Category: H

Percy Heath Steps Out

The great jazz bassist Percy Heath would have been 92 years old today. Percy, the oldest sibling, was a key member of the Modern Jazz Quartet beginning in the 1951 and has played on literally hundreds of albums as a stalwart rhythm section sideman. (That was after his stint as a pilot with the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II).

The oldest of the Heath brothers—along with saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath—Percy was recognized before this 2004 interview by The New School University’s Jazz & Contemporary Music Program with their ”Beacons in Jazz” award on the heels of his 2002 designation as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

Here NPR’s Liane Hansen speaks with Heath about his family, his life and his 2004 solo debut record, A Love Song.

—Peter Blasevick

Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

Today’s interview is from R.J. DeLuke and AllAboutJazz and spends time with Billy Harper, the standout tenor saxophonist from the post-Coltrane school, who these days plays mainly with the “Cookers” septet along with Billy HartEddie HendersonGeorge CablesCecil McBeeDonald Harrison and David Weiss. He also is a “prolific composer, an educator and has led his own bands over the years, as well as performed with Gil EvansMax RoachLee MorganCharles TolliverRandy Weston, the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis big band, Art Blakey and others.” There is a lifetime of jazz in this interview, a gray read! From the interview:

“I got into jazz completely, which meant improvisation, which was the way I learned to live,” says Harper, a congenial sort who’s thoughtful and forthright. “Improvising all the time. It was not just music. It was the way. That is my life. It might be a funny thing to say, but I feel like I am the music. I don’t mean I’m the only music, but I am music. That’s how much it is a part of me, or I’m a part of it. I really feel like the music. I think that other musicians who are playing represent the music. They are the music also… Whenever writers say sometimes, ‘jazz is dead.’ I think that’s a conspiracy or something. As long as it’s in the musicians, the music is there. It’s where I live.”

Click here to read Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

—Peter Blasevick

Intl Jazz Day 2014: Herbie Hancock & Marcus Miller—Artists for Peace and Cultural Diplomacy

On April 30 of this year, 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. I am posting some of these video interviews over the next week or so.

This hour long panel discussion features UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock and UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcus Miller. The two discuss the concept of ‘artists for peace’; what does this entail, and what potential impact can an artist have in this arena. Fascinating insights from both of these legends.

—Peter Blasevick

Allan Holdsworth: Harnessing momentum

allanHoldsworthAllan Holdsworth is one of the most creative, innovative, singular guitarists who has ever lived. He’s influenced legions of guitarists in jazz, rock and roll, and fusion and continued to release great music for more than four decades. Here is a great talk form 2008 with Innerviews’ Anil Prasad in which he discusses his never-ending musical quest. From the interview:

How do you go about capturing ideas during your writing process?

Ten years ago, I used to record things when I improvised. I’d put on the recorder and start playing and if I found something interesting, I’d go back and listen and think “Oh yeah, I can work with that.” Sometimes, I’ve gone the way of not recording anything at all. It can sometimes be about how I feel at that point in time, and I just scribble the music down and keep going back to it until I can put it into shape. Sometimes things come really fast and some things take months.  Take “Sphere of Innocence” from Wardenclyffe Tower. I wrote the whole tune in a couple of hours but there was a modulation in the middle of it that resolved in a way I wasn’t happy about. Ninety-nine percent of the piece was done in less than a day and it took months to finish the other one percent.

Click here to read Allan Holdsworth: Harnessing momentum

—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

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

Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview

garyHusbandHere is a three part 2013 interview with drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband from AllAboutJazz. In part one Husband speaks of his formative years, talks at length of his decades-long relationship with Allan Holdsworth, discusses Jack Bruce and Gary Moore, and speaks about his solo piano recordings. Part two covers working with John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Wayne Krantz, Jimmy Herring, Mike Stern, Steve Hackett, Steve Topping, Neil Taylor, and more. Part three focuses in on his latest project with Gary Husband on piano and Alex Machecek on electric guitar. He also discusses his work with Billy Cobham.

Click here to listen to Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview Part One, Part Two, Part Three

—Peter Blasevick

Two part Slide Hampton interview from WXXI Rochester

Trombonist Slide Hampton is a Grammy winner, an NEA Jazz Master, and an all-around living legend. More importantly he is a fantastically gracious and kind man which comes across in this two part interview he did in 2008 for WXXI in Rochester, NY.

—Peter Blasevick

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

herbieHancockLiving legend Herbie Hancock recently talked with “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell about receiving the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors, his influence on rap music and his catalog of over 100 albums. From the interview, he remembers playing a wrong chord while with Miles Davis:

“I hit a wrong chord. It was amazing.  And– Miles is playing his solo, getting to the peak of his solo and then, I played this chord that was so wrong. It was so wrong,” he said. “I thought I had just, like … a house of cards and I just destroyed them all, you know?  And Miles just took a breath and he played some notes that made my chord right.”

Click here to read Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

—Peter Blasevick

It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!

barryHarrisPianist and educator Barry Harris is a true jazz treasure. To celebrate his 84th birthday (ok, two days late), a link to a few interviews posted by Ted Panken for a Downbeat article, one from 1999 and two from 2000. Here is Harris talking about Charlie Parker:

TP:    Any anecdote about when you played with Charlie Parker.

HARRIS:  He was beautiful to us.  I think the best experience that I always tell people is he was playing with strings one time at the Forest Club, which was a roller rink.  It was a dance at this time, and we stood in front, and the strings started, and the most spoiling thing of all was that when he started playing chills just went all through, starting on your toes, and went on through your body, man.  It was everything imaginable.  Orgasms, everything to us.  It’s really a spoiler, because I don’t like to go listen to people because I’m expecting somebody to make me feel like that.

TP:    Did Bird have a huge sound in person?

HARRIS:  Oh yeah.  I remember one time when he was at the Crystal, he was at the back of the room when Lee Konitz had come in and was sitting in with him.  (?)Emperor Nero(?) was playing alto, too.   Bird was over to the side, in the back by the kitchen or something, and Bird just started playing from there.  He had a great big sound.  Gene Ammons used to do that, too.  He’d stand in the back of the Club Valley… Frank Foster, Leo Osbold(?), Billy Mitchell maybe were at the mike playing.  He was up… There was some kind of thing that went up at the top, he started playing — he had a great big sound.  He always let me sit in with him.  When I was very young, he used to make Junior Mance get up and let me sit in with him.  I always loved to see him come to town, because he was one cat really I could sit in with.

Click here to read It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!