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

Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

Today, a nice long interview with drummer Billy Cobham from the UK National Jazz Archive. The Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader talks to Les Tomkins in 1974 about New York, being a bandleader, jazz as ‘dance music’, live performance, and a lot more. From the interview:

Do you regard it as important to make the amount of preparations that you do for your stage act?

Sure, it’s extremely important, and we’re nowhere near where I’d like us to be. We need strong sound equipment, and people that are competent to handle it, plus good lighting people that are competent to work in collaboration with the band and the sound. It’s a matter of time; if we can last out through the natural elements that are against us, it’ll work out.

Normally, though, do you not prepare before the show starts? Only at the Rainbow more than an hour elapsed between the two parts of the programme, before you were ready to come on and play.

Now, that’s a problem that’s a technical one. It’s also a problem of poor planning on the part of promoters who put on shows. If a promoter knows that he doesn’t have a large enough stage to handle both bands, or enough people to take care of the equipment, the worst thing he can do is to accept an opening act that is as big as his star attraction, because it means that the show is not gonna move as smoothly as it could. Therefore, with that, you have a lot of problems.

Click here to read Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

—Peter Blasevick

Mike Stern: Guitar to the stars . . . and Miles beyond

mikeSternMike Stern is truly one of the great guitarists of our age, equally comfortable in straight ahead jazz, fusion, and rock and roll—he has been in the news most recently for his collaborations with rock guitar hero Eric Johnson. Here is a typically honest 2013 interview in which he discusses much, including his time with Miles:

You mentioned Miles Davis. That must have actually been a difficult period for you in a way in that he was unwell and struggling. And that rock-fusion at the time was not well received by jazz critics. Do you look back on that period fondly?

Definitely. I loved it. People will say what they say, and Miles would always say people will catch on 10 years later with what he was doing. And that was kind of what happened. I wanted to play more bebop and he wanted me to rock. He liked the fact I was playing lines, but he wanted the volume.

I thought we could split the difference maybe and he would say ‘No, no. Let’s rock.’ And he’d always say, ‘Play me some Hendrix’. What he meant was, ‘Play your stuff, but with that attitude’. So I was playing a lot of lines and there was rock in there because I come from that.

It was great experience playing with him, he played so much from the heart. People say what they say but they’ve all turned around and people are discovering it now. He was always ahead of the time. And that always invites criticism. But he always told me, ‘Don’t worry about [criticism]’. So it was a great experience and the only thing is . . . Well, I finally did it sober. (laughs).

I was really messed up in those days and for some of it I was pretty trashed. But, for all that, some of it still came out good. Miles had a way of getting stuff out of people. Then I went back with him and the band was a bit different with keyboard players. That first group was really open with just guitar.

Then Sco [Scofield] played with us for a while. Me and Sco played together in that band, then I left and Sco did it for a while, then Miles added keyboards and I went back with that band when Sco left. It was still a great vibe but it was a little more structured, which is cool. But I liked the first band which was really open and fun. All of it was great because I got to play with him and Jaco Pastorius and Michael Brecker. It was amazing.

Click here to read Mike Stern: Guitar to the stars . . . and Miles beyond

—Peter Blasevick

Jimmy Smith Documentary (Jazz Organ) – 1965

Here is a great 90 minute long West German documentary film made about Jimmy Smith and his trio. As you can imagine, there are great performances, but also tons of backstage footage and discussions. One interesting exchange happens backstage when Smith and his interviewer discuss if the Beatles are clever musicians or just a gimmick as Smith notes. Great stuff.

—Peter Blasevick

Nat Adderley: A Player’s Player

natAdderleyHere is an interview with the great cornetist/trumpeter Nat Adderley recently posted at the AllAboutJazz webiste. The interview was conducted by Joan Gannij in 1996 and originally appeared in Downbeat Magazine. Adderley covers some interesting topics including racism, East Coast vs. West Coast jazz, the jazz scenes in Europe vs. the USA, and much more. A great read!

JG: How would you compare performing in Europe with the States: 

NA: Around the world, the audiences are larger than ever. We get to play our music more now than at the end of the 50s when we were creating the style. In those days we would leave New York to go on a cross country tour from coast to coast, playing week-long gigs in clubs in PhiladelphiaClevelandDetroitKansas CitySan FranciscoLos Angeles, then back again via PortlandSeattle and Tacoma. Today, you can’t do that. In fact, I haven’t been to Detroit or Cleveland in twenty years. Why? Cause there’s no place to play, there’s no market, no promoters. In fact, I rarely go to Chicago anymore. When I added up over the last five years, the city I played in the most was Zurich, even though I have a regular one-week contract to play in New York every year at Sweet Basil.

Click here to read Nat Adderley: A Player’s Player

—Peter Blasevick

Seymour Nurse Interviews George Duke

Here is a great four part interview with the late George Duke from Seymour Nurse from The Bottom End.

Part one covers the original London (UK) Jazz-Fusion Dance Movement, and how his music influenced this culture at clubs like, “The Horseshoe” and “Electric Ballroom.” Part two covers Duke’s  timeless masterpiece, “A Brazilian Love Affair”, Milton Nascimento and the late, great, Cannonball Adderley. In part three, George gives his thoughts on his female vocalists, Sheila E, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and the exquisite, “Muir Woods Suite”. Finally, part four begins with blaring sires and goes on to cover Duke’s current work.

—Peter Blasevick

Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

burtBacharachBurt Bacharach has written more than 600 songs and more than 70 Top 40 hits. In 1957, Bacharach met fellow songwriter Hal David, and the two began a collaboration that would result in some of the most memorable songs of their day, many of which have an adventurous and jazz-inspired sense of harmony and rhythm, cleverly disguised as simple pop songs!

In this NPR Piano Jazz session from 2005, Bacharach discusses his early years, his collaborations, and performs some of his most famous numbers, such as “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Close to You.” 

SET LIST

  • “Alfie” (Bacharach, David)
  • “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (Bacharach, David)
  • “This Guy’s In Love With You” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (Bacharach, David)
  • “What The World Needs Now Is Love” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Portrait Of Burt Bacharach” (McPartland)
  • “The Windows Of The World” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Close To You” (Bacharach, David)

Click here to listen to Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

—Peter Blasevick