In 1971, when my twin brother Alex and I were about 16 years old, we were exposed to the music of John Coltrane by a friend who thought my brother would like the music since he loved Frank Zappa’s “instrumental stuff.” As West Los Angeles rock ‘n’ roll fiends, we were really not prepared for the sensations and wonders that flowed from this music-the first piece we heard was “Africa”-but we loved it right away. This began a whole new quest into the far reaches of improvised music, most of it considered “jazz.” From Coltrane we discovered Miles Davis, and then pretty much all jazz-related impulses were reachable, either by looking back or by looking ahead. Alex heard something off the Tony Williams Lifetime’s Turn It Over one day on the underground FM rock station KPPC, and the rest is history.
We read up, experimented, tried to put it all together. How could we, as neo-suburban-rock and progressive-rock boys, embrace this music? Very early on Alex embraced not just Miles and Tony, but also Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. I became Coltrane-obsessed, but together we also started digging Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Charles Tolliver’s Music Inc., Sam Rivers, Chick Corea and-naturally-Andrew Hill.