So, here’s the deal. A handful of weeks ago, the great Nasar Abadey was set to perform at The Opera House over in Shepherdstown. We emailed over some questions, but he unfortunately didn’t get them back to us until it was too late to publish. But the thing is, we got to readin’ and lookin’ back at some of the stuff he had to say and just thought, “You know what? People need to read this.” Plus, if you are going to be kind enough to take the time to answer our silly questions, then we are going to do all we can to be kind enough to publish them. And hey: He’ll be with his band, Supernova, at Blues Alley on Oct. 12, and, according to his website at least, they will be playing the Route 108 Fall Music Festival on Oct. 8, and that’s in Sandy Spring. See. Plenty of opportunities to check him out in the next few weeks anyway. So, check out what the drummer had to say about collaborating with everyone from Gregory Porter to Ella Fitzgerald, the D.C. jazz scene, and who influences him the most.
Let’s start with some history of the band Supernova. How did you get together? How did the band form and how long have you been at it?
I formed Supernova in 1976. I was very impressed with Wayne Shorter’s album of the same name. The idea that supernovae are stars that explode and in the process release genetic material throughout interstellar space, creating new planets and star systems is mind expansive! That means that all of creation – including us – are made up of this material unleashed into space. I’ve had Joe Ford (alto), James King (bass) and Allyn Johnson (piano), as core members of this band for years, with others coming in here and there from time to time.
You have an impressive list of people you have played with on your website. Do you have any favorite collaborators through the years? I noticed that Gregory Porter was a name on the list – what was it like working with him?
I’ve had the pleasure of playing with a lot of great artist over the years. Gregory Porter is a vocalist that can interpret any song. He is a natural that is at home with gospel, soul, funk, jazz, etc., which is really all the same. Sun Ra was really a revealing experience. Gary Bartz, Sonny Fortune, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hutcherson, Ella Fitzgerald and Pharoah Saunders were really among my favorites.
What advice you’d give to someone looking to start a band for the first time? Especially in the jazz world, it can be hard to get a project off the ground – how should first-timers go about it?
Learn how to deal with rejection. There are more musicians than there are venues available for us to work in. Persistence, stamina and endurance is a must. Never, ever give up on your dream and don’t let others validate your existence. Practice is the foundation for perfection. Always reach for something that you are not able to do. You might make it, and it you don’t, try it again.
What’s your perception of the local jazz music scene in and around the Washington D.C. area, as well as Maryland as a whole?
The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is second only to New York City. We have a very vibrant and thriving jazz scene here.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
John Coltrane – Spirituality
Elvin Jones – Africa, multidimensional
Miles Davis – Confidence, flare for the unknown
Max Roach – Played drums as a musical instrument very melodic
Art Blakey – Drive
Duke Ellington – Elegance
Sun Ra – Mysticism
Tony Williams – Orchestral approach, imagination
Wayne Shorter – Lyricism, composition
Cecil Taylor – Commitment, dense
Ornette Coleman – Just because he’s Ornette
Billy Hart – Chameleon
This, plus many more!
Can you give us names of some artists we need to check out that we maybe haven’t seen yet? Who are you listening to the most these days?
My son, Kush Abadey, not because he is my son (which I’m happy for anyway), but because he is one the the best drummers for my taste, because he is able to play anything from the ancient to the future. I like Marcus Gilmore, another great drummer carrying today’s codes from the past to the future. Ben Williams is a great young bassist. I like his compositions.
Where are some of your favorite places to play and why?
I’m at home anywhere the audience is at such ease that we really feel comfortable enough to go inside to bring out something new. We’re in a place where we want to explore the unknown together.
What do you think is the most perfect song ever written and why?
“A Love Supreme Suite.” That collection of songs is all about the Supreme Spirit and is played by John Coltrane with a very passionate and compelling display of God consciousness.
What does the rest of 2016 look like for you and Supernova from here on out? New music? Shows?
Supernova appears at Blues Alley Oct. 12, and on Nov. 11 we’re appearing at the Side Door in Connecticut. It’s time for a new CD, so we’ll record this fall.