Tag: R.J. Deluke

Steve Smith: Drummer For All Seasons

steveSmithSteve Smith is best known as the drummer for the rock band Journey, but the Berklee educated Smith has played and recorded with a long list of jazz greats including Buddy DeFranco, Jean-Luc Ponty, Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, and Larry Coryell. In this new interview with R.J. DeLuke and AllAboutJazz, Smith discusses everything from his early days in Boston, to touring the world with a rock and roll band to recent recording projects. On having to learn how to play rock songs with Journey after having played virtually nothing but fusion and straight ahead jazz until that point:

“I didn’t really know how to play rock songs. I had to discipline myself to play drums in a very compositional way. Which means I needed a particular beat for the verse and then another beat for the chorus and something else for the bridge, then some fills to pull it all together. That was a very different way of conceiving of playing the drums. Before, I was playing time feels behind people. Not necessarily a repetitive beat. Supporting soloists. I hadn’t worked with a vocalist really. Someone might sing a pop tune when I was playing a Top 40 gig in Boston, but I wouldn’t consider them great singers. Steve Perry was a great singer. That was an education. Part of what was interesting about it was it was so new and I had never done it before. It was a great experience for me.”

Click here to read Steve Smith: Drummer For All Seasons

Steve Gadd: Consummate Drummer

SteveGaddHere is a new interview with the great Steve Gadd from R.J. Deluxe at AllAboutJazz. As Deluke says, it might be easier to list the people he hasn’t played with than those he has (Paul Simon, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Paul McCartneySteely Dan, The Manhattan Transfer, Al Di MeolaChuck MangioneHubert LawsJoe FarrellGeorge Benson the Brecker BrothersFrank SinatraDave Grusin, Michael McDonald…).

Gadd talks about everything from his his early days to Eric Clapton to the Mickey Mouse Club in this piece. Enjoy!

From the interview:

“With studio work, a lot of times you don’t hear the music before you get in there. You go in and listen to what people are saying. I try to get them to play either the demo or get them to sit at the piano or the guitar and play the song before we start playing so that when people start using words, you know what they’re referring to. If you’ve never heard the song, its just words. That’s one rule I try to keep in place: to listen to what the song is before we do it in the studio. You either have the artist sing it or play it, or a lot of times they have a demo.”

Click here to read Steve Gadd: Consummate Drummer

—Peter Blasevick

 

 

 

Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

Today’s interview is from R.J. DeLuke and AllAboutJazz and spends time with Billy Harper, the standout tenor saxophonist from the post-Coltrane school, who these days plays mainly with the “Cookers” septet along with Billy HartEddie HendersonGeorge CablesCecil McBeeDonald Harrison and David Weiss. He also is a “prolific composer, an educator and has led his own bands over the years, as well as performed with Gil EvansMax RoachLee MorganCharles TolliverRandy Weston, the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis big band, Art Blakey and others.” There is a lifetime of jazz in this interview, a gray read! From the interview:

“I got into jazz completely, which meant improvisation, which was the way I learned to live,” says Harper, a congenial sort who’s thoughtful and forthright. “Improvising all the time. It was not just music. It was the way. That is my life. It might be a funny thing to say, but I feel like I am the music. I don’t mean I’m the only music, but I am music. That’s how much it is a part of me, or I’m a part of it. I really feel like the music. I think that other musicians who are playing represent the music. They are the music also… Whenever writers say sometimes, ‘jazz is dead.’ I think that’s a conspiracy or something. As long as it’s in the musicians, the music is there. It’s where I live.”

Click here to read Billy Harper: A Life Of Persistence And Improvisation

—Peter Blasevick

Wayne Shorter: Portrait Of A Visionary

wayneShorterHappy New Year all! I hope 2013 ended up great for everyone and 2014 promises to be even better!

Here is a great portrait of Wayne Shorter R. J. Deluke put together last week for AllAboutJazz.com. Along with Shorter himself, Deluke includes parts of talks wiht other musicians like Wallace Roney, John Patitucci, and Jack DeJohnette to get a fuller picture of the legendaey Saxophonist. From the interview:

The meaning of the often-debated word “jazz,” to Shorter, is “I dare you.” He exemplifies it. 

“Don’t play music lessons, Art Blakey would say,” says Shorter, who then effects a dead-on Blakey voice impersonation. “‘I don’t wanna hear that. Tell me a story.’ When I talked with Miles [Davis], we kind of talked like this, like we’re talking now, and Miles would say a couple of times [in perfect Miles raspy voice:] ‘Why don’t you play that.’ In other words: play what you’re thinking. Don’t play music. Play a story.’ What do you play after you play ‘Once upon a time?’ What comes next?”

Click here to read Wayne Shorter: Portrait Of A Visionary

—Peter Blasevick

Herbie Hancock: Inspired By the Written Word of a Friend

herbieHancockHere is a cool 2007 interview with the great Herbie Hancock from AllAboutJazz. Hancock covers a number of topics, including his at-the-time new album River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to the music of an old friend and colleague, Joni Mitchell which he recorded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke and singers Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Luciana Souza, Corinne Bailey Rae, Leonard Cohen, and Mitchell herself. From the interview:

AAJ: The musicians, I know your association with them, Wayne and Dave and everybody else. You chose those guys when other people might have thought that you would have chosen people from the pop world or folk world, something that people assume in Joni’s world.

HH: The reason I didn’t do that is because I don’t have to do that. [laughs] [Pop musicians] might be obvious choices, but then she’s already done that. Why would I do the same things she’s already done? What made sense to me that could be interesting—my foundation is in jazz and I’m recording it for Verve as my next jazz record. Why not have a context that’s more associated with jazz. How would that work? That would be more of an interesting challenge. It would pretty much ensure that we wouldn’t be re-inventing the wheel. You try and re-invent the wheel of songs that somebody not only wrote but they played on, and were an important part of the process of the sound of the record, the arrangements. I knew Joni was the source of those arrangements, from knowing her and how she involves herself in the music. She was certainly there to make so many of those decisions about how she wanted to be rendered. For her records.

Click here to read Herbie Hancock: Inspired By the Written Word of a Friend

—Peter Blasevick

Elvin Jones: Drumming Icon is Still Cooking

Great interviews with great Jazz drummers this week. Today is a nice long 2004 interview with the legendary Elvin Jones from AllAboutJazz.com. From the interview, here is the master talking about his love of Jazz music:

“I always thought that great music is a challenge,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any music greater or a lot more exciting than jazz music, because it’s pure. You hear things that nobody’s ever played before and you hear things that are almost impossible for anyone to duplicate. It’s being done and you hear music that is so beautiful; it makes you weep; it’s more than anything any classical composers have written can be. It compares equally with some of the best that’s ever been done.”

Click here to read Elvin Jones: Drumming Icon is Still Cooking

Sonny Rollins: Mark of Greatness

In December of 2011, Rollins was among five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, awarded annually for exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts. In March of 2011, Rollins was in Washington, D.C. to receive the National Medal of Arts from President Obama. Rollins, at 81, continues to play his horn with such passion, intensity and creativity that he also garners the highest praises in the jazz community. He regularly tops annual magazine polls. He wasMusician of the Year and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year in 2011, as voted by the Jazz Journalists Association. Rollins’ recording Road Shows, Vol. 2 (Doxy, 2011) is up for two Grammy awards in February, 2012.

Rollins discusses touring, recording, the state of jazz in America, and his early days in this 2012 interview from AllAboutJazz.com.

Click here for the interview