A Life in Jazz pp 170-177 | Cite as

Bebop and how I left Calloway’s band

  • Danny Barker


Now in 1945 I was in New York with Calloway. I met Sir Charles Thompson, and he was very friendly. We met in bars, got to know one another. Now in those days they had what you would call rhythm sections. And rhythm men would go and listen to other whole rhythm sections, seeing how they would coordinate. The precision, which was like a machine. You used to hear Fletcher Henderson’s section, with John Kirby, Walter Johnson and Fletcher, Clarence Holiday on guitar—they pulsed. Fantastic rhythm. They would shade it. Walter Johnson could shade a band, bring it up, bring the whole thing up, build up a feeling of exhilaration, make you feel good. See, down here in New Orleans they’ve never really had that concept of a rhythm section. It’s just “I’ll play my job, you play yours. Don’t tell me how to play my drums, you just play your bass.” But in New York everybody looked at one another. We got that feeling. Everyone would say to one another, “Where are we at … get in there!”


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© Danny Barker 1986

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  • Danny Barker

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