The Third Story Podcast with Leo Sidran
by Leo Sidran
May 21, 2020 5:01 am
The Third story features long-form interviews with creative people of all types, hosted by musician Leo Sidran. Their stories of discovery, loss, ambition, identity, risk, and reward are deeply moving and compelling for all of us as we embark on our own creative journeys.
Orlando le Fleming is the kind of bass player who possesses that mysterious element, that sound, that groove, that thing that you want to hook up with. Maybe that’s why some of the finest drummers in jazz have chosen Orlando to play in their groups – he logged serious miles playing with Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ari Hoenig, and Antonio Sanchez – three of the most influential drummers alive. And an early recording project with Jimmy Cobb helped to position Orlando as a bass player to know about.
He’s also a bass player that singers like to work with. He played with Jane Monheit for years, and spent much of the last few years on the road with Leslie Odom, Jr. (who is known for playing the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton).
Orlando co-leads a drummerless group called Owl Trio with saxophonist Will Vinson and guitarist Lage Lund, and his solo project Romantic Funk features his groovy fusiony funky tunes played by a collection of New York jazzheads.
Orlando has taken his years of experience and strategies for getting it together and written a new book called Get It Together: Time and Sound Priorities for the Jazz Bass Player.
Despite his exotic name, Orlando explains that he is really just a “slow Englishman”. However, he does have a rather exciting secret in his past: before becoming a jazz bass player he was a professional cricketer in England.
We had this conversation in early January of this year. In our talk we look at his career in general terms, talk a lot about playing the bass, the role and function of the bass in ensemble playing, ideas about composition and groove. But what we really settle into is a conversation about New York.
In retrospect, the conversation is a kind of time capsule. It’s a look at the jazz experience in New York just before disaster struck. From where we’re sitting right now, it’s hard to imagine how and when the city will open up again, what that will mean, and if jazz clubs will ever recover as they were before. Seen through that lens, today’s episode is a window into a world that we can still remember but that we know is lost.
Here Orlando considers how to get a sound on the bass, why he puts “rhythm before notes”, what were the advantages to starting his career in England, when to leave New York, who were his mentors, the “jazz struggle” and why “groove comes from culture.”
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