I'm also working on a

group project called "Harmless" that did an album several years ago & seems

to be getting some renewed interest. It's jazz-influenced weirdness & I hope

to make some progress with that. I'm also working on a classical work - a

chamber opera about Janusz Korzchak, a Polish doctor and champion of

childrens' rights in pre-World War II Warsaw. And, I may do some more playing

with Oscar Brown, Jr. And, and, and...so many things to do. Oh yeah, a spoken

word project with someone from Dionysus records. I hate to be pigeon-holed

musically. Keep em guessing, I say. People never know what I'll do next & I

kind of like that.

 

Sean: Do you have any final words for the readers of The Continental?

Lance: Yes. For Korla (not Karla) fans out there, as well as those unfamiliar

with this sort of music, the name & some of the trappings of my record are

goofy but it is meant to make me appear goofy- not Korla. If anything, the

music is a serious tribute (not a joke) to Korla, whom I've listened to for

years & whose picture graces my studio wall. I had fun doing this music & I

sincerely tried to write good music rather that resort to low comedy. I hope

no one misunderstands my motives. And...all you out there, keep an open mind

& ear to music. There's a lot of great stuff out there - past & present, even

though I feel our sensibilities are being seriously challenged by musical

laziness & blandness I associate with the general modern yuppie mentality.

 

To send fan mail, you can write to:

Lance Kaufman

2039 N. Navajo Drive

Flagstaff, AZ 86001

 

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