Archive: February, 2013

Geoffrey Keezer: Making, And Controlling, His New Music

I’m posting interviews from AllAboutJazz.com all week. They are one of the great one-stop-shop destination Jazz websites out there, so check them out.

Pianist/composer Geoffrey Keezer has been playing piano since age three and has been on the road since 1989 when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers after a year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Over the years, he’s recorded steadily and played with numerous jazz luminaries including Ray Brown, Diana Krall, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green, and Mulgrew Miller.

In this 2008 interview with R. J. Deluke, Keezer speaks at length about the modern music industry, and also about different bandleaders he’s worked with. Here he discusses his tenure with Ray Brown and some of the challenges about being a sideman:

“Ray Brown was great,” recounts Keezer. “He was a beautiful human being and a very great bandleader. As good as the experience was, it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to play. I had to adjust. Any time you work as a sideman, typically when you’re hired by a band, you’re kind of like an actor playing a role. They hire you because of your basic skills. They like the way you play and the way you accompany, etc. But you do have to sort of bend a bit to the sound of the band. Which is fine. That’s part of being a professional.

“Ray’s concept was a lot more traditional, a lot more straight-ahead than what I was really wanting to do. To his credit, he never told me told me how to play. He knew that I could give him enough of what he wanted. He would allow me to go off on a tangent once in a while, as long as I gave him some groove and swing and blues, and all those elements that he was so great at and that made his music so special.

Click here to read Geoffrey Keezer: Making, And Controlling, His New Music  

Maxine Gordon: The Legacy of Dexter Gordon

I’m posting interviews from AllAboutJazz.com all week. Their mission is to “provide information and opinion about jazz from the past, present, and future,” and they do a good job of it!

Today we celebrate the late, great Dexter Gordon’s 90th birthday. Gordon was a focal point of the bebop and hard bop revolutions, and later in his career, he achieved the status of an American icon with his lead role in Bernard Tavernier’s 1986 film, Round Midnight, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination. Gordon’s wife and longtime manager, Maxine Gordon, has kept the legacy strong through lectures and guest appearances, donation of all of Gordon’s archival work to the Library of Congress, the licensing group Dex Music LLC and The Dexter Gordon Society.

Maxine is also a serious scholar, and is finishing her PhD at NYU in preparation for her biography of Dexter, which is due out this year. During this 2012 interview with Victor Schermer, she responds to a comparison of her exhaustive work to that of Monk’s biographer Robin Kelley:

“Actually, Robin was my adviser. I did the research for him on the San Juan Hill neighborhood in Manhattan where Monk came of age. But my biography of Dexter is somewhat different. I’m writing more of a cultural history, and a large part of the book is in Dexter’s own words. He did a lot of writing—vignettes, letters. While he was in Europe, he wrote letters to Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff at Blue Note. I have placed all those letters, his and theirs, in the Library of Congress. I became an archivist, and put together three Dexter Gordon collections in the Library of Congress: first of all, his papers. Then, in Culpeper, Virginia is the recorded sound—all his CDs, tapes, and 78s. Finally, there are the letters, music manuscripts, photos, and documents. My research for Dexter’s biography will utilize these collections extensively.”

I can’t wait to read her biography of Dex, but until then, we have this interview:

Click here to read Maxine Gordon: The Legacy of Dexter Gordon

Charlie Hunter: Living the Music

More interviews this week from the great AllAboutJazz.com! If you don’t regularly go there—and if you have found this site, I’m sure you do go there—you should…it’s everything you want to know about today’s jazz.

Eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter has stunned audiences for years with his virtuosic ability to play simultaneous bass and guitar lines, sounding at times more like a Hammond organist than a guitarist. Whether playing in a quartet, quintet, trio, duo or solo format (he’s done plenty of recording and gigging in all these configurations), Hunter’s groove-based jazz/rock hybrid is immediately recognizable, and has produced some classic albums. Here, Hunter is interviewed in 2005 by Paul Olson and spoke about Hunter’s collaborative band Garage à Trois, his experimental Groundtruther collaborations with Bobby Previte, the Charlie Hunter Trio, his take on the jamband scene, his thoughts on comping, his much-vaunted bass/guitar technique, and more.

AAJ: I haven’t spoken about how you use your eight-string guitar to play simultaneous bass and guitar parts because, even though you’re known for that, to me it’s like talking about a tenor player about his horn: it’s just what you do. But I wonder if you’d explain how you do the simultaneous parts; not how you trained your mind and fingers, but what your hands do to play this stuff. Is your right hand doing all the work?

CH: Well, no. It’s too damn complicated; that’s the problem with it. The right hand is kind of the execution hand, rhythmically. If you think about it, there’s all of the rhythmic combinations, the counterpoint between the thumb and the fingers—thumb playing the bass, fingers generally playing the guitar. Tons of that kind of counterpart going on. Then you have the left hand, which is the conception hand, dealing, in any given millisecond throughout the music, with your four fingers having to act as a team. Then you put those two hands together and that creates a third set of combinations between those two hands. So, basically, through experience you just learn millions and millions of these kinds of combinations. The more you learn, the easier it is to get to the music.

Click here to read Charlie Hunter: Living the Music

Wynton Marsalis Speaks Out

Hello all! This week I’ll be posting some great interviews from the fantastic AllAboutJazz.com, which is simply one of the top everything-jazz destinations on the web.

Trumpeter, composer, educator—Wynton Marsalis requires no introduction. Since beginning his career, he has received an almost endless stream of accolades, his share of criticisms, and an ever-growing level of recognition from within and without the jazz community. Speaking with Franz Matzner in 2004 from his tour bus to the accompaniment of companionable laughter, instruments being tuned, and the ambient hum of traffic, Marsalis offered thoughts on education, jazz and the internet, the significance of art, and the identity of the jazz genre, as well as his CD The Magic Hour. From the interview:

AAJ: Over the years, what have you found to be the most difficult part of teaching jazz?

WM: I think the most difficult thing about teaching jazz is a lack of reinforcement. You might teach a really good class, but there’s not a lot of reinforcement in the larger society. Many times the best environment to teach in is one where you say something and you teach a certain thing and then students can go out and see that in everyday life. But in the teaching of jazz, our sense of teaching is isolated. That’s the most difficult thing to overcome.

 Click here to read Wynton Marsalis Speaks Out

Paul Motian – A Jazz Perspective

Friday! Today finishes our week of podcast interviews from JazzCorner.com. JazzCorner is a portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations. There is a ton of great info you can get to from there, so check them out.

After his groundbreaking association with Bill Evans, drummer Paul Motian later collaborated with pianists Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett. An eclectic artist, he also worked with Arlo Guthrie including, a stint at Woodstock. Later, Motian become a composer and bandleader, producing a number of well-regarded projects for ECM Records beginning in the 1970s. He had, since the early 1980s, also led a celebrated trio featuring guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano. On November 22, 2011, Paul Motian died at the age of 80 leaving a wealth and breadth of stunning music.

In this quick 2008 piece, Reese Erlich spoke with Motian about playing with Evans, Lovano, and Frisell, his approach to composition, and musical spontaneity.

Click here to listen to Paul Motian – A Jazz Perspective

Christian McBride – Always Evolving

More podcast interviews from JazzCorner.com today! JazzCorner is a portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations. There is a ton of great info you can get to from there, so check them out.

It hard to categorize bassist Christian McBride—he’s as adept on acoustic bass as well as electric and transitions easily from mainstream jazz to downright funk, always with rhythm, swing and poise. In this interview with producer Lois Gilbert, Christian takes us on his journey from his roots in Philadelphia to be one of the leading bassists of our time. McBride discusses much, including first coming to New York from his hometown of Philadelphia, the legendary James Brown, and a list of fellow bass players who have been supportive of him throughout his career.

Click here to listen to Christian McBride – Always Evolving

 

John Scofield – Guitarist of Many Talents

The week of podcast interviews from JazzCorner.com continues! JazzCorner is a portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations. There is a ton of great info you can get to from there, so check them out.

Guitarist John Scofield started at the top, playing Carnegie Hall for his first gig in New York – and, he notes wryly in this interview, he hasn’t played there since. Scofield, a master of many guitar styles, also has a wonderful sense of humor. JazzCorner.com producer Reese Erlich caught up with Scofield early in 2012 for a quick seven minute discussion, where John talks about starting his career off with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, playing with Miles Davis, and his 2011 album “A Moment’s Peace”.

Click here to listen to John Scofield – Guitarist of Many Talents

Jimmy Cobb – Keeping Time

This week I will be posting some podcast interviews from JazzCorner.com, a portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations. There is a ton of great info you can get to from there, so check them out.

Drummer Jimmy Cobb turned 84 last month but still keeps up a regular schedule of performing and teaching master classes. Perhaps most famous when he was part of Miles Davis band (1957-63), NEA Jazz Master Cobb has a distinguished career as both sideman and group leader. Producer Reese Erlich interviewed Cobb for this special JazzCorner.com Jazz Perspective prior to his appearance at the 2011 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. In this 30 minute interview, Cobb discusses his career, his time with Miles, and a host of other topics.

Click here to listen to Jimmy Cobb – Keeping Time

Horace Silver—The Nitty Gritty

JazzCorner.com is the largest portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations, and this week I will be posting some podcast interviews from their Jazz Perspectives and InnerViews podcasts series’.

Horace Silver is a living legend and one of America’s most prolific composers, with standards such as “Song For My Father” and “Sister Sadie.” Today’s JazzCorner.com Innerview was first aired on radio station WRVR on Lois Gilbert’s Jazz Masters series in 1979 and updated for the 2010 Detroit Jazz Festival and the theme of Flame Keepers: Carrying the Torch for Modern Jazz. In this hour-plus long podcast Silver talks us through his entire career and we get to hear a number of fantastic Silver recordings!

Click here to listen to Horace Silver—The Nitty Gritty

 

Michael Brecker at North Texas State University in 1984

Here is a really cool four part video interview with the late, great saxophonist Michael Brecker. It is kind of a hybrid interview/lecture that includes performances, and it has plenty of Michael discussing his influences and the like. He even sits behind the drums and plays a tune with the band!