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Morello – I Never Use Half the Technique I Have

Scott K Fish

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SKF NOTE: An excerpt from my 1979 Modern Drummer interview with Joe Morello. Just prior to this part of the interview, I told Joe I was sad to read in the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s 25th Anniversary Reunion album, Joe saying, “It’s nice to be remembered when you’re old and gray.” He was 50 years old in 1979!

Joe Morello: Well, sometimes I get down with it, but not too much. It’s been good to me. It’s been a lot in such a short time. And now, as much as I enjoy taking it easy and doing what I want to do, still, I want to start playing again.

Like, I could be teaching again if I really wanted to, heavy, but…. I even went up on the prices and they still want to come, y’know. I charge twenty-five [$25.00] a lesson – and they pay for it. They come.

I’ve had them come from Arizona, Dallas. I’ve had them come from Canada.

I used to tell them, “Jeez, this is ridiculous. I wouldn’t go across the street to see me play.”

All a teacher can really show you is how to play the drum. That’s all. I don’t care how much technique you’ve got, or how little you have.

When it comes to playing the drum set, I never use half of the technique I have. I don’t need to. For what?

Unless I’m feeling real hotsy-totsy one night, and I’ll come on with the power a little bit, y’know, if I’m up to it; and sometimes I feel like doing something like that – I’ll do it.

It’s good to know that I can do it if I want to, but I normally don’t knock myself out much like that. I’d rather do my playing first, and then if people want to see this kind of thing [Joe plays fast licks on his drum pad], then I can do it.

But, I like to do my playing first. Then I’ll play for the crowd, y’know.

SKFBlog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2022/09/28/morello-i-never-use-half-the-technique-i-have/
 

Mcjnic

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Joe is probably my absolute favorite drummer … if I had to narrow it to one.
He‘s ridiculously skilled and one of the most creative I’ve ever come across.
But the best thing I can say about him - he’s a humble drummer.
I remember reading conversations between him and B2. He was just such a nice gentleman.
Character is paramount.

I love these interviews you have done over the years.
This one hits me just a little bit different.
Nice job, Scott.
 

Seb77

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Thanks for those interview bits - I went on a JM youtube trip because of of these posts.

The album below had such an impact on me, the simpler playing just as much or more than the fast stuff. I listened to it a lot for a while, as it was one of my first CDs. (Follow the link to the whole playlist):

I had never heard this before:
 

Scott K Fish

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Joe is probably my absolute favorite drummer … if I had to narrow it to one.
He‘s ridiculously skilled and one of the most creative I’ve ever come across.
But the best thing I can say about him - he’s a humble drummer.
I remember reading conversations between him and B2. He was just such a nice gentleman.
Character is paramount.

I love these interviews you have done over the years.
This one hits me just a little bit different.
Nice job, Scott.
Remembering Joe Morello
Posted on September 2, 2014 by scottkfish

SKF NOTE: Remembering Joe Morello tonight. A bittersweet memory. Joe was a drumming giant. Levon Helm said one afternoon in a restaurant that Joe brought Jascha Heifitz’s violin sensitivity to the drumset. Great analogy.

One evening in New Jersey Joe and his wife, Jean, went to visit some friends in their home. I was with the Morello’s but don’t remember why. What I remember most is the three concrete steps down to the walkway from their friends’ home front door. Joe was legally blind and this night had a wee bit too much to drink. Not a terrible amount, but enough to make him unsteady.

As we approached that first step down he took my arm for support and held it down the steps and walkway — asking me the whole time how close was the next step, how far down would he have to step — until we reached the car.

For me, a 30-something drummer/writer that was a powerful few moments. The contrast in Joe who could find his way around a drumset with blistering speed with Joe who couldn’t find his way down three steps. The grace and utter selflessness with which he just took my arm. And the honor I felt – and still feel – that he trusted me enough to take my arm at that moment.

It still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know why. I think an argument can be made that the entire, brief incident captures the whole of being human.

 

Mcjnic

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Remembering Joe Morello
Posted on September 2, 2014 by scottkfish

SKF NOTE: Remembering Joe Morello tonight. A bittersweet memory. Joe was a drumming giant. Levon Helm said one afternoon in a restaurant that Joe brought Jascha Heifitz’s violin sensitivity to the drumset. Great analogy.

One evening in New Jersey Joe and his wife, Jean, went to visit some friends in their home. I was with the Morello’s but don’t remember why. What I remember most is the three concrete steps down to the walkway from their friends’ home front door. Joe was legally blind and this night had a wee bit too much to drink. Not a terrible amount, but enough to make him unsteady.

As we approached that first step down he took my arm for support and held it down the steps and walkway — asking me the whole time how close was the next step, how far down would he have to step — until we reached the car.

For me, a 30-something drummer/writer that was a powerful few moments. The contrast in Joe who could find his way around a drumset with blistering speed with Joe who couldn’t find his way down three steps. The grace and utter selflessness with which he just took my arm. And the honor I felt – and still feel – that he trusted me enough to take my arm at that moment.

It still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know why. I think an argument can be made that the entire, brief incident captures the whole of being human.


Oh my.
That is an incredibly beautiful moment.
I can understand how deeply impactful that would be.
You are a blessed man ... many encounters with some truely special folk.
But sharing time with Joe is a blessing above others, I believe.
And isn't it peculiar that several of the DBQ albums dealt with "time".
Time spent with any one of them would have been priceless.
Thank you for sharing your times in these moments with us.
 

bellbrass

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Great share and info, Scott - I relish every bit of this, because Joe is one of my favorite drummers of all time. I have a recording of Joe sitting in with the East Carolina University Jazz Band, from 1971. The sound quality is suprisingly good. It's one of my favorite jazz recordings, even when stacked up against the Goliath works of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He does a solo during one song - the titles were not available - where he just mesmerizes with his touch and technique. Then, right as you are on the edge of your seat during the solo, he plays a bit of Jingle Bells on a tom-tom, getting rough notes by pressing the head with his left hand. You can hear people laughing, then he goes right back into some impeccable snare playing. That, to me, was the essence of Joe - pure entertainment and mastery, with a grin.

Side note: I didn't know about the 25th reunion recording; thank you!
 

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Great drummer, no question. Always an inspiration.

As here are some knowledgeable people around, I have a special question:
Does anybody know what kind of wrist watch Joe Morello was wearing in the 60s? I guess it must have been a Swiss watch which was a very flat model for these days..

Robert Paiste mentioned tin an interview it was this watch Joe Morello was proud of that started the idea of making the first flat ride:



From cymbal.wiki:
In 1966 you developed the flat ride cymbal, how did that come about?
R.P.
: The Flat Ride is the first and the last cymbal that more or less came out of a gag. That was with Joe Morello, he visited here once and at that time there were these new super thin watches, he was fascinated with his new super thin watch that he had just got.
He said, "why don't you make a cymbal like that?" I wondered, what does a cymbal without a bell sound like? Well, we were making gongs, but I didn't relate to that, we built prototypes, which surprised us very much with the sound.

There was a Omega 'Extra-Flat' in the early 60s. Or Universal Geneve, or Piaget Altiplano (the Caliber 12p was the flattest automatic movement in the 60s), but I have honestly no clue.

Maybe somebody who knew him better got that detail.
 
Last edited:

GMFrancis

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Great drummer, no question. Always an inspiration.

As here are some knowledgeable people around, I have a special question:
Does anybody know what kind of wrist watch Joe Morello was wearing in the 60s? I guess it must have been a Swiss watch which was a very flat model for these days..

Robert Paiste mentioned tin an interview it was this watch Joe Morello was proud of that started the idea of making the first flat ride:



From cymbal.wiki:


There was a Omega 'Extra-Flat' in the early 60s. Or Universal Geneve, or Piaget Altiplano (the Caliber 12p was the flattest automatic movement in the 60s), but I have honestly no clue.

Maybe somebody who knew him better got that detail.
Post as clear an image as you possible , I can probably tell
 

GMFrancis

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43B233AA-3E4F-4789-A0FF-087B6C243BF3.jpeg
43B233AA-3E4F-4789-A0FF-087B6C243BF3.jpeg

When I got into Paiste in the 70’s this was the photo in the bookle. Morello AND Bonham! What a great bunch of endorsers across the spectrum
 

Tornado

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SKF NOTE: An excerpt from my 1979 Modern Drummer interview with Joe Morello. Just prior to this part of the interview, I told Joe I was sad to read in the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s 25th Anniversary Reunion album, Joe saying, “It’s nice to be remembered when you’re old and gray.” He was 50 years old in 1979!

Joe Morello: Well, sometimes I get down with it, but not too much. It’s been good to me. It’s been a lot in such a short time. And now, as much as I enjoy taking it easy and doing what I want to do, still, I want to start playing again.

Like, I could be teaching again if I really wanted to, heavy, but…. I even went up on the prices and they still want to come, y’know. I charge twenty-five [$25.00] a lesson – and they pay for it. They come.

I’ve had them come from Arizona, Dallas. I’ve had them come from Canada.

I used to tell them, “Jeez, this is ridiculous. I wouldn’t go across the street to see me play.”

All a teacher can really show you is how to play the drum. That’s all. I don’t care how much technique you’ve got, or how little you have.

When it comes to playing the drum set, I never use half of the technique I have. I don’t need to. For what?

Unless I’m feeling real hotsy-totsy one night, and I’ll come on with the power a little bit, y’know, if I’m up to it; and sometimes I feel like doing something like that – I’ll do it.

It’s good to know that I can do it if I want to, but I normally don’t knock myself out much like that. I’d rather do my playing first, and then if people want to see this kind of thing [Joe plays fast licks on his drum pad], then I can do it.

But, I like to do my playing first. Then I’ll play for the crowd, y’know.

SKFBlog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2022/09/28/morello-i-never-use-half-the-technique-i-have/

I wonder how the conversation with the artist went. I imagine: "We're four balding old men with faces made for jazz. Do your worst."
 

AGentry

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Great drummer, no question. Always an inspiration.

As here are some knowledgeable people around, I have a special question:
Does anybody know what kind of wrist watch Joe Morello was wearing in the 60s? I guess it must have been a Swiss watch which was a very flat model for these days..

Robert Paiste mentioned tin an interview it was this watch Joe Morello was proud of that started the idea of making the first flat ride:



From cymbal.wiki:


There was a Omega 'Extra-Flat' in the early 60s. Or Universal Geneve, or Piaget Altiplano (the Caliber 12p was the flattest automatic movement in the 60s), but I have honestly no clue.

Maybe somebody who knew him better got that detail.
I know he had a Rolex when I studied with him in the 90’s / early 2000’s. He told me he bought it when he was with Brubeck. It was later sold on eBay so you might be able to find out the model if that was the same watch. You could hear the metal band rattle when he played.
 

GMFrancis

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I know he had a Rolex when I studied with him in the 90’s / early 2000’s. He told me he bought it when he was with Brubeck. It was later sold on eBay so you might be able to find out the model if that was the same watch. You could hear the metal band rattle when he played.
On the Conan O Brien show it looked like a steel and gold Rolex Datejust, with a Jubilee bracelet.
 


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