Category: B

Jon Batiste: Staying Human

jonBatisteNearly everything about Jonathan Batiste is steeped in New Orleans—from the way he talks, walks, and claps his hands to the way he plays the piano, composes, and leads his Stay Human Band. So, it’s surprising to consider he’s actually spent most of his adult life in New York City, having arrived in 2004 when he was a teenager to study at Juilliard. Since then, he’s been making a firm connection with the City, including a close association with National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Oh, and as of a week ago, he is also Stephen Colbert’s bandleader on the new Late Show. Here is a recent reprint of a great interview he did with AllAboutJazz in 2013. From the interview:

Batiste’s work at Jazz at Lincoln Center ties in with another New Orleans connection of his —and here we have to make clear that in saying “New Orleans,” we’re using a bit of shorthand. Batiste actually hails from Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of the New Orleans metro area, which also happens to be the hometown of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

“I don’t know another person in New York who’s from Kenner,” says Batiste. “We have that mutual connection. The Batistes and the Marsalises are very big musical families in the New Orleans area. We went to the same schools and had a lot of the same instructors. I met him in New Orleans as a kid, and then when I came to Juilliard, I started to play with him, and over time I started to do concerts with Jazz at Lincoln Center.”

Click here to read Jon Batiste: Staying Human

George Benson has no plans to hang up guitar

georgeBensonToday a new interview with the great George Benson from Jim Gilchrist in this past Sunday’s Scotsman. The interview covers his thoughts on the playing and recording of his huge hit This Masquerade, influences like Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, and his early decision not to join Miles Davis’ band. From the interview, here he is on his love for Nat King Cole:

 “When I was young, Nat King Cole was the quintessential African-American singer in the United States. Everybody loved Nat. He had great variety in his music – romanticism, great musicianship – and I said to myself that if I ever became anybody in the music business, I wanted to be like that.”

Benson has sometimes been described as Nat King Cole with a guitar, a label which he says flatters him, while stressing that he in no way compares himself to Cole, who died in 1965: “I think he inspired anything good that has happened to me, but he was a very special individual and his gifts were exclusive to him.”

Click here to read George Benson has no plans to hang up guitar

Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

burtBacharachBurt Bacharach has written more than 600 songs and more than 70 Top 40 hits. In 1957, Bacharach met fellow songwriter Hal David, and the two began a collaboration that would result in some of the most memorable songs of their day, many of which have an adventurous and jazz-inspired sense of harmony and rhythm, cleverly disguised as simple pop songs!

In this NPR Piano Jazz session from 2005, Bacharach discusses his early years, his collaborations, and performs some of his most famous numbers, such as “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Close to You.” 


  • “Alfie” (Bacharach, David)
  • “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (Bacharach, David)
  • “This Guy’s In Love With You” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (Bacharach, David)
  • “What The World Needs Now Is Love” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Portrait Of Burt Bacharach” (McPartland)
  • “The Windows Of The World” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Close To You” (Bacharach, David)

Click here to listen to Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

Four part JazzWax interview with Gary Burton

garyBurtonToday I’m linking to a four part interview from Marc Myers Jazzwax with the great innovator Gary Burton. Along with being a fusion pioneer, he helped popularize the four mallet playing technique on the vibes and championed the idea of the jazz duet (most recently with Chick Corea on 2012’s Hot House). From the interview:

JW: What was it like working with Shearing?
GB: It was an interesting challenge and experience for me. George did not believe in lengthy solos. Everyone got to play one chorus on any song. You had about 30 seconds to solo.

JW: Did that become a problem?
GB: For me, coming from my student days of five-minute solos, I didn’t know how to do this. At first I tried to play a million things. But that didn’t work too well. Then I became philosophical about it, playing smaller chunks rather than long stretches. With George, I learned how to get into a solo immediately and pace it.

Click here to read JazzWax interview with Gary Burton: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four

—Peter Blasevick

International Jazz Day 2014: Dee Dee Bridgewater: Jazz & Human Rights

Today, one more interview from International Jazz Day 2014. On April 30, the world celebrated International Jazz Day with a day of music, talks, workshops and an All-Star Global Concert from Osaka, Japan. Included in the festivities were jazz greats such as  Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding, T.S.Monk, Kenny Garrett, Courtney Pine, and so many others. 

This discussion features Associated Press journalist and writer Charles Gans interviewing celebrated vocalist and Broadway actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, who discusses Billie Holiday, the role of jazz in the worldwide struggle for human rights, and a host of other topics in this hour long discussion. She is also wearing a bad pair of cowboy boots.

—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

Gary Bartz Talks About Drug Use Among Jazz Greats

Here is a very interesting video interview from iRockJazz on a topic that jazz musicians don’t often like to discuss: legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz talks about drug use among jazz greats, how he got hooked, kicking the habit and the effects on the music.

—Peter Blasevick

Giants of Jazz: Tony Bennett in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

tonyBennettToday a cool two-part interview with the legendary Tony Bennett from the CBC Radio-Canada archive.

The exact date of this interview is not known, but it is almost certainly from the mid-’60s when Bennett was one of many big acts that came to Vancouver to play with the fine house band in residence at the Cave Supper Club on Hornby Street.

Bennett expressed gratitude to singer Perry Como for supporting his earliest forays into television.

Bennett’s great respect for arrangers is evident in this interview. Among the many names he drops in the conversation is that of Robert Farnon, a Toronto-born arranger, orchestrator and conductor who was admired by Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and others.

Click here to listen to Giants of Jazz: Tony Bennett in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive Part 1 and Part 2

—Peter Blasevick

For Alvin Batiste’s 81st Birth Anniversary, A WKCR Interview From 1987

308825587_332a9a1922_oHere is a great interview with master clarinetist and educator Alvin Batiste conducted by Ted Panken for WKCR radio in 1987. Batiste discusses New Orleans and his formative years in great detail as well as other jazz greats such as the Marsalis family and Ornette Coleman. From the interview:

Q: Tell me about how you first entered into music.  Was it always a part of your life?

AB: Well, I can remember very vividly one Easter Sunday, I think I was about five years old, and my mother had gotten me one of these little white suits that kids at that time were wearing in Louisiana, whether you were Catholic or Protestant.  And a parade passed by my house.  I was living in a section of town called Holly Grove.  And parades didn’t pass that often, so I followed the parade, and I was with the parade all day — if you can imagine a five-year-old kid.  They fed me… And they had canals during that time that took care of the sewage and stuff, and so when the water would go in the canal there would be an algae.  And I slipped down and messed up my little pants.  But I got back home at about nine o’clock and got a good one!  But I think that’s when I was bit.

Click here to read For Alvin Batiste’s 81st Birth Anniversary, A WKCR Interview From 1987

Mike Brecker: Music Is What I Do!

michaelBreckerHere is a cool 1973 Downbeat interview with Michael Brecker when he and his brother Randy were with the Horace Silver Quintet that I found this posted on the Mosaic Records blog, which always has cool postings. From the interview conducted by Herb Nolan:

“Actually, I never really studied music in school and I never went to music school, but I did have some really good teachers…

“Most of what I’ve learned, I’ll have to admit, comes from listening to records and from a few people in New York who really influenced me a lot like Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman. There are some other guys in New York nobody knows about who I think are great. I love the way they play. Bob Berg, a tenor player, is one, and Bob Mover, alto, who’s playing with Mingus now, he’s really good.”

Click here to read Mike Brecker: Music Is What I Do!

—Peter Blasevick