Archive: February, 2013

Wayne Shorter On Jazz: ‘How Do You Rehearse The Unknown?’

As the great Wayne Shorter approaches his 80th birthday, he’s just reunited with the label that championed him as a bandleader back in the 1960s, Blue Note Records. On the new album Without a Net, he leads a quartet with whom he’s spent more than a decade through live recordings and some striking new compositions.

Speaking with NPR’s Laura Sullivan, Shorter says he absorbed a common principle from Davis, Coltrane, Blakey and his other great peers and mentors: They left their musicians alone.

“The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We never had a rehearsal,” Shorter says. “Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word ‘jazz’ means, ‘I dare you.’ The effort to break out of something is worth more than getting an A in syncopation.

“This music, it’s dealing with the unexpected,” he adds. “No one really knows how to deal with the unexpected. How do you rehearse the unknown?”

Click here to listen to Wayne Shorter On Jazz: ‘How Do You Rehearse The Unknown?’, including Shorter’s Miles Davis impression!

Eubie Blake On Piano Jazz

More interviews from NPR Piano Jazz this week! Though Marian McPartland no longer actively hosts the show (which has been running since the late 1970s), it still airs weekly with encore performances and in a new version hosted by Jon Weber.

Here is a real treat: a 1980 interview with James Hubert “Eubie” Blake. He was the last of the known living original ragtime pianists when he appeared on the program in 1980 with host Marian McPartland. Here, the 93-year-old Blake recalls working in vaudeville, performing at the height of the Jim Crow era, writing “Charleston Rag” and even watching a performance by the great Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Between all the great talking, the set list for the show runs:

  • “Betty Washboard Rag” (R. Kreve)
  • “Marian’s Waltz” (J.H. Blake)
  • “You’re Lucky to Me” (J.H. Blake, A. Razaf)
  • “Charleston Rag” (J.H. Blake)
  • “Dream Rag” (J.H. Blake)
  • “For the Last Time Call Me Sweetheart” (A. Johns)
  • “The Star Spangled Banner”
  • “Falling in Love With Someone” (V. Herbert, R. Young)
  • “Kiss Me Again” (V. Herbert, H. Blossom)
  • “St. Louis Blues” (W.C. Handy)
  • “I’m Just Wild About Harry” (E. Blake, N. Sissle)
  • “Gypsy Sweetheart” (V. Herbert, H. Smith)

Click here to listen to Eubie Blake on NPR Piano Jazz 1991

Bill Frisell On Piano Jazz

I’m posting five great NPR Piano Jazz interviews this week. Though Marian McPartland no longer actively hosts the show (which has been running since the late 1970s), it still airs weekly with encore performances and in an updated version hosted by Jon Weber.

Int today’s interview, guitarist and composer Bill Frisell brings his sparkling, atmospheric sound to this episode of Piano Jazz in a session that originally aired in October 2007.

At one point in the hour long show,  Frisell’s give his solo take on “My Man’s Gone Now,” from George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Frisell picked up this tune when he first began studying jazz seriously by listening to Bill Evans and Miles Davis.

“It’s one of those tunes that stayed with me from the late ’60s when I first heard it, and I’ve been trying to play it all along,” Frisell says.

During the interview, Bill’s performances include:

  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Harline, Washington)
  • “My Man’s Gone Now” (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward)
  • “All the Things You Are” (Hammerstein, Kern)
  • “He’s the One” (McPartland)
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (Williams)
  • “Strange Meeting” (Frisell)
  • “Echoes of Yesterday” (McPartland)
  • “Blue Monk” (Monk)

Click here to listen to Bill Frisell On Piano Jazz

Milt Hinton on NPR Piano Jazz 1991

Some great NPR Piano Jazz interviews this week. Though Marian McPartland no longer actively hosts the show (which has been running since the late 1970s), it still airs weekly with encore performances and in an updated version hosted by Jon Weber.

Today’s interview is with the “Dean of Jazz Bass Players”, Milt Hinton. Hinton kicks off the program by rapping his considerable resume, as he comps himself with bouncing bass. It’s safe to say he’s one of few octogenarians able to do hip-hop, and probably the only one who can drop names like Cab (Calloway), Duke (Ellington), Louie (Armstrong) and Prez (Lester Young) into his rhyme.

He also turns in a thundering solo version of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”

“Boy, that is really a show-stopping piece,” McPartland says.

“It’s a real exercise in calisthenics. Thank you,” Hinton replies.

The session closes on a duet of “How High the Moon” that conjures both Mozart and Charlie Parker. “The dean of bass players” slowly bows his double bass, giving a classical feel to the opening, then sheaths his bow for some pure bebop magic to end this installment of Piano Jazz.

Click here to listen to Milt Hinton on NPR Piano Jazz 1991