Willie Ruff Talking Jazz
Willie Ruff is a rare individual in many ways. For one thing, not many musicians excel at both the bass and the French horn. Nor are many masters of the blues also professors at Ivy League institutions. Willie’s combination of down home wisdom and intellectual fervor, which comes across in his playing as well as his conversation, and his absolute commitment to carrying forward the torch of this music, are as much a part of who he is as his old partner, pianist Dwike Mitchell. The duo of Willie and Dwike has actually been together longer than any other group in jazz (including the MJQ). Their story was sketched in William Zinsser’s fine book, Willie and Dwike, which chronicles their travels throughout the United Stated, Europe and China. This conversation took place in the music building on the campus of Yale University.