Photo: William Hooker | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.
The next show will air on Sunday, April 1 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast presents an interview with drummer, composer and poet William Hooker.
William Hooker grew up in New Britain, Connecticut and basically was a good student, and came from a good home. Hook says about his education and introduction to music: “I did all that I could possibly do to make my way through New Britain High School, Nathan Hale Junior High, and Central Connecticut. State College. I tried to get good grades to be an exceptional student as far as playing in the band and orchestra, in leading the chorus and student councils. I was brought up in the church where I sang and learned the gospel repertoire in choirs and as a vocal soloist. I also was given private drum lessons as a child at the age of 10. What led me to music was the fact that I performed in a rock and roll group in Connecticut. Then I got into jazz – in a big way. My first experience playing jazz was with a quartet of older gentlemen who taught me standards(from the black book) and the essentials of leading a band. I did this for four years at the age of 16. I listened to as much music as I could and listened to all the local players in the many clubs,concerts and shows. This is what I did while I was studying in college to obtain my degree in political science,sociology and history. I also studied 20th century composers and electronic music while I was in school. I continued to play and perform, never to become a musician – I was one. I didn’t think of it in terms of the rest of my life or my career because I was good in most of the things I tried to do, be they academic life or musical life. My mentors were my mother , father and the many “professional” musicians I had the pleasure of knowing throughout my life.”
Hooker continues, “I had the great fortune to be a part of an organ trio,playing 4-5 nights a week and continuing to build the roots of “the music.” All through college the group performed standards,show tunes and the like. I played with this group for about 5 years. All the while I was listening deeply to the recordings of Impulse, ESP, Blue Note, Delmark and the like. This was a focused life – working a lot and picking up as much knowledge and skill as I possibly could in the various clubs and places where I performed. I then made the transition from classic jazz to free jazz when I relocated to San Francisco. It was there that I played-daily with an African conga group. this group was steeped in the rhythms and sounds of the drum and percussion. Upon returning to Connecticut, I made the decision to move to New York where I created and led groups using many of those mentioned in my most recent history. The concentration had changed to one in which my own musical concepts were the center of my expression.”
Hooker considers himself a “jazz musician.” “I know this word is defined in many different ways. My work fits in the jazz tradition because it’s based on improvisation..it’s based on learning one’s craft..it’s based on written out music in many cases..it’s based on traditional duo, trio, quartet and sextet settings. I use a Ludwig drum kit. It is set up traditionally: one tom, bass drum, floor tom, two cymbals, high hat, and a snare. Usually this is my preferred set up. I’m hoping that many of the projects I have happening will be recorded and performed live. Many musicians and the relationships that have been building will come to fruition. As this occurs, I will experience the beauty of this music….and I will continue to play.”
(Bio adapted from Hooker’s website.)
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
William Hooker will be at Roulette in Brooklyn On Thursday, April 5 at 8:00 p.m. to present “The Great Migration,” s stirring multimedia and multidisciplinary suite.
Watch a short video on Hooker’s multidisciplinary “Great Migration” suite.
Watch Hooker at the 2011 Vision Fest in this live clip.
Watch Hooker at the 2013 Vilnius Jazz Fest in this live clip.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.