Archive: May, 2014

Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

haroldMabernHere is an interesting interview with the great Harold Mabern speaking about his time with Wes Montgomery during Wes’ 1965 tour and his famous “625 Alive” appearance on the BBC. Mabern had some great reflections in his time with Wes, including some insight into Wes’ practicing. Interview by Tim Fitzgerald:

TF: Have you heard that quote where Wes says something like, “I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat?”
HM: Well, I think I heard that quote too, yeah. But no, he practiced. He had a sense of humor too, you know? But he was always practicing. I know for a fact he was always practicing. I’d go out and come by his room and hear him, and I wouldn’t disturb him. He put a lot of time on the instrument.

Mabern also spoke of what Wes was like as a bandleader:

HM:…He was not greedy at all. He was not greedy money-wise. He was not greedy musically speaking. He was a great, great human being. So that’s why when you see that tape, those things we did, that’s why the music probably sounds so good because everybody was on the same page trying to do the right thing, and it comes through the music…

Click here to read Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

—Peter Blasevick

2014 Interview with Bob Cranshaw

bobCranshawJust this morning Ethan Iverson posted a new interview he conducted with longtime Sonny Rollins bassist Bob Cranshaw. Great questions (as always) from Ethan and a really interesting and long talk. Here is Bob talking about coming to NYC with his group in 1960:

EI:  You felt like New York musicians didn’t accept your group?

BC:  They were not warm. There was just a funny feeling, but it really set me up. Some of the guys that I became really close to once I was here were some of the guys that just seemed kind of, “Eh…” It was like, “Well, we’re from Chicago.” I’m sure you’ve gone through some of it here. “Well, you’re not the New York [guy]. You’re not the ‘in’ guy,” all of those things. At that point, I said, “Okay. They don’t want me? They got me. Somebody is gonna have to move over.” That was my attitude. Somebody just gotta move.

Click here to read 2014 Interview with Bob Cranshaw

—Peter Blasevick

Bill Frisell in Fretboard Journal 2008

billFrisellHere is a cool 2008 interview with guitarist and innovator Bill Frisell from Danny Barnes and Fretboard Journal. They discuss everything from gear to composing to practicing to living in New York…a whole bunch of good stuff. From the interview:

DB: When you were learning, were there any particular books that got you to a new place? The Nicolas Slonimsky book or any textbooks?

BF: I played clarinet in school. That was my first instrument, and everything I did on that was just looking at music and reading. The guitar came along later, and I learned it on my own in the beginning. It was just playing by ear, playing along with records and playing with my friends. The whole way I came about playing music on the guitar, in the beginning anyway, was a completely different path. Clarinet was this real intellectual thing: I’d see this note on the page and then I learned how to push the right button to make that happen. With my guitar playing, I met [guitarist and teacher] Dale Bruning at the very end of high school, and he helped me to bring the two things together a little more. There were these books that I used, I think they were saxophone books, maybe by Lennie Niehaus. They were exercises written for saxophone players, certain kinds of phrases and slurs, jazzy-sounding saxophone solos. And I guess that was a moment where I was kind of bridging that gap from just playing by ear to being able to read on the guitar. I went through all those books. Now I have shelves full of books that I mean to do stuff out of, but they’re all just waiting around for someday.

Click here to read Bill Frisell in Fretboard Journal 2008

Quick Note: Australian independent film maker Emma Franz is making a documentary about the music and life of Bill Frisell. She is finishing up the project and is raising funds for the final editing and music licensing. Check out a clip from the footage and the project itself, it looks really great:

—Peter Blasevick

NEA Jazz Masters: Interview with Cedar Walton

One of the great hard bop pianists, Cedar Walton was also known for his compositions, some of which have become jazz standards, such as “Bolivia,” “Clockwise,” and “Firm Roots.” A.B. Spellman spoke with Mr. Walton in 2010 about his musical journey from Dallas to New York to the world stage and being named an NEA Jazz Master.

—Peter Blasevick

Sonny Rollins: ‘You Can’t Think And Play At The Same Time’

sonnyRollinsThe legendary Sonny Rollins released the third installment of his Road Shows series of live albums last week, and he spoke with NPR about why he prefers recording live to in the studio these days. From the interview:

What’s hard for you about listening to older recordings of yourself?

Well, the older recordings I don’t mind so much, because in those days — you know, when I was recording with J.J. Johnson and Bud Powell and all those great people — we just went in the studio for a short time, and we knew that was it. We rose to the occasion without any afterthought or forethought; we just went in there and recorded. Now, it’s a lot different. When I was in the recording studio over at Fantasy [Records] for many years, I had the option of listening back and doing another take, and I did five, ten takes. That sort of changed the dynamic.

Click here to read or listen to Sonny Rollins: ‘You Can’t Think And Play At The Same Time’

—Peter Blasevick

Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview

garyHusbandHere is a three part 2013 interview with drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband from AllAboutJazz. In part one Husband speaks of his formative years, talks at length of his decades-long relationship with Allan Holdsworth, discusses Jack Bruce and Gary Moore, and speaks about his solo piano recordings. Part two covers working with John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Wayne Krantz, Jimmy Herring, Mike Stern, Steve Hackett, Steve Topping, Neil Taylor, and more. Part three focuses in on his latest project with Gary Husband on piano and Alex Machecek on electric guitar. He also discusses his work with Billy Cobham.

Click here to listen to Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview Part One, Part Two, Part Three

—Peter Blasevick

For Ron Carter’s 77th Birthday, a DownBeat Feature From Two Years Ago

ronCarterBass maestro Ron Carter turned 77 yesterday. Ted Panken posted a feature piece that DownBeat assigned me to write two years ago in response to his entry into the DB Hall of Fame. Some interesting insights about Carter’s early days and his career. From the interview:

“Jazz was always in the air at school, but it wasn’t my primary listening,” Carter said. “I had other responsibilities—the concert band, the marching band, the orchestra [Carter played cello exclusively from ages 10-17], my chores at home, and maintaining a straight-A average. We were playing huge orchestrations of Strauss and Beethoven and Brahms, and the Bach Cantatas with all these voices moving in and out.”  Midway through Carter’s senior year, it became clear to him that more employment would accrue if he learned to play the bass, a decision reinforced when he heard “Blue Haze,” a blues in F on which Miles Davis’ solo unfolds over a suave Percy Heath bassline and Art Blakey’s elemental beat on the hi-hat, ride cymbal, and bass drum. “I was fascinated to hear them making their choices sound superb with the bare essentials,” Carter said. “These three people were generating as much musical logic in six to eight choruses as a 25-minute symphony with 102 players.”

Click here to read For Ron Carter’s 77th Birthday, a DownBeat Feature From Two Years Ago

—Peter Blasevick

JazzWax interview: Chick Corea in 2011

chickCoreaMarc Myers from JazzWax interviewed the great Chick Corea on the eve of the pianists 70th birthday in 2011. It’s a big three parter, and it covers, as Myers says, all “20 different jazz careers” Corea has had. From the interview:

JW: Much has been written about Bob Dylan going electric in 1965 and the uproar. Miles Davis did the same thing with jazz and so did you, generating similar hostility. How do you feel about those years looking back?

CC: The sound of jazz began to change during the time I was in Miles’ band. Before joining Miles, I had been pretty much a purist in my tastes. I loved Miles and John Coltrane and all the musicians who surrounded them. But I didn’t look much further into rock or pop. I listened to a little bit of classical music, but that was it for me. When Miles began to experiment, I became aware of rock bands and the energy and the different type of communication they had with audiences during a show…

Click here to read JazzWax interview: Chick Corea in 2011

—Peter Blasevick