Archive: June, 2014

John Abercrombie: Searching For A Sound

johnAbercrombieThere are a series of interviews hosted by Dr. David Schoeder for NYU called the Steinhardt Interview Series that were done in 2009 and 2010 here. They are all great, and this one with John Abercrombie is no exception. From the interview:

“Basically the guitar is a piece of lumber. Some are made of a little better lumber than others, but it almost doesn’t matter. Once you put an electronic pickup in the guitar, and you have a cable, and you plug it into an amplifier that sits outside of you, your sound’s coming out of there… I can understand why the rock ‘n’ roll players need to use stacks of Marshall amps. This gives them what they want. They need to play that loud. They have to. That’s part of the sound. I didn’t need to play that loud, but I needed a sound, so I just had to try different things until I came up with it. I realized the guitar was the least important part in my sound. A lot of the possibilities come from whether it’s just a single amplifier with no reverberation, or whether it’s a stack of Marshalls, or whether it’s some sophisticated setup.”

Click here to read and listen to John Abercrombie: Searching For A Sound

—Peter Blasevick

An Audience With… Jeff Beck

jeffBeckToday is the great Jeff Beck‘s 69th birthday. The legendary guitarist made his name in the 60s playing with the Yardbirds, but cemented himself as one of the all-time greats when he released a string of rock-jazz-blues fusion albums in the 1970s. In this 2010 interview with Uncut, Beck answers questions submitted by fans and peers alike. Great stuff! From the Q&A session with John Lewis:

JL: Dear Jeff, if I knew how you play the guitar, I’d steal everything you do, but I don’t. Can you help me?
John McLaughlin

JB: Oh man, stop there. I can die happy. Johnny McLaughlin has given us so many different facets of the guitar. And introduced thousands of us to world music, by blending Indian music with jazz and classical. I’d say he was the best guitarist alive. When the band I had with Rod Stewart broke up, I was left wondering what to do. While the charts were full of stuff like “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”, I became aware of this underground music scene. And what hit me right between the eyes was John’s playing on Miles Davis’s A Tribute To Jack Johnson. That changed everything. After that, a new chapter of rock music was formed, with his blistering performances with The Mahavishnu Orchestra and everything else. And John’s been at it ever since. He’s a hard one to keep up with!

Click here to read An Audience With… Jeff Beck

—Peter Blasevick

A Fireside Chat With Horace Silver

horaceSliverSad news from the word of jazz that the legendary Horace Silver has died at the age of 85. As he was for so many others, he was a great favorite of mine, not just for the music, but also for his interesting and insightful commentary on the music he played. Here is an interview conducted by  Fred Jung posted to the AllAboutJazz site about 10 years ago. From the interview:

FJ: It has become a part of jazz lore, but as the story goes, very early in your career, you were struggling to move to New York, Stan Getz hired you and you were able to do so. 

HS: That’s pretty right. I had been saving my money to go to New York and try to make it in music. I got sick at that time and I had maybe seven hundred dollars in the bank and I had spent all that money on doctor bills. So I guess I used that as an excuse not to go because deep down within. I had a fear of going because what if I went down to New York and I didn’t make it? So I had procrastinated on going, although I had all this money saved up. Then when the medical bills came and I had spent all this money, it gave me an excuse not to make the move. But the good Lord was looking after me and Stan Getz came through Hartford and heard me and my trio and hired us. That was a blessing.

Click here to read A Fireside Chat With Horace Silver

—Peter Blasevick

‘Fresh Air’ Remembers Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott

jimmyScottJazz singer Jimmy Scott passed away last week at the age 88. Scott, who had a rare genetic condition that gave him his distinctive voice, was popular in ’50s but didn’t make any records between 1975 and 1992. Here he speaks with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air in 1992 about his comeback. From the interview:

GROSS: When you started singing, were there a lot of listeners who assumed you were a woman?

SCOTT: Yes. Yes. I had people play the records, after doing them with Lionel Hampton. And they’d have contests on the programs to have the public tell them who it was. And many people called women’s names. Finally, it was announced that it was not a woman, but it was myself whom was singing with Lionel Hampton at the time. I’ve even had people in the public question, is he really a guy, or is he – is that a woman standing there, you know? (Laughing) So those things have happened, you know. But being in the business, you learn that opinions are not supposed to affect the work you do in public, you know?

Click here to read and listen to ‘Fresh Air’ Remembers Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott

—Peter Blasevick

2010 Jim Hall interview from the Library of Congress

The great Jim Hall may have passed away this past December at the age of 83, but there are still plenty of places on the ol’ interweb machine to learn about the guitar legend. Here Hall talks about his life and music is a fantastic hour long interview with the Library of Congress’ Larry Appelbaum.

—Peter Blasevick

Brad Mehldau: Dragons & Dreams

bradMehldauIan Patterson at AllAboutJazz recently interviewed pianist Brad Mehldau about his experimental new duo album with drummer Mark Guiliana. Mehldau talks jazz, classic rock, and even being influenced by 70s TV theme songs:

“For sure. For me, “Theme from Mash,” but also “Eight is Enough,” I can still remember, I think the lyric was, ‘There’s a plate of homemade wishes, on the kitchen windowsill, and eight is enough, to fill our lives with joy.’ There’s a certain comfort mixed with melancholy to a lot of those themes—it’s not a cut and dry nostalgia for me.

Click here to read Brad Mehldau: Dragons & Dreams

—Peter Blasevick

Thad Jones and Mel Lewis 1969

thadJonesHere is a great talk with bandleaders Thad Jones and Mel Lewis speaking with Les Tomkins in 1969. They talk a lot about their legendary orchestra and its players and how fortunate the two of them have been in their careers. From the interview:

Lewis: I don’t think any two guys could be as lucky as Thad and I, as far as having something that you can be proud of till your dying day. The kind of thing you dream about. And most people would never attempt it, because they’d figure: “Oh, it couldn’t happen.” But it can. We’ve proved it—to ourselves, anyway. If somebody else doesn’t melLewisbelieve it, i doesn’t matter; we know it, and we’re two of the happiest guys in the world right now.

Jones: We’ve both been sidemen in other bands for practically all of our musical lives; we’ve never really done the things that we wanted to do as individuals. When you play with somebody else, you always try to fit that particular mould, to give what is in you to give within whatever’s going on. I worked for that bandleader; I gave him what he wanted. This is the type of attitude that I’ve come to expect; otherwise you’ll never be able to give one hundred per cent of you. And any band must do this, in order to be an orchestra, to play as one.

Click here to read Thad Jones and Mel Lewis 1969

—Peter Blasevick