Tag: National Jazz Archive

Three 1976 Lee Konitz interviews

LeeKonitzToday, three 1976 interviews with the great altoist Lee Konitz. I could listen to Konitz talk about playing with Miles and studying with Lennie Tristano all day! In addition to those topics, The iconic saxophonist discusses his early days in Chicago, Chet Baker, teaching, the jazz scene in Europe, and plenty more, From the first interview, about Tristano:

Well I’d studied with Lennie earlier, actually – when I was fifteen, in Chicago. One of the great things I learned was: how much of a discipline this music calls for. And that it’s possible, through picking important people and learning as much as possible about them, to go through the motions of playing this music. As with any art form, I think you try to go through the motion. You find out what it’s like to paint like Van Gogh, play like Charlie Parker, and then, if it’s possible, you go on, use that energy and that information, and do something of your own with it. If not, at least you’ve had that experience.

Click here to read Interview One: Speaks His Mind

Click here to read Interview Two: On Jazz Form

Click here to read Interview Three: Looking at the Scene

—Peter Blasevick

Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

Today, a nice long interview with drummer Billy Cobham from the UK National Jazz Archive. The Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader talks to Les Tomkins in 1974 about New York, being a bandleader, jazz as ‘dance music’, live performance, and a lot more. From the interview:

Do you regard it as important to make the amount of preparations that you do for your stage act?

Sure, it’s extremely important, and we’re nowhere near where I’d like us to be. We need strong sound equipment, and people that are competent to handle it, plus good lighting people that are competent to work in collaboration with the band and the sound. It’s a matter of time; if we can last out through the natural elements that are against us, it’ll work out.

Normally, though, do you not prepare before the show starts? Only at the Rainbow more than an hour elapsed between the two parts of the programme, before you were ready to come on and play.

Now, that’s a problem that’s a technical one. It’s also a problem of poor planning on the part of promoters who put on shows. If a promoter knows that he doesn’t have a large enough stage to handle both bands, or enough people to take care of the equipment, the worst thing he can do is to accept an opening act that is as big as his star attraction, because it means that the show is not gonna move as smoothly as it could. Therefore, with that, you have a lot of problems.

Click here to read Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

—Peter Blasevick

Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins

AhmadJamalHere are two interviews by Les Tomkins with the great pianist Ahmad Jamal, both interviews conducted in 1979. Jamal talks a lot about commercial success, or the lack thereof for jazz musicians. Interesting stuff. He also discusses his time with Chess and different musical projects of his. From the interview:

Every day we hear Wolfgang Mozart’s great works, but no one knows where the man was buried; his funeral was attended by a gravedigger and a dog. So why shouldn’t it be that a musician enjoys something during his life? Why does it have to be a Mozart thing all the time? It’s ridiculous. Mozart was commercial, huh? Or I should say: he wasn’t thought to be commercial enough at the time, but now he’s commercial. But the things he was writing then are the same things you hear now. The success is no good to him now.

In the case of Franz Liszt, of course, he was a very great technician, and he also enjoyed the financial reward for it at the time. It’s unfortunate when it doesn’t happen like that to every hard–working musician. In the case of George he’s not only artistically sound, but he’s receiving the fruits of his labour. It’s important that there should be some recognition of talent during that talent’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, there is this thinking, that once you start making any kind of money, your artistry becomes somehow devalued. You have to be on your last legs, in all sorts of dues–paying situations, before they’ll say: “Well, there goes a great musician.” This is preposterous.

Click here to read Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins Part One; Part Two

—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

Woody Shaw: My approach to jazz

woodyShawI’m going to post some interviews from the UK’s National Jazz Archive this week. If you’ve never visited, take a few minutes and check them out, there is a lot of great info on their site.

Here is a cool interview with trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer and band leader Woody Shaw from 1977. From the interview:

“I have played the flugelhorn at times, but I like the trumpet. The flugelhorn is purely incidental to me; it’s effective and pretty in certain things—but I can get just about the same sound on the trumpet. I have a very well–developed low register, with a very big, dark sound; so I don’t worry about the flugel. But—I’m going to get a flugelhorn ! Now, that instrument fits Art Farmer perfectly; you could have no better choice to play the flugel. It fits his style, his whole musical personality—he’s a very lyrical player. I heard him recently; he sounds beautiful.”

Click here to read Woody Shaw: My approach to jazz

—Peter Blasevick

National Jazz Archive: Two Phil Woods Interviews

philWoodsI’m going to post some interviews from the UK’s National Jazz Archive this week. If you’ve never visited, take a few minutes and check them out, there is a lot of great info on their site.

Here are two interviews with saxophonist Phil Woods conducted by Les Tompkins in 1969 and 1981. In the first, “Breaking Out of The Studio”, Woods talks about his quartet The European Rhythm Machine, running a music camp, and playing across Europe. In “The First English Tour” Woods discusses, well, his first English tour.

“How far you leave the public behind depends on your level of genius, how much you have to say. My own personal way of approaching music is probably linked to a broader based public. It’s just that I’m older than some of the younger musicians; I’ve been playing longer. You know, I don’t aim my things to a particular public, but from twenty years of playing I think my musical base is broader.

We try to incorporate a variety into our sets. Some people will hate the first tune, possibly, and love the second tune.

I love Johnny Hodges; I love Ornette Coleman. That about sums it up, really. I steal whatever’s good from wherever I can find it! If it’s honest, I’m all for it. There’s so much dishonesty within life itself. Creating a formula and adhering to it, that’s always a trap. I’ve often said in joking: “I’d love a hit record”. I’d be scared to death if that ever happened. To have to play that damn thing every night, and grow to hate it. Then your group becomes categorised and before you know it, insidiously your music starts to change and fit this formula that worked. Even among the most dedicated people.”

Click here to read Breaking out in the studio.

Click here to read The first English tour.

—Peter Blasevick