Tag: bandleaders

Two Duke Ellington interviews by Les Tomkins

dukeEllingtonHere are two interviews with the one and only Duke Ellington originally from Les Tomkins and now hosted at the UK National Jazz Archive. Tomkins molded a number of different interviews and discussions conducted between 1964 and 1973 into these two pieces, which are written in monologue style. Ellington discusses everything from his early years to his arranging to performing at Westminster Abbey. From the interviews:

We’ve had a lot of wonderful people in the band, you know, from time to time—Ben Webster, Blanton, Shorty Baker, Clark Terry, Barney Bigard. Who else? So many wonderful guys. And even Bechet played with us in 1926. He and Bubber Miley used to have what we call cutting contests. One would go out and play ten choruses then the other would do the same. And while one was on the other would be back getting a little taste, to get himself together, and a few new ideas. It was really something. Too bad we don’t have all that on tape today.

Click here to read Interview One: Looks Back – and Forward

Click here to read Interview Two: On Sacred Music

—Peter Blasevick

Benny Goodman: The Complete 1982 Interview About Charlie Christian

bennyGoodman98 years ago today the legendary Charlie Christian was born in Bonham, Texas. While he lived only a short 25 years and there isn’t much out there in the way of first hand interviews with Charlie, there were always musicians who played with him that were willing to discuss his short but brilliant career. Here is a 1982 telephone interview with Benny Goodman conducted by Jas Obrecht on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Christian’s
passing. From the interview:

charlieChristianSome books now claim that Charlie was instrumental in pioneering bebop.

Well, that’s true, isn’t it?  Yeah. But to me, he sounded quite different than that. He wasn’t as hectic as bebop, as far as I’m concerned. But I can see the influence that I can imagine that some people would say he had over bop. His inventions, his harmonic structure – quite miraculous. There was a phrase in – what was it? [Sings several measures of Christian’s “Air Mail Special” solo.] Remember the release? Yeah. [Sings some “Air Mail Special” riffs.] Those kinds of phrases – extraordinary!

Click here to read Benny Goodman: The Complete 1982 Interview About Charlie Christian

—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

Thad Jones and Mel Lewis 1969

thadJonesHere is a great talk with bandleaders Thad Jones and Mel Lewis speaking with Les Tomkins in 1969. They talk a lot about their legendary orchestra and its players and how fortunate the two of them have been in their careers. From the interview:

Lewis: I don’t think any two guys could be as lucky as Thad and I, as far as having something that you can be proud of till your dying day. The kind of thing you dream about. And most people would never attempt it, because they’d figure: “Oh, it couldn’t happen.” But it can. We’ve proved it—to ourselves, anyway. If somebody else doesn’t melLewisbelieve it, i doesn’t matter; we know it, and we’re two of the happiest guys in the world right now.

Jones: We’ve both been sidemen in other bands for practically all of our musical lives; we’ve never really done the things that we wanted to do as individuals. When you play with somebody else, you always try to fit that particular mould, to give what is in you to give within whatever’s going on. I worked for that bandleader; I gave him what he wanted. This is the type of attitude that I’ve come to expect; otherwise you’ll never be able to give one hundred per cent of you. And any band must do this, in order to be an orchestra, to play as one.

Click here to read Thad Jones and Mel Lewis 1969

—Peter Blasevick

Two WKCR Interviews and a DownBeat Blindfold Test with Chico Hamilton

chicoHamiltonThe great drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton passed away last week at the age of 92. As he so often does, Ted Panken pulled a number of interviews from his archive in order to post a wonderful tribute on his blog. The two cover virtually every topic you can think of in these pieces, including this about tap-dancers!:

TP:    Did you ever play with any tap dancers?

CH:    Did I ever play with any tap dancers!  Quite a few, as a matter of fact.  There was a tremendous dance team by the name of the Berry Brothers, there was a tremendous team named the Nicholas Brothers.  I kept time for them.  I think I played with Baby Lawrence at one time or another.  When you were in the big bands, that’s what you did.   You played for all those dancers.  Most bands when they were on the road, they were with a show.  There was a complete show.  They would have dancers and singers and things like that.  So you had to learn to play for dancers, which is an art within itself.  But laying down taps on one of my records… The last album I did, Dancing To A Different Drummer, I simulate a tap dancer dancing.  I do a brush solo, which is the same kind of thing, same kind of groove.

Click here to read Two WKCR Interviews and a DownBeat Blindfold Test with Chico Hamilton

—Peter Blasevick

Sun Ra Interview: Helsinki, 1971

Sun Ra was a bad man. Not much else to say. Check out this 10 minute long video interview with the man from 1971:

—Peter Blasevick

Guitarist John Pizzarelli from the 2012 Jazz Cruise

This week I will be linking to some great video interviews from the JazzTimes YouTube page. There is so much more there than I’ll be posting this week, so be sure to check it out!

Today’s interviews are with singer/guitarist/bandleader John Pizzarelli and were conducted aboard the MS Westerdam during the Jazz Cruise 2012. In the three clips, Pizzarelli discusses his early years, including his first instrument, the first jazz album he loved, the first jazz concerts and his very first paying gig; part two covers his favorites from the Great American Songbook and beyond, his bucket list of artists with whom he’d like to play, and the genesis of the radio show he does with his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey; and finally he discusses the talks about performing on the Jazz Cruise. Interviews by Irene Lee.

—Peter Blasevick

Dave Weckl: Rhythm Talk

Today wraps up our week of interviews for the great website AllAboutJazz.com!

When any jazz enthusiasts start talking about drummers, one of the first names that comes to mind is sure to be Dave Weckl. This major innovator of modern jazz drumming has grooved with more players since he started playing in the New York club scene in the early ’80s. His most notable stint started in 1985 when he was asked to be a part of the then-forming Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, which he revived in 2004 after a break of over ten years.

In this 2006 with Stefanee Freedman at a show in Los Angeles, CA with guitarist Mike Stern and bassist Victor Wooten, Weckl discusses his groups, his technique, his recordings, his drums, and plenty else. An interesting bit from the interview:

AAJ: Do you find having more knowledge of the piano helps you with arrangements and writing?

DW: Well, it is necessary or you may sound pretty silly. You have to have some sort of harmonic knowledge to piece all the instruments together. Like anything else, the more influence you have from different things, the more knowledge you have to work with. With drums, it helps to know different cultures of rhythm, so I try to use my background or knowledge of different rhythms to input little things here and there in the music. If you have a better harmonic knowledge from all types of music like classical to rock to blues or whatever, the music will be deeper and fuller.

Click here to read Dave Weckl: Rhythm Talk  

Jimmy Cobb – Keeping Time

This week I will be posting some podcast interviews from JazzCorner.com, a portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations. There is a ton of great info you can get to from there, so check them out.

Drummer Jimmy Cobb turned 84 last month but still keeps up a regular schedule of performing and teaching master classes. Perhaps most famous when he was part of Miles Davis band (1957-63), NEA Jazz Master Cobb has a distinguished career as both sideman and group leader. Producer Reese Erlich interviewed Cobb for this special JazzCorner.com Jazz Perspective prior to his appearance at the 2011 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. In this 30 minute interview, Cobb discusses his career, his time with Miles, and a host of other topics.

Click here to listen to Jimmy Cobb – Keeping Time

Louis Armstrong 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.

This Hot Air interview with the legendary Louis Armstrong took place on Jan. 17, 1968, just three years before his death. In their relatively short conversation, Hot Air host Bob Smith engages Armstrong on a wide range of topics, including his earliest memories living and playing in a New Orleans orphanage, joining the band of his hero Joe “King” Oliver in Chicago in 1922 and explaining the origin of his many nicknames.

At one point, Armstrong is asked if the rumors of his retirement are true, to which he replies, “Musician don’t retire no how. They just stop when they ain’t got no more gigs.”

Click here to listen to Louis Armstrong in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive