Tag: Downbeat

Nat Adderley: A Player’s Player

natAdderleyHere is an interview with the great cornetist/trumpeter Nat Adderley recently posted at the AllAboutJazz webiste. The interview was conducted by Joan Gannij in 1996 and originally appeared in Downbeat Magazine. Adderley covers some interesting topics including racism, East Coast vs. West Coast jazz, the jazz scenes in Europe vs. the USA, and much more. A great read!

JG: How would you compare performing in Europe with the States: 

NA: Around the world, the audiences are larger than ever. We get to play our music more now than at the end of the 50s when we were creating the style. In those days we would leave New York to go on a cross country tour from coast to coast, playing week-long gigs in clubs in PhiladelphiaClevelandDetroitKansas CitySan FranciscoLos Angeles, then back again via PortlandSeattle and Tacoma. Today, you can’t do that. In fact, I haven’t been to Detroit or Cleveland in twenty years. Why? Cause there’s no place to play, there’s no market, no promoters. In fact, I rarely go to Chicago anymore. When I added up over the last five years, the city I played in the most was Zurich, even though I have a regular one-week contract to play in New York every year at Sweet Basil.

Click here to read Nat Adderley: A Player’s Player

—Peter Blasevick

Coltrane on Coltrane

johnColtraneToday would have been the great John Coltrane‘s 88th birthday. Besides listening to his indescribable music, here’s a good way to celebrate: a 1960 piece from Downbeat magazine that he wrote in the first person in collaboration with Don DeMicheal. From the interview, Trane on Monk:

Working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I felt I learned from him in every way—through the senses, theoretically, technically. I would talk to Monk about musical problems, and he would sit at the piano and show me the answers just by playing them. I could watch him play and find out the things I wanted to know. Also, I could see a lot of things that I didn’t know about at all.

Monk was one of the first to show me how to make two or three notes at one time on tenor. (John Glenn, a tenor man in Philly, also showed me how to do this. He can play a triad and move notes inside it—like passing tones!) It’s done by false fingering and adjusting your lip. If everything goes right, you can get triads. Monk just looked at my horn and “felt” the mechanics of what had to be done to get this effect.

I think Monk is one of the true greats of all time. He’s a real musical thinker—there’s not many like him. I feel myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him. If a guy needs a little spark, a boost, he can just be around Monk, and Monk will give it to him.

Click here to read Coltrane on Coltrane

—Peter Blasevick

For Dr. Billy Taylor’s 93rd Birthday Anniversary (1921-2010), An Uncut Blindfold Test from 2005

billyTaylorYesterday would have been Dr. Billy Taylor‘s 93rd birthday. Ted Panken posted an uncut blindfold test he did with the great pianist and educator for Downbeat in 2005. Some really great insights. From the interview, here is Taylor discussing fellow pianist Dave McKenna:

He used to live in the Poconos, and did a lot of stuff for Concord Records… Dave McKenna. I love his playing. He does this better than anybody I know. Those are some interesting lines he’s playing, man. They’re fascinating. Now, that’s a left hand! One of the things I pride myself in is what I do with the left hand, because it’s what I grew up with and I like to use it. But I love the way he used it, because that’s very personal. I remember years ago, when I first met Dave, I did a radio piece on him, and I was pointing out the fact that this was the most unique left hand I’d heard since Fats Waller. It was so personal and the way he did it was so effective as a contemporary way of doing basslines.

Click here to read For Dr. Billy Taylor’s 93rd Birthday Anniversary (1921-2010), An Uncut Blindfold Test from 2005

—Peter Blasevick

Hank Mobley in Downbeat August 17, 1973

HankMobleyToday would have been the great Hank Mobley‘s 84th birthday. One of the truly underrated musicians in the history of jazz, the tenor saxophonist talked with Downbeat in the summer of 1973 about coming to New York, Horace Silver, Miles, Don Byas, and just about everything and everyone else in the 50s and 60s jazz scene. From the interview:

“To the best of my knowledge, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, myself, Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane, we called ourselves the ‘Five Brothers’, you know, the five black brothers. We all started playing alto, but Charlie Parker was such a monster that we all gave up and switched to tenor. I wasn’t creating anything new, I was just part of a clique. When we listened to Fats Navarro and Bud Powell, we were 20, 21, all of us were learning together. We weren’t trying to surpass Parker or the heavyweights. But as you get older you start finding different directions. At the time it was like going to college. It was just doing our thing. playing different changes, experimenting.

Click here to read Hank Mobley in Downbeat August 17, 1973

—Peter Blasevick

For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

billFrisellIn honor of guitar legend Bill Frisell‘s 63rd birthday (March 18), Ted Panken posted his “directors’ cut” (about 1500 words longer) of a DownBeat cover piece he wrote about Bill and his long-standing trio partners Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, during a week in Perugia for the 2008 Umbria Summer Jazz Festival, the uncut proceedings of a Blindfold Test Frisell took with Panken around 2000 or 2001, in his extraordinarily cramped room at the former Earle Hotel on the corner of Waverly Place & MacDougal, on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Here he discusses John McLaughlin:

“He always blows my brains out.  There was one moment when I went to a Shakti concert, and I almost quit playing the guitar.  I just thought, “Man, this is hopeless.”  But it was a good moment because it made me figure out that I had to figure out something else to do other than that.  I’ll never be able to… But he’s so much more… He’s known for being, you know, fast, but he’s a soulful… And rhythmically and harmonically, so…it’s some far-out stuff he’s doing.  I can’t figure out why people don’t… He’s right in there in that line of… There’s Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery and Jim and whoever all other guys, and he’s one of those main guys for me.”

Click here to read For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

—Peter Blasevick

It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!

barryHarrisPianist and educator Barry Harris is a true jazz treasure. To celebrate his 84th birthday (ok, two days late), a link to a few interviews posted by Ted Panken for a Downbeat article, one from 1999 and two from 2000. Here is Harris talking about Charlie Parker:

TP:    Any anecdote about when you played with Charlie Parker.

HARRIS:  He was beautiful to us.  I think the best experience that I always tell people is he was playing with strings one time at the Forest Club, which was a roller rink.  It was a dance at this time, and we stood in front, and the strings started, and the most spoiling thing of all was that when he started playing chills just went all through, starting on your toes, and went on through your body, man.  It was everything imaginable.  Orgasms, everything to us.  It’s really a spoiler, because I don’t like to go listen to people because I’m expecting somebody to make me feel like that.

TP:    Did Bird have a huge sound in person?

HARRIS:  Oh yeah.  I remember one time when he was at the Crystal, he was at the back of the room when Lee Konitz had come in and was sitting in with him.  (?)Emperor Nero(?) was playing alto, too.   Bird was over to the side, in the back by the kitchen or something, and Bird just started playing from there.  He had a great big sound.  Gene Ammons used to do that, too.  He’d stand in the back of the Club Valley… Frank Foster, Leo Osbold(?), Billy Mitchell maybe were at the mike playing.  He was up… There was some kind of thing that went up at the top, he started playing — he had a great big sound.  He always let me sit in with him.  When I was very young, he used to make Junior Mance get up and let me sit in with him.  I always loved to see him come to town, because he was one cat really I could sit in with.

Click here to read It’s Barry Harris’ 84th Birthday!

Mike Brecker: Music Is What I Do!

michaelBreckerHere is a cool 1973 Downbeat interview with Michael Brecker when he and his brother Randy were with the Horace Silver Quintet that I found this posted on the Mosaic Records blog, which always has cool postings. From the interview conducted by Herb Nolan:

“Actually, I never really studied music in school and I never went to music school, but I did have some really good teachers…

“Most of what I’ve learned, I’ll have to admit, comes from listening to records and from a few people in New York who really influenced me a lot like Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman. There are some other guys in New York nobody knows about who I think are great. I love the way they play. Bob Berg, a tenor player, is one, and Bob Mover, alto, who’s playing with Mingus now, he’s really good.”

Click here to read Mike Brecker: Music Is What I Do!

—Peter Blasevick

 

Dexter Gordon: The Chuck Berg Interview

Dexter_Gordon1A final Dexter Gordon interview for the week. As he explains in the following interview with Chuck Berg which appeared in the February 10, 1977 issue of Downbeat magazine, a variety of factors came together in the early 1960s which influenced him to leave the USA for Europe where Dexter ultimately took up residence in Copenhagen. From the interview, posted on at the JazzProfiles blog, Dex talks about being in New York City after many years away:

It’s great to be back. Of course I’ve been going out to the West Coast for years, which has been very nice. But I had forgotten how fantastic and exciting New York is. There’s no place like this in the world. This is it, you know. It’s always been that way. This time, for me, it’s been overwhelming because from the minute we got off the plane everything has been fantastic, unbelievable. I really wasn’t prepared for this kind of a reaction, ‘the return of the conquering hero’ and all that.”

Click here to read Dexter Gordon: The Chuck Berg Interview 

—Peter Blasevick

Chick Corea: Further Explorations of Bill Evans

chickCoreaHere is a cool 2000 Chick Corea interview with Marius Nordal from Downbeat. The interview was conducted just as the pianist was about to commemorate the 20th anniversary of jazz piano hero Bill Evans‘ death with a major two-week engagement called “Further Explorations” at New York’s Blue Note. Corea covers a number of Bill Evans related talk, and also manages to cover other topics as well. From the interview:

Nordal: Bill Evans generally had a gentle, lyrical approach to the piano – you’re often more dynamic, energetic and rhythmic. Did he influence your compositions or concept of touch and sound on the piano when you were developing musically? 

Corea: It was Bill’s sound that I loved as soon as I heard it. He knew how to touch the piano gently and elicit such a beautiful and recognizable tone from the instrument. Up to that time, most jazz pianists were accustomed to playing inferior instruments: old, out of tune, out of regulation and generally beat up. That was the “club piano.” But Bill was aware of the fine sound that a well-prepared grand could deliver. It’s odd that Art Tatum is the only pianist I know of before Bill that also had that feather-light touch – even though he probably spent his early years playing on really bad instruments.

Bill’s harmonic sense and approach to the standards certainly made a big impression on me. I was more encouraged to produce a beautiful sound on the piano.

Click here to read Chick Corea: Further Explorations of Bill Evans  

—Peter Blasevick

 

John Abercrombie’s Uncut Downbeat Blindfold Test

For the last day in my week of Ted Panken interviews, here is guitarist John Abercrombie in a Downbeat Blindfold Test from 2001. The Jazz great listens to 15 cuts and makes some pretty astute observations; it does amaze me sometimes how accurate these folks can be on these Blindfold Tests. From the piece, Abercrombie on James Blood Ulmer (who he was stumped on!):

Wow!  This is great.  I don’t know that tune.  I have to get this.  I’ve heard some other stuff by Blood and I liked it.  I have some of this stuff where he was singing that I enjoyed, but I’ll have to get this.  This definitely sounds very hip to me.  Very open.  And it’s kind of funny; that’s why I thought it was Sonny Sharrock, because of some of the similarities.  He sounds to me more harmonic.  I hear more harmonic information in his playing.  It’s cool.  And I think he does sort of play with his thumb a little bit, because it’s got a little bit of that feel.  It’s plucky.  He chokes the notes a little bit, so it… I’ll give this 5 stars.  I still like it. [AFTER] Now that you tell me it was Rashied Ali, it makes total sense, because I played with him once, and he has a great way of playing a sort of open music.  you really feel like they’re playing on a form or something.  It really has a great swing, a pulse to it.  It’s not just free.  I think that’s what makes it work.  That’s what makes everything sound so great.

Click here to read John Abercrombie’s Uncut Downbeat Blindfold Test