An Interview With Alphonse Mouzon

Jim Sheridan, Tommy Bolin Archives reviewer, writer, and superfan, scored an "e-mail interview" with Drum Legend Alphonse Mouzon in April, 1999. The interview, in itís entirety, is posted below with permission. Thanks to Jim and Alphonse for providing this incredible insight into the Mouzon/Bolin collaboration! Be sure to purchase the critically acclaimed fusion work MIND TRANSPLANT, featuring Alphonse Mouzon and Tommy Bolin, direct from the Tommy Bolin Archives Be sure also to visit Alphonse Mouzonís website at http://www.tenaciousrecords.com/index.html.


Jim S: How did you first become aware of Tommy Bolin?

Alphonse: I became aware of Tommy Bolin subsequent to hearing him perform on Billy Cobham's Spectrum CD.

Jim S: What of his material had you heard before you worked with him and what was your opinion of his works?

Alphonse: Actually, Tommy sat in with me and Larry Coryell at a club in Boulder, Colorado sometime in 1974 or 1975. Tommy was always a great rock guitarist with jazz and blues traits. He was a natural player with a great sense of time and feeling.

Jim S: Did you audition him? How did you meet?

Alphonse: As I stated before, we met and jammed at a club in Boulder, Colorado. There was no need to audition Tommy after hearing him play. He was a genius on the guitar!

Jim S: Did he have a hand in the writing of any of the MIND TRANSPLANT material?

Alphonse: I wrote and arranged all of the songs on MIND TRANSPLANT. Tommy added all of the missing elements on the songs he played on.

Jim S: What were the sessions for that album like? Did you have all of the guitarists present?

Alphonse: Yes, I had all three guitarists together in the studio. I had written guitar parts for Lee Ritenour and Jay Graydon. Tommy did not read music, so I had him add the soulful feeling and down to earth guitar solos. Tommy only had to hear the melody played once or twice, and he would have the melody down and then would add the harmony to it.

Jim S: Was there much improv?.

Alphonse: There was only improvisation during the solos sections.

Jim S: On the re-release of MIND TRANSPLANT, there is the jam of "The Real Thing" added on as a bonus. This 18+ minute free-for-all comes from some rehearsal sessions, and is part of about 53 minutes that are in bootleg circulation. Any plans for the release of the other parts of this?

Alphonse: I just found out that the Tommy Bolin Archives are planing to release a new CD by Tommy that may have some other Mouzon/Bolin jams on it.

Jim S: Your evaluation of MIND TRANSPLANT now, 20+ years later, in terms of YOUR playing and career, Tommy's work, and fusion in general.

Alphonse: MIND TRANSLPANT is a great piece of work. It is fusion at its best! I still listen to for inspiration and enjoyment. I could not have done it without the help of Tommy Bolin, along with bassist Henry Davis, keyboardist Jerry Peters, and guitarists Lee Ritenour and Jay Graydon.

Jim S: Some of the jams you did for MIND TRANSPLANT involved early sketches of songs Tommy would later fully create; his "Homeward Strut," the James Brown-y instrumental from his TEASER LP, and also "Love Child," which he would record with Deep Purple in 1975. Have you heard any of Tommy's solo LPS or his Deep Purple stuff? Comments? Did you follow the rest of his career?

Alphonse: I heard of Tommy's solo recordings and the things he did with Deep Purple. I was following his career and that is why I was deeply saddened and emotionally hurt when he passed away. Tommy had a lot more music to give - he died too young!

Jim S: Did you and Tommy ever consider going further than the one album together?

Alphonse: If Tommy were alive today, we would be back into the studio recording, no doubt about it. Tommy and I talked about recording again but it never materialized.

Jim S: His death, to me, is one of the greatest musical losses ever. He was SO young, and LPs like MIND TRANSPLANT show that he was really on top of his game. How did you hear of his death? Were you surprised?

Alphonse: I heard from a friend that Tommy had passed away. I was surprised, hurt, angry and in denial at the same time. It was not his time to go - he had much more to offer!

Jim S: One of the best things about the CD revolution has been the re-release of some LPs that were out of print. Not only have all of the LPs that Tommy played on come into print, but his family and executors have started the Tommy Bolin Archives. They have released some 10 or so CDs worth of material over the past 5 years. Have you heard any of this material?

Alphonse: I have only heard soundbytes from CD-Now's website. Tommy sounds great as ever!

Jim S: What is your view of his overall legacy?

Alphonse: Tommy Bolin legacy will live on forever, because musically, he was light years ahead of his time. No one has yet to incorporate the use of the echoplex the way Tommy used it. Just yesterday, I unpacked two of my old vintage echoplexes that I had used back in 1975. It made me think of Tommy and the genius way he used it on his guitar.

Jim S: Thank you for your time!!

Alphonse: No problem at all. I am glad to do your interview. Please mention my URL and a link to my webpage at http://www.tenaciousrecords.com/index.html

Thanks a million in advance!

Veraciously yours,
Alphonse Mouzon
Chairman/CEO/Recording Artist

Currently, Alphonse Mouzon is touring with Larry Coryell and ď11th HouseĒ Ė be sure to check out their schedule on Alphonse Mouzonís website, and see them live in concert!


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