Tag: 2001

Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

larryCoryellA true jazz pioneer, guitarist Larry Coryell was one of the earliest musicians to experiment with the fusion of jazz and rock styles. Early on he performed with Chico HamiltonGary Burton, and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra headed by Mike Mantler and Carla Bley. He also helped organize one of the first jazz-rock groups, the Free Spirits, with saxophonist Jim Pepper, drummer Bob Moses, pianist Mike Nock and bassist Chris Hills. In 1967 Coryell and saxophonist Steve “The Count” Marcus broke further ground in fusion with Count’s Rock Band. All About Jazz fusion editor Todd S. Jenkins spoke with Coryell in 2001 about his art, his role in fusion’s development, and his then renewed collaboration with saxophonist Marcus. Here Coryell discusses their musical bond:

“A lot of this stuff, because we both admired Coltrane, we were doing some of the newer, current ideas that were coming out of the Coltrane-type school in the late 60s. Taking small groups of notes and extrapolating and repeating them, we both had a tendency to do that before we even knew each other. So when we came together as a front line, there were so many important things in common from a mechanical standpoint as well as a conceptual standpoint, that all you had to add was the fact that we’re two kindred spirits. That’s why that rapport is there, no matter how big the gap of time between playing events. It’s always there. It’s like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. They could be apart for ten years, come back and be right there again.”

Click here to read Larry Coryell: Less Rock, More Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

JazzWax interview: Chick Corea in 2011

chickCoreaMarc Myers from JazzWax interviewed the great Chick Corea on the eve of the pianists 70th birthday in 2011. It’s a big three parter, and it covers, as Myers says, all “20 different jazz careers” Corea has had. From the interview:

JW: Much has been written about Bob Dylan going electric in 1965 and the uproar. Miles Davis did the same thing with jazz and so did you, generating similar hostility. How do you feel about those years looking back?

CC: The sound of jazz began to change during the time I was in Miles’ band. Before joining Miles, I had been pretty much a purist in my tastes. I loved Miles and John Coltrane and all the musicians who surrounded them. But I didn’t look much further into rock or pop. I listened to a little bit of classical music, but that was it for me. When Miles began to experiment, I became aware of rock bands and the energy and the different type of communication they had with audiences during a show…

Click here to read JazzWax interview: Chick Corea in 2011

—Peter Blasevick

For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

billFrisellIn honor of guitar legend Bill Frisell‘s 63rd birthday (March 18), Ted Panken posted his “directors’ cut” (about 1500 words longer) of a DownBeat cover piece he wrote about Bill and his long-standing trio partners Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, during a week in Perugia for the 2008 Umbria Summer Jazz Festival, the uncut proceedings of a Blindfold Test Frisell took with Panken around 2000 or 2001, in his extraordinarily cramped room at the former Earle Hotel on the corner of Waverly Place & MacDougal, on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Here he discusses John McLaughlin:

“He always blows my brains out.  There was one moment when I went to a Shakti concert, and I almost quit playing the guitar.  I just thought, “Man, this is hopeless.”  But it was a good moment because it made me figure out that I had to figure out something else to do other than that.  I’ll never be able to… But he’s so much more… He’s known for being, you know, fast, but he’s a soulful… And rhythmically and harmonically, so…it’s some far-out stuff he’s doing.  I can’t figure out why people don’t… He’s right in there in that line of… There’s Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery and Jim and whoever all other guys, and he’s one of those main guys for me.”

Click here to read For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

—Peter Blasevick

Smithsonian Oral Histories: Jackie McLean 2001

More interviews from the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program today. Established by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 1992, the Program documents more than one hundred senior jazz musicians, performers, relatives, and business associates.  The interviews average six hours in length and cover a wide range of topics including early years, initial involvement in music, generally, and jazz specifically, as well as experiences in the jazz music world, including relationships to musicians. The transcriptions are complete, the audio are shorter clips from the interviews.

Here is the transcript of a 2001 interview with alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. Possessing one of the most recognizable alto saxophone sounds, McLean explored the cutting edge of jazz creativity. He grew up in a musical family in New York City: his father was a guitarist and his stepfather owned a record store. During McLean’s busiest period in the 1950s, he worked with pianist George Wallington, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and bassist Charles Mingus. McLean and his wife Dollie founded the Artists Collective, a community center and fine arts school, primarily for troubled youth. Here is Jackie on knowing and working with Dizzy Gillespie:

I first used to see Dizzy when I used to go down to see on 52nd Street and just run along the street and see who I can look in the window and see on the stage. Then I first saw Dizzy at the McKinley Theater in the Bronx with his big band. Bird was in that band as well. Then I eventually met Dizzy when I was about 16 or about 17 years old and sat in some place in the Bronx. But I just never had a chance to – I went with Miles’s band, and so I was with Miles [Davis] off and on for a number of years, and then after that had my own groups. I never got back to really having – Dizzy never called on me. Put it like that. He was never calling on me to play these gigs with him.

After a while, when I got really – 20 years went by. 25 years went by. I eventually went to Dizzy and said, “Hey, man, I’m out here. How come you’re not calling me, man? Every time you call the same cats. You either call Phil Woods or James Moody. Both of them are great, and you should, and I have nothing to say about that, other than, what about giving me a little bit? Let me wet my beak.”

So the first time he called me, he called me and Sonny Stitt, ironically, to come down to Wolf Trap and play with him. That was the first time he had called on me to come and be on the front line with him. Then after that, different times he would call me. I went to do a thing with him in Paris, and thank God I recorded with him, just before he passed, at the Blue Note one night. That was very important to me, to be able to play with Dizzy in that context. It was two altos and trumpet on the front line, Paquito D’Rivera and myself and Dizzy. A great rhythm section. So that was a very important recording, as well as when I got Dexter [Gordon] to record with me in Copenhagen. That was a very important recording for me.

Click here to read Smithsonian Oral Histories: Jackie McLean 2001

—Peter Blasevick

Freddie Hubbard 2001 Downbeat Interview

freddieHubbardFrom Ted Panken’s great Today is the Question:

In 2001, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the late Freddie Hubbard for a DownBeat profile. It took a bit of negotiating, but Freddie met me at the appointed hour, and spoke at length about his life and times. In this case, I have to depart from the  “raw and uncut” policy I’ve followed for the most part on the blog, and will decline to print the verbatim conversation—it’s a bit too real and profane, and he named names. But I was able to distil from it for print what I thought was a reasonably compelling first-person account, which I offer on the occasion of his 75th birth anniversary.

“Wes Montgomery lived two blocks from me, across the railroad tracks, and to get to the conservatory I had to pass by his house. I’d hear Wes and his brothers rehearsing, and one day I stopped and went in. At the time, everything I knew was reading, and it amazed me how they were making up the music — intricate arrangements, not jam stuff — as they went along. After that, I was at his house every day, and then Wes started inviting me to a Saturday jam session in Speedway City. The Montgomery brothers didn’t care about keys. At home I was practicing in F or B-flat, but at the jam session they’d play in E and A — the funny keys. Practicing in those keys opened me up, made me a little better than most of the cats.”

Click here to read Freddie Hubbard 2001 Downbeat Interview

John Abercrombie’s Uncut Downbeat Blindfold Test

For the last day in my week of Ted Panken interviews, here is guitarist John Abercrombie in a Downbeat Blindfold Test from 2001. The Jazz great listens to 15 cuts and makes some pretty astute observations; it does amaze me sometimes how accurate these folks can be on these Blindfold Tests. From the piece, Abercrombie on James Blood Ulmer (who he was stumped on!):

Wow!  This is great.  I don’t know that tune.  I have to get this.  I’ve heard some other stuff by Blood and I liked it.  I have some of this stuff where he was singing that I enjoyed, but I’ll have to get this.  This definitely sounds very hip to me.  Very open.  And it’s kind of funny; that’s why I thought it was Sonny Sharrock, because of some of the similarities.  He sounds to me more harmonic.  I hear more harmonic information in his playing.  It’s cool.  And I think he does sort of play with his thumb a little bit, because it’s got a little bit of that feel.  It’s plucky.  He chokes the notes a little bit, so it… I’ll give this 5 stars.  I still like it. [AFTER] Now that you tell me it was Rashied Ali, it makes total sense, because I played with him once, and he has a great way of playing a sort of open music.  you really feel like they’re playing on a form or something.  It really has a great swing, a pulse to it.  It’s not just free.  I think that’s what makes it work.  That’s what makes everything sound so great.

Click here to read John Abercrombie’s Uncut Downbeat Blindfold Test

A 2001 DownBeat Profile of Lee Konitz

Another interesting Ted Panken interview. Today is a fascinating 2001 interview with the great Lee Konitz. The legendary alto saxophonist and Cool Jazz pioneer talks about his career and life, including this great bit about seeing Ornette Coleman:

“I remember going with Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh to hear him at the Five Spot one night, and not really knowing what to make of it. Ornette came up and asked me if I wanted to sit in. I said, ‘What do we play?’ or something like that, and somehow I guess I didn’t sound like I really wanted to sit in, so he didn’t pursue it. Sorry I didn’t. At that time, like a lot of people, I was resenting somehow this fact that he was eliminating everything that I’d spent my years trying to hone. But I gradually got over resenting it. Ornette’s concept is extraordinarily inventive and original, and of course had a great influence on a lot of the music’s development. He tried to explain some of the harmolodic theory on an airplane flight when we were sitting together. I said, ‘Wait til we get down on the ground, please.’ I really said that, because it’s so subjective that I didn’t want to face it up in the air. I never really learned his tunes. I’m too busy playing ‘All the Things You Are.’ By Jerome Kern. That guy must be turning over!”

Click here to read A 2001 DownBeat Profile of Lee Konitz

Harold Land 2001

Here is a wide ranging interview with the great tenor best known for his work with the Clifford Brown Max Roach Quintet of the mid-1950s. Published in Jazz Times just a few months before he passed away at the age of 72, Land discusses many topics including the legendary combo, Buddhism, and his son Harold Jr.

Click here to read Harold Land 2001