Archive: December, 2013

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

herbieHancockLiving legend Herbie Hancock recently talked with “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell about receiving the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors, his influence on rap music and his catalog of over 100 albums. From the interview, he remembers playing a wrong chord while with Miles Davis:

“I hit a wrong chord. It was amazing.  And– Miles is playing his solo, getting to the peak of his solo and then, I played this chord that was so wrong. It was so wrong,” he said. “I thought I had just, like … a house of cards and I just destroyed them all, you know?  And Miles just took a breath and he played some notes that made my chord right.”

Click here to read Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

—Peter Blasevick

Rashied Ali (1935 – 2009), multi-directional drummer, speaks

rashiedAliHere is a cool transcript from a 1990 interview with drummer Rashied Ali that was conducted by Howard Mandel for the documentary The World According to John Coltrane. As you’d imagine, they mostly cover Coltrane, but there is a lot to read here about a number of different topics. From the interview, Ali speaks about playing on the same bandstand with Elvin Jones:

HM: Why did Coltrane want another drummer? What did he hear?

RA: Because he was in a drummer thing. He just wanted to free himself from playing these strict changes. The bass player and the piano player would lay these chords down, you know, and he played just about everything he could play on these chords. He played ‘em upside down. He’d turn ‘em around. He played ‘em sideways. He did just about everything he could to ‘em. And playing with the drums he didn’t have to deal with chord changes and keys and stuff like that. So he was free to play however he wanted to play. There were times I played with Trane, he had a battery of drummers, like about three conga players, guys playing batas, shakers and barrels and everything. On one of his records he did that. At the Village Vanguard, live, we had a whole bunch of drummers plus the traps. And then sometimes he would have double traps. Like in Chicago, I played double traps with a young drummer  coming up there, named Jack DeJohnette.

Click here to read Rashied Ali (1935 – 2009), multi-directional drummer, speaks

—Peter Blasevick

It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!

barryHarrisPianist and educator Barry Harris is a true jazz treasure. To celebrate his 84th birthday (ok, two days late), a link to a few interviews posted by Ted Panken for a Downbeat article, one from 1999 and two from 2000. Here is Harris talking about Charlie Parker:

TP:    Any anecdote about when you played with Charlie Parker.

HARRIS:  He was beautiful to us.  I think the best experience that I always tell people is he was playing with strings one time at the Forest Club, which was a roller rink.  It was a dance at this time, and we stood in front, and the strings started, and the most spoiling thing of all was that when he started playing chills just went all through, starting on your toes, and went on through your body, man.  It was everything imaginable.  Orgasms, everything to us.  It’s really a spoiler, because I don’t like to go listen to people because I’m expecting somebody to make me feel like that.

TP:    Did Bird have a huge sound in person?

HARRIS:  Oh yeah.  I remember one time when he was at the Crystal, he was at the back of the room when Lee Konitz had come in and was sitting in with him.  (?)Emperor Nero(?) was playing alto, too.   Bird was over to the side, in the back by the kitchen or something, and Bird just started playing from there.  He had a great big sound.  Gene Ammons used to do that, too.  He’d stand in the back of the Club Valley… Frank Foster, Leo Osbold(?), Billy Mitchell maybe were at the mike playing.  He was up… There was some kind of thing that went up at the top, he started playing — he had a great big sound.  He always let me sit in with him.  When I was very young, he used to make Junior Mance get up and let me sit in with him.  I always loved to see him come to town, because he was one cat really I could sit in with.

Click here to read It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!

Two Jim Hall interviews from Downbeat

jimHallVery sad to hear of the passing of the great Jim Hall. In going back through the archives I was surprised to see I’ve never posted an interview with him! Here are two nice pieces on Hall from Downbeat Magazine, one from 1962 and the second from 1965. In this excerpt, Hall discusses his early time with Sonny Rollins:

“I was living on 49th Street with another guitar player, Park Hill, and sleeping on the floor,” he recalled. “Sonny had heard me somewhere and, since I had no phone, came on up to 49th St. and left me the invitation. He didn’t have a phone either so I went downtown to Grand St. with a note accepting.

“It was a tremendously rewarding year with Sonny. I learned more from him, and was inspired more by him, than anyone in recent years. He is such a virtuoso that it scares you to be on the same bandstand. I felt I had to practice every day so that I wouldn’t let Sonny down. I produced because I was scared of Sonny.

“The way he can project to an audience musically is fantastic. And he can sail in and out of different keys at random and at breakneck tempos. He and Bill Evans are the only virtuosos I’ve ever played with.”

Click here to read Jim Hall: Form/Function/Fulfillment

Click here to read The Unassuming Jim Hall

—Peter Blasevick

Pat Metheny podcast: 80/81

patMethenyThe great guitarist Pat Metheny talks about the music, musicians and recording of his 1980 album 80/81 recorded with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman, and Michael Brecker.

Pat talks a lot about saxophonist Brecker and his performance on “Every Day (I Thank You)” in this podcast from his own website. A great listen.

Click here to listen to Pat Metheny podcast: 80/81

—Peter Blasevick

Herbie Hancock: Inspired By the Written Word of a Friend

herbieHancockHere is a cool 2007 interview with the great Herbie Hancock from AllAboutJazz. Hancock covers a number of topics, including his at-the-time new album River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to the music of an old friend and colleague, Joni Mitchell which he recorded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke and singers Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Luciana Souza, Corinne Bailey Rae, Leonard Cohen, and Mitchell herself. From the interview:

AAJ: The musicians, I know your association with them, Wayne and Dave and everybody else. You chose those guys when other people might have thought that you would have chosen people from the pop world or folk world, something that people assume in Joni’s world.

HH: The reason I didn’t do that is because I don’t have to do that. [laughs] [Pop musicians] might be obvious choices, but then she’s already done that. Why would I do the same things she’s already done? What made sense to me that could be interesting—my foundation is in jazz and I’m recording it for Verve as my next jazz record. Why not have a context that’s more associated with jazz. How would that work? That would be more of an interesting challenge. It would pretty much ensure that we wouldn’t be re-inventing the wheel. You try and re-invent the wheel of songs that somebody not only wrote but they played on, and were an important part of the process of the sound of the record, the arrangements. I knew Joni was the source of those arrangements, from knowing her and how she involves herself in the music. She was certainly there to make so many of those decisions about how she wanted to be rendered. For her records.

Click here to read Herbie Hancock: Inspired By the Written Word of a Friend

—Peter Blasevick

Two WKCR Interviews and a DownBeat Blindfold Test with Chico Hamilton

chicoHamiltonThe great drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton passed away last week at the age of 92. As he so often does, Ted Panken pulled a number of interviews from his archive in order to post a wonderful tribute on his blog. The two cover virtually every topic you can think of in these pieces, including this about tap-dancers!:

TP:    Did you ever play with any tap dancers?

CH:    Did I ever play with any tap dancers!  Quite a few, as a matter of fact.  There was a tremendous dance team by the name of the Berry Brothers, there was a tremendous team named the Nicholas Brothers.  I kept time for them.  I think I played with Baby Lawrence at one time or another.  When you were in the big bands, that’s what you did.   You played for all those dancers.  Most bands when they were on the road, they were with a show.  There was a complete show.  They would have dancers and singers and things like that.  So you had to learn to play for dancers, which is an art within itself.  But laying down taps on one of my records… The last album I did, Dancing To A Different Drummer, I simulate a tap dancer dancing.  I do a brush solo, which is the same kind of thing, same kind of groove.

Click here to read Two WKCR Interviews and a DownBeat Blindfold Test with Chico Hamilton

—Peter Blasevick