10 Fingers: Antonio Hart

by Ella Campbell

After we talked to Marcus Strickland at the Dave Holland Big Band concert in Ann Arbor, we talked to Antonio Hart.

1. What was the first record you bought that you couldn’t stop listening to?
I don’t remember the name of it, it was a Johnny Griffin record. And then I bought The Best of John Coltrane, that had Naima, Giant Steps and all that on there. The Sugarhill Gang, because I grew up in the rap generation you know. Winelight, Grover Washington Jr. That’s the stuff I started listening to.

2. What music was in your household while you were small that you grew up listening to?
All the Motown music. Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, The Temptations, The Four Tops. Not jazz. Not at all. Gospel music.

3. What’s your favorite music to dance to?
Whatever makes me move my body.

4. What’s your favorite music to listen to if you’re hanging out with people?
I like to listen to Bob Marley and Afrobeat. It really depends on the mood, I could listen to some traditional jazz or a nice vocalist. When I’m chillin in the club having a glass of wine or just relaxing, something else.

5. What music do you listen to calm down?
I do a lot of Tai Chi so I listen to a lot of Chinese music, which is geared toward the martial arts that I do. It depends, I might put on some Debussy, I might put on some Prince. Hm. Who else do I like to listen to? It depends on the time of the day. Sometimes I don’t want to hear jazz at all. So I’ll listen to Mary J Blige

Ella: “Have you seen the double bill she’s doing with D’Angelo?”
AH: “I know some guys that are in the band, I’ve heard it’s happening, Did you go? How was it?”
Ella: “I loved it.”
AH: “I mean, I like all of it. We play jazz but, really, we’re musicians. I’ve played with Common, I’ve played with a lot of different people. All of us have played,” he pointed to Mark Gross, “he played with Mary J, with D’Angelo and those cats. We all played a lot of everything, you know? You have to.”
Ella: “That’s what I want to do. I want to play a lot of everything.”
AH: “You just gotta prepare yourself. Practice. It’s about making communications and all about relationships. You could be the best saxophone player in the world but if you don’t make relationships with people you’ll be sitting and not working. You know, you have to be careful too.” He looked at Christen and I, “You both are beautiful women, so you have to be really careful about the way you present yourself. Present yourself in a professional way so that guys know you’re not some chick that’s gonna let them get in your pants. You have to be very very serious, because once you get that reputation, with this guy or that guy, it’s over for you. Over. I mean, you pick and choose your battles. But to be respected as a professional musician, you have to present yourself in that way. Be able to read the music. Show up on time. Everything that’s expected of anybody else to do. And if someone talks to you in a way that’s not appropriate, you shut it down right away. Right away. And if they don’t call you again, that’s good. You know what I mean? That’s the best advice I can give you. I’ve been in New York for 20 years. I want you to be successful, and I want you to be happy. Because guys are gonna try, I mean, they’re probably doing it already.”
Christen: “yup.”
Ella: “yup.”
AH: “I mean, that’s kind of what we do. Just be careful. Keep practicing. Make relationships. Be a good person. Put energy out there. Pray, and ask for that. It’ll come to you. You’ll get a chance. But you’ve gotta have your eyes open. If you keep looking at what somebody else is doing, you might miss your opportunity. So keep your eyes open for opportunity, keep yourself on your horn, and study as much music as possible. Different kinds of music. That’s it.”

Until next time,
Swing, brothers and sisters, swing!
Jazz Girls

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