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AN AUDIO AND WRITTEN INTERVIEW WITH RAPHAEL McADEN: A COMMENTARY ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE

SEPTEMBER 14,2008
Special for THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
© Amir Bey, 2007
Raphael McAden, on a roof top on St. Marks Place, Lower East Side. Photographed by Ray Gibson, 1964
Raphael, the bass player Wilber Morris, the drummer Dennis Charles, and Pepe Flores, Music and cultural historian, In front of 5C, a performance center located on East 5th Street and Avenue C. Photo by Carol Blank
Raphael with altar installations, a "Spiritual Church Altar" (L) and an "Elegba Altar for Piece and Unity", from two shows at Bronx River Art Center, early 90s
A Flier that Raphael drew for a slide show and lecture that he gave on Albert Ayler, Hunter College, 1978.
An oil painting of Raphael by Harvey Dinnerstein, 1988
listen to audio:
(The Audio interview is above) INTERVIEW WITH RAPHAEL McADEN

© Amir Bey, 2008

HOLLER!: What brought you out of Bridgeport, Connecticut to the East Village?

McAden: Free Jazz, poetry, art school, museums, galleries, freedom!

HOLLER!: Would you say that the music of that time, of Coltrane et al, motivated you to seek an alternative to your life in Bridgeport?

McAden: My Intro to the art scene and Lifestyle; Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Sunny Murray.
Leroi Jones’ Apple Cores column In Downbeat Magazine -Apple cores was Leroi Jones ‘s column in down beat magazine in the early 60's; he covered exciting new music in the East and West Village, as well as people like Monk, Rollins, Mingus and my old friend, Milford Graves, who I met at the October Revolution at the Cellar Cafe in 1964. The October Revolution was a Jazz festival organized in October '64 by "Sir" Bill Dixon, trumpet player, artist, historian, organizer, a man of vision. As far as I know, Leroi Jones was the first to write about Sunny Murray, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon, Pharaoh Sanders, and Cecil Taylor; he not only knew their music, he knew them personally, and lived in their world. I was also inspired by Tom J. Doyles’ sculpture class at the New School. Doyle's sculpture was constructed from lumber, bolted together, and painted bright colors and stood on the floor in real space, encouraging people to walk around it and feel it; it was amongst the most modern at that time, and was considered breakthrough. I studied with him for a year, and later worked in his studio for a year.

HOLLER!: How would you describe the East Village at the time you moved there?

McAden: Magical, free, exciting, cheap old world environment; new horizons and endless possibilities.

HOLLER!: Who were the first musicians and artists that you met and befriended?

McAden: I met Ornette Coleman before I moved here. I met Pharaoh Sanders first, then Sunny Murray, who introduced me to everyone, I admired: Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Jimmy Lyons –everyone!

HOLLER!: Had you thought of becoming and artist before that?

McAden: Yes, that came first, I always loved to draw and paint and make sculpture. When I heard Ornette, I felt: “This is art music, this is my music! I loved big bands: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Lunceford, - But that was my father’s music. I loved Bebop, but that was my uncle Phil’s music. Ornette, Cecil, Eric Dolphy, Coltrane, Mingus and Monk; that was my music! -Turned my whole life around.
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