Tag: 2009

John Abercrombie: Searching For A Sound

johnAbercrombieThere are a series of interviews hosted by Dr. David Schoeder for NYU called the Steinhardt Interview Series that were done in 2009 and 2010 here. They are all great, and this one with John Abercrombie is no exception. From the interview:

“Basically the guitar is a piece of lumber. Some are made of a little better lumber than others, but it almost doesn’t matter. Once you put an electronic pickup in the guitar, and you have a cable, and you plug it into an amplifier that sits outside of you, your sound’s coming out of there… I can understand why the rock ‘n’ roll players need to use stacks of Marshall amps. This gives them what they want. They need to play that loud. They have to. That’s part of the sound. I didn’t need to play that loud, but I needed a sound, so I just had to try different things until I came up with it. I realized the guitar was the least important part in my sound. A lot of the possibilities come from whether it’s just a single amplifier with no reverberation, or whether it’s a stack of Marshalls, or whether it’s some sophisticated setup.”

Click here to read and listen to John Abercrombie: Searching For A Sound

—Peter Blasevick

2010 Jim Hall interview from the Library of Congress

The great Jim Hall may have passed away this past December at the age of 83, but there are still plenty of places on the ol’ interweb machine to learn about the guitar legend. Here Hall talks about his life and music is a fantastic hour long interview with the Library of Congress’ Larry Appelbaum.

—Peter Blasevick

Hank Jones with Bill Charlap on Piano Jazz

hankJonesI love when a musician is interviewed by one of his or her peers…it usually gives the interview a slant it wouldn’t ordinarily have. Another musician will often ask questions of their subject that a non-musician wouldn’t necessarily consider because of their shared talents and experience. Here is a great interview in which pianist Bill Charlap, sitting in for regular host Marian McPartland on NPR’s Piano Jazz, interviews the legendary Hank Jones.

In this 2009 session, Jones returns to the program 30 years after his first appearance for a set of tunes spanning his career. “Keep the melody intact,” Jones says flatly. “You can do all kinds of things with the harmonies, but the melody must remain.”

The set list for the show:

  • “Lonely Woman” (Bill Stegmeyer)
  • “We’ll Be Together Again” (Carl Fischer)
  • “Lotus Blossoms” (Billy Strayhorn)
  • “Easy Living” (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin)
  • “Odd Number” (Hank Jones)
  • “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian” (Traditional)
  • “Sophisticated Lady” (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Mitchell Parrish)
  • “Oh, Look at Me Now” (Joe Bushkin/John DeVries)

Click here to listen to Hank Jones with Bill Charlap on Piano Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

The Jazz Session #76: Steve Kuhn

steveKuhnHappy 76th birthday to the great Steve Kuhn! Jason Crane interviews the pianist for Jason’s great podcast The Jazz Session. Kuhn speaks about his (then) new new album, Mostly Coltrane (ECM, 2009), which pays tribute to John Coltrane, with whom Kuhn worked for several weeks in the early 60s. In the interview, Kuhn talks about Coltrane, the Lenox School of Jazz, his composing methods, and the support he received early on from Bill Evans. He also discusses the sacrifices he made in pursuit of his musical vision.

Click here to listen to The Jazz Session #76: Steve Kuhn

—Peter Blasevick


The Jazz Session #91: Mike Stern

mikeSternHere is a cool 2009 talk with Mike Stern from Jason Crane’s JazzSession podcast archive. So many great interviews there, check it out.

“Guitarist Mike Stern has played with everyone. And yes, that includes Miles Davis. After decades in the business, he could easily be resting on his laurels. Instead, he’s pushing himself into new territory, as displayed on his CD Big Neighborhood (Heads Up, 2009), which finds him in the company of everyone from Esperanza Spaulding to Randy Brecker to Eric Johnson to Steve Vai. In this interview, Stern talks about why he likes surrounding himself with fresh ideas; his rockin’ side and his lyrical side; and how guitarist Hiram Bullock once blew Michael Brecker’s mind.”

Click here to listen to The Jazz Session #91: Mike Stern

Al DiMeola – Expanding Jazz Guitar

alDimeolaGuitarist Al Di Meola first became famous playing with Chick Corea in the fusion band Return to Forever. He gained international recognition performing as part of the Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. JazzCorner.com’s Jazz Perspective producer Reese Erlich interviewed Di Meola in 2009 at the Montreal Jazz Festival about his efforts with his World Sinfonia band.

Click here to listen to Al DiMeola – Expanding Jazz Guitar

—Peter Blasevick


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

The Jazz Session #88: Ellis Marsalis

ellisMarsalisToday, a cool 2009 interview with pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis from The Jazz Session, a member-supported online interview show focusing on in-depth conversations with jazz musicians authored by Jason Crane.

In this interview, the patriarch of the Marsalis family talks about how his time in the Marines helped build his piano chops; how he got his gig with trumpeter Al Hirt; and what makes New Orleans “fertile ground” for a jazz musician.

Click here to listen to The Jazz Session #88: Ellis Marsalis

—Peter Blasevick

In conversation with Sonny Rollins

Today, a great 2009 interview with the legendary Sonny Rollins From Stuart Nicolson and Jazz.com. Topics the great tenor saxophonist covers here are greats Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, his theory of improvisation, and more. From the interview, on improvising:

sonnyRollinsIn fact, in a way, improvisation is making the mind blank. When I’m playing, I’m in a trance. I’m not thinking of anything. Sometimes I’ve thought about a nice pattern I wanted to play, maybe a little riff on the song. It’s very clever and I’d think about it and go, ‘Oh yeah, this song I’ll put in this clever riff, it’ll really sound clever, everybody will think I’m clever!’ But I can’t do it, because when I think about putting it in someplace, the music has gone by so fast that it doesn’t work, so I just forget it. Just absorb it and it comes out at some weird time and for some weird reason from the subconscious, so I’ll play it, but don’t try to manage it and put it in to a solo. So that’s what I have learned about music about improvisation and it’s beautiful. I think somebody told me Miles [Davis] said something like that, he learns something and he forgets it because you can’t be creative if you know too much about what you’re doing.

Click here to read In conversation with Sonny Rollins

2009 DTM interview with Albert “Tootie” Heath

DoTheMath is pianist Ethan Iverson’s great blog about mostly jazz and jazz piano, but also about classical music and classic crime fiction books and a whole host of other stuff. It’s required reading for the jazz musician and fan alike.

From Ethan’s blog, here is a great 2009 interview with Albert “Tootie” Heath. The legendary drummer talks about his musical family, Kenny Clarke, The MJQ, and tons of other stuff. A great interview. A quick sample:

Albert Heath: For drummers I listened to Max Roach, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, and Specs Wright, a local drummer who was an amazing musician.  He was in my brother Jimmy’s band, and he took me on as a student.  I learned most of the rudimental drum studies through him.  I kind of cast those aside for a while: you need to be really mature and secure in your musicianship to be able to sit down and deal with the basics.  When you’re young you think the basics aren’t hip.  So the rudiments I got in early life, I chucked them out, but in later life I’m discovering how important they are, and how much the guys I admired and wanted to be like knew their rudiments.  Kenny Clarke was probably one of the most rudimental players in jazz.  And Max Roach of course, same thing.  His solos were very melodic but you could still relate them to rudiments. 

Click here to read 2009 DTM interview with Albert “Tootie” Heath 

—Peter Blasevick