Archive: April, 2013

In conversation with Sonny Rollins

Today, a great 2009 interview with the legendary Sonny Rollins From Stuart Nicolson and Jazz.com. Topics the great tenor saxophonist covers here are greats Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, his theory of improvisation, and more. From the interview, on improvising:

sonnyRollinsIn fact, in a way, improvisation is making the mind blank. When I’m playing, I’m in a trance. I’m not thinking of anything. Sometimes I’ve thought about a nice pattern I wanted to play, maybe a little riff on the song. It’s very clever and I’d think about it and go, ‘Oh yeah, this song I’ll put in this clever riff, it’ll really sound clever, everybody will think I’m clever!’ But I can’t do it, because when I think about putting it in someplace, the music has gone by so fast that it doesn’t work, so I just forget it. Just absorb it and it comes out at some weird time and for some weird reason from the subconscious, so I’ll play it, but don’t try to manage it and put it in to a solo. So that’s what I have learned about music about improvisation and it’s beautiful. I think somebody told me Miles [Davis] said something like that, he learns something and he forgets it because you can’t be creative if you know too much about what you’re doing.

Click here to read In conversation with Sonny Rollins

Esperanza Spalding: The Intimate Balance

Here is a September 2010 AllAboutJazz interview with the very talented bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding. In the piece she discusses jazz and classical, her album Chamber Music Society, and being a musician and singer both. From the interview:

AAJ : Where does Esperanza the singer start and the musician end?

ES: That’s a good question—I never saw it like that, I guess. It’s not organized in my mind at all, really. I’m just going for what needs to be done, whether that means singing in a track or not, or I don’t know… You caught me off guard! It doesn’t really go with the way that I’m operating with my music. I certainly feel like all the elements, singing and playing, they’re really part of the same motivation, which for me comes out of composition: that’s my main passion, and what I really think rules everything else. It all comes from there. 

Click here to read Esperanza Spalding: The Intimate Balance

—Peter Blasevick

Chick Corea interviewed by Billy Taylor

Here is a cool CBS Sunday morning segment on pianist Chick Corea featuring clips of his Akoustic Band and Elektric Band. Dr. Billy Taylor interviewed Chick for this show in the mid 1980s and both the interviews and live clips are fantastic. You even meet Chick’s mother!

If anyone can help with an exact dating of this interview, please shoot me an email.

—Peter Blasevick

Jacob Collier: Multi-instrumentalist and music Genius

If you haven’t yet checked out Jacob Collier, do so. Right now.

In this 2012 interview with the Brazilian website Falafil, the singer, multi-instrumentalist, and all around prodigy discusses his famous videos, his family, the Royal Academy of Music, and other topics. From the interview:

You are a winning self-taught multi-instrumentalist. How and when you discovered your interest and natural talent for music?

I have been interested in and passionate about music every since I can remember. My mother inspired me from a very young age by playing her violin, and I often used to watch her conducting the chamber orchestra at the Royal Academy of Music. There were always instruments around my house, and I always loved to play, as well as to sing. I remember being given a Djembe drum when I was about eight, and loving it. I was introduced to Cubase software when I was about seven years old, and this enabled me to begin composing, arranging, and recording my music. I always loved to record singing in harmony, even at a young age.

Click here to read Jacob Collier: Multi-instrumentalist and music Genius

—Peter Blasevick

Five Joey DeFrancesco Videos

Here is a brand new (April 2013) five part video interview with organist Joey DeFrancesco from the JazzTimes YouTube Channel. The interviews were conducted by Irene Lee on board the 2013 Jazz Cruise and cover DeFrancesco’s musical education & development, his ideas about jazz education, the Jazz Cruise and his band, his current & future projects, and playing the trumpet & singing.

—Peter Blasevick

McCoy Tyner: NJN/State of the Arts Showcase 1995

Grammy Award winning jazz musician McCoy Tyner in a 1995 interview with State of the Arts host Amber Edwards. Tyner discusses his meteoric rise to fame when at the age of 17 he became part of the legendary John Coltrane Quartet along with his early years growing up in Philadelphia. Tyner performs solo renditions of Blue Stride and Flying High.

—Peter Blasevick

Stanley Clarke: Path Maker

Trailblazing bassist Stanley Clarke is as influential today as he was during the heyday of Chick Corea’s Return To Forever in the 1970s. Here is a lengthy interview he gave to AllAboutJazz in 2011. From the interview:

“…as a musician, I was only interested in sounding good. It didn’t matter, even in some cases, how much we were getting paid. We were just out there really trying to sound good and living up to the tradition of jazz music, and the guys that came before us. Like for instance, I didn’t really realize how big Return to Forever was until the last reunion that we did a couple of years ago. It was huge; we could have played any of those places two or three times, and we didn’t, because we said we couldn’t do it. But that was a pretty important band, and all those individuals have their own history.

“The great thing about Chick Corea, myself and [drummer] Lenny White, and not so much with [guitarist] Al Di Meola, is that we can go back to those guys. Chick and I played with Art Blakey; I played with Dexter Gordon, and we both played with Stan Getz; Lenny White played with Jackie McLean and a lot of older jazz musicians, so we had that in common. So whether we knew that was big, it’s not something you thought about; if I would have thought about it at the time, I wouldn’t have been with those people, I wouldn’t have played the way I did. It’s kinda like an oxymoron in concept, to have those two things together; a guy that thinks he is so big and there he is, playing at nineteen with Dexter Gordon. You’re so scared you can’t think of anything [laughs].”

Click here to read Stanley Clarke: Path Maker

Bobby McFerrin gets vocal

This is a typically honest and cerebral interview with one of my all-time favorite musicians, Bobby McFerrin. He spoke with UK’s the Guardian in 2010 and discussed his early days, conducting, and Ave Maria and his other viral YouTube hits. Here he talks about one of them:

Last year (2009), Bobby McFerrin was one of a panel of experts at the World Science festival in New York, discussing music and its relation to the brain. As assorted musicologists and psychologists discussed the brain’s expectations of music, McFerrin leapt from his chair to illustrate some of the theories. He jumped up and down on the spot and sang a note, getting the audience to sing along. He then moved to his left and got the audience to sing a higher note. Before long he was skipping around half-a-dozen positions, orchestrating a roomful of people purely by gesture. It’s an astonishing, hilarious performance, one that quickly became a viral hit on YouTube.

“I was just displaying how the pentatonic scale – that’s basically the black notes on the piano – appears to be hardwired into every culture on earth,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been doing as part of my solo shows for years, and it seems to work everywhere I go. I’ve always wanted to break down the line between performer and audience. We’re a roomful of strangers and music is the one thing that binds us together, makes us an instant community. I’d like to think that people leave my concerts realising that they know a lot more about music than they realised.”

 Click here to read Bobby McFerrin gets vocal 

Five Paul Desmond interviews and some extras

From the cool JazzProfessional website, here are five interviews with the iconic alto saxophonist Paul Desmond conducted by Les Tompkins. As always, Desmond is classy, funny, and articulate throughout. “The personality of Paul Desmond” and “The jazz audience” are from 1963, with Back in the crook”, “Giant jazzman, gentle wit…”, and Sax viewpoint” from 1972. Additionally there is a special tribute story from the time of Desmond’s death in 1977, and a page of Desmond quotes. 

From the first interview, Desmond on practicing:

“I feel the necessity for practice, but the results don’t generally justify it. I have a tendency to get bugged by some small thing when I start practising and do one of those Stephen Laycock retroactive bits for five or six hours, ending up playing one interval and working on the intonation or something. After about four hours I come to the job and I can’t play a note! So I’m really better off without practising. I either have to just make it playing the job or forget it. There isn’t time then to get introspective or critical and tear anything apart. You just have to keep going.”

 Click here to read Five Paul Desmond interviews and some extras

—Peter Blasevick

John Clayton with Don Wolff in 2011

Grammy Award winning Jazz Bassist, Composer and Conductor John Clayton visited with Don Wolff in 2011, and they discussed his career, and also the importance of Jazz Education, an area that Mr. Clayton sees as very important and for which he places much emphasis. Here is the great bassist, composer, and arranger on Milt Hinton:

“Oh gosh, he was such an inspiration. He’s a guy who really, really saw to it that the bass family remained a family. He was always taking time out to give anybody who was interested his time…he really exemplified the “jazz mentor”.

Click here to listen to John Clayton with Don Wolff in 2011

—Peter Blasevick