I went to junior high and high school in Minneapolis, and when I returned to Kansas City in 1971, I started hearing about Alaadeen. When I got to hear him play, I was knocked out. But I have to admit that I didn’t really appreciate him until after I went to New York. I realized that in all these cities there were great musicians like Alaadeen who had touched greatness, been in contact with Miles and different folks, but didn’t go to New York to live. When I came back to Kansas City to teach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I came to really understand that he was one of the masters. Our relationship grew as I grew to understand the deepness of his music and how not all jazz is New York-driven—that all the cats aren’t in New York. New York is not the be-all, end-all.
He had another life going, and as I grew older I realized that that was the kind of life I wanted. He was just one of the guys. He loved to fish, so he kept a pole in his car. When he’d see some water, he’d stop. Gerald Dunn used to go fishing with him a lot. That was one of those things I was always saying I was going to do, because I love to go fishing too. But I just never got to it. He had a bunch of fishing buddies and they’d get in the car and go. There was this one place they’d go to fish they named “Lake Alaadeen.” Maybe I didn’t go with them because they went so early, and the only time I get up at 5 in the morning is when I have to. But I regret that now.