Archive: January, 2013

Oscar Peterson 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.

This edition of Giants of Jazz focuses on the beloved Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson (1925-2007). “OP,” as he is affectionately known, met with Hot Air host Bob Smith for a far-ranging discussion on topics including keeping a band on the road, Canadian content regulations and new directions in pop music. From the interview:

“It means a hell of a lot to a Canadian artist, to any artist, to know that you have a place at home where the people really know you and dig what you do, and then that gives you even more confidence to go out and display those same wares to foreigners, whether it be in the United States or Europe or Japan or wherever it is.”

Click here to listen to Oscar Peterson in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Herbie Hancock 1968 interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

All this week I’m posting legacy interviews 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.

This interview with the great Herbie Hancock, recorded in 1968, finds the pianist, composer and multi-Grammy winner at a point in his career between his stint as pianist with the second great quintet of Miles Davis and his own period of searching for new sounds. It was that quest, using synthesizers and electronic keyboards, that led to the creation of his celebrated fusion band, the Headhunters, in the early 1970s. A then 28-year-old Hancock tells Hot Air interviewer Bob Smith about his approach to improvisation, his experience with raucous audiences at Harlem’s Apollo Theater and the musical insights he gleaned working with the legendary Miles Davis.

Click here to listen to Herbie Hancock 1968 interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Louis Armstrong in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

I’ll be posting interviews from the CBC-Radio Canada archives this week. 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.

This Hot Air interview with the legendary Louis Armstrong took place on Jan. 17, 1968, just three years before his death. In their relatively short conversation, Hot Air host Bob Smith engages Armstrong on a wide range of topics, including his earliest memories living and playing in a New Orleans orphanage, joining the band of his hero Joe “King” Oliver in Chicago in 1922 and explaining the origin of his many nicknames.

At one point, Armstrong is asked if the rumors of his retirement are true, to which he replies, “Musician don’t retire no how. They just stop when they ain’t got no more gigs.”

Click here to listen to Louis Armstrong in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

I’ll be posting interviews from the CBC-Radio Canada archives this week. 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.

Today, check out pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams in conversation with Bob Smith for CBC Hot Air, recorded in May 1977 in Vancouver. From the interview:

Williams spoke about the spiritual and healing qualities of music, echoing the values of the iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, someone she highly respected. Like Coltrane, Williams embraced Catholicism in her later years and even composed a jazz mass that features soulful, uplifting takes on traditional mass elements. Her criticism of modern popular music could be harsh at times, yet she incorporated the sound of ’60s funk and soul into her own music in a unique and organic way.

“I don’t think of anything until my hand touches the keyboard. Then everything starts workin’. The mind, heart, fingertips. If it misses the heart then you have patterns. That may happen due to the fact your rhythm section isn’t with it. Something like that. And if you’re on the spot you have to finish it off.”

Click here to listen to Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Four Chick Corea Interviews with Les Tomkins plus Gary Burton!

Chick Corea keeps putting out great music; his latest duo recording with Gary Burton is testament to that! Here are four interviews with the pianist, all between 1972 and 1982. The final one, from 1982, is actually a joint interview with longtime collaborator Burton, and in it he discusses preparing for a tour together:

How much actual preparation do you need before embarking on a concert tour together?

The groundwork has already been laid in the past year since we’ve developed our way of working together. The only additional preparation we ever do is finding music to play; I compose, we find other compositions to do, and we work them into the repertoire by going over them once or twice, then finding where to drop the new piece into the performance. Except the next album project we have in mind is going to take quite a bit of preparation, actually, because I’m going to write a piece for Gary and myself with a string quartet as well. So the composing will be a process, and then us looking at the music, getting accustomed to it, and seeing how to make it work with the strings will be a full process in itself. I’m looking forward to that. The music will be sort of like a double concerto idea, where there’s two soloists and an orchestra that’s made up of four strings.

Click here to read Four Chick Corea Interviews with Les Tomkins plus Gary Burton!

Three 1970s George Benson Interviews

Today I’m posting three interviews from the 1970s with the legendary guitarist George Benson: “My Present Group” from 1974, and “This Way and That” and “A Personality Thing”, both from 1978. Here from the last of the three interviews is Mr. Benson discussing his awareness of other singers and guitarists:

How would you describe your vocal concept? Are there certain singers whose approach particularly appeals to you?

Once I hear a great singer, I’m very aware of him. I heard Nat “King” Cole when I was a baby, and I never forgot him. I followed him throughout, all the way up until the time of his death, and beyond—I’m still listening at his records, trying to find out what it is about Nat “King” Cole that is so great. It’s a personality thing, though, you know; you can’t be Nat—you can only enjoy him. I don’t think there’s so much of the technical thing that you could really put your finger on. He was a natural singer—though there were some techniques that he used in his lower tones that are very valuable.

There are many great singers—some today—who are using valuable techniques. And I’m aware of them—just like I was of the guitar players. I’m aware of Django Rheinhardt, Charlie Christian, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow—all those great players. I mean, because once you hear those guys . . . how could I call myself a player, and not know who the real players are when I hear them? They’re the guys who helped to shape my concept, and to give me the idea on which to base some of my ideas. I’m never afraid to mention another great artist; I’m not trying to show that I’m better than any other player—what I want to do is to be as dedicated to what I’m doing, or to be as real about it, as I think these artists are. Because it takes a certain amount of dedication, and knowledge, and gift to be what they are. And I’m the first guy to go to their concerts when I hear of them being any placeI run and hear them. It’s a great experience, plus I learn something.

Click here to read Three 1970s George Benson Interviews

Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Here is a great 1979 interview with Chet Baker from Les Tomkins and the JazzProfessional website. Chet talks about his reunion with Gerry Mulligan, his ear;ly years, and “Cool Jazz”. From the interview:

What originally caused you to take up the trumpet as your instrument?

My dad was a musician—he played guitar—and when I reached thirteen, his favourite musician was Jack Teagarden. So he brought home a trombone, but I was rather small for my age; I couldn’t make the positions, and the mouthpiece seemed so big. I messed around with it for a couple of weeks; then he took it away, and brought home a trumpet.

That seemed to be much more comfortable; I could get a sound—the smaller mouthpiece seemed to fit a lot better. I went to a little instrument training class for a year, and I played in the school marching band and the dance band.

When I was sixteen, I went in the army; for a year I played in an army band in Berlin, Germany. After discharge, I studied music at junior college, but at the end of a year–and–a–half I failed that—and I still play by ear. Although I can read, I don’t know the chords. I just hear them, you know, but if you ask me what the name of it is, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Click here to read Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Introducing Scott LaFaro—The Jazz Review, August 1960

Today is the last in a week of interviews from the music journal The Jazz Review, which has been wonderfully preserved at the great website jazzstudiesonline.org. Founded by Nat Hentoff, Martin Williams, and Hsio Wen Shih in New York in 1958, The Jazz Review was the premier journal of jazz in the United States. Short-lived as it was (1958-1961), it set an enduring standard for criticism. All the interview links point to the full .pdf for that issue, so it might take a second to load. Worth the wait!

Bassist Scott LaFaro died far too young, long before he could shore all his ideas with us. In this early interview, we get the idea that despite his changing the way Jazz bass was played, he was somewhat of a traditionalist at heart:

“I found out playing with Bill that I have a deep respect for harmony, melodic patterns, and form. I think a lot more imaginative work could be done within them than most people are doing, but I can’t abandon them. That’s why I don’t think I could play with Ornette Coleman. I used to in California; we would go looking all over town for some place to play. I respect the way he overrides forms. It’s all right for him, but I don’t think I could do it myself.”

Click here to read Introducing Scott LaFaro—The Jazz Review, August 1960

Introducing Eric Dolphy—The Jazz Review, June 1960

This week I’m posting interviews from the music journal The Jazz Review, which has been wonderfully preserved at the great website jazzstudiesonline.org. Founded by Nat Hentoff, Martin Williams, and Hsio Wen Shih in New York in 1958, The Jazz Review was the premier journal of jazz in the United States. Short-lived as it was (1958-1961), it set an enduring standard for criticism. All the interview links point to the full .pdf for that issue, so it might take a second to load. Worth the wait!

Eric Dolphy was an important force in Jazz during the late 50s and early 60s; this 1960 interview with Martin Williams finds the versatile reed-man during a show with Charles Mingus. Here Dolphy talk about comparisons to Ornette Coleman:

Comparisons between Dolphy’s work and Ornette Coleman’s are probably inevitable and will just as probably plague both of them from now on. “Ornette was playing that way in 1954. I heard about him, and when I heard him play, he asked me if I liked his pieces and I said I thought they sounded good. When he said that if someone played a chord, he heard another chord on that one, I knew what he was talking about because I had been thinking of the same things.”

Click here to read Introducing Eric Dolphy—The Jazz Review, June 1960

 

 

Introducing Bill Evans—The Jazz Review, October 1959

This week I’m posting interviews from the music journal The Jazz Review, which has been wonderfully preserved at the great website jazzstudiesonline.org. Founded by Nat Hentoff, Martin Williams, and Hsio Wen Shih in New York in 1958, The Jazz Review was the premier journal of jazz in the United States. Short-lived as it was (1958-1961), it set an enduring standard for criticism. All the interview links point to the full .pdf for that issue, so it might take a second to load. Worth the wait!

Another great early interview with a legend today: pianist Bill Evans. He talks to Nat Hentoff about his album “Everybody Digs Bill Evans”, and in this excerpt you can already hear him formulating some of his revolutionary ideas for the trio-format:

“I want to be able to be free to go in my own direction without having to drag other people into my way of thinking. Ideally, I’d like to play solo piano, but from a practical standpoint, in terms of establishing a reputation and the kinds of rooms one can play, a trio makes more sense. And actually, there is almost as much freedom in a trio and certainly a stronger rhythm base.”

“I’m hoping the trio will grow in the direction of simultaneous improvisation rather that just one guy blowing followed by another guy blowing. If the bass player, for example, hears an idea that he wants to answer, why should he just keep playing a 4/4 background? The men I’ll work with have learned how to do the regular kind of playing, and so I think we how have the license to change it. After all, in a classical composition, you don’t hear a part remain stagnant until it becomes a solo. There are transitional development passages—a voice begins to be heard more and more and finally breaks into prominence.”

Click here to read Introducing Bill Evans—The Jazz Review, October 1959