Tag: arrangers

Quincy Jones: ‘I told Michael Jackson he was weird’

quincyJonesHere is a fun interview with the great Quincy Jones from Paul Lester at The Guardian. Jones discusses everything from Frank Sinatra to his early days to his biggest influences. He also opines on legalizing drugs, Nazis on cocaine, and recording Thriller. Great stuff. From the interview:

Frank Sinatra called you Q. What did you call him?
Francis, or FS.

Were you nervous of him?
Nervous? Not even close, man! I was living in France, studying with Nadia Boulanger [tutor to Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland]. And I come in one day, they say, “Grace Kelly called, Mr Sinatra wants you to bring your house band” – I had the best house band in the world. So we played with Frank, and he said five words to me: “Good job, kid. Koo-koo.” I never saw anything like him on a stage. He was like a magician, from another planet. He had it down. The most magical thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Frank was bipolar, and one of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. I have his ring on, with his family crest, from Sicily. I’ve never taken it off.

Click here to read Quincy Jones: ‘I told Michael Jackson he was weird’

—Peter Blasevick

Absolute Brilliance with guest Jacob Collier

jacobCollierThe most talented musician in the world may be 19 years old and it may be Jacob Collier. He just released a new video and here is a new interview from a couple weeks ago with Kerry Marsh on his podcast Vocal Jazz and Beyond. You can imagine they get to talking about all things composing, arranging, and playing. The interview with Jacob starts at about 23:00 of the 1:17:00 podcast.

Click here to listen to Absolute Brilliance with guest Jacob Collier

—Peter Blasevick


Three 1960s Quincy Jones Interviews

quincyJonesFrom the newly revamped JazzProfessional website (now part of the UK National Jazz Archive), here are three mid-1960s interviews with legendary producer, conductor, arranger, and composer Quincy Jones. Speaking with Les Tompkins in 1963 and 1965, Jones discusses his development and early days of his career. From the first interview:

“Actually, the first record I made was with Art Farmer for Prestige. I wrote an album for him called “Work Of Art”. That was with musicians from the band, and it was a thrilling moment for us—to have Art get a record session. We rehearsed and prepared for it for two months. We had the luxury of time that we can’t afford today. Incidentally, during my stay with Hamp we had a tremendous awakening in Sweden. I imagine anybody that has never left the States has the feeling that the Americans play far better than most European musicians—in jazz, anyway. In many ways this is a fallacy. It was exaggerated. I don’t mean that we felt that we were superior, but we had a feeling that it wasn’t quite up to the same standard that we had in New York.”

Click here to read Three 1960s Quincy Jones Interviews Part One Part Two Part Three

Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

I’ll be posting interviews from the CBC-Radio Canada archives this week. The Bob Smith Hot Air archive is a treasure trove of approximately 50 interviews Smith recorded with some of the greatest stars of the day, from the world of jazz and beyond. Captured between 1950 and 1982, these interviews include conversations with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Harry James, Oscar Peterson and Lena Horne, as well as Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli and many others.

Today, check out pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams in conversation with Bob Smith for CBC Hot Air, recorded in May 1977 in Vancouver. From the interview:

Williams spoke about the spiritual and healing qualities of music, echoing the values of the iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, someone she highly respected. Like Coltrane, Williams embraced Catholicism in her later years and even composed a jazz mass that features soulful, uplifting takes on traditional mass elements. Her criticism of modern popular music could be harsh at times, yet she incorporated the sound of ’60s funk and soul into her own music in a unique and organic way.

“I don’t think of anything until my hand touches the keyboard. Then everything starts workin’. The mind, heart, fingertips. If it misses the heart then you have patterns. That may happen due to the fact your rhythm section isn’t with it. Something like that. And if you’re on the spot you have to finish it off.”

Click here to listen to Mary Lou Williams in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive

Rich + Tormé = Wild Repartee

This week I’ll be linking to some classic Downbeat interviews. Here is a long and funny 1978 interview with drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich conducted by singer and composer/arranger Mel Tormé. From the piece, here are the two discussing the connection between drumming and tap dancing:

Tormé: Chick Webb, Ray Baduc, Gene Krupa, Ray McKinley—all those guys—were superior drummers in their own ways, but none of them were very daring. They didn’t incorporate bass drum and snare drum as alternate sounds. You’re the first guy that ever did that, I think. Do you feel that your tap dancing talents are the reason that you’re able to communicate between bass drum and snare drum, and tom toms and the rest of them, better than other drummers?

Rich: Tap dancing in the true sense is rhythmical dancing, right? I hate to say that you have to be born with it, but you don’t learn how to be a jazz tap dancer. Baby Laurence was the daddy of jazz tap dancers. The Conners brothers, Bunny Briggs, Buck and Bubbles, Bill Robinson—I would bet that if that they wanted to and picked up a pair of sticks, they could have been outstanding drummers. It’s that kind of feeling, that time thing.

Click here to read Rich & Tormé = Wild Repartee

— Peter Blasevick

Gil Evans in 1978

Today is a great two-part 1978 interview with composer and arranger Gil Evans by Les Tomkins from the JazzProfessional website. Here is an excerpt in which Gil talks about his early music involvement:

“Not till I started to high school. I was staying with these people who had a piano; I just started fooling around with the piano, and I realised that I liked to do it.

To start with, I had no background except popular music; that’s what I played then. Later on, I listened to other music, out of curiosity and a desire to know what was happening in my trade. Then I went into the French impressionists and the Russian impressionists; that’s where I started in classical music. I don’t have any background in earlier classical music, like so many people do. I picked up anything I know about Bach, or anything like that, much later—when I came to New York, as a matter of fact, thirty years ago. I started playing Bach, and I realised at that time how people can devote their life to Bach. It’s a fantastic adventure, really, and if it suits your life style, I could see how you could do it, you know; I really could.

And also Chopin. But Bach especially. I could understand completely how people specialize in him, as they do. It seems funny to an outsider—and I thought it was funny, too, until I started playing that music, and I realised how the whole thing can just put you in a trance.”

Click here to read Gil Evans 1978

2010 Interview with Gunther Schuller

Gunther Schuller has been a larger than life force in the classical-jazz scene since the 1950s. In Part 1 of a wide ranging 2010 four-part interview by Marc Myers, the French hornist, composer, arranger, writer and producer talks about attending grade school in Germany just before World War II, the terrible accident that likely saved his life, arriving in New York and playing with Arturo Toscanini at age 16, and the start of his voracious appetite for the arts that began in earnest in the late 1940s; in Part 2 Gunther talks about meeting John Lewis, recording on the “Birth of the Cool” session, the hardest arrangement the nonet recorded that day, and why Mulligan’s Rocker still sounds so fresh; Schuller talks about the important albums three fascinating jazz recordings: the Modern Jazz Society with John Lewis, Gigi Gryce’s Nica’s Tempo, and Birth of the Third Stream in Part 3; and in Part 4 the pioneer talks about Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, and the Third Stream.

Click here to read 2010 Interview with Gunther Schuller

– Peter Blasevick

Gerry Mulligan: CBS Sunday Morning News 1982

This is a great piece. Pianist Billy Taylor interviews innovative saxophonist and “cool jazz” pioneer Gerry Mulligan for the CBS Morning News in 1982. Mulligan discusses his early days, his five night engagement with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Zuben Mehta, and his versatility. Gerry plays piano and sings, and excerpts from live performances are included.

Click here to watch Gerry Mulligan: CBS Sunday Morning News 1982