Category: W

Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

philWoodsHere is a long 1999 interview with saxophonist Phil Woods from Monk Rowe and the Hamilton College Fillius Jazz Archive (if you haven’t visited, do so. Tons of great interviews). Woods covers everything including his place in jazz history; tours with Dizzy and Quincy Jones; his impressions of Europe; playing on Pop recordings; advice to young musicians, and much else! From the interview:

MR: Without me stroking your ego or anything, where do you think you fit in there?

PW: Oh I’m a practitioner. I never changed jazz history. I am a bearer of the flame. I like to keep the Bebop flame alive in that sense, but I don’t just play Bebop. I could conceivably play that dream set I was talking about playing, a Piazolla and I kind of like to consider myself a complete musician, since I’m classically trained. But as far as playing any new way, I mean if I could have changed the course of western music I would have done so years ago.

Click here to read Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

—Peter Blasevick

NEA Jazz Masters: Interview with Cedar Walton

One of the great hard bop pianists, Cedar Walton was also known for his compositions, some of which have become jazz standards, such as “Bolivia,” “Clockwise,” and “Firm Roots.” A.B. Spellman spoke with Mr. Walton in 2010 about his musical journey from Dallas to New York to the world stage and being named an NEA Jazz Master.

—Peter Blasevick

National Jazz Archive: Two Phil Woods Interviews

philWoodsI’m going to post some interviews from the UK’s National Jazz Archive this week. If you’ve never visited, take a few minutes and check them out, there is a lot of great info on their site.

Here are two interviews with saxophonist Phil Woods conducted by Les Tompkins in 1969 and 1981. In the first, “Breaking Out of The Studio”, Woods talks about his quartet The European Rhythm Machine, running a music camp, and playing across Europe. In “The First English Tour” Woods discusses, well, his first English tour.

“How far you leave the public behind depends on your level of genius, how much you have to say. My own personal way of approaching music is probably linked to a broader based public. It’s just that I’m older than some of the younger musicians; I’ve been playing longer. You know, I don’t aim my things to a particular public, but from twenty years of playing I think my musical base is broader.

We try to incorporate a variety into our sets. Some people will hate the first tune, possibly, and love the second tune.

I love Johnny Hodges; I love Ornette Coleman. That about sums it up, really. I steal whatever’s good from wherever I can find it! If it’s honest, I’m all for it. There’s so much dishonesty within life itself. Creating a formula and adhering to it, that’s always a trap. I’ve often said in joking: “I’d love a hit record”. I’d be scared to death if that ever happened. To have to play that damn thing every night, and grow to hate it. Then your group becomes categorised and before you know it, insidiously your music starts to change and fit this formula that worked. Even among the most dedicated people.”

Click here to read Breaking out in the studio.

Click here to read The first English tour.

—Peter Blasevick

R.I.P. Cedar Walton, January 17, 1934-August 19, 2013

cedarWaltonSad news that the great Cedar Walton has died. Ted Panken posts great interviews and tributes on his  Today Is The Question blog, and this one is no different. Included are notes to Roots, a well-funded late ’90s reworking of some of his older “hits” with an all star band, and a Downbeat Blindfold Test, both I believe from the 1990s. From the Roots notes:

“I began doodling at 6 or 7, mainly because there was a piano in the house.  My mother played from sheet music, and she taught students at our home on a regular basis.  Though she always wanted to be a pianist, she decided to teach school instead of pursuing a serious career.  She and my father were great Jazz fans, and they used to point out to me some of their favorites, who included Duke Ellington, Nat Cole, Cab Calloway, all the stars of the day.  We’d hear location broadcasts from various key dance halls around the country by Duke Ellington and Earl Hines — I even heard Art Blakey from Birdland on radio.  In the ’40s there was a weekly show called Piano Playhouse that featured a Classical guy and a studio guy, who would have a Classical and a Jazz guest artist.  People like Tatum, Teddy Wilson and Erroll Garner would be guests, always playing solo, never using accompaniment, and that greatly inspired me.”

Click here to read R.I.P. Cedar Walton, January 17, 1934-August 19, 2013 

Dave Weckl: Rhythm Talk

Today wraps up our week of interviews for the great website!

When any jazz enthusiasts start talking about drummers, one of the first names that comes to mind is sure to be Dave Weckl. This major innovator of modern jazz drumming has grooved with more players since he started playing in the New York club scene in the early ’80s. His most notable stint started in 1985 when he was asked to be a part of the then-forming Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, which he revived in 2004 after a break of over ten years.

In this 2006 with Stefanee Freedman at a show in Los Angeles, CA with guitarist Mike Stern and bassist Victor Wooten, Weckl discusses his groups, his technique, his recordings, his drums, and plenty else. An interesting bit from the interview:

AAJ: Do you find having more knowledge of the piano helps you with arrangements and writing?

DW: Well, it is necessary or you may sound pretty silly. You have to have some sort of harmonic knowledge to piece all the instruments together. Like anything else, the more influence you have from different things, the more knowledge you have to work with. With drums, it helps to know different cultures of rhythm, so I try to use my background or knowledge of different rhythms to input little things here and there in the music. If you have a better harmonic knowledge from all types of music like classical to rock to blues or whatever, the music will be deeper and fuller.

Click here to read Dave Weckl: Rhythm Talk  

Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

I’ll be posting interviews from the CBC-Radio Canada archives this week. 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.

Today, check out pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams in conversation with Bob Smith for CBC Hot Air, recorded in May 1977 in Vancouver. From the interview:

Williams spoke about the spiritual and healing qualities of music, echoing the values of the iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, someone she highly respected. Like Coltrane, Williams embraced Catholicism in her later years and even composed a jazz mass that features soulful, uplifting takes on traditional mass elements. Her criticism of modern popular music could be harsh at times, yet she incorporated the sound of ’60s funk and soul into her own music in a unique and organic way.

“I don’t think of anything until my hand touches the keyboard. Then everything starts workin’. The mind, heart, fingertips. If it misses the heart then you have patterns. That may happen due to the fact your rhythm section isn’t with it. Something like that. And if you’re on the spot you have to finish it off.”

Click here to listen to Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Bobby Watson and the Jazz Messengers

This week I will be listing some interviews from the very cool site, a really cool online Jazz journal with interviews, reviews, and a lot more.

IRockJazz caught altoist Bobby Watson on his 2011 visit to Chicago, and he discussed how he got his big break with the Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in NY:

— Peter Blasevick

Tony Williams: Still The Rhythm Magician

This week I’ll be linking to some classic Downbeat interviews. Here is a very interesting 1989 talk with drummer Tony Williams. In this excerpt from the interview, Williams talks about first hearing Miles wanted him for his new quintet:

“I guess Id been in New York about four or five months, working with Jackie; we were playing different things around New York and Brooklyn. We played a concert at some hall in midtown Manhattan, and Miles came in with Philly Joe Jones and thats where he heard me. I think Jackie had been talking to Miles and maybe he had mentioned that he had a new band and said, Come hear the band. A month later, I got a call from Grachan Moncur, the trombone player; his girlfriend at the time was the secretary for Miles lawyer, and they were looking for me. And so, I pick up the phone and Grachan says, Did Miles call you today? Hes lookin for you. And I said, Yeah, sure. Right. Give me a break. He responded, No, really. Hang up the phone. Hes trying to get in touch with you. Hes in California, man. So we get off the phone and Miles ends up calling from California, and he wanted to know could we get together when he got back—hed be back in a couple of weeks. And, I was more than happy, because at the time, Miles was my biggest influence musically. I was just in love with his music, his bands.”

Click here to read Tony Williams: Still The Rhythm Magician

— Peter Blasevick

Phil Woods 2007

In this quick backstage 2007 interview with WAER Music Director during the Jazz In The Square festival, Phil Woods discusses playing with big bands, his stints with Dizzy, Monk, Quincy Jones, and Benny Goodman, and his album The Great American Songbook II .

Interview with Cedar Walton

This is a fascinating 2010 interview with the legendary pianist Cedar Walton from Ethan Iverson’s smart DoTheMath blog. A great talk. A quick bit from the interview about meeting and knowing your musical influences:

“I’m extremely fortunate to have been here early enough to meet the likes of Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Erroll Garner. Even Miles Davis came around to hear us when we were with the Messengers.

“They would hand out little bits of wisdom. The strongest in my memory is Thelonious Monk, who talked through his teeth a lot. He’d say, “Play your own shit.”

And that’s what I’m doing. I mean, I think it’s unconscious from his suggestion. Possibly. I’m not a psychologist, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize the power of suggestion is strong sometimes.”

Click here to read Interview with Cedar Walton