Tag: 1979

Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins

AhmadJamalHere are two interviews by Les Tomkins with the great pianist Ahmad Jamal, both interviews conducted in 1979. Jamal talks a lot about commercial success, or the lack thereof for jazz musicians. Interesting stuff. He also discusses his time with Chess and different musical projects of his. From the interview:

Every day we hear Wolfgang Mozart’s great works, but no one knows where the man was buried; his funeral was attended by a gravedigger and a dog. So why shouldn’t it be that a musician enjoys something during his life? Why does it have to be a Mozart thing all the time? It’s ridiculous. Mozart was commercial, huh? Or I should say: he wasn’t thought to be commercial enough at the time, but now he’s commercial. But the things he was writing then are the same things you hear now. The success is no good to him now.

In the case of Franz Liszt, of course, he was a very great technician, and he also enjoyed the financial reward for it at the time. It’s unfortunate when it doesn’t happen like that to every hard–working musician. In the case of George he’s not only artistically sound, but he’s receiving the fruits of his labour. It’s important that there should be some recognition of talent during that talent’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, there is this thinking, that once you start making any kind of money, your artistry becomes somehow devalued. You have to be on your last legs, in all sorts of dues–paying situations, before they’ll say: “Well, there goes a great musician.” This is preposterous.

Click here to read Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins Part One; Part Two

—Peter Blasevick

Oscar Peterson – The Dick Cavett Show (1979)

Today, a great treat. If you haven’t seen this Oscar Peterson clip from the old Dick Cavett show, hie thee to the link below and enjoy. There are performances by Oscar, a longish interview, and then Cavett speaks with Peterson piano-side and has the legend run through different styles and asks him a number of questions about certain players and techniques. Oscar even sings a bit with that Nat Cole voice of his. Great stuff.

—Peter Blasevick

Stanley Clark interview with Martin Perlich


This is a very intimate audio interview with the great bassist Stanley Clarke. Conducted at his home around 1979 (the date listed is 1971, but that is certainly inaccurate; they mention Charles Mingus just having died [1979] and Clarke playing with Ron Wood [around the same time]). Recorded in Clarke’s California home, this interview has everything from phones ringing  and level tests to great discussions about jazz and rock and roll.

Click here to listen to Stanley Clarke interview with Martin Perlich

—Peter Blasevick

Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Here is a great 1979 interview with Chet Baker from Les Tomkins and the JazzProfessional website. Chet talks about his reunion with Gerry Mulligan, his ear;ly years, and “Cool Jazz”. From the interview:

What originally caused you to take up the trumpet as your instrument?

My dad was a musician—he played guitar—and when I reached thirteen, his favourite musician was Jack Teagarden. So he brought home a trombone, but I was rather small for my age; I couldn’t make the positions, and the mouthpiece seemed so big. I messed around with it for a couple of weeks; then he took it away, and brought home a trumpet.

That seemed to be much more comfortable; I could get a sound—the smaller mouthpiece seemed to fit a lot better. I went to a little instrument training class for a year, and I played in the school marching band and the dance band.

When I was sixteen, I went in the army; for a year I played in an army band in Berlin, Germany. After discharge, I studied music at junior college, but at the end of a year–and–a–half I failed that—and I still play by ear. Although I can read, I don’t know the chords. I just hear them, you know, but if you ask me what the name of it is, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Click here to read Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Dexter Gordon: 1976 & 1979

Dexter_Gordon1This week I’ll be linking to a series of interviews from the Canadian Jazz Archive Online, a project of JAZZ FM.91, Canada’s premier jazz radio station.

Here are two 1970s talks with tenor great Dexter Gordon. In the first Gordon discusses playing with Fletcher Henderson, Los Angeles, and his history with addiction; in the second he covers his strength as a player, his fame in Japan, and musical integrity versus commercial success. From the first interview:

“I come from the Los Angeles, which is not too far from Texas, and so many of the Texas tenor players were my inspirations. And they traditionally have big, strong sounds … And I mean, for me, really if a tenor player doesn’t have a big sound, he’s lacking a little something. Of course, everybody can’t be Gene Ammons or somebody, you know, but still it should be of, you know, full tenor sound.”

Click here to listen to Dexter Gordon: 1976

Click here to listen to Dexter Gordon: 1979

— Peter Blasevick

Oscar Peterson in Conversation: Ruminations & Rebuttals, December 1979

“I spoke with the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson on a winter afternoon in 1979 at his Minneapolis hotel. He was in town to perform his own extended composition with the Minnesota Orchestra called “The Canadiana Suite,” a work originally released by Verve in 1964 as a trio recording. I believe now that Peterson had revived and rearranged this for performance because of his renewed interest in long-form pieces for jazz. These orchestral compositions would culminate in his 1981 album The Royal Wedding Suite, a celebration of the union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Although each suite shows Peterson’s abilities as a composer and an arranger, both are now largely forgotten.

“In spite of his concert with an orchestra being only hours away, Mr. Peterson was happy to discuss his own solo and small group performances. However, he was also quick to draw parallels between jazz forms and classical music. As we began, I pointed out which of his albums I liked best and asked him to comment on some of his newer Pablo Records releases. He was happy to speak in specifics about albums from his entire career. As we neared the end of the brief amount of time his agent had set aside for me, I used one of my mainstay questions of that time, his interest in Duke Ellington. I asked this specifically because of the major orchestral jazz piece that he was about to perform, and I compared it with some of Ellington’s extended works. This discussion on the Duke led to some intense reaction, as did my later use of the names Art Tatum and Keith Jarrett in the same sentence…”

Click here to read Oscar Peterson in Conversation: Ruminations & Rebuttals, December 1979

Breakfast with Bill Evans

Originally published in The Aquarian Weekly, this 1979 interview with Bill Evans at AllAboutJazz covers  Evans’ thoughts about his work with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, how his playing has developed, and lots of his patented insight into the art of improvisation.

Click here to read Breakfast with Bill Evans

Two Tal Farlow interviews

For the legendary guitarist’s 91st birthday, here are two magazine interviews:

Click here to read Downbeat 02/79

Click here to read Guitar Magazine from 12/81 and 01/82 

Ella Fitzgerald interview with Bobbie Wygant

To celebrate the First Lady of Song on her 95th birthday, here is a TV interview from what my best guess is late 1979 or 1980 (the Iran hostage crisis is alluded to during the interview). The interview runs about 5 minutes and includes a few quick clips of Ella onstage singing pieces of tunes including “There Will Never Be Another You”.