Archive: December, 2012

Bruce Lundvall: 25 Years at Blue Note

From Jazziz Magazine, record company executive Bruce Lundvall reflects on a quarter-century at the helm of jazz’s most storied label, Blue Note Records. From the 2009 interview with Ted Panken:

Not every head of a large label is as hands-on as you. I could be wrong.

No, they could be wrong by not being more hands-on. They have to be. If you love the music, you are hands on. Are you going to sit and let someone else do everything? After all these years, I’ve become a fairly decent delegator. In the past, I was never that good at delegating. But I still want to keep my hand in. I don’t allow anyone to be signed whom I don’t approve of.

I feel we’re a team of people who are friends, who respect one another, are first and foremost about the music, and work together very effectively – though from time to time, we have to face issues that are not so pleasant. I’d really be embarrassed if I had to tell you that this has been a failure. It’s been successful commercially and artistically as far as I’m concerned. But it will never be as successful as what Alfred Lion created. His artists were so one-of-a-kind, such giants. We have to see how many of our artists become that 30, 40, 50 years from now.

Click here to read Bruce Lundvall: 25 Years at Blue Note 

Interview with Professor Robin D. G. Kelley, 2010

Here is a fascinating 2010 interview from Psychology Today with Robin D. G. Kelley, author of the great biography Thelonious Monk, The Life and Times of an American Original. This is a little different from the musician and producer interviews I usually post, but it is such an interesting look at the legendary pianist and composer, I thought you’d be interested in checking it out. Kelley does a great job of not skirting Monk’s mental issues in the book, and he goes into detail about it here. From the interview:

LS: You’re careful not to romanticize mental illness, to show what his episodes took from his life and work. But could Monk had been Monk without it? Did it contribute to his life and work as well?

RK: This is the critical debate among biographers and historians who write about artists who have bipolar disorder. I come down on the side that it did not enhance or enrich his work or gave him unique vision he would not have had otherwise. I think he still would have been “Monk” and, in fact, may have been more prolific in terms of his compositions. Even his antics (which have often been used to define him), I believe, were crafted or spontaneous manifestations of his wit, not outcomes of the disease. However, I do think the kind of meds he received matter more. Thorazine made his fingers stiff and it was often a struggle for him. When he finally received lithium treatments, evidence suggests it deadened his creative drive (though it might have already diminished) and contributed to his decision to stop playing, though it successfully stabilized him. Most importantly, his approach to playing and composition were products of unceasing study and practice. He had a way of playing and writing that was labored over and I see no evidence that his manic phases contributed.

Click here to read Interview with Professor Robin D. G. Kelley, 2010

Clark Terry in 2010

This week I’m posting interviews from Marc Myers’s award winning JazzWax blog, a very important web destination for today’s Jazz journalism. Here I’m posting Marc’s 2010 interview with living legend and most recorded Jazz trumpeter on the planet, Clark Terry. In Part 1 of the two part interview, Terry talks about growing up in St. Louis, playing in the Navy and working with Charlie Barnet and Duke Ellington. Part 2 covers Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Norma Carson, and the first time he recorded on the flugelhorn. An excerpt:

JazzWax: What was St. Louis like in the 1930s? 
Clark Terry: St. Louis was very prejudiced when I wasgrowing up but it was a good jazz town. All the riverboats used to stop there heading up and down the Mississippi River. The boats brought many musicians into the area who were looking for work in town and in Kansas City. As a result, St. Louis was a good jumping off point to get established. Rent was cheap, the food was good and the ladies were beautiful [laughs].

Click here to read Clark Terry in 2010

Dick Hyman in 2010

Continuing this week with interviews from Marc Myers at his award winning JazzWax blog, here is a great 2010 interview with virtuoso pianist and human player piano Dick Hyman. In this three part interview, Hyman speaks about growing up in New York; taking lessons from Teddy Wilson; the importance of Jo Jones’ smile; Lester Young; playing behind Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie; recording one of Coleman Hawkins’ most unusual and sole easy-listening sessions; recording on the organ and Moog synthesizer; and working with Benny Goodman, Woody Allen and Norman Jewison. Whew.

From the interview:

JazzWax: When you were playing with Lester Young in the 1950s, what did you notice most about his playing?

Dick Hyman: By then, Lester was at the point where his playing had become different, more sad than the peppy lines he had played on early Count Basie recordings. He had gotten into slowish tempos—which still swung, but his style was less incisive and more oozy. My experience playing with Lester allowed me to develop a different set of values when playing.

Click here to read Dick Hyman in 2010

Nat Hentoff in 2009

Interviews this week from the wonderful Marc Myers at his award winning JazzWax blog! Today is a two parter with a true legend in Jazz journalism, Nat Hentoff. In part one, Hentoff discusses growing up in Boston, how he landed a job at Down Beat in 1953 and what he did to get fired in 1957, while part two covers Charlie Ventura, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and the links between jazz and justice. From the interview:

Was the competition tough among jazz writers back in the 1950s?
There weren’t that many of us at the time to have much competition. Besides, I never compete with anyone. As a reporter, I don’t believe in exclusives. If your job is to get the news out, I’m happy to help. I’ve often given leads to reporters on other newspapers. I’ve even shared things with reporters if I knew things they didn’t. I never viewed jazz writing as a competitive sport. I may not have agreed with other writers and critics, but I never saw them as rivals in the pure sense.

Click here to read Nat Hentoff in 2009

Master Class with Hank Jones: John Snyder Interviews Hank Jones Backstage

What would a week of interviews with great Jazz pianists be without Hank Jones, who in his later years took on a big role of ambassador for the art form. There are  many interviews with Hank out there, and I like to link to them, but if you can only listen to one, this is it. In 2004 the legendary pianist sat down for a full ninety minute talk during a master class produced by John Snyder of Artists House Foundation and David Schroeder of the NYU jazz department. He talks about everything from his early days to the greats he worked with to some more technical aspects of music. Fascinating stuff.

— Peter Blasevick

Duke Ellington in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

More great jazz interviews this week from CBC-Radio Canada! The Bob Smith Hot Air archive is a treasure trove of approximately 50 interviews Smith recorded with some of the greatest stars of the day, from the world of jazz and beyond. Captured between 1950 and 1982, these interviews include conversations with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Harry James, Oscar Peterson and Lena Horne, as well as Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli and many others.

Here is a 1962 CBC-Radio Canada interview with the legendary Duke Ellington. Bob Smith had a lifelong fascination with Ellington and interviewed him no fewer than three times for the CBC. This featured conversation, perhaps Smith’s magnum opus as an interviewer, captures Ellington in a chatty and casual mood, with a surprise visit from the legend’s close collaborator, Billy Strayhorn.

Click here to listen to Duke Ellington in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive.

An Interview with Dave Brubeck, July 23, 2007

A week of piano interviews at TNYDP, and we must post one with the legendary Dave Brubeck who passed away late last week. This 2007 interview with Ted Panken that Ethan Iverson tweeted out the day Brubeck died is as good a tribute as any. A bit from the interview:

You started to play for money when you were in your early teens, and I’d imagine then you started learning about being a bandleader—which is also part of music. Bending people to your will, as it were.

You see, when we left Concord, California, I was well, and were moving to this huge cattle ranch, 45,000 acres, owned by H.C. Howard who owned Seabiscuit. Of course, he owned other ranches, and Seabiscuit wasn’t on this ranch. But when I moved there, I would still be improvising after school and playing the piano. The guy that came to pick up our laundry at the ranch and take it to Lodi, where Mondavi started, about 18 miles away… He’d take the laundry, and he heard me playing, and he said, “I could use you in my band.” I was 14 then, and he hired me, and we played on the Mokelumne River, outdoor dance floor that was all warped from the rain, and electric lightbulbs hanging from wires with the decorations. His name was John Ostabah. From Ostabah, I went to another band in Ione, California, that played all the foothill dances. Believe me, that was an experience. Very few people have had the experiences I had when I was very young. Because the towns of Jackson and Sutter Creek were wide-open. That means everything in California that was against the law, was not against the law in those mining towns.

Click here to read An Interview with Dave Brubeck, July 23, 2007

George Clabin interviews Bill Evans about Scott LaFaro in 1966

Interviews with great piano players all week at TNYDP! Here is a cool 1966 interview with Bill Evans in which he talks about meeting and working with the great Scott LaFaro. From the interview:

“…He impressed me as a very large person…it’s a funny thing, because when I got to know him, the more I got to know him I got to realize he wasn’t as large physically as I had thought at my first impression, but because of the way he played the bass, the sound he got and everything, for some reason I thought he was a large person…”

— Peter Blasevick

Like Sonny: The Story of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane

The last day of JazzVideoGuy week here at TNYDP; thanx Bret for all you do for Jazz. Check out his channel on YouTube, there’s just a ton to watch.

And what week of interviews from JazzVideoGuy would be complete without one from his favorite subject, the incomparable Sonny Rollins? In this piece, Bret explores the unique relationship between John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, two of the most important Jazz musicians in history.

— Peter Blasevick