Interview with John Altman: Part 6

Part six of a six part interview with John Altman over videos contained in the Altman-Koss Video Jazz Archive.

Altman and I continue our discussion of his years running The 10 Room, a club in London he started with Patrick Alan. Their Monday night jam session, which won Club Night of the Year awards, hosted some of the most recognizable names in hip hop, R&B, and pop today.

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Camellia Boutros: You had The Sugarhill Gang here?

John Altman: In the club? Yeah.

CB: You never worked with Tupac, did you?

JA: No, Pat did. He started him – yeah, my partner. He was Michael Jackson’s choreographer, and he was lead singer in Drifters.

CB: Oh, wow. How did you meet him?

JA: I met him through another friend of mine. I met him originally when I went to Poland, to see him in a Broadway show, and basically we decided then we wanted to start a jam session in London, which we did.

CB: Look at all the people that came through, it’s amazing.

JA: Oh, yeah. I’ve got photographs.

CB: And I can only imagine, you know, what connections happened in those clubs.

JA: Oh yeah – I introduced Orlando Bloom to Spike Lee. Had never met him. Samuel L. Jackson used to come down…

CB: I’m excited for this Prince video, every story you hear about Prince is really interesting.

JA: Yeah, unfortunately it’s not a video, it’s a recording, but, there’s a whole story behind it. Here we go.

1:43: He starts playing the recording.

Prince: “I have a guest saxophone player, he should be coming down in a second, but – I think sax is his hobby. What he really is into is film scoring and he only scored, um… a film called the Titanic… give it up for my homeboy, my friend, I met him the first day I came here in London: Mr. John Altman!”

Wow, what an intro. To have your resume given out by Prince…

2:36: Prince: “John, are you ready? Now this is not the Titanic, now, we gonna get into some jazz now!”

3:10: Altman starts playing. They play “So What,” a la Prince.

3:50: JA: I couldn’t work out what the drummer was going to play, so I thought “jazz,” but couldn’t really hear it.

CB: Your sound comes through very well.

JA: Yeah.

Altman’s saxophone playing goes on for about a minute or so.

4:50: JA: I was getting all these text messages from people in the audience, it was so last minute. They were like, “We didn’t know you were going to be up there!”

CB: Which concert was this?

JA: Prince did 21 nights in London, and 21 after parties. This is one of the after parties. And I told my friend in America, “I did a thing with Prince. And I’d love to hear it, but – no chance.” And he said, “Let me see what I can do.” And he got it off the mixing deck. Every night that Prince was in London.

CB: That’s amazing.

JA: It is amazing.

CB: It’s great that you got this!

JA: Yeah!

CB: I think it’s a little over a year now that he’s passed away, huh.

JA: Yeah. Well all three of them died last year: Bowie, Prince, and George Michaels. I worked with all three.

CB: Yeah. Wow. What a brutal year.

JA: Yes.

6:08: JA: There you go. So they can’t take that away from me! You know? I did it.

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