Today marks the 90th anniversary of Wes’ birth. For 625 Alive, I interviewed the excellent Harold Mabern, Wes’ pianist for the ’65 tour. Mabern had some great reflections in his time with Wes, including some insight into Wes’ practicing:
TF: Have you heard that quote where Wes says something like, “I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat?”
HM: Well, I think I heard that quote too, yeah. But no, he practiced. He had a sense of humor too, you know? But he was always practicing. I know for a fact he was always practicing. I’d go out and come by his room and hear him, and I wouldn’t disturb him. He put a lot of time on the instrument.
Mabern also spoke of what Wes was like as a bandleader:
HM:…He was not greedy at all. He was not greedy money-wise. He was not greedy musically speaking. He was a great, great human being. So that’s why when you see that tape, those things we did, that’s why the music probably sounds so good because everybody was on the same page trying to do the right thing, and it comes through the music…