Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Innovator Ornette Coleman

OrnetteColeman

Jazz legend Ornette Coleman left us earlier this month, and here is a great retrospective piece from NPR’s Fresh Air. Included in the piece are parts of earlier interviews with his former bandmates Charlie Haden and Don Cherry, his son Denardo Coleman, and two with Ornette himself.

In the interviews, among other topics, Coleman discusses the early days with his quartet and their residence at the Five Spot in NYC. At one point Ornette says “Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, they all came by.” He goes on to relate how one night after they were done with a set, Leonard Bernstein just jumped up on the bandstand and started hugging everyone in the band. Wow.

Click here to listen to Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Innovator Ornette Coleman

Steve Gadd: Consummate Drummer

SteveGaddHere is a new interview with the great Steve Gadd from R.J. Deluxe at AllAboutJazz. As Deluke says, it might be easier to list the people he hasn’t played with than those he has (Paul Simon, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Paul McCartneySteely Dan, The Manhattan Transfer, Al Di MeolaChuck MangioneHubert LawsJoe FarrellGeorge Benson the Brecker BrothersFrank SinatraDave Grusin, Michael McDonald…).

Gadd talks about everything from his his early days to Eric Clapton to the Mickey Mouse Club in this piece. Enjoy!

From the interview:

“With studio work, a lot of times you don’t hear the music before you get in there. You go in and listen to what people are saying. I try to get them to play either the demo or get them to sit at the piano or the guitar and play the song before we start playing so that when people start using words, you know what they’re referring to. If you’ve never heard the song, its just words. That’s one rule I try to keep in place: to listen to what the song is before we do it in the studio. You either have the artist sing it or play it, or a lot of times they have a demo.”

Click here to read Steve Gadd: Consummate Drummer

—Peter Blasevick

 

 

 

Dave Frank: My Teacher, Lennie Tristano

Here is 6:22 of pretty much everything I love about jazz on the internet. JazzVideoGuy, who does such important work for the legacy of jazz, interviewing the ridiculously hip, funny, and burning Dave Frank about his teacher and great influence Lennie Tristano. Eat up every second of this great interview.

 

—Peter Blasevick

Ornette Coleman at Bonnaroo, 2008

“To tell you the truth, I never think about the subject of what I’m doing, I only think about the quality of what I’m doing,” says jazz legend Ornette Coleman in response to a question about playing in front of a mainly rock and roll audience at the Bonnaroo festival in 2008. Coleman proceeds to touch on music as religion, healing through music, his philosophy of harmolodics, his Pulitzer Prize winning 2007 album Sound Grammar, and a lot more, all packed into this 5:39 minute interview! Please do yourself a favor and well-spend your next five or so minutes watching it.

—Peter Blasevick

Percy Heath Steps Out

The great jazz bassist Percy Heath would have been 92 years old today. Percy, the oldest sibling, was a key member of the Modern Jazz Quartet beginning in the 1951 and has played on literally hundreds of albums as a stalwart rhythm section sideman. (That was after his stint as a pilot with the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II).

The oldest of the Heath brothers—along with saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath—Percy was recognized before this 2004 interview by The New School University’s Jazz & Contemporary Music Program with their ”Beacons in Jazz” award on the heels of his 2002 designation as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

Here NPR’s Liane Hansen speaks with Heath about his family, his life and his 2004 solo debut record, A Love Song.

—Peter Blasevick

Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

larryCoryellA true jazz pioneer, guitarist Larry Coryell was one of the earliest musicians to experiment with the fusion of jazz and rock styles. Early on he performed with Chico HamiltonGary Burton, and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra headed by Mike Mantler and Carla Bley. He also helped organize one of the first jazz-rock groups, the Free Spirits, with saxophonist Jim Pepper, drummer Bob Moses, pianist Mike Nock and bassist Chris Hills. In 1967 Coryell and saxophonist Steve “The Count” Marcus broke further ground in fusion with Count’s Rock Band. All About Jazz fusion editor Todd S. Jenkins spoke with Coryell in 2001 about his art, his role in fusion’s development, and his then renewed collaboration with saxophonist Marcus. Here Coryell discusses their musical bond:

“A lot of this stuff, because we both admired Coltrane, we were doing some of the newer, current ideas that were coming out of the Coltrane-type school in the late 60s. Taking small groups of notes and extrapolating and repeating them, we both had a tendency to do that before we even knew each other. So when we came together as a front line, there were so many important things in common from a mechanical standpoint as well as a conceptual standpoint, that all you had to add was the fact that we’re two kindred spirits. That’s why that rapport is there, no matter how big the gap of time between playing events. It’s always there. It’s like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. They could be apart for ten years, come back and be right there again.”

Click here to read Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

philWoodsHere is a long 1999 interview with saxophonist Phil Woods from Monk Rowe and the Hamilton College Fillius Jazz Archive (if you haven’t visited, do so. Tons of great interviews). Woods covers everything including his place in jazz history; tours with Dizzy and Quincy Jones; his impressions of Europe; playing on Pop recordings; advice to young musicians, and much else! From the interview:

MR: Without me stroking your ego or anything, where do you think you fit in there?

PW: Oh I’m a practitioner. I never changed jazz history. I am a bearer of the flame. I like to keep the Bebop flame alive in that sense, but I don’t just play Bebop. I could conceivably play that dream set I was talking about playing, a Piazolla and I kind of like to consider myself a complete musician, since I’m classically trained. But as far as playing any new way, I mean if I could have changed the course of western music I would have done so years ago.

Click here to read Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

—Peter Blasevick

Conversations with Jimmy Cobb

In today’s post, the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series at SubCulture in New York continues as Dr. David Schroeder interviews legendary jazz drummer and member of Miles Davis’s band Jimmy Cobb on Nov 22nd, 2014. Cobb discusses his time with Miles, being largely self-taught, his first arrival in New York, his opportunity to play with Charlie Parker, and a lot more in this hour-long interview. Great stuff!

—Peter Blasevick

Video interview with Ray Charles from North Sea Jazz Festival 1997

Here is a quick video interview with the eternally hip Ray Charles. NTR / Radio 6 reporter Co de Kloet interviews Ray Charles backstage at the North Sea Jazz festival in 1997 where they discuss blending different styles, spontaneity, expressing emotion in music, and keeping songs new and fresh.

—Peter Blasevick

Two Duke Ellington interviews by Les Tomkins

dukeEllingtonHere are two interviews with the one and only Duke Ellington originally from Les Tomkins and now hosted at the UK National Jazz Archive. Tomkins molded a number of different interviews and discussions conducted between 1964 and 1973 into these two pieces, which are written in monologue style. Ellington discusses everything from his early years to his arranging to performing at Westminster Abbey. From the interviews:

We’ve had a lot of wonderful people in the band, you know, from time to time—Ben Webster, Blanton, Shorty Baker, Clark Terry, Barney Bigard. Who else? So many wonderful guys. And even Bechet played with us in 1926. He and Bubber Miley used to have what we call cutting contests. One would go out and play ten choruses then the other would do the same. And while one was on the other would be back getting a little taste, to get himself together, and a few new ideas. It was really something. Too bad we don’t have all that on tape today.

Click here to read Interview One: Looks Back – and Forward

Click here to read Interview Two: On Sacred Music

—Peter Blasevick