Tag: 2004

Percy Heath Steps Out

The great jazz bassist Percy Heath would have been 92 years old today. Percy, the oldest sibling, was a key member of the Modern Jazz Quartet beginning in the 1951 and has played on literally hundreds of albums as a stalwart rhythm section sideman. (That was after his stint as a pilot with the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II).

The oldest of the Heath brothers—along with saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath—Percy was recognized before this 2004 interview by The New School University’s Jazz & Contemporary Music Program with their ”Beacons in Jazz” award on the heels of his 2002 designation as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

Here NPR’s Liane Hansen speaks with Heath about his family, his life and his 2004 solo debut record, A Love Song.

—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

A Fireside Chat With Horace Silver

horaceSliverSad news from the word of jazz that the legendary Horace Silver has died at the age of 85. As he was for so many others, he was a great favorite of mine, not just for the music, but also for his interesting and insightful commentary on the music he played. Here is an interview conducted by  Fred Jung posted to the AllAboutJazz site about 10 years ago. From the interview:

FJ: It has become a part of jazz lore, but as the story goes, very early in your career, you were struggling to move to New York, Stan Getz hired you and you were able to do so. 

HS: That’s pretty right. I had been saving my money to go to New York and try to make it in music. I got sick at that time and I had maybe seven hundred dollars in the bank and I had spent all that money on doctor bills. So I guess I used that as an excuse not to go because deep down within. I had a fear of going because what if I went down to New York and I didn’t make it? So I had procrastinated on going, although I had all this money saved up. Then when the medical bills came and I had spent all this money, it gave me an excuse not to make the move. But the good Lord was looking after me and Stan Getz came through Hartford and heard me and my trio and hired us. That was a blessing.

Click here to read A Fireside Chat With Horace Silver

—Peter Blasevick

For Kenny Barron’s 70th Birthday, A 2005 DownBeat Feature and WKCR Interviews From 1991 and 2004


To mark the Kenny Barron‘s just passed birthday (June 9th), Ted Panken posted a pair of interviews they did on WKCR — a Musician’s Show in 1991 and an appearance promoting a week in a club in 2004—and the first of two interviews Panken conducted with the great pianist for a DownBeat profile. From the interviews:

“Each bandleader I worked with had a different style,” Barron says. “For example, Dizzy’s band was very tight and precise. I learned to keep stuff in reserve, not play everything you know all the time. Yusef [Lateef] was looser, the music was freer; you could play out, as far as you wanted to go. Ron [Carter] likes hills and valleys; I learnedto use dynamics. Stan [Getz] and I shared a love for lyricism. We fed each other. He was one person who could play a ballad and really make you cry.”

Click here to read For Kenny Barron’s 70th Birthday, A 2005 DownBeat Feature and WKCR Interviews From 1991 and 2004

Wynton Marsalis Speaks Out

Hello all! This week I’ll be posting some great interviews from the fantastic AllAboutJazz.com, which is simply one of the top everything-jazz destinations on the web.

Trumpeter, composer, educator—Wynton Marsalis requires no introduction. Since beginning his career, he has received an almost endless stream of accolades, his share of criticisms, and an ever-growing level of recognition from within and without the jazz community. Speaking with Franz Matzner in 2004 from his tour bus to the accompaniment of companionable laughter, instruments being tuned, and the ambient hum of traffic, Marsalis offered thoughts on education, jazz and the internet, the significance of art, and the identity of the jazz genre, as well as his CD The Magic Hour. From the interview:

AAJ: Over the years, what have you found to be the most difficult part of teaching jazz?

WM: I think the most difficult thing about teaching jazz is a lack of reinforcement. You might teach a really good class, but there’s not a lot of reinforcement in the larger society. Many times the best environment to teach in is one where you say something and you teach a certain thing and then students can go out and see that in everyday life. But in the teaching of jazz, our sense of teaching is isolated. That’s the most difficult thing to overcome.

 Click here to read Wynton Marsalis Speaks Out

Béla Fleck at Hamilton College 2004

Here is a 2004 interview with banjo player and innovator Béla Fleck. Béla has recently done some great work with pianist Marcus Roberts, and a look back with an older interview is always interesting. As with all Hamilton College interviews, this is in both text and audio format. In this excerpt, Fleck discusses a bit of his writing process:

Are there times when you write and you write a hook that you think, this is — I mean it’s probably hard to be objective about your own writing — but do you think like yeah, really have something good here?

Yes I do. I totally get in love with, and in fact I feel like as a writer you’re trying to write something you can fall in love with that you can be emotional about and stand behind. And not everything that I write did I feel that way about. But by the time I’ve written constantly over a year and then there’s a few tunes that I go, I keep thinking about that one tune that I wrote, that tune, so maybe if I’m still thinking about it maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s because I’m always careful about not becoming emotionally involved with I don’t want to like play a pretty progression and then get attached to it just because it might be the most hackneyed progression you’ve ever heard but if you play it for two hours suddenly you get all emotionally involved. And I don’t want it to be like that. I want it to really be good. And so I’m careful when I get emotionally involved with something to make sure and step back from it and then play it again and see if I can still get in that place, if it’s going to have that kind of power, if the right pieces of things come together it will have that power, but I just want to be careful that if you’re going to play something beautiful it’s not just beautiful because it’s in the right tempo and has the right chords, it actually is beautiful and you’ll hear it that way. You know what I mean?

Click here to read and listen to Béla Fleck at Hamilton College 2004

Master Class with Hank Jones: John Snyder Interviews Hank Jones Backstage

What would a week of interviews with great Jazz pianists be without Hank Jones, who in his later years took on a big role of ambassador for the art form. There are  many interviews with Hank out there, and I like to link to them, but if you can only listen to one, this is it. In 2004 the legendary pianist sat down for a full ninety minute talk during a master class produced by John Snyder of Artists House Foundation and David Schroeder of the NYU jazz department. He talks about everything from his early days to the greats he worked with to some more technical aspects of music. Fascinating stuff.

— Peter Blasevick

Elvin Jones: Drumming Icon is Still Cooking

Great interviews with great Jazz drummers this week. Today is a nice long 2004 interview with the legendary Elvin Jones from AllAboutJazz.com. From the interview, here is the master talking about his love of Jazz music:

“I always thought that great music is a challenge,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any music greater or a lot more exciting than jazz music, because it’s pure. You hear things that nobody’s ever played before and you hear things that are almost impossible for anyone to duplicate. It’s being done and you hear music that is so beautiful; it makes you weep; it’s more than anything any classical composers have written can be. It compares equally with some of the best that’s ever been done.”

Click here to read Elvin Jones: Drumming Icon is Still Cooking

The Magnificent Life of Elvin Jones

September 9th is the birthday of the great Elvin Jones, so today I’ll list a great combination interview and retrospective piece (Jones had just passed earlier that May) originally published in the August/September 2004 issue of DRUM! Magazine by Robert Doerschuk, with the original interview by Mike Sherpa.

Early in the interview, the legendary drummer talks about his two famous older brothers:

“From 13 to maybe 21 I didn’t even see them,” Elvin says. “Hank would go out with his trios and with Ella Fitzgerald, Jazz At The Philharmonic, and all of that. Thad was out in the Southwest, in Oklahoma and Missouri and Kansas, places like that, working with what they used to term ’territory bands.’ When he came home, of course, I thought he was an accomplished musician. He could do a lot of things that I’d heard Dizzy Gillespie do and all the things I’d heard Miles Davis do — and I thought he did them twice as good. He knew a lot about harmony, so he was a great arranger. When he was with Basie, for instance, he could do arrangements on the bus without benefit of a piano or anything else, and all of his music was extremely accurate — hardly any corrections. He was able to unleash his talent and do what he desired.”

Click here to read The Magnificent Life of Elvin Jones