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

Eddie Gomez: The Call Of The Wild

eddieGomezHey folks! After a several month layoff due to server, hosting, WordPress, and time (time, Time, TIME!!) issues, we are back here at TNYDP with a new look and plenty of new and historical interviews with your favorite jazz players, writers, and other notables.

Today, a great recent interview with the legendary Eddie Gomez, courtesy of AllAboutJazz. Over the course of two phone talks with Robin Arends, Gomez discusses jazz in the fifties and sixties, pollution, overcrowding, Eddie’s collaboration with Bill Evans and his rich career afterwards. From the interview:

AAJ: Jazz is more institutionalized now compared to when you started? 

EG: The music evolved and developed that way. You can also say that of classical music. In the 14th, 15th century it was very specialized music and it was not available for the average people. For the average person there was folk music. It took a time before it was not only available for the privileged people. You can say the same about jazz, in a shorter timescale. By now there are more people who listen to jazz music like it is classical music, but the experience is so different. The world now is not in for steady bands. It is hard to sell records. There are many good bands, but there is not enough work, there is not enough touring. In my time there were many bands: Art BlakeyBill EvansMiles DavisSonny Rollins, there were lots of good bands and they stayed together. This is a treasure for the music, for the art form. They recorded three, four albums.

Click here to read Eddie Gomez: The Call Of The Wild

—peter blasevick

Four part Joe Sample video interview

Today, a fantastic four-part video interview with the late Joe Sample from the Keyboard Magazine YouTube page. The interview took place  before a 2010 reunion gig with the Jazz Crusaders at Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA.

Part 1: Joe talks about the early days, bad road pianos, adopting the Fender Rhodes, and technology

Part 2: Joe discusseswhat he feels ls lacking in digital pianos, and the challenges of getting consistent dynamics out of even an acoustic piano.

Part 3: The new Rhodes, the Jazz Crusaders vintage set list, and how there’s no middle class in the music business.

Part 4: The interview wraps with with Mr. Sample demonstrating his favorite voicings and approaches to chords.

—Peter Blasevick

Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

Today’s interview is from R.J. DeLuke and AllAboutJazz and spends time with Billy Harper, the standout tenor saxophonist from the post-Coltrane school, who these days plays mainly with the “Cookers” septet along with Billy HartEddie HendersonGeorge CablesCecil McBeeDonald Harrison and David Weiss. He also is a “prolific composer, an educator and has led his own bands over the years, as well as performed with Gil EvansMax RoachLee MorganCharles TolliverRandy Weston, the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis big band, Art Blakey and others.” There is a lifetime of jazz in this interview, a gray read! From the interview:

“I got into jazz completely, which meant improvisation, which was the way I learned to live,” says Harper, a congenial sort who’s thoughtful and forthright. “Improvising all the time. It was not just music. It was the way. That is my life. It might be a funny thing to say, but I feel like I am the music. I don’t mean I’m the only music, but I am music. That’s how much it is a part of me, or I’m a part of it. I really feel like the music. I think that other musicians who are playing represent the music. They are the music also… Whenever writers say sometimes, ‘jazz is dead.’ I think that’s a conspiracy or something. As long as it’s in the musicians, the music is there. It’s where I live.”

Click here to read Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

—Peter Blasevick