Category: M

T.S.Monk: My Father Thelonious Monk

tSMonkThe great Thelonious Monk would have been 97 years young today, and to celebrate one of the great geniuses of American music, a little something different: a 2013 irockjazz.com interview from with Monk’s son, T. S. Monk, in which the younger musician speaks at length about growing up with an American legend for a father. From the interview with Paul Pennington:

theloniousMonk

On recognizing his father’s genius

TSM: I kind of concluded that after a while. Of course, he was clearly different than everyone else’s dad. He was a lot more intense it seemed. From every indication I got from the people around him he was a lot more intelligent than everybody else too [laughs]. So I knew something was going on. Adults sometimes don’t know what they’re saying to kids, so if you have people saying to you, ‘Do you know who you your father is’? That’s a crazy question for a six year old, you know. I mean what do you mean ‘Do I know who my father is’? He’s my daddy. So that was very confusing. Of course, they were referring to his musical accomplishments. But I didn’t know anything about that. All I knew is that my father played the piano. Most of my friend’s fathers drove buses and were mailmen and did things like that. So I knew he had something going on. But in terms of trying to convey the magnitude of his genius to a ten year old it’s a silly thing to even try to do.

Click here to read T.S.Monk: My Father Thelonious Monk

—Peter Blasevick

Notations from Harold Mabern

haroldMabernPianist Harold Mabern is one of the underrated greats of the late 50s early 60s hard-bop era, playing and recording with the likes of Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, Jackie McLean, and George Coleman. He has also had a prolific career as a leader, and has had a profound impact on many great musicians as an instructor and faculty member at William Paterson University and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Here is a transcript from a great interview with Deborah Demoss Smith at KMHD radio this past week. From the interview:

Do you agree with the idea that West Coast jazz is different than East Coast?
That’s not happening anymore. The West Coast sound is lighter in texture; the East Coast more grainy. But it’s not like that anymore because the coasts have caught up with each other. I was born in the South, where we had to play the blues, which we hated to play the blues; but now we realize that’s a blessing because everybody can’t play the blues. I’m still writing music and still learning music. Ahmad Jamal said the day you stop learning, you might as well go crawl in a hole. 

Click here to read Notations from Harold Mabern

—Peter Blasevick

Wes Montgomery on “People in Jazz” 1968

Not many interviews with Wes Montgomery around, but here is a little seen one from 1968. Wes speaks with Jim Rockwell on the TV show “People in Jazz”. The quality is poor, but it’s worth it to slog through in order to hear the genius talk about playing! Wes also plays Windy at the end of the video with his brothers Buddy (p) and Monk (b). Enjoy!

—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

Pat Metheny in Jazz Improv Magazine 2004

patMethenyToday is Pat Metheny‘s 60th birthday! In this long 2004 interview in Jazz Improv magazine, the guitar great talks at length about touring, practice routines, finding his own sounds, and much more. From the interview:

JI: In the 1970s and prior, artists would be booked to play at a place in town for three or four days at a time. Now, nobody’s booking anybody in a club for that length of time. Venues want artists to come in for one night, bring all their fans and then, “you’re outta there!” They want to get the next group in to bring all their fans.

PM: It’s true. A lot of what you’re saying is true, however I feel I must add, it really wasn’t that great back then either. I’ve always feel it’s important to remind people of that. It was rough then too. Back then when I started my band, our fee for the band was usually around $200-$250 for the whole band. I could pay $25, $30, $40 a guy after I paid for the hotel and the gas money and the commission and yet I knew, and it was important to me as a bandleader, to play every place we could possibly play and to get guys that were willing to do that. That was hard to do then and it’s hard to do now. I still really, really, really believe that anybody that’s got something really powerful and important to say as a musician, as a jazz musician or otherwise, if they want to go out and play hundreds of nights a year, they can and will develop an audience. It’s just that it requires a commitment that very few people are willing or are in the position to be able to do. Part of it for me, was at that time, I was in my early 20’s as were the guys I was playing with. At that age, they’re like, “Sure, let’s go out and play 300 gigs! Yeah, we’re going to make $20 a night? Fine. We’re going to have fun!” Also, at the time we started, we were on a mission from god musically. We really had a point that we wanted to make. I think that could be done now too. I really do, and in fact, the only group that I’ve seen that has sort of modeled their thing on something somewhat like on our thing and have had success, has been Medeski, Martin and Wood. They also went out and played every place they could possibly play relentlessly…

Click here to read Pat Metheny in Jazz Improv Magazine 2004

—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

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

Brad Mehldau: Dragons & Dreams

bradMehldauIan Patterson at AllAboutJazz recently interviewed pianist Brad Mehldau about his experimental new duo album with drummer Mark Guiliana. Mehldau talks jazz, classic rock, and even being influenced by 70s TV theme songs:

“For sure. For me, “Theme from Mash,” but also “Eight is Enough,” I can still remember, I think the lyric was, ‘There’s a plate of homemade wishes, on the kitchen windowsill, and eight is enough, to fill our lives with joy.’ There’s a certain comfort mixed with melancholy to a lot of those themes—it’s not a cut and dry nostalgia for me.

Click here to read Brad Mehldau: Dragons & Dreams

—Peter Blasevick

Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

haroldMabernHere is an interesting interview with the great Harold Mabern speaking about his time with Wes Montgomery during Wes’ 1965 tour and his famous “625 Alive” appearance on the BBC. Mabern had some great reflections in his time with Wes, including some insight into Wes’ practicing. Interview by Tim Fitzgerald:

TF: Have you heard that quote where Wes says something like, “I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat?”
HM: Well, I think I heard that quote too, yeah. But no, he practiced. He had a sense of humor too, you know? But he was always practicing. I know for a fact he was always practicing. I’d go out and come by his room and hear him, and I wouldn’t disturb him. He put a lot of time on the instrument.

Mabern also spoke of what Wes was like as a bandleader:

HM:…He was not greedy at all. He was not greedy money-wise. He was not greedy musically speaking. He was a great, great human being. So that’s why when you see that tape, those things we did, that’s why the music probably sounds so good because everybody was on the same page trying to do the right thing, and it comes through the music…

Click here to read Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

—Peter Blasevick