Tag: 2013

Jon Batiste: Staying Human

jonBatisteNearly everything about Jonathan Batiste is steeped in New Orleans—from the way he talks, walks, and claps his hands to the way he plays the piano, composes, and leads his Stay Human Band. So, it’s surprising to consider he’s actually spent most of his adult life in New York City, having arrived in 2004 when he was a teenager to study at Juilliard. Since then, he’s been making a firm connection with the City, including a close association with National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Oh, and as of a week ago, he is also Stephen Colbert’s bandleader on the new Late Show. Here is a recent reprint of a great interview he did with AllAboutJazz in 2013. From the interview:

Batiste’s work at Jazz at Lincoln Center ties in with another New Orleans connection of his —and here we have to make clear that in saying “New Orleans,” we’re using a bit of shorthand. Batiste actually hails from Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of the New Orleans metro area, which also happens to be the hometown of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

“I don’t know another person in New York who’s from Kenner,” says Batiste. “We have that mutual connection. The Batistes and the Marsalises are very big musical families in the New Orleans area. We went to the same schools and had a lot of the same instructors. I met him in New Orleans as a kid, and then when I came to Juilliard, I started to play with him, and over time I started to do concerts with Jazz at Lincoln Center.”

Click here to read Jon Batiste: Staying Human

Mike Stern: Guitar to the stars . . . and Miles beyond

mikeSternMike Stern is truly one of the great guitarists of our age, equally comfortable in straight ahead jazz, fusion, and rock and roll—he has been in the news most recently for his collaborations with rock guitar hero Eric Johnson. Here is a typically honest 2013 interview in which he discusses much, including his time with Miles:

You mentioned Miles Davis. That must have actually been a difficult period for you in a way in that he was unwell and struggling. And that rock-fusion at the time was not well received by jazz critics. Do you look back on that period fondly?

Definitely. I loved it. People will say what they say, and Miles would always say people will catch on 10 years later with what he was doing. And that was kind of what happened. I wanted to play more bebop and he wanted me to rock. He liked the fact I was playing lines, but he wanted the volume.

I thought we could split the difference maybe and he would say ‘No, no. Let’s rock.’ And he’d always say, ‘Play me some Hendrix’. What he meant was, ‘Play your stuff, but with that attitude’. So I was playing a lot of lines and there was rock in there because I come from that.

It was great experience playing with him, he played so much from the heart. People say what they say but they’ve all turned around and people are discovering it now. He was always ahead of the time. And that always invites criticism. But he always told me, ‘Don’t worry about [criticism]’. So it was a great experience and the only thing is . . . Well, I finally did it sober. (laughs).

I was really messed up in those days and for some of it I was pretty trashed. But, for all that, some of it still came out good. Miles had a way of getting stuff out of people. Then I went back with him and the band was a bit different with keyboard players. That first group was really open with just guitar.

Then Sco [Scofield] played with us for a while. Me and Sco played together in that band, then I left and Sco did it for a while, then Miles added keyboards and I went back with that band when Sco left. It was still a great vibe but it was a little more structured, which is cool. But I liked the first band which was really open and fun. All of it was great because I got to play with him and Jaco Pastorius and Michael Brecker. It was amazing.

Click here to read Mike Stern: Guitar to the stars . . . and Miles beyond

—Peter Blasevick

T.S.Monk: My Father Thelonious Monk

tSMonkThe great Thelonious Monk would have been 97 years young today, and to celebrate one of the great geniuses of American music, a little something different: a 2013 irockjazz.com interview from with Monk’s son, T. S. Monk, in which the younger musician speaks at length about growing up with an American legend for a father. From the interview with Paul Pennington:


On recognizing his father’s genius

TSM: I kind of concluded that after a while. Of course, he was clearly different than everyone else’s dad. He was a lot more intense it seemed. From every indication I got from the people around him he was a lot more intelligent than everybody else too [laughs]. So I knew something was going on. Adults sometimes don’t know what they’re saying to kids, so if you have people saying to you, ‘Do you know who you your father is’? That’s a crazy question for a six year old, you know. I mean what do you mean ‘Do I know who my father is’? He’s my daddy. So that was very confusing. Of course, they were referring to his musical accomplishments. But I didn’t know anything about that. All I knew is that my father played the piano. Most of my friend’s fathers drove buses and were mailmen and did things like that. So I knew he had something going on. But in terms of trying to convey the magnitude of his genius to a ten year old it’s a silly thing to even try to do.

Click here to read T.S.Monk: My Father Thelonious Monk

—Peter Blasevick

Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

haroldMabernHere is an interesting interview with the great Harold Mabern speaking about his time with Wes Montgomery during Wes’ 1965 tour and his famous “625 Alive” appearance on the BBC. Mabern had some great reflections in his time with Wes, including some insight into Wes’ practicing. Interview by Tim Fitzgerald:

TF: Have you heard that quote where Wes says something like, “I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat?”
HM: Well, I think I heard that quote too, yeah. But no, he practiced. He had a sense of humor too, you know? But he was always practicing. I know for a fact he was always practicing. I’d go out and come by his room and hear him, and I wouldn’t disturb him. He put a lot of time on the instrument.

Mabern also spoke of what Wes was like as a bandleader:

HM:…He was not greedy at all. He was not greedy money-wise. He was not greedy musically speaking. He was a great, great human being. So that’s why when you see that tape, those things we did, that’s why the music probably sounds so good because everybody was on the same page trying to do the right thing, and it comes through the music…

Click here to read Interview with Harold Mabern about playing with Wes Montgomery

—Peter Blasevick

Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview

garyHusbandHere is a three part 2013 interview with drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband from AllAboutJazz. In part one Husband speaks of his formative years, talks at length of his decades-long relationship with Allan Holdsworth, discusses Jack Bruce and Gary Moore, and speaks about his solo piano recordings. Part two covers working with John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Wayne Krantz, Jimmy Herring, Mike Stern, Steve Hackett, Steve Topping, Neil Taylor, and more. Part three focuses in on his latest project with Gary Husband on piano and Alex Machecek on electric guitar. He also discusses his work with Billy Cobham.

Click here to listen to Three part 2013 Gary Husband interview Part One, Part Two, Part Three

—Peter Blasevick

Interview with Joey Alexander

joeyAlexanderHere is a really fun interview sent to me by pianist and teacher Mark Polishook that he did with Joey Alexander, a really gifted young pianist from Indonesia. Well, he’s not young, he’s 10 years old and he’s a prodigy. There are plenty of videos of him on YouTube if you haven’t heard him play, it’s worth the trip. From the interview:

MP: Giant Steps is one of the tunes you like to play. I’m sure you know how important it is in jazz history and I’m sure you know what it represents to jazz musicians. When did you first play it? Is there something in Giant Steps that speaks to you? Does it present any special challenges when you play it?

JA: I first played Giant Steps when I was 8. I know it’s an important tune and I love the progression. And I like John Coltrane’s music very much. It’s always a challenge to play. So I always focus on being simple. Every tune is hard if I want to play it right. [Joey smiles].

Click here to read Interview with Joey Alexander

—Peter Blasevick

An interview with jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, resident artist at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

chrisPotterA quick interviews today from saxophonist Chris Potter. Fresh off an August 2013 show at the Stanford Jazz Festival, Potter sat down with The Stanford Daily to discuss influences on his work, his experiences as both a bandleader and a sideman and the demands of being creative. From the interview Potter talks about listening to contemporary artists:

Chris Potter: The music that I listen to that’s more recent, a lot of it is not necessarily jazz but maybe [is] classical or pop. I don’t know why that is exactly. It might be that I’m just too close to it. A lot of the jazz records that are being made are by people that I know and am friends with. I know them personally, so I go out to listen to them whenever I have the chance. I don’t feel influenced by them the same way as when I listen to a Coltrane record. I might listen to their records and say, “OK yeah, he really expressed himself well on this one.” But that’s a lot different from listening to Coltrane, whom I never had a chance to hear in person. And I think if I wasn’t in the middle of the scene, in New York, it’d be a very different scenario.

Click here to read An interview with jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, resident artist at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

—Peter Blasevick

Gary Bartz Talks About Drug Use Among Jazz Greats

Here is a very interesting video interview from iRockJazz on a topic that jazz musicians don’t often like to discuss: legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz talks about drug use among jazz greats, how he got hooked, kicking the habit and the effects on the music.

—Peter Blasevick

Wayne Shorter: Portrait Of A Visionary

wayneShorterHappy New Year all! I hope 2013 ended up great for everyone and 2014 promises to be even better!

Here is a great portrait of Wayne Shorter R. J. Deluke put together last week for AllAboutJazz.com. Along with Shorter himself, Deluke includes parts of talks wiht other musicians like Wallace Roney, John Patitucci, and Jack DeJohnette to get a fuller picture of the legendaey Saxophonist. From the interview:

The meaning of the often-debated word “jazz,” to Shorter, is “I dare you.” He exemplifies it. 

“Don’t play music lessons, Art Blakey would say,” says Shorter, who then effects a dead-on Blakey voice impersonation. “‘I don’t wanna hear that. Tell me a story.’ When I talked with Miles [Davis], we kind of talked like this, like we’re talking now, and Miles would say a couple of times [in perfect Miles raspy voice:] ‘Why don’t you play that.’ In other words: play what you’re thinking. Don’t play music. Play a story.’ What do you play after you play ‘Once upon a time?’ What comes next?”

Click here to read Wayne Shorter: Portrait Of A Visionary

—Peter Blasevick

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

herbieHancockLiving legend Herbie Hancock recently talked with “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell about receiving the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors, his influence on rap music and his catalog of over 100 albums. From the interview, he remembers playing a wrong chord while with Miles Davis:

“I hit a wrong chord. It was amazing.  And– Miles is playing his solo, getting to the peak of his solo and then, I played this chord that was so wrong. It was so wrong,” he said. “I thought I had just, like … a house of cards and I just destroyed them all, you know?  And Miles just took a breath and he played some notes that made my chord right.”

Click here to read Jazz legend Herbie Hancock on his career and future

—Peter Blasevick