Archive: August, 2012

Three Interviews with Art Blakey

From, here are three interviews with the legendary drummer and bandleader Art BlakeyartBlakey, all conducted by Les Tomkins:

In “One of the Extroverts of Jazz” from 1963, Blakey discusses the early days of the Messengers:

“It used to be, a few years ago, that everybody wanted to be the leader of his own group…You see, after the Messengers, the MJQ, Horace Silver or any of these well–organised groups come through with their arrangements, it makes it pretty hard for the others. The people know the difference now…We battled this thing for years and I guess Horace Silver and I helped to make it this way. We hated to see these jam groups going on all the time. We had to start out like that, with Clifford Brown and Curly Russell at Birdland. Very luckily, we had a group that clicked together and came off with some good, swinging records.”

Also here are interviews from 1973 and 1987. Enjoy!

Click here to read Interview One: One of the Extroverts of Jazz

Click here to read Interview Two: Speaks his Mind

Click here to read Interview Three: More Messages from the Messenger

—Peter Blasevick

A Fireside Chat With Herbie Hancock

Pianist and living legend Herbie Hancock talks about  his origins as a player, his love of technology, and more in this 2003 interview with From the interview:

“My best friend had a piano when I was about six years old. He was actually several months older than me. He had already turned seven. I would go to his house and ask if I could play his piano. Of course, I couldn’t play it. I would just bang on it, but my mother noticed that I was interested in the piano and on my seventh birthday, they bought me a piano. So my older brother, my younger sister and I started taking lessons soon after that. After about three years, my brother and sister stopped their lessons and I continued on. For some reason, my interest never waned. It continued to progress and what really did it was when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when I first started to pay attention to jazz and get involved with that. That really pulled me in like a magnet.”

Click here to read A Fireside Chat With Herbie Hancock 

Wayne Shorter: The Man and the Legacy

In his 2003 interview with Philip Gordon for, legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter revealed his sincere feelings towards his life, his music, his friendships and, his respect for the many world-class musicians with whom he has collaborated with throughout his impressive career. Also discussed were his evolution as an artist and these relationships, and his passionate commitment to spirit of the music, life, and his spontaneous, improvisational approach. Wayne on practicing and Miles Davis:

“No, I don’t practice, it’s difficult to practice the unknown. I do look at material when I’m writing something. It’s a question like so many things in life, it’s like Miles Davis ( Shorter imitates Miles voice) used to say: ‘You see the way Humprey Bogart hit that cat?’, a little punch when he hit a guy. ‘Play that!’ or, when John Wayne used to make that turn- around, or twist when he made a corner, ‘See what John Wayne just did?…now play that!’ Miles was always asked how he did what he did, he’d say: ‘Just watch the way somebody moves and play that’, and then the guy would play that and later ask Miles what he thought, and Miles would say: ‘You talk to your girlfriend like that?'”

Click here to read Wayne Shorter: The Man and the Legacy 

Christian McBride: Knocking on the Door

The Grammy winning bassist and bandleader Christian McBride sat down with Bob Kenselaar at in June of 2012 to discuss his big band, his career and future plans, and a host of other topics. From the intro:

“Since his arrival in New York in 1989 from his hometown of Philadelphia, the bassist has played with a host of jazz masters, starting with a stint in saxophonist Bobby Watson’s band just two weeks into McBride’s first semester at Juilliard. Before long, he signed up with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, touring with him for over two years. Another especially important early gig for McBride was with Ray Brown’s Super Bass, working alongside Brown and John Clayton in the unusual setting of a three-bass trio. Over the years, he’s played with saxophonist Sonny Rollins, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianists McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, and guitarist Pat Metheny, among many others. And he’s worked with a wide spectrum of collaborators outside of jazz, including Isaac Hayes, Natalie Cole, James Brown, Sting, Carly Simon, the Shanghai Quartet, and Kathleen Battle.”

Click here to read Christian McBride: Knocking on the Door


Tootie Heath in 2008

Four great clips of drummer Tootie Heath recorded at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in 2008. Heath spends a good deal of time answering questions like: What makes a good jazz tune? Who as your mentor? What do you think we’re here on earth to do?!? (I like that last one.)

Click here to listen to: Tootie Heath in 2008:

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4

Count Basie: My Band—Past and Present

From, Count Basie is interviewed in New York in 1963 by Max Barker and talks about many of his former bandmembers. From the interview:

“Lester Young, who I would like to mention, was in a class by himself. Definitely a stylist and an originator.” Has Basie retained Freddie Greene  because he prefers to hear a guitar in a rhythm section or only because he happens to be an essential ingredient of the band? “Well, it is both. He is a sort of hold-together. A guy you hear, yet don’t hear, but always know whether he is there or not. Not a soloist of any kind, but a lot as far as holding things together is concerned.”

Click here to read Count Basie: My Band—Past and Present

Gerry Mulligan: CBS Sunday Morning News 1982

This is a great piece. Pianist Billy Taylor interviews innovative saxophonist and “cool jazz” pioneer Gerry Mulligan for the CBS Morning News in 1982. Mulligan discusses his early days, his five night engagement with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Zuben Mehta, and his versatility. Gerry plays piano and sings, and excerpts from live performances are included.

Click here to watch Gerry Mulligan: CBS Sunday Morning News 1982


Interview with Cedar Walton

This is a fascinating 2010 interview with the legendary pianist Cedar Walton from Ethan Iverson’s smart DoTheMath blog. A great talk. A quick bit from the interview about meeting and knowing your musical influences:

“I’m extremely fortunate to have been here early enough to meet the likes of Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Erroll Garner. Even Miles Davis came around to hear us when we were with the Messengers.

“They would hand out little bits of wisdom. The strongest in my memory is Thelonious Monk, who talked through his teeth a lot. He’d say, “Play your own shit.”

And that’s what I’m doing. I mean, I think it’s unconscious from his suggestion. Possibly. I’m not a psychologist, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize the power of suggestion is strong sometimes.”

Click here to read Interview with Cedar Walton 

In Conversation with Jeff “Tain” Watts

I’ll be posting some great interviews from jazz mega-site this week, and today’s is a 2009 interview with drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts by Ted Panken. From the interview, Watts’ comments about working with Wynton Marsalis:

“He brought in the bulk of the tunes, and the music emerged from what his original repertoire needed as well as the tunes from the lexicon. I guess the early band was supposed to try to pick up the threads and move forward from where he felt the music had stopped, with the exception of the pure avant-garde free music. Maybe at the time there was a vibe from him that people had been seriously playing music, seriously playing jazz, that Ornette’s band was there, and Trane’s band was there, and Miles’ band was there, and some other stuff was going on, but then it stopped, and then there was this evil fusion, and then there was all this free music with people that can’t really play trying to play, and that this made people not really serious.

“His initial jumping-off point was Miles’ quintet, and then he started to introduce Ornette Coleman’s music. Logical extensions of what was happening in the ’60s. Not so much Coltrane until much later. We were just checking stuff out. Wynton’s focus is very systematic, and whatever he’s checking out at a given time, that’s what’s going on. So Miles’ group in the ’60s—at that time, that’s what it is. I know he had an appreciation for John Coltrane’s music and that quartet, but because of the way his mind worked, he only had room to appreciate Miles’ group back then. I can honestly say that we were in Europe somewhere, on a bus, and we actually got into an adolescent comparison of Miles’ group in the ’60s and Coltrane’s classic quartet. I’m sure everybody has conversations that they would like to take back …

“From Wynton’s perspective, his thing was, like, ‘Work on your instrument, really try to play it on a high level,’ and a good percentage of his criteria at that time of what it takes to play an instrument felt like it was based on the European aesthetic. So when making the comparison of Miles’ band and Trane’s band, he felt like Miles’ band dealt with that European standard more. There was more harmonic sophistication. The way that Tony Williams played the drums, there’s more overtly European type of techniques being used as opposed to Elvin.”

Click here to read In Conversation with Jeff “Tain” Watts 

In Conversation with Dave Holland

I’ll be posting some great interviews from jazz mega-site this week, and today’s is a 2008 interview with the great bassist Dave Holland. Here is an excerpt of him talking about Mulgrew Miller and Eric Harland:

“I always feel that the person behind the music—their feeling about life and working with other people, their generosity, and all these kinds of things—is what comes through in any great musician. I’ve found both Mulgrew and Eric to be really wonderful people, and through that, their music is very embracing and inclusive and communally minded. How people work together becomes a very important aspect for me—not just as strong individuals, but how they work together as a team and how open they are to what’s going on in the band.

“More specifically, for me, Mulgrew embodies the tradition of the piano, going back to early influences. It’s all there in his playing. But he’s managed to create a very individual, personal, and contemporary way of using those influences. He is also a consummate accompanist. It’s a thrill to hear what he’s playing behind the soloist; not only soloing on piano, but what he does within the rhythm section.

To me, Eric is a unique drummer. Again, he’s a great listener. He’s very supportive. He’s totally in touch with the musical moment that we’re involved in as we play, and he’s always pushing to create a new rhythmic context for the group and finding new ways to approach the pieces that we’ve been playing. There’s a very nice balance between a sort of free approach and a formal approach to the music, so it covers a lot of ground for me. Of course, the feel of what he does is wonderful, too.”

Click here to read In Conversation with Dave Holland