Built from Scratch

Outtakes: How'd you come to define this soul-jazz sound?

Roy Ayers: I got the beat and the concept from Lionel Hampton. Lionel Hampton always played with a funky beat -- it's called a shuffle, that's what he used to do. D-dat d-dat d-dat d-dat. It's an R&B figure that's used quite a bit in swing. Two of my favorite musicians are Miles Davis and James Brown. If you listen to both, there's a similarity there, far as I'm concerned. Also, Miles never did stay in one bag all his life; he changed all the time. He motivated me to the point where I had to really focus and look at his career and say, "At least mine has been similar to his, in the versatility, playing many different bags."

Are you surprised at the continued interest in your music?

The Ubiquitous Roy Ayers
The Ubiquitous Roy Ayers

I never knew anything was gonna happen with this stuff! I'm doing it because there was somebody like Peter [Adarkwah of BBE Records] that was interested in bringing it out. I can show it to a million people, but they don't wanna bring it out.

You ever hang with the other funky forefathers?

I always see George Clinton, and he'll give me a high-five, and Bootsy. I used to do shows with them. I remember one time I did a show with them in Louisville, Kentucky, and we all found ourselves at the hotel -- I think at that time it was a Holiday Inn -- and they were raving at me, like, "You gotta open the show like that every time when you work for us! You gotta put that fire in 'em, because that means that same fire is there when we come on-stage!" I'll never forget that.

What do you think about hip-hop artists' sampling your stuff?

I just hope we don't get too many people that are copying other artists without doing something themselves. I like Pharrell; he's young and he's creative, and it seems he does things new and fresh. I like him because he's not exactly sampling; he's experimenting with sound and instruments, and we do need more musicians out here to play the instruments. That's very important, because everybody can't go through life just sampling. As well as they can do sampling, they can do just as well on a musical instrument to create music. -- Jonathan Zwickel

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