Category: E

Two Duke Ellington interviews by Les Tomkins

dukeEllingtonHere are two interviews with the one and only Duke Ellington originally from Les Tomkins and now hosted at the UK National Jazz Archive. Tomkins molded a number of different interviews and discussions conducted between 1964 and 1973 into these two pieces, which are written in monologue style. Ellington discusses everything from his early years to his arranging to performing at Westminster Abbey. From the interviews:

We’ve had a lot of wonderful people in the band, you know, from time to time—Ben Webster, Blanton, Shorty Baker, Clark Terry, Barney Bigard. Who else? So many wonderful guys. And even Bechet played with us in 1926. He and Bubber Miley used to have what we call cutting contests. One would go out and play ten choruses then the other would do the same. And while one was on the other would be back getting a little taste, to get himself together, and a few new ideas. It was really something. Too bad we don’t have all that on tape today.

Click here to read Interview One: Looks Back – and Forward

Click here to read Interview Two: On Sacred Music

—Peter Blasevick

Two part Jack Reilly Interview 2003

Acclaimed for his solo jazz concerts and trio dates in the US and in Europe, Jack Reilly is a vibrant exhilarating pianist. His recordings and books—three volumes on jazz improvisation entitled Species Blues and the nationally acclaimed book The Harmony of Bill Evans—confirm the scope of Jack ‘s talents and versatility.

jackReillyThis interview was conducted by pianist (and BillEvansWebpages webmaster) Jan Stevens in the music room of Jack’s home in the New Jersey shore area. A long and complex discussion of Bill Evans music followed. From the interview:

J.S. So, tell us when you first met Bill Evans, and maybe you can give us a couple of details.

REILLY: Well, I should say I first heard him in ’52. I was in the U.S. Navy; he was in the Army. We both were stationed at the Washington D.C. School of Music. That’s where you go if you’re a musician, and in the service and they teach you music for military functions, dance band stuff, etc. And I just happened to be walking down a hall, and I heard this incredible piano playing coming from a practice room, and I looked through the peep hole in the door, and it’s this guy who looked like a librarian playing, sounding like Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell, George Shearing. But he had his own linear concept going already and it was cookin’ like mad. And it was only solo piano! He was practicing, and I stood there for about 10 minutes or so and wound up getting captain’s [unintelligible] for neglecting to go to my class. Of course it was a school, you know, we all had to take classes, except Bill, they just let him do whatever he wanted ’cause he was so advanced at the time.

Click here to read Two part Jack Reilly Interview 2003

—Peter Blasevick

The Hal Galper Interview 2002

halGalperPianist, composer, publisher, educator, and author Hal Galper has somewhere around 100 recordings to his credit, many as a leader. Best known for his work with Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley, John Scofield and the Phil Woods Quintet, his recordings as a leader with Mike and Randy Brecker are considered among his best.

In continuing with a concentration on Bill Evans, here is an interview by Jan Stevens posted on the BillEvansWebpages which was conducted over a period of several weeks in April 2002 mostly in email, and after several phone conversations. In it, Galper shares his vast knowledge of and his love for the music of Bill Evans. From the interview:

What do you feel was Bill’s influence on your own playing personally, and how did that come about? And how did it change the way you approached voicings or perhaps rhythmic displacement ?

I was attracted to his harmonic conception but not his lines. I tried a few of his voicings but a truth I learned when I was copying Red Garland raised it’s ugly head again: what you play on any instrument will be dictated by the sound you get on it, i.e., one’s touch. When I played Red’s or Bill’s voicings, I had to either add or subtract notes to make them sound good with my hands.

Click here to read The Hal Galper Interview 2002

—Peter Blasevick

Bill Evans with Martin Perlich 1978

billEvansContinuing with the Bill Evans theme this week, here is a two part audio interview with the great pianist conducted by the legendary interviewer Martin Perlich in 1978. From the introduction:

The interview with jazz immortal Bill Evans was special in many ways. Commissioned by Warner Brothers Records who had just created a Jazz and Progressive Music division, they wanted me to get Bill to talk about how close his music was to rock; “…sell it to the kids!” This was, of course, impossible, but gamely I stuck out my jaw, fielded his words of one syllable answers in the negative and went on to his experiences in classical music as a kid, and in Jazz, especially stories about Miles Davis. The most important “special” aspect was that I place my Nakamichi 500 next to him on his bed and took up a suitable position on the floor.

Click here to listen to Bill Evans with Martin Perlich 1978 Part 1

Click here to listen to Bill Evans with Martin Perlich 1978 Part 2

—Peter Blasevick

Bill Evans in Molde, Norway, 1980

Bill Evans week at TNYDP!

In the summer of 1980, Evans’ last trio (with Marc Johnson, Joe LaBarbera) was in the midst of a European tour which had them for two weeks at the famed Ronnie Scott’s in London, as well as performances in Germany, Belgium, Norway and Italy. On August 9th, after a performance at the Molde Jazz Festival , the pianist granted a brief interview after the concert, filmed for Norweiegan television. (the interviewer’s name is not known). I’m linking to both the transcription (hosted at the video interview.

Click here to read Bill Evans in Molde, Norway, 1980

—Peter Blasevick

Bill Evans – Time Remembered: An Interview by Jean-Louis Ginibre

After posting a couple hundred interviews with many different subjects over TNYDP’s first year, I am going to start digging a little deeper and focus on individuals a bit now. As the first interview I every posted was one with Bill Evans, he seems like the logical place to start.

billEvansIn 1965, Bill Evans toured Europe with bassist Chuck Israels and drummer Larry Bunker. Jean-Louis Ginibre, then Editor-in-Chief of the French monthly Jazz Magazine, spoke to Evans more than an hour, an hour in which “Bill, soft-spoken and ensconced in a large arm-chair, answered my questions candidly and articulately, without seeming bored or preoccupied. Most probably understanding my feeling ill-at-ease during the first few minutes of my visit, he made a concerted effort to be extremely charming.” This is a typically honest and intelligent talk with the legend, and. from the interview, here is Evans on his critics:

Jean-Louis Ginibre: Have you ever read sensible magazine articles about you?

Bill Evans: Yes, as a matter of fact, a couple of times I read some critics that got to me. I thought they were justified, and I modified certain sides of my playing accordingly. As far as I’m concerned, everybody’s right. It’s only a matter of viewpoint. Almost everything that has been written about me has been bright and sensible. The press has been good to me. Except a couple of articles out of two hundred, all of them have been very favorable. I’ve been very lucky.

Click here to read Bill Evans – Time Remembered: An Interview by Jean-Louis Ginibre

Introducing Bill Evans—The Jazz Review, October 1959

This week I’m posting interviews from the music journal The Jazz Review, which has been wonderfully preserved at the great website Founded by Nat Hentoff, Martin Williams, and Hsio Wen Shih in New York in 1958, The Jazz Review was the premier journal of jazz in the United States. Short-lived as it was (1958-1961), it set an enduring standard for criticism. All the interview links point to the full .pdf for that issue, so it might take a second to load. Worth the wait!

Another great early interview with a legend today: pianist Bill Evans. He talks to Nat Hentoff about his album “Everybody Digs Bill Evans”, and in this excerpt you can already hear him formulating some of his revolutionary ideas for the trio-format:

“I want to be able to be free to go in my own direction without having to drag other people into my way of thinking. Ideally, I’d like to play solo piano, but from a practical standpoint, in terms of establishing a reputation and the kinds of rooms one can play, a trio makes more sense. And actually, there is almost as much freedom in a trio and certainly a stronger rhythm base.”

“I’m hoping the trio will grow in the direction of simultaneous improvisation rather that just one guy blowing followed by another guy blowing. If the bass player, for example, hears an idea that he wants to answer, why should he just keep playing a 4/4 background? The men I’ll work with have learned how to do the regular kind of playing, and so I think we how have the license to change it. After all, in a classical composition, you don’t hear a part remain stagnant until it becomes a solo. There are transitional development passages—a voice begins to be heard more and more and finally breaks into prominence.”

Click here to read Introducing Bill Evans—The Jazz Review, October 1959

Duke Ellington in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

More great jazz interviews this week from CBC-Radio Canada! The Bob Smith Hot Air archive is a treasure trove of approximately 50 interviews Smith recorded with some of the greatest stars of the day, from the world of jazz and beyond. Captured between 1950 and 1982, these interviews include conversations with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Harry James, Oscar Peterson and Lena Horne, as well as Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli and many others.

Here is a 1962 CBC-Radio Canada interview with the legendary Duke Ellington. Bob Smith had a lifelong fascination with Ellington and interviewed him no fewer than three times for the CBC. This featured conversation, perhaps Smith’s magnum opus as an interviewer, captures Ellington in a chatty and casual mood, with a surprise visit from the legend’s close collaborator, Billy Strayhorn.

Click here to listen to Duke Ellington in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive.

George Clabin interviews Bill Evans about Scott LaFaro in 1966

Interviews with great piano players all week at TNYDP! Here is a cool 1966 interview with Bill Evans in which he talks about meeting and working with the great Scott LaFaro. From the interview:

“…He impressed me as a very large person…it’s a funny thing, because when I got to know him, the more I got to know him I got to realize he wasn’t as large physically as I had thought at my first impression, but because of the way he played the bass, the sound he got and everything, for some reason I thought he was a large person…”

— Peter Blasevick

Gil Evans in 1978

Today is a great two-part 1978 interview with composer and arranger Gil Evans by Les Tomkins from the JazzProfessional website. Here is an excerpt in which Gil talks about his early music involvement:

“Not till I started to high school. I was staying with these people who had a piano; I just started fooling around with the piano, and I realised that I liked to do it.

To start with, I had no background except popular music; that’s what I played then. Later on, I listened to other music, out of curiosity and a desire to know what was happening in my trade. Then I went into the French impressionists and the Russian impressionists; that’s where I started in classical music. I don’t have any background in earlier classical music, like so many people do. I picked up anything I know about Bach, or anything like that, much later—when I came to New York, as a matter of fact, thirty years ago. I started playing Bach, and I realised at that time how people can devote their life to Bach. It’s a fantastic adventure, really, and if it suits your life style, I could see how you could do it, you know; I really could.

And also Chopin. But Bach especially. I could understand completely how people specialize in him, as they do. It seems funny to an outsider—and I thought it was funny, too, until I started playing that music, and I realised how the whole thing can just put you in a trance.”

Click here to read Gil Evans 1978