It’s undoubtedly an understatement when Donald “Duck” Bailey refers to the Philadelphia music scene of his youth—the Philly of John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, the Heath Brothers and so many others—as “exciting.” But it’s probably just as much of an understatement when the next word the 75-year-old drummer uses to describe that period is “prejudiced.” He believes, however, that the one atmosphere fueled the other, with innovation being born of hardship.
“The times, unfortunately, brought out that musicianship,” Bailey said over the phone from his home in Oakland. “Whatever happens in the world, musicians or poets will say something about it. Now, people are at least trying to get along better, so the music has changed. I don’t like what happened before, but I like the way the music felt before.”