I decided to play the clarinet like Bird articulated on the sax. It wasn’t so easy to imitate Artie Shaw, and even more difficult to copy Bird…
I learned more about the idea of rhythm and swing with Art Blakey than any other drummer in my career.
Tatum made me feel at ease, even though it was very difficult to work with him because he had a chord progression every two beats. Keys didn’t matter to him. He played through everything; even when you soloed, you accompanied Art Tatum. It was my task to try to keep up with him, and occasionally, when I did, I was gratified.
Note: The last three quotes are from a 1999 Ted Panken interview with DeFranco. To read the whole thing, go here.