Tag: composers

Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

burtBacharachBurt Bacharach has written more than 600 songs and more than 70 Top 40 hits. In 1957, Bacharach met fellow songwriter Hal David, and the two began a collaboration that would result in some of the most memorable songs of their day, many of which have an adventurous and jazz-inspired sense of harmony and rhythm, cleverly disguised as simple pop songs!

In this NPR Piano Jazz session from 2005, Bacharach discusses his early years, his collaborations, and performs some of his most famous numbers, such as “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Close to You.” 


  • “Alfie” (Bacharach, David)
  • “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (Bacharach, David)
  • “This Guy’s In Love With You” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (Bacharach, David)
  • “What The World Needs Now Is Love” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Portrait Of Burt Bacharach” (McPartland)
  • “The Windows Of The World” (Bacharach, David)
  • “Close To You” (Bacharach, David)

Click here to listen to Burt Bacharach On Piano Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

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

Joe Zawinul at 65

joeZawinulHere is a very interesting 1996 interview with keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul from 1996 conducted by Howard Mandel for The Wire.

“I’m part Hungarian, part gypsy–”
And a Viennese composer.
“Yes, I am!–though this symphony is all improvised. I always did that,” he says. “All the Weather Report stuff was improvised. I believe because of that it has a little more natural feel to it.
“I never could sit down and take the time”–as he supposes classical era composers would have even if they’d been able to document their own complex works on tape. “To me, sitting and composing pen to paper, is constrictive and analytical. When I make arrangements I have to do that, orchestrate–and I write every note myself, at the piano. I fuck with it for a long time. I don’t change any of the improvisation. But you know, you have 100 people to work with,” he shrugs, humbly conceding, “I cannot play everything myself.”

Click here to read Joe Zawinul at 65

—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


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

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

Getting Some Fun Out of Life and Music: Back in St. Paul With David Frishberg

A few cool interviews I found on the JazzPolice website this week.

Today’s interview is with American jazz pianist, vocalist and composer David Frishberg. He’s likely best known for writing funny tunes (and of course the Schoolhouse Rock classic “I’m Just a Bill”), but he is quite the pianist and singer as well. In the piece, Frishberg discusses his early years, leaving Minnesota for New York, songwriting in L.A., and some of his influences. From the piece:

Looking back, David identifies three individuals who most influenced him personally and musically—Al Cohn, Jimmy Rowles, and Dave Karr. He also cites pianists whose style made the biggest impression—Teddy Wilson, Mel Powell, and Nat Cole. “Also I was a big fan of Tatum and others—Errol Garner and the boppers, Al Haig, and Bud Powell.” But it was particularly Jimmy Rowles whom he admired. “I was already in the Twin Cities Big League, but then I heard a Jimmy Rowles record. Something about the way he played and touched the piano changed me. I wanted to play with and learn from him. I listened to him play on the Woody Herman Small Band sides, and on Peggy Lee’s “Black Coffee” on a 10-inch LP from Decca. It showed me how brilliant and elegant an accompanist could be. Rowles had everything.” Of old bandmate Dave Karr, Frishberg says, “Dave Karr is one of the most profound influences on my music—his excellence and musicality. I’ve learned a lot and was inspired by him. He was the most proficient musician I had met at the time.”

Click here to read Getting Some Fun Out of Life and Music: Back in St. Paul With David Frishberg

Horace Silver—The Nitty Gritty

JazzCorner.com is the largest portal for the official websites of hundreds of jazz musicians and organizations, and this week I will be posting some podcast interviews from their Jazz Perspectives and InnerViews podcasts series’.

Horace Silver is a living legend and one of America’s most prolific composers, with standards such as “Song For My Father” and “Sister Sadie.” Today’s JazzCorner.com Innerview was first aired on radio station WRVR on Lois Gilbert’s Jazz Masters series in 1979 and updated for the 2010 Detroit Jazz Festival and the theme of Flame Keepers: Carrying the Torch for Modern Jazz. In this hour-plus long podcast Silver talks us through his entire career and we get to hear a number of fantastic Silver recordings!

Click here to listen to Horace Silver—The Nitty Gritty


Wayne Shorter On Jazz: ‘How Do You Rehearse The Unknown?’

As the great Wayne Shorter approaches his 80th birthday, he’s just reunited with the label that championed him as a bandleader back in the 1960s, Blue Note Records. On the new album Without a Net, he leads a quartet with whom he’s spent more than a decade through live recordings and some striking new compositions.

Speaking with NPR’s Laura Sullivan, Shorter says he absorbed a common principle from Davis, Coltrane, Blakey and his other great peers and mentors: They left their musicians alone.

“The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We never had a rehearsal,” Shorter says. “Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word ‘jazz’ means, ‘I dare you.’ The effort to break out of something is worth more than getting an A in syncopation.

“This music, it’s dealing with the unexpected,” he adds. “No one really knows how to deal with the unexpected. How do you rehearse the unknown?”

Click here to listen to Wayne Shorter On Jazz: ‘How Do You Rehearse The Unknown?’, including Shorter’s Miles Davis impression!

Eubie Blake On Piano Jazz

More interviews from NPR Piano Jazz this week! Though Marian McPartland no longer actively hosts the show (which has been running since the late 1970s), it still airs weekly with encore performances and in a new version hosted by Jon Weber.

Here is a real treat: a 1980 interview with James Hubert “Eubie” Blake. He was the last of the known living original ragtime pianists when he appeared on the program in 1980 with host Marian McPartland. Here, the 93-year-old Blake recalls working in vaudeville, performing at the height of the Jim Crow era, writing “Charleston Rag” and even watching a performance by the great Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Between all the great talking, the set list for the show runs:

  • “Betty Washboard Rag” (R. Kreve)
  • “Marian’s Waltz” (J.H. Blake)
  • “You’re Lucky to Me” (J.H. Blake, A. Razaf)
  • “Charleston Rag” (J.H. Blake)
  • “Dream Rag” (J.H. Blake)
  • “For the Last Time Call Me Sweetheart” (A. Johns)
  • “The Star Spangled Banner”
  • “Falling in Love With Someone” (V. Herbert, R. Young)
  • “Kiss Me Again” (V. Herbert, H. Blossom)
  • “St. Louis Blues” (W.C. Handy)
  • “I’m Just Wild About Harry” (E. Blake, N. Sissle)
  • “Gypsy Sweetheart” (V. Herbert, H. Smith)

Click here to listen to Eubie Blake on NPR Piano Jazz 1991