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Interview | Alphonse Mouzon
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How did you first become aware of Tommy Bolin?

I became aware of Tommy Bolin subsequent to hearing him perform on Billy Cobham's Spectrum CD.

What of his material had you heard before you worked with him and what was your opinion of his works?

Actually, Tommy sat in with me and Larry Coryell at a club in Boulder, Colorado sometime in 1974 or 1975. Tommy was always a great rock guitarist with jazz and blues traits. He was a natural player with a great sense of time and feeling.

Did you audition him? How did you meet?

As I stated before, we met and jammed at a club in Boulder, Colorado. There was no need to audition Tommy after hearing him play. He was a genius on the guitar!

Did he have a hand in the writing of any of the MIND TRANSPLANT material?

I wrote and arranged all of the songs on MIND TRANSPLANT. Tommy added all of the missing elements on the songs he played on.

What were the sessions for that album like? Did you have all of the guitarists present?

Yes, I had all three guitarists together in the studio. I had written guitar parts for Lee Ritenour and Jay Graydon. Tommy did not read music, so I had him add the soulful feeling and down to earth guitar solos. Tommy only had to hear the melody played once or twice, and he would have the melody down and then would add the harmony to it.

Was there much improv.?

There was only improvisation during the solos sections.

On the re-release of MIND TRANSPLANT, there is the jam of "The Real Thing" added on as a bonus. This 18+ minute free-for-all comes from some rehearsal sessions, and is part of about 53 minutes that are in bootleg circulation. Any plans for the release of the other parts of this?

I just found out that the Tommy Bolin Archives are planing to release a new CD by Tommy that may have some other Mouzon/Bolin jams on it.

Your evaluation of MIND TRANSPLANT now, 20+ years later, in terms of YOUR playing and career, Tommy's work, and fusion in general?

MIND TRANSLPANT is a great piece of work. It is fusion at its best! I still listen to for inspiration and enjoyment. I could not have done it without the help of Tommy Bolin, along with bassist Henry Davis, keyboardist Jerry Peters, and guitarists Lee Ritenour and Jay Graydon.

Some of the jams you did for MIND TRANSPLANT involved early sketches of songs Tommy would later fully create; his Homeward Strut, the James Brown-y instrumental from his TEASER LP, and also Love Child, which he would record with Deep Purple in 1975. Have you heard any of Tommy's solo LPS or his Deep Purple stuff? Comments? Did you follow the rest of his career?

I heard of Tommy's solo recordings and the things he did with Deep Purple. I was following his career and that is why I was deeply saddened and emotionally hurt when he passed away. Tommy had a lot more music to give - he died too young!

Did you and Tommy ever consider going further than the one album together?

If Tommy were alive today, we would be back into the studio recording, no doubt about it. Tommy and I talked about recording again but it never materialized.

His death, to me, is one of the greatest musical losses ever. He was SO young, and LPs like MIND TRANSPLANT show that he was really on top of his game. How did you hear of his death? Were you surprised?

I heard from a friend that Tommy had passed away. I was surprised, hurt, angry and in denial at the same time. It was not his time to go - he had much more to offer!

One of the best things about the CD revolution has been the re-release of some LPs that were out of print. Not only have all of the LPs that Tommy played on come into print, but his family and executors have started the Tommy Bolin Archives. They have released some 10 or so CDs worth of material over the past 5 years. Have you heard any of this material?

I have only heard soundbytes from CD-Now's website. Tommy sounds great as ever!

What is your view of his overall legacy?

Tommy Bolin legacy will live on forever, because musically, he was light years ahead of his time. No one has yet to incorporate the use of the echoplex the way Tommy used it. Just yesterday, I unpacked two of my old vintage echoplexes that I had used back in 1975. It made me think of Tommy and the genius way he used it on his guitar.

Thank you for your time!

No problem at all. I am glad to do your interview.

Thanks a million in advance!

Veraciously yours, 
Alphonse Mouzon 
Chairman/CEO/Recording Artist

flatalphonse

Jim Sheridan, Tommy Bolin Archives reviewer & writer scored an e-mail interview with drum Legend Alphonse Mouzon in April, 1999. Tommy features on his 1975 Mind Transplant Album.

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Email interview with Alphonse Mouzon 21 July 2015. We kept this brief as the BELOW interview by jim Sheridan is informative enough

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You are playing at The 2015 Bolin Fest – that’s quite a coup for the organisers. Was it a straight forward decision for you?

Yes it was time for me to play at the festival for Tommy Bolin because I got to know Johnnie over the years at NAMM and I wanted to show Tommy in heaven that I still cared about him.

 

You’ve played with so many wonderful musicians and played across many musical genres. Not looking to compare Tommy with anyone, but what stood out for you in regard to Tommy’s guitar playing and musicianship?

Tommy was a natural rock and blues guitarist who understood and could play Fusion Jazz.

 

How do you see ‘Mind Transplant’ in the grand scale of your recording career?

"MIND TRANSPLANT" is my best Fusion album/CD. It's a Fusion classic as many people have said! "VIRTUE" is my 2nd best Fusion album/CD.

 

‘Golden Rainbows’ is often cited by Bolin fans as their favourite ‘Tommy’ time on the recording. Do you have any stand out tracks or moments from those sessions?

I love all of the tracks Tommy is playing on. "GOLDEN RAINBOWS" and "NITROGLYCERIN" are standouts for me.

 

Any funny moments/experiences you can recall?

Tommy always used to called me "FONZIE" in a high pitch voice that was funny. He always said, l "if they can't take a joke, fuck 'em".

 

There is a great couple of photos of yourself and Tommy (attached here) outside, presumably in L.A. Again, any recollections or comment

Those photos of me and Tommy and my Mind Transplant band were taken in Hollywood outside of the United Artists Record Company parking lot during happier times.

 

Have you heard the Archives release of the‘MOUZON/BOLIN’ jams? Again very popular amongst Bolinites.

Yes I have heard and have the MOUZON-BOLIN Jams and I like how we played. Not the best sound quality - but the music is awesome!

 

Were you surprised when he joined Deep Purple – light years distant from the fusion path with yourself?

No I wasn't surprised when Tommy joined Deep Purple. I was extremely happy for him. Tommy was a true rocker who could play fusion as well.

 

Did you follow Tommy’s career afterMind Transplant?

Yes I did follow Tommy's career after he played on my "MIND TRANSPLANT" LP.CD. We were and still are friends forever!!

 

Any last thoughts you care to mention?

I was devastated, heartbroken and angry when Tommy Bolin passed away. I thought someone in his camp could have saved him from his dismise - but no one did. I cried my heart out copious times over the passing of Tommy Bolin and still think of him or mention his name at least twice a week.

 

Alphonse thankyou so much for taking the time out for us, it’s a huge honour and priviledge and I hope you have a wonderful time at the Bolin Fest!

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