Trice on piano.jpg (52471 bytes)


  photo : Patrice Rushen.com




         Aiiiiight ,            

                                            Now, I'm gonna ask you....  


                      " "

   Burning Question :


Omni Important  


do you just play.... when you feel like it?




PATRICE :  Practicing......


That’s a two-fold answer. Practicing for me at this stage.... is a state of mind.

I’m always practicing.   If I’m listening to something..... I'll get up…

                And , I'll  practice again.



PATRICE : [ If ]   I like something,  I’ll practice it.




PATRICE : When I hear somebody else play,  I’ll practice.

 I think to get to that place where it’s a perpetual state of mind,  you have to understand the process.


Damn.    I Feel U.



PATRICE : The process of practicing comes with just spending time on a daily basis with your art and communicating with your instruments & then.... it grows.   I mean… as a musician ( I know you know ) one of the things that you REALLY find out when you’re getting into your music , that if you keep doing it .....just the discipline of trying to learn how to hear music and what the elements are to make the music,  you find yourself doing it everyday !   You'll find yourself making progress, & what you learn after years and years of just practicing is that… 

it becomes almost like a life lesson for everything else.




PATRICE : Through learning how to play , you also learn a lot about you.


exactly – if you're truly trying to play the instrument.


PATRICE : Yea...if you’re really trying to play the instrument,  you’re also going to get to a place where it becomes an extension of who you are. And if you’re not taking care of business in a particular aspect of your private life… chances are you’re going to look at a place in your life that parallel that…




PATRICE : y’know music has a way of being like that. It has a way of sort of helping you mirror some stuff in a different way.


If one is Blessed to have it in their lives.....

PATRICE : That’s right. That’s right. It’s so key and that’s why I think for those of us that have that tremendous blessing and good fortune to be about the music,  that we just continue to reach for excellence in whatever area that is.  We just keep working it – keep doing it ’cuz that vibe, that energy, that exercise, that… that message… it gets out there.   And people respond to it in different ways – some people for the sake of enjoyment, others are inspired to maybe do their thing a little differently or better, some people even pick up an instrument that fills whatever. The point is ....that there’s a certain kind of person that can appreciate art and beauty and understand the process ....and know that… there’s stuff going on around us all the time that should remind us that it ain’t all about us.


Yeah… you'd think one would pay attention  to things.  

But some people are asleep,  Patrice.

And , Like MOST  "Sheep....  their "Wool" only gets Nappier , til' they get "Straightened" out !








 Aiiiiiight, I’m gonna throw some names at ya....

                                  Respond   however   U    like !




Monk    photo : William Gottlieb

PATRICE : Bad~Bad~BAD And, I mean that in the best sense of the word. During his time, he was out without inhibitions. Musically broke down some doors in terms of certain kinds of notes being played together or not. Y’know?


'TRICE : Unconventional at a time.... when it was good to be conventional.

Yes, mam...

'TRICE : Okay!!!

 Monk wrote the word on MORE  than Half of what's goin' on  NOW  !!!

'TRICE : Oohh… how about : THIS!

Oh my Gawd !     He found his own way around thangz....

'TRICE : You gotta find a way.

"I’m gonna hit what I  hear… and it’s gonna come out the way I Heard it  &  I’m gonna hit it how .... I’m wanna hit it."

THAT... was Monk !!






Duke Ellington photo : Claxton

PATRICE : oh man…The "Personification" of class !



PATRICE : because you know… musically we know his contribution !!

But, I think one of the things really for me was… that was most striking about the guy (besides being an awesome musician), was the fact that he could hold an organization together for that long.


Aaaww, man ...

PATRICE :  He always gave the appearance that he was always under control ! See that I think is an important thing to… for us to take note of is that you can very quietly and very elegantly and very… er… professionally… er… fight the fight. You do not have to be the biggest thing all the time.  Every fight isn’t won by that kind of immediate in your face kind of confrontation. There’s the steady on going… we’re just quietly over in here doing this… while we take care of so much business… that seems to be happening in terms of the imagery of what I conjure up to be.     And, that’s beyond the music.

*My life is "Flashing before my Eyes" *


Bud Powell photo: Francis Wolf


Don’t do that.....

A casualty of… I don’t know....Can you have too much of it ?  

and… it just consumes you to the point that you don’t have a certain kind of discipline in other ways?

Where you just self-destruct?

 Yeah.      It’s crazy ain’t it?       Brilliance is a trippy-ass thing.

PATRICE : these geniuses man… they were so far out there but they weren’t seemingly just… not able to keep the low life skills in order. 

it's Deep .... 










Bernie Worrell    


PATRICE :  "Woo"

 hahaha… I thought I'd get something out of ya like that.


PATRICE : Well, it's  just… like you were saying in terms of me being in that whole period of funkadelic,

Bernie was/IS one of people that only musicians KNEW ....

but to the masses… we’re the unsung heroes.  Because this kat was so deep & so profound in the way that he would be able to like do this over here and put it [this] over there and… stuff would be like locking and fitting. And of course deserving… George gets a tremendous amount of credit ‘cause it was his vision & his understanding and his choices.  But, you gotta have soldiers in there too!



PATRICE :  [soldiers]  who "Get It" & who are driven.


And, He’s  Julliard graduate by the way!   

( Not that it means a Damn Thang…He was prolly TEACHING THEM ?!?!  ) 

PATRICE :  OKAY ?   And, just coming from wherever HE wanted it to come from...

that's what Bernie Worrell means to me.   


Bernie Worrell.... is  sonic Genius

'TRICE : OK?!!


it’s like the tune "Atmosphere"… from the "Let’s take it to the stage" album.

'TRICE :  Exactly !!!

 He’s the father of that sound & EVERYBODY  knows what THAT sound is.   

'TRICE : There wasn’t any other way.

 There really wasn’t…



'TRICE :  Bernie obviously had  the understanding, &  had obviously known the tradition .


'TRICE : What if you put “this” on “that”  ?!?

And, He'll still play it HIS way, and it can be very classical....

But,  he’d lay it in such a spot ,that you just HAD to deal with it.








PATRICE : What can I say?  

Man… I… would say.... one of the most influential musicians that I would probably call…

I would  call him one of my peers,  from the standpoint that we are in the same generation.




PATRICE : I saw his career start from the beginning and y’know, just from outside looking in…  witnessed its rise and I witness  this interesting place of where it’s leveling right now.    I’ve seen him go through a lot of changes.   I’ve seen him have a tremendous focus and seen it put across his music.  I’ve seen him loose his focus and seen that put across his music.

uh huh... 


PATRICE :  y’know… one of the last rare opportunities to really watch the rise of an artist... and when I say artist I really mean somebody that really embodies the contemporary point of view.  When you’re talking about that level of art.

I understand you did a string arrangement on his first record?

PATRICE :  Actually, it’s almost unfair to call it an "arrangement" because he already kinda knew what he wanted. But I did for all intent and purposes… I did a "String arrangement" for a song called :Baby”.



PATRICE : that was our first opportunity to work together. We’ve kept in touch off and on during those years.  I would run into him at places, I would go to the concerts, and he would see me do some things. He kept up with me as well.  Never really had a "hang out all the time/bosom buddy" kinda thing y’know… a lot of people have had that with him (I imagine).  He definitely surpassed anything I could have imagined.   ( For myself anyway ) in terms of record sales & superstardom… but the point is y’know… his contributions are still felt. And he’s a young man. I’m waiting to see ok… at this stage in his life what’s that going to be? ‘Cos whenever and however it reoccurs… he can’t help  but do something that demands a certain kind of attention.                                            And it’s always provocative.


Ya Heard ?










Will Smith  photo : Warner Bros. films

PATRICE :Ya know…. I am so happy.

Ha ha ha ....

PATRICE : them ears came across “Forget Me Nots” and then he decided he was going to expand upon that with Men in Black. I have to say that although our paths have crossed several times between different award shows he may have done,  (And, that I may have been musically directing…)   something like that.     But we did not know each other.



PATRICE : And,  we had never talked about “Forget Me Nots”


Your lawyer did though!

PATRICE :  You know that !!


PATRICE : It’s been very interesting to see, again… y’know… to watch his rise & to see how it works. It’s amazing! Y’know…

I think the definition of success always is whether or not you are doing or living out any part of your dreams… and I have to say mine certainly have been filled with through the successes of other people,  in a lot of ways… ‘cos I’ve been along for the Whole ride and I didn’t even do nothin’.


Aaaaay Lady… you  Did the "Damn" Thang !!


PATRICE : “Forget Me Nots”… when it was a hit , I thought that would be it !!     

And, that was fine.

those films featuring that song were like 250  million +  

So,  you’ve made major contributions from that alone.... and it was all done with one Song ?!?!

… just like a song from the movie "Casablanca"


PATRICE :  There it is!

That's  Amazing....


PATRICE : NO!    “Forget Me Nots”  ?      The Record Company [elektra] hated it.


PATRICE : (((    Hated  it !   )))

U   Lying.....

PATRICE : I’m not man.

 U  Lying.

PATRICE :That album was called “Straight from the Heart”.


That album had an instrumental on it called  “Number One”.


that’s like the new standard now on the young jazz scene.  Folks that thought they were too hip for “Mr. Magic” began to gravitate towards your tune “Number One”.

PATRICE : Ha ha ha   me and my co-producer – Charles Mimms – charles and I went to a meeting and we turned in this record and they looked at us like “we don’t know what we’re gonna do with this!” 


PATRICE : We were devastated because we were like… “you’re kidding”

 you’ve done so many things.    You are too many thangs.





          Aiiiiiight,  I’m gonna hit you with this one… now that I’ve thrown you off guard.....






Art Tatum    photo : Jazz Acrhives



PATRICE : Oooh!   All I can say about Art Tatum is that to every piano player and ultimately any musician that heard Art Tatum… this is the KAT you put on when you’re really having a high self-esteem day or   a low one.


PATRICE :  If you’re feeling good about yourself and you’re getting a little ahead of yourself… y’know?

He’s the equalizer  ?


PATRICE : He’s the equalizer.

But,  do you know how many people have said that about YOU ?         

You have been "the Equalizer" ?



YOU  !!!

Especially with them little tiny hands of yours. Baby fingers? Are you kidding me? That’s so true man. I’ve seen you wear out some kats, now. I just did an "Inner-view" with Don Blackman & you remember when we went to Japan with Lenny [White], Donald, Nick Moroch  & Bennie Maupin ?   And,  I was teasing Donald about how YOU equalize kats… even "HIM".

PATRICE :  Ha ha ha ha !

and Don Blackman…He’s a BAD  kat.   I was like “good lawd…. Patrice will get inside you!”

You’re something Lady.....You have that same thing Patrice.   And it has nothing to do with your "ovaries"



PATRICE :    Ha ha ha !

I’ve seen you wear kats OUT !.

You know I was there.....

Good lawd!!






Stevie Wonder  photo : Motown Archives



PATRICE : oh man. See this kat… this was one of my first musical heroes. Because his music always attracted me because… of course, it always felt great. Just musically, man… it just had so much stuff in it.

He was a young kid, though!

PATRICE :  Even as a baby.

Can you imagine?

PATRICE : Oh my goodness.

 "Music of my mind"     ....and he was like 20-21 years old  ?!?!


PATRICE : Okay?!!    He’s still wearing me out and I just recently had the opportunity to be music director for BET’s Walk of Fame… and they did this whole show contributed to Stevie.   So, I had this opportunity to rediscover his music.        And this time having to like really really listen and get those arrangements done.    I was like this kat is… just off da hook!



What ???

PATRICE :  and again… I think if I could just reiterate [again] about when your environment is so rich with so much stuff… obviously he’s a genius, no question. But he absorbed so much stuff because it was there to absorb.


and,  I think with him being blind .....naturally,  he’s going to be able to hear better than most.

PATRICE :  ya know!!

and on top of  him playing music , as well...?

PATRICE :   Blind people have a different take on everything.


 and he rarely uses his thumbs [while playing piano] . That’s what’s even crazier to me.

PATRICE : I know… I watch him sometimes. He can come up with a song in the drop of a hat… because he draws, again, on this richness that he has been able to absorb.


"Looking for another pure love"   ????

PATRICE :  Okay ?

WHAT ?     “Blame it on the sun”?     He was 22yrs. old   ?!?!?   

C’mon man.


I can’t imagine what he hears harmonically… 

And,  paraphrasing "Dizzy Gillespie" with a harmonica on “Do I Do  ?”


How do you paraphrase "Dizzy" on a harmonica?

Much less any instrument..... but on a HARMONICA  !?!?!? 

That’s crazy to me.









Herbie Hancock photo: Herbie Hancock .com

PATRICE :Oh man.

That name is so special &  just him as a person is so special in my life , cause that was like… y’know… there’s always a lot of people you listen to… and then there’s ONE [kat] and suddenly you go “wow”


(oh… that’s ella – my dog – in the background).



Well, Damn…
There’s always that one person… where the bell goes off and you go “wow”!!


PATRICE : and it just connects in a way that didn’t before and then every other thing that you’ve heard then starts to make sense through that.


PATRICE :He was like the key that kinda opened that door. By the time I heard him I was old enough where I had been playing for a while and I had a certain musical vocabulary and I’d been hearing enough music and by the time I’d… I think the first thing I heard where I paid attention to it was “watermelon man” and I was like “oooohhhh… wowwww!”


the first or  second version ?

PATRICE : the first one.


PATRICE : when I heard the first one….

Right ?

PATRICE : And,   I said “ahh man”. The information had always been there you know. It was always around    but for some reason THAT was a different day.



PATRICE :     And on that day,  that’s who I connected with.


PATRICE : Herbie's   been a tremendous influence on my playing. A tremendous influence on my “how to…”, not to be afraid of boundaries. It was through him that I paid attention to my own lyrics a whole different way. I had only heard of "Miles Davis" my whole life.


PATRICE :  But, the day it connected for me with herbie… it connected me to all those kats I had been hearing my whole life.     And,  to go back to listen to that stuff again, it was a whole other ball game.

I was just actually about to ask you about him.

Miles Davis    photo :  Brock Ellis

PATRICE : Miles .....



You see… I’ve spent a lot of time like wanting to tell MILES what his music has meant to me.

And … I didn’t do it!! 

I was afraid..... and, I think I was afraid about what he would think about me.

Miles loved your stuff.


PATRICE : Wow.  I went to a concert in ’89 and I was on a special tour with carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter and we did festivals with you guys [Miles]… and,  I got my nerve up and… I wanted to take a picture with him and I said to myself “ you need to just get on over there and get ready for whateva he’s gonna say”   But,  Get-your-Picture!

Ha ha ...right ?

PATRICE : so I said :  “Miles, will you take my picture?”,  and he was so gracious & so nice.

He liked you a lot  'Trice.

PATRICE :  No.... I  didn’t know that.


PATRICE : So, he took the picture and it was cool and then as we talked I found out a little bit more y’know. Like… I don’t know if he knew but I was married to a very good friend of his and this girl would bring him material back from India you know… really wonderful materials to make jackets out of or whateva. And she would say “I might not give this to you… I’ll give it to Patrice [instead]. And he would say : “Fuck Patrice, give it to me!!”  Then   he would smile & always have good things to say in his way  y’know I didn’t get that information until I just had to have my picture! Which taught me a very valuable lesson… if you want something, ask and just be ready for whateva it is is going to happen after that ‘cos it might fool you, it might be cool!

 exactly.      All a person can say is:  no, huh?

PATRICE : He was sooooo cool with me.

 that is soooooo  cool.


USC  ( Music Dept. )       

PATRICE : At the time I was going there [it] was an incredible department with a wonderful roster of music professors..... in every area except :  Jazz


PATRICE : Which bothered me a little, because growing up in Los Angeles one of the things that became through my high school days (which we don’t talk about anymore)… BUT one of the things that came up in that whole time was the different kinds of vocation musically that one could have. Especially in this town because you had a huge & still have a huge studio industry from the standpoint of musicians being able to make a living… er… nobody ever saw their faces or knew who they were and these people would be pulling about six figures!


PATRICE : By just playing on television, commercials, &  doing scores for different TV shows and motion pictures.

Right ?

PATRICE :  This IS entertainment biz out here ( in terms of where movies are made.)  but.. you don’t really understand it until you’re in touch with it. And I didn’t really get in touch with it until I was in high school where you really have to start thinking about vocations and what you’re gonna do. Because everybody is not gonna have a record deal, everybody’s not going to be in front of like [people]… But, then again... there's a bunch of very well paid jobs connected to music that are happening everyday with folks.


I'm sure.


PATRICE : So ,  going to USC was, like I said, very very strong, very traditional, very very well known classical department but at that time when I was going there, they had no ...nothing progressive at all.


That's usually the case ...in Academic -Land !

PATRICE :  Right ?  I mean the most progressive thing they had was marching band & that’s because the band director looked towards the other bands like the southern universities like Grambling University tried to get some of that spark! However, in terms of them being a progressive university that didn’t happen. That has since changed & now the department over there at USC is fluid in the last 10 yrs. They’ve really tried to step it up. And the music department is now trying to catch up with the film department, which has really exploded.


oh yeah…  that’s crazy.

PATRICE : there are very well known directors that have come out of there… in the form of Spielberg, Ron Howard etc etc.



Aiiiiight Lady,  are you ready to play .....



The “Either  OR”  Game.



PATRICE:   Ok, c’mon!



Hip-Hop  or   Metal   


Roland   or   Korg      

    KORG  ( how come you didn't include Yamaha ? )

Well, You know….

Digital   or  Analog       


Still lovin' that "punch" of Analog , but digi has come a long way!

MIDI   or   Wireless   


CD  or  Vinyl     

  CD (stuff is more clear)

Art Tatum  or  Bud Powell  

   Difficult choice...but without Tatum?   

 I'm not sure if there'd have been a Bud Powell

Indies  or  Majors   

If you'd asked me 20yrs ago I'd say "Majors"

but these days , I'm favoring "indies".

PC  or  MAC       

PATRICE :  MAC for real!!!!

Cornbread  or  Bisquits   

CORNBREAD !!   ( thank you very much!)

Film  or  TV  (scores)  

I like doing TV, but films tend to pay more.

Group  or  Solo

PATRICE :  This might suprise you, but I like being in a GROUP.

Sometimes ,  I really love just "showing up to play" without the spotlight or the Added pressure.




Thank you,  Sooooooo much  Lady !!

PATRICE :     He he he......THANK YOU !!












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