Cincinnati native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bootsy Collins is one of the most recognizable characters of the past 50 years of popular music, and Cincinnatians are used to see his memorable visage a lot, as he partakes in any number of community events around town. But one place you might not expect to see Collins is on the cover Downbeat, the long-running magazine that is sort of like the Rolling Stone of Jazz music.
But there he is on the cover of the September issue, featured alongside another unfathomably talented bass player, Christian McBride (who played a stellar show in Cincinnati last year as part of Xavier University’s Jazz music series).
In the accompanying feature story, Collins and McBride talk shop, their histories and share some James Brown stories. Very early on in the interview (conducted by writer Andy Hermann), two Cincinnati Jazz guitar legends who played a role in Collins’ early career are mentioned — Kenny Poole and Wilbert Longmire (as local Jazz flute master Sandy Suskind pointed out in a Facebook post). From the discussion, it sounds like were it not for James Brown hiring Collins for his band, Bootsy could have ended up being a Jazz musician.
Here is the excerpt:
"Andy Hermann: Were you self-taught?
Bootsy Collins: Oh, yeah. I had no training at all, man. None. It was all for the funk of it. Whatever I heard in my head, that’s what came out.
Christian McBride: Do you remember a guitar player named Kenny Poole? Did you play with him in Cincinnati?
Bootsy Collins: Yeah, [and with] Wilbert Longmire. Actually, Wilbert Longmire embraced me first. He was the Wes Montgomery [of Cincinnati]. He had me going out on the road when I was like 14. I had to tell the club owners I’m 18. So, yeah, I’ve been surrounded by all kind of jazz cats, but like I say, once the funk master (James Brown) put you in his thang—
Christian McBride: You in."
Find more on September's issue of Downbeat here.