Tag: 2003

For Mike Stern’s 61st Birthday, a 2003 Downbeat Feature

Mike Stern is 61 years old? Yikes.

mikeSternToday a 2003 piece on Stern that Ted Panken wrote for Downbeat. Also included is a link to a 2009 interview Panken did with Stern for Jazz.com From the Downbeat piece, the great guitarist discusses Miles:

“One thing about Miles that always impressed me is that he always played music he wanted to play,” Stern says. “While I was with Miles, he was offered a fortune to play with Ron Carter and Tony Williams in Japan. But he was just interested in what he was doing, and didn  want to be swayed. At the same time, he always had this balance of wanting to reach people. That’s in all his music. Somebody who doesn’t  really know jazz can still get Miles Davis. And balance is always important to me, however I come up with it.”

Click here to read For Mike Stern’s 61st Birthday, a 2003 Downbeat Feature

Smithsonian Oral Histories: Elvin Jones 2003

elvinJonesFor the next couple weeks, I am going to be linking to audio clips and transcriptions from the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program. 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 great Elvin Jones in 2003. The full transcript is 113 pages, and in these five clips, Elvin talks about cymbals, being captivated by the drums, being inspired by Duke Ellington, he compares drums to crayons, and he talks about learning by listening. Here from the transcript, he discusses fellow drumming great Philly Joe Jones:

He was funny boy! He was a comedian. But he was a great drummer. Joe played things on his instrument that were just phenomenal. Joe was flamboyant. He used to show guys how to play with your fingers. You think he’s doing it with his wrist but he’s doing it with his fingers. (Elvin imitates sound of fast single strokes of a drum being played by one hand). He had many tricks like that. He’s such a good musician and when he played he always—it seems like everything he did was thought out, like it had already been through his mind. He played with tremendous skill and the dynamics were always unbelievable. It was just enjoyable to listen to a man like that. And he was with a good band like Miles Davis. He couldn’t be in a better position.

Click here to listen to and read Smithsonian Oral Histories: Elvin Jones 2003 

—Peter Blasevick

Two part Jack Reilly Interview 2003

Acclaimed for his solo jazz concerts and trio dates in the US and in Europe, Jack Reilly is a vibrant exhilarating pianist. His recordings and books—three volumes on jazz improvisation entitled Species Blues and the nationally acclaimed book The Harmony of Bill Evans—confirm the scope of Jack ‘s talents and versatility.

jackReillyThis interview was conducted by pianist (and BillEvansWebpages webmaster) Jan Stevens in the music room of Jack’s home in the New Jersey shore area. A long and complex discussion of Bill Evans music followed. From the interview:

J.S. So, tell us when you first met Bill Evans, and maybe you can give us a couple of details.

REILLY: Well, I should say I first heard him in ’52. I was in the U.S. Navy; he was in the Army. We both were stationed at the Washington D.C. School of Music. That’s where you go if you’re a musician, and in the service and they teach you music for military functions, dance band stuff, etc. And I just happened to be walking down a hall, and I heard this incredible piano playing coming from a practice room, and I looked through the peep hole in the door, and it’s this guy who looked like a librarian playing, sounding like Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell, George Shearing. But he had his own linear concept going already and it was cookin’ like mad. And it was only solo piano! He was practicing, and I stood there for about 10 minutes or so and wound up getting captain’s [unintelligible] for neglecting to go to my class. Of course it was a school, you know, we all had to take classes, except Bill, they just let him do whatever he wanted ’cause he was so advanced at the time.

Click here to read Two part Jack Reilly Interview 2003

—Peter Blasevick

A Fireside Chat With Bud Shank

Today I’m linking to a great 2003 AllAboutJazz interview with alto saxophonist Bud Shank, who made his name early on in the West Coast Jazz scene and Stan Kenton. In this piece, Shank talks about his early years, playing the flute, and a bunch of his contemporaries. Here is a excerpt about fellow West-Coaster Chet Baker:

Chet Baker was a strange case. I always got along well with him. There are other people who didn’t. The only problem I had with Chet is I would go for a couple of years and not see him and every time I would see him, the first thing he would say is ‘loan me twenty dollars,’ which I never saw again.

He had a lot of notoriety and a lot of fame at an early age, more than he could handle and that is why I think he took the road to avail all that and he did it so violently and so much that he was in jail in Italy and he was about to be the next James Dean. They were about to make a movie star out of him. That I how far he got up in the popularity kind of thing and he blew it all because he couldn’t face it.

All he wanted to be was just a player. He would go through periods when he was living in Europe when he would take the Concord to fly back to New York. He was really up there. Italians were really serious about him and that is why he was in Italy when he got thrown in the slammer for a year.

Click here to read A Fireside Chat With Bud Shank

Brad Mehldau’s Opening, Middle and Endgame

Brad Mehldau is an interesting cat, and interviews with him are rarely just about playing piano, which of course he is. Here is an excerpt from an interesting 2003 talk with him by Mike Brannon at AllAboutJazz:

AAJ: There’s a quote attributed to you, that, “Romanticism implies nostalgia for damaged goods”. How is that so, musically and/or philosophically? Can you explain the reference and it’s meaning to you?

BM: I understand life as marked by certain primary experiences that happen early on that involve pleasure, followed by the pain of being disconnected from that pleasure, and the rest of life spent trying to make sense of that pain. That first moment of disconnection is like a shattering of glass that rings in your consciousness for the rest of your life, informing everything you witness and experience. It’s that shattering that leaves the mark, I think – not the experience of pleasure itself. Nostalgia is trying to beautify that moment when everything shattered and broke – trying to make sense of the pain. Music is heightened nostalgia: music is that lost pleasure in a continuous process of being shattered. It’s like this beautiful thing being held in front of your face that disintegrates if you try to touch it.

Click here to read Brad Mehldau’s Opening, Middle and Endgame

-Peter Blasevick

Chick Corea’s Spirit of Creativity

In this 2003 interview with R.J. DeLuke for AllAboutJazz.com, pianist Chick Corea laments:

“I see that the world is more turbulent now than it ever was and the music is not reflecting it,” says the composer-pianist. “There was more freedom of expression in the ’60s. There was revolt. There was ‘We want freedom.’ There was Martin Luther King, human rights coming to the fore. Today, a lot of that is under wraps and gone suppressed. So the music we hear is kind of just ‘nice’ music. There’s not a lot of cutting edge music going on, and yet the world is in total turbulence. War is all over the place.”

Also in the interview, Chick discusses his early days as a player, his first breaks, and how blessed he feels to be a musician:

“Being a musician doing what I’m doing at all is like leading a pretty charmed life, traveling around playing the music I love to play – and my own music, mostly, for my whole life. I continue to love doing what I’m doing. To have the friendship and the musical partnership with the greatest musicians alive is, of course, an honor and a great joy each time it happens.”

Click here to read Chick Corea’s Spirit of Creativity

A Fireside Chat With Herbie Hancock

Pianist and living legend Herbie Hancock talks about  his origins as a player, his love of technology, and more in this 2003 interview with AllAboutJazz.com. From the interview:

“My best friend had a piano when I was about six years old. He was actually several months older than me. He had already turned seven. I would go to his house and ask if I could play his piano. Of course, I couldn’t play it. I would just bang on it, but my mother noticed that I was interested in the piano and on my seventh birthday, they bought me a piano. So my older brother, my younger sister and I started taking lessons soon after that. After about three years, my brother and sister stopped their lessons and I continued on. For some reason, my interest never waned. It continued to progress and what really did it was when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when I first started to pay attention to jazz and get involved with that. That really pulled me in like a magnet.”

Click here to read A Fireside Chat With Herbie Hancock 

Wayne Shorter: The Man and the Legacy

In his 2003 interview with Philip Gordon for AllAboutJazz.com, legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter revealed his sincere feelings towards his life, his music, his friendships and, his respect for the many world-class musicians with whom he has collaborated with throughout his impressive career. Also discussed were his evolution as an artist and these relationships, and his passionate commitment to spirit of the music, life, and his spontaneous, improvisational approach. Wayne on practicing and Miles Davis:

“No, I don’t practice, it’s difficult to practice the unknown. I do look at material when I’m writing something. It’s a question like so many things in life, it’s like Miles Davis ( Shorter imitates Miles voice) used to say: ‘You see the way Humprey Bogart hit that cat?’, a little punch when he hit a guy. ‘Play that!’ or, when John Wayne used to make that turn- around, or twist when he made a corner, ‘See what John Wayne just did?…now play that!’ Miles was always asked how he did what he did, he’d say: ‘Just watch the way somebody moves and play that’, and then the guy would play that and later ask Miles what he thought, and Miles would say: ‘You talk to your girlfriend like that?'”

Click here to read Wayne Shorter: The Man and the Legacy