Desert Island Jazz
Gene Perla (2011)

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It's tempting to begin any writing about Gene Perla by saying he's a bassist--which he is--but he's so much more than that.

In fact, bass wasn't even Gene's original instrument. Born in New Jersey, he began classical piano at age five, and picked up trombone for a number of years during high school. After his pursuing civil engineering and business at the University of Toledo, the 1959-60 recordings of Miles Davis and, especially, Bill Evans led him to change course and to study piano at Berklee and Boston Conservatory.

Just as the Davis and Evans recordings converted Gene to jazz and the piano, so did Charlie Haden's work on Ornette Coleman's "The Shape of Jazz to Come" convert him from the piano to the bass, which has been his main axe for four decades now.

Since then, after beginning his professional career with Willie Bobo and Carlos "Patato" Valdez, Gene has played with groups large and small, from the Woody Herman, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis orchestras, to Miles Davis (Miles once advised him for a particular piece not to swing!) and Sarah Vaughan. He had a long association with Elvin Jones, and an even longer one with the late percussionist Don Alias, whom Gene describes as his best friend of 40 years.

In the 1970s, Gene founded the first of his record labels, PM Jazz, and went on to record and to produce recordings, many of which feature Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman, Pat LaBarbera, Jerry Bergonzi, and Michael Brecker, all of whom acknowledge the influence of John Coltrane, just as does Gene himself.

Gene continues to record and produce at his own studio, and to play, to teach, and to run multiple groups at the same time. When does he sleep?
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Miles Davis Kind of Blue Blue in Green Columbia
# 2 Bill Evans Sunday at the Village Vanguard Gloria's Step Riverside
# 3 Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come Peace Atlantic
# 4 Sonny Rollins Now's the Time Now's the Time RCA
# 5 John Coltrane Ken Burns Jazz Chasin' the Trane Verve
# 6 Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil Speak No Evil Blue Note
# 7 Herbie Hancock Head Hunters Watermelon Man Columbia
# 8 Jaco Pastorius Jaco Pastorius Donna Lee Epic
         
Book Carl Jung, "Memories, Dreams, Reflections"
         
Luxury Item "The biggest Mercedes-Benz possible, and there has to be a road at least ... a couple of miles long"
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