Category: C

Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Innovator Ornette Coleman

OrnetteColeman

Jazz legend Ornette Coleman left us earlier this month, and here is a great retrospective piece from NPR’s Fresh Air. Included in the piece are parts of earlier interviews with his former bandmates Charlie Haden and Don Cherry, his son Denardo Coleman, and two with Ornette himself.

In the interviews, among other topics, Coleman discusses the early days with his quartet and their residence at the Five Spot in NYC. At one point Ornette says “Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, they all came by.” He goes on to relate how one night after they were done with a set, Leonard Bernstein just jumped up on the bandstand and started hugging everyone in the band. Wow.

Click here to listen to Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Innovator Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman at Bonnaroo, 2008

“To tell you the truth, I never think about the subject of what I’m doing, I only think about the quality of what I’m doing,” says jazz legend Ornette Coleman in response to a question about playing in front of a mainly rock and roll audience at the Bonnaroo festival in 2008. Coleman proceeds to touch on music as religion, healing through music, his philosophy of harmolodics, his Pulitzer Prize winning 2007 album Sound Grammar, and a lot more, all packed into this 5:39 minute interview! Please do yourself a favor and well-spend your next five or so minutes watching it.

—Peter Blasevick

Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

larryCoryellA true jazz pioneer, guitarist Larry Coryell was one of the earliest musicians to experiment with the fusion of jazz and rock styles. Early on he performed with Chico HamiltonGary Burton, and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra headed by Mike Mantler and Carla Bley. He also helped organize one of the first jazz-rock groups, the Free Spirits, with saxophonist Jim Pepper, drummer Bob Moses, pianist Mike Nock and bassist Chris Hills. In 1967 Coryell and saxophonist Steve “The Count” Marcus broke further ground in fusion with Count’s Rock Band. All About Jazz fusion editor Todd S. Jenkins spoke with Coryell in 2001 about his art, his role in fusion’s development, and his then renewed collaboration with saxophonist Marcus. Here Coryell discusses their musical bond:

“A lot of this stuff, because we both admired Coltrane, we were doing some of the newer, current ideas that were coming out of the Coltrane-type school in the late 60s. Taking small groups of notes and extrapolating and repeating them, we both had a tendency to do that before we even knew each other. So when we came together as a front line, there were so many important things in common from a mechanical standpoint as well as a conceptual standpoint, that all you had to add was the fact that we’re two kindred spirits. That’s why that rapport is there, no matter how big the gap of time between playing events. It’s always there. It’s like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. They could be apart for ten years, come back and be right there again.”

Click here to read Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

Conversations with Jimmy Cobb

In today’s post, the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series at SubCulture in New York continues as Dr. David Schroeder interviews legendary jazz drummer and member of Miles Davis’s band Jimmy Cobb on Nov 22nd, 2014. Cobb discusses his time with Miles, being largely self-taught, his first arrival in New York, his opportunity to play with Charlie Parker, and a lot more in this hour-long interview. Great stuff!

—Peter Blasevick

Video interview with Ray Charles from North Sea Jazz Festival 1997

Here is a quick video interview with the eternally hip Ray Charles. NTR / Radio 6 reporter Co de Kloet interviews Ray Charles backstage at the North Sea Jazz festival in 1997 where they discuss blending different styles, spontaneity, expressing emotion in music, and keeping songs new and fresh.

—Peter Blasevick

Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

Today, a nice long interview with drummer Billy Cobham from the UK National Jazz Archive. The Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader talks to Les Tomkins in 1974 about New York, being a bandleader, jazz as ‘dance music’, live performance, and a lot more. From the interview:

Do you regard it as important to make the amount of preparations that you do for your stage act?

Sure, it’s extremely important, and we’re nowhere near where I’d like us to be. We need strong sound equipment, and people that are competent to handle it, plus good lighting people that are competent to work in collaboration with the band and the sound. It’s a matter of time; if we can last out through the natural elements that are against us, it’ll work out.

Normally, though, do you not prepare before the show starts? Only at the Rainbow more than an hour elapsed between the two parts of the programme, before you were ready to come on and play.

Now, that’s a problem that’s a technical one. It’s also a problem of poor planning on the part of promoters who put on shows. If a promoter knows that he doesn’t have a large enough stage to handle both bands, or enough people to take care of the equipment, the worst thing he can do is to accept an opening act that is as big as his star attraction, because it means that the show is not gonna move as smoothly as it could. Therefore, with that, you have a lot of problems.

Click here to read Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

—Peter Blasevick

Coltrane on Coltrane

johnColtraneToday would have been the great John Coltrane‘s 88th birthday. Besides listening to his indescribable music, here’s a good way to celebrate: a 1960 piece from Downbeat magazine that he wrote in the first person in collaboration with Don DeMicheal. From the interview, Trane on Monk:

Working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I felt I learned from him in every way—through the senses, theoretically, technically. I would talk to Monk about musical problems, and he would sit at the piano and show me the answers just by playing them. I could watch him play and find out the things I wanted to know. Also, I could see a lot of things that I didn’t know about at all.

Monk was one of the first to show me how to make two or three notes at one time on tenor. (John Glenn, a tenor man in Philly, also showed me how to do this. He can play a triad and move notes inside it—like passing tones!) It’s done by false fingering and adjusting your lip. If everything goes right, you can get triads. Monk just looked at my horn and “felt” the mechanics of what had to be done to get this effect.

I think Monk is one of the true greats of all time. He’s a real musical thinker—there’s not many like him. I feel myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him. If a guy needs a little spark, a boost, he can just be around Monk, and Monk will give it to him.

Click here to read Coltrane on Coltrane

—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

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