Archive: July, 2014

Hank Jones in the Village Voice 2008

hankJonesIt’s no secret that Hank Jones is one of my favorite pianists of all time, and since today would have been his 96th birthday, it seems a good a reason as any to post another interview of his! Here he is speaking with the Village Voice in 2008, shortly atet his 90th birthday celebration(s). From the interview:

VV: Reviewers have called your playing “eloquent” and “lyrical,” as well as “relaxed” and “understated.” Do any of those adjectives not feel right?

HJ: Well, I don’t know how eloquent I am, but I play, probably, in a relaxed and understated manner. Perhaps. Perhaps that suits my style. Of course, this varies from tune to tune, as you know, because you don’t play the same way on every tune. Certain tunes make you think a certain way and certain other tunes make you think another way. But in the aggregate I think my approach is really pretty relaxed and laidback, you might say.

Click here to read Hank Jones in the Village Voice 2008

—Peter Blasevick

Benny Goodman: The Complete 1982 Interview About Charlie Christian

bennyGoodman98 years ago today the legendary Charlie Christian was born in Bonham, Texas. While he lived only a short 25 years and there isn’t much out there in the way of first hand interviews with Charlie, there were always musicians who played with him that were willing to discuss his short but brilliant career. Here is a 1982 telephone interview with Benny Goodman conducted by Jas Obrecht on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Christian’s
passing. From the interview:

charlieChristianSome books now claim that Charlie was instrumental in pioneering bebop.

Well, that’s true, isn’t it?  Yeah. But to me, he sounded quite different than that. He wasn’t as hectic as bebop, as far as I’m concerned. But I can see the influence that I can imagine that some people would say he had over bop. His inventions, his harmonic structure – quite miraculous. There was a phrase in – what was it? [Sings several measures of Christian’s “Air Mail Special” solo.] Remember the release? Yeah. [Sings some “Air Mail Special” riffs.] Those kinds of phrases – extraordinary!

Click here to read Benny Goodman: The Complete 1982 Interview About Charlie Christian

—Peter Blasevick

For Dr. Billy Taylor’s 93rd Birthday Anniversary (1921-2010), An Uncut Blindfold Test from 2005

billyTaylorYesterday would have been Dr. Billy Taylor‘s 93rd birthday. Ted Panken posted an uncut blindfold test he did with the great pianist and educator for Downbeat in 2005. Some really great insights. From the interview, here is Taylor discussing fellow pianist Dave McKenna:

He used to live in the Poconos, and did a lot of stuff for Concord Records… Dave McKenna. I love his playing. He does this better than anybody I know. Those are some interesting lines he’s playing, man. They’re fascinating. Now, that’s a left hand! One of the things I pride myself in is what I do with the left hand, because it’s what I grew up with and I like to use it. But I love the way he used it, because that’s very personal. I remember years ago, when I first met Dave, I did a radio piece on him, and I was pointing out the fact that this was the most unique left hand I’d heard since Fats Waller. It was so personal and the way he did it was so effective as a contemporary way of doing basslines.

Click here to read For Dr. Billy Taylor’s 93rd Birthday Anniversary (1921-2010), An Uncut Blindfold Test from 2005

—Peter Blasevick

Al Di Meola: Telling it like it is

It’s Al Di Meola‘s 60th birthday today! In this 2003 interview, the jazz/fusion/classical/overall guitar virtuoso pulls no punches about his band, his composing, and his disgust with the state of the music business. From the interview conducted by Anil Prasad for Innerviews:

alDimeolaDo you have an overall philosophy as a band leader?  

Musicians must understand rhythm and syncopation in order to do this kind of music. It’s not really a philosophy, but just an understanding of the rhythmic concept I have and it sometimes needs to be drilled a lot. I think we’re getting close to it. The concept is playing off the quarter note. It’s also understanding that when you play syncopations off the quarter note that no matter how complex it may seem, the quarter note never ever sways one hair unless it’s intentionally meant to.  Generally, if we’re all playing together and one guy is feeling the quarter note in another place, it’s really apparent to me. It may not be for the listener, although I think the listener will feel something is awkward subconsciously. Understanding how to play off the quarter note without the quarter note ever moving is something that’s rare for musicians to really get. It’s not something you can really learn. You’re born with it. It’s in you and I have to get it out of them. But sometimes it’s not in them. Then you’ve got a problem.

Click here to read Al Di Meola: Telling it like it is 

—Peter Blasevick

Sonny Rollins in India – Learning Yoga and Why

Bret Primack, better known as JazzVideoGuy, is a treasure trove of great interviews, documentaries, and performances on YouTube, many of which feature the legendary Sonny Rollins. He recently posted a bunch more with the tenor great, including this one on Sonny’s 1967 trip to India, where he lived in an Ashram and studied Yoga. 

—Peter Blasevick

Charlie Haden and Keith Jarrett in 2010

The jazz world lost the great bassist Charlie Haden over the weekend. From Ornette Coleman to Quartet West to Diana Krall, he played with a long and varied list of great musicians over a long and productive career. I particularly like his work with Keith Jarrett, and here the two are discussing their 2010 duet project Jasmine.

—Peter Blasevick

Hank Mobley in Downbeat August 17, 1973

HankMobleyToday would have been the great Hank Mobley‘s 84th birthday. One of the truly underrated musicians in the history of jazz, the tenor saxophonist talked with Downbeat in the summer of 1973 about coming to New York, Horace Silver, Miles, Don Byas, and just about everything and everyone else in the 50s and 60s jazz scene. From the interview:

“To the best of my knowledge, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, myself, Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane, we called ourselves the ‘Five Brothers’, you know, the five black brothers. We all started playing alto, but Charlie Parker was such a monster that we all gave up and switched to tenor. I wasn’t creating anything new, I was just part of a clique. When we listened to Fats Navarro and Bud Powell, we were 20, 21, all of us were learning together. We weren’t trying to surpass Parker or the heavyweights. But as you get older you start finding different directions. At the time it was like going to college. It was just doing our thing. playing different changes, experimenting.

Click here to read Hank Mobley in Downbeat August 17, 1973

—Peter Blasevick

Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander: Getting Schooled

Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander have recorded 12 albums together—In this 2006 interview with Andrew Gilbert from JazzTimes, Mabern says it was already one of the longest collaborations of his career, and that was 8 years ago—and they’ve creates some of the great modern-day straight ahead jazz there is. Though initially it was a ‘taking the young cat under his wing’ type of situation, as Mabern had taught Alexander at William Paterson University, it quickly became a mutually beneficial partnership. From the interview:

haroldMabern“He’s given me so much leeway,” Mabern says. “On most of the records we’ve made, a lot of the songs on there were arranged and conceived by me as far as the introductions. We both feel the same way about the music. I always give him good obscure tunes that have been slighted. Like on this latest record, It’s All in the Game, there’s a tune ‘Bye Bye Baby’ from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Carol Channing that got by Coltrane, Johnny Griffin and George Coleman. It would have been made to order for them.”

ericAlexander

Photo by Sheldon Levy

“He’ll give you everything he’s got. That’s what really draws me to him,” says Alexander, 38. “A lot of people can’t deal with that. It’s too strong for them. And on occasion it’s been too strong for me, because he’ll come up with some stuff on the spur of the moment that might not be what you’re thinking of playing. You either have to have the ability to just roll over it, and not go with him and be confident about what you’re doing, or be able to go with him. If you can’t do either, you just get stopped in your tracks.”

Click here to read Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander: Getting Schooled

—Peter Blasevick