Tag: piano

Jon Batiste: Staying Human

jonBatisteNearly everything about Jonathan Batiste is steeped in New Orleans—from the way he talks, walks, and claps his hands to the way he plays the piano, composes, and leads his Stay Human Band. So, it’s surprising to consider he’s actually spent most of his adult life in New York City, having arrived in 2004 when he was a teenager to study at Juilliard. Since then, he’s been making a firm connection with the City, including a close association with National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Oh, and as of a week ago, he is also Stephen Colbert’s bandleader on the new Late Show. Here is a recent reprint of a great interview he did with AllAboutJazz in 2013. From the interview:

Batiste’s work at Jazz at Lincoln Center ties in with another New Orleans connection of his —and here we have to make clear that in saying “New Orleans,” we’re using a bit of shorthand. Batiste actually hails from Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of the New Orleans metro area, which also happens to be the hometown of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

“I don’t know another person in New York who’s from Kenner,” says Batiste. “We have that mutual connection. The Batistes and the Marsalises are very big musical families in the New Orleans area. We went to the same schools and had a lot of the same instructors. I met him in New Orleans as a kid, and then when I came to Juilliard, I started to play with him, and over time I started to do concerts with Jazz at Lincoln Center.”

Click here to read Jon Batiste: Staying Human

Hank Jones (July 31, 1918 – May 16, 2010) — His 93rd Birthday Anniversary

hankJonesHank Jones would have been 97 years old the other day, and if he were still with us, I’m sure he’d be the same funny, polite, gentleman he always was…and he’d still be one of the very baddest musicians on the planet.

Here is a fantastic pair of interviews with the great pianist, both from Ted Panken’s great blog. He posted these a couple years ago also in honor of Jones’ birthday, one from a 2007 Jazziz piece, and the other a transcription from a 1994 WKCR interview. Both interviews are just great, and cover so much. Hank covers a number of personal topics in the 2007 interview in particular. From the piece:

And I wonder if I was true, let’s say, to my race. There were times when I wanted to join the civil rights movement and march, but I would have lost my job. I had a wife and stepdaughter, and I had to support them. With my temperament, something could have happened to me, because things were going on that I might not have been able to accept. Although my instincts were to do the proper thing, I repressed them.

Click here to read Hank Jones (July 31, 1918 – May 16, 2010) — His 93rd Birthday Anniversary

—Peter Blasevick

Dave Frank: My Teacher, Lennie Tristano

Here is 6:22 of pretty much everything I love about jazz on the internet. JazzVideoGuy, who does such important work for the legacy of jazz, interviewing the ridiculously hip, funny, and burning Dave Frank about his teacher and great influence Lennie Tristano. Eat up every second of this great interview.

 

—Peter Blasevick

Video interview with Ray Charles from North Sea Jazz Festival 1997

Here is a quick video interview with the eternally hip Ray Charles. NTR / Radio 6 reporter Co de Kloet interviews Ray Charles backstage at the North Sea Jazz festival in 1997 where they discuss blending different styles, spontaneity, expressing emotion in music, and keeping songs new and fresh.

—Peter Blasevick

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

Seymour Nurse Interviews George Duke

Here is a great four part interview with the late George Duke from Seymour Nurse from The Bottom End.

Part one covers the original London (UK) Jazz-Fusion Dance Movement, and how his music influenced this culture at clubs like, “The Horseshoe” and “Electric Ballroom.” Part two covers Duke’s  timeless masterpiece, “A Brazilian Love Affair”, Milton Nascimento and the late, great, Cannonball Adderley. In part three, George gives his thoughts on his female vocalists, Sheila E, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and the exquisite, “Muir Woods Suite”. Finally, part four begins with blaring sires and goes on to cover Duke’s current work.

—Peter Blasevick

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.” 

SET LIST

  • “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

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

Notations from Harold Mabern

haroldMabernPianist Harold Mabern is one of the underrated greats of the late 50s early 60s hard-bop era, playing and recording with the likes of Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, Jackie McLean, and George Coleman. He has also had a prolific career as a leader, and has had a profound impact on many great musicians as an instructor and faculty member at William Paterson University and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Here is a transcript from a great interview with Deborah Demoss Smith at KMHD radio this past week. From the interview:

Do you agree with the idea that West Coast jazz is different than East Coast?
That’s not happening anymore. The West Coast sound is lighter in texture; the East Coast more grainy. But it’s not like that anymore because the coasts have caught up with each other. I was born in the South, where we had to play the blues, which we hated to play the blues; but now we realize that’s a blessing because everybody can’t play the blues. I’m still writing music and still learning music. Ahmad Jamal said the day you stop learning, you might as well go crawl in a hole. 

Click here to read Notations from Harold Mabern

—Peter Blasevick

Benny Green interviewed at the 2012 Litchfield Jazz Festival

Here is a cool backstage interview with pianist Benny Green at the 2012 Litchfield Jazz Festival. Conducted by bassist and all-around-jazz-interviewer-guy Jonah Jonathan, Green talks a lot about his early years, his influences, and his current projects. Good stuff.

—Peter Blasevick