Interview with Bobby Rosengarden, Percussionist--February 10, 2000
Subject: What It Was Like to Work with Walter Wanderley
(This interview was transcribed from a telephone recording tape.)
B.J.: Mr. Rosengarden, I'm trying to find out more about what Walter Wanderley was like to work with personally. Can you tell me about that?
B.R.: That I could tell you in very few words. He really didn't have a language problem. He spoke enough English (though it was broken, of course). He made his wants known very easily; if [the music] was too loud, too soft, etc., whatever it was--he was able to convey that to you. We always got along fine because I've always been a "Brazil nut" and have always been interested in Brazilian music. I previously worked with Luis Bonfa and did several albums with him; I was also one of the few in New York who had actually been to Brazil myself. Many years ago I took my children (who are now grown men with their own children) to Carnival, and it was the best experience of their lives! They still talk about it because they are both musicians (one plays trumpet and the other is a drummer). After we had that experience, Walter then came to the U.S. and I did a lot of work with him.
B.J.: I have all the albums that Walter recorded in the U.S., of which you are on several. But it's been hard to find someone to talk about what it was like to work with Walter personally.
B.R.: You know something? It's really very simple. You obviously have great regard for him; I do, too. My mother was a pianist, so we always had music around the house. I was doing a lot of commercial recording in New York right before I worked with Walter. Walter was a good guy. He was not mean, he was not petty. The only thing he took seriously was his music; it meant a great deal to him. He loved what he did, he knew how to do it. And that's all that mattered. He was generous; there was never an argument about time, about recording--I mean, if we needed another half an hour, we did it. I knew what he meant; it sounds oversimplified, but it's not. I cannot tell you, I learned SO much from him. He spoke English well enough to make jokes--which is very difficult! Portuguese is not an easy language. Also, I have a huge collection of early Brazilian music, going on back to the Carmen Miranda days.
(Some conversation then ensued with Bobby R. asking B.J. about her own background in music, etc.)
B.J.: How much rehearsal time did you have before you cut an album?
B.R.: What would happen is that there were not other jobs that we were working at that time, so we would just go into a recording studio, and since it was only a Trio (and because other instrumentation was dubbed in later, if needed) it was relatively simple to do and would not require that much rehearsal time.
(Some conversation then ensued about trying to find Walter's bassist Jose Marino for an interview on this site, and Bobby R. looked in Musician Union books for his address/phone number, but could find no listing for him...)
B.R.: I doubt that there is much I can add here, except to say that Walter was one of the nicer men. Walter was definitely happiest when he was playing; recording sessions were fun! We put them together with spit and chewing gum! I have relived a lot of those times over in my mind, they were very enjoyable.
B.J.: I know about the work that you've done yourself, with your television work and the other things--and I realize that you are a terrific musician in your own right. I don't want you to think that I am slighting your talents by only asking you questions about Walter...
B.R.: [Laughter] I don't need my ego stroked (my wife takes care of that). I was in the right place at the right time! I think it is a nice thing you are doing with the website.
B.J.: Thank you very much for your time and information and I will send you a printed copy of the website as you requested!
Interviewer's note: Any others
who would like to contribute an interview to this site who have
either worked with or know Bob Rosengarden personally, please contact the webmaster.
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