Tag: text interviews

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

George Benson has no plans to hang up guitar

georgeBensonToday a new interview with the great George Benson from Jim Gilchrist in this past Sunday’s Scotsman. The interview covers his thoughts on the playing and recording of his huge hit This Masquerade, influences like Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, and his early decision not to join Miles Davis’ band. From the interview, here he is on his love for Nat King Cole:

 “When I was young, Nat King Cole was the quintessential African-American singer in the United States. Everybody loved Nat. He had great variety in his music – romanticism, great musicianship – and I said to myself that if I ever became anybody in the music business, I wanted to be like that.”

Benson has sometimes been described as Nat King Cole with a guitar, a label which he says flatters him, while stressing that he in no way compares himself to Cole, who died in 1965: “I think he inspired anything good that has happened to me, but he was a very special individual and his gifts were exclusive to him.”

Click here to read George Benson has no plans to hang up guitar

Sonny Rollins interviewed by Joshua Redman: Newk’s time

sonnyRollinsHere is a great 2005 interview with the legendary Sonny Rollins conducted by modern master Joshua Redman. The two tenor greats discuss everything from Sonny’s early days in New York to never being satisfied with one of his performances. Included at the bottom of the piece are many quotes from other musicians about Sonny Rollins, which are great reading all on their own!

From the interview:

JR: The ’50s and ’60s were an amazing age in music, where all these incredible innovations were taking place. Among musicians in my generation, with everything we’ve read and heard, there is a perception that there was more of a life for jazz on the streets of New York, a sense of real community; musicians playing and recording with each other all the time. Is that true?

SR: Well, in those days-and I’m speaking now primarily of when I came on the scene, the latter part of the ’40s, into the ’50s and so on, there was less money to be made. Therefore, the guys sort of stuck together. It was more about the music than about becoming a household name-especially the type of music that was making the break from swing; the guys that were doing that felt marginalized anyway, so they had a community and it was a very close-knit community. There were the usual problems between human beings, but the jazz community, the guys that were playing, they were naturally brought closer together because there weren’t that many places to play. There were just clubs, and clubs were small, and not that much money to be made, not as many records sold.

Click here to read Sonny Rollins interviewed by Joshua Redman: Newk’s time

—Peter Blasevick

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

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

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

 

 

 

Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

philWoodsHere is a long 1999 interview with saxophonist Phil Woods from Monk Rowe and the Hamilton College Fillius Jazz Archive (if you haven’t visited, do so. Tons of great interviews). Woods covers everything including his place in jazz history; tours with Dizzy and Quincy Jones; his impressions of Europe; playing on Pop recordings; advice to young musicians, and much else! From the interview:

MR: Without me stroking your ego or anything, where do you think you fit in there?

PW: Oh I’m a practitioner. I never changed jazz history. I am a bearer of the flame. I like to keep the Bebop flame alive in that sense, but I don’t just play Bebop. I could conceivably play that dream set I was talking about playing, a Piazolla and I kind of like to consider myself a complete musician, since I’m classically trained. But as far as playing any new way, I mean if I could have changed the course of western music I would have done so years ago.

Click here to read Phil Woods interviewed by Monk Rowe in 1999

—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

Eddie Gomez: The Call Of The Wild

eddieGomezHey folks! After a several month layoff due to server, hosting, WordPress, and time (time, Time, TIME!!) issues, we are back here at TNYDP with a new look and plenty of new and historical interviews with your favorite jazz players, writers, and other notables.

Today, a great recent interview with the legendary Eddie Gomez, courtesy of AllAboutJazz. Over the course of two phone talks with Robin Arends, Gomez discusses jazz in the fifties and sixties, pollution, overcrowding, Eddie’s collaboration with Bill Evans and his rich career afterwards. From the interview:

AAJ: Jazz is more institutionalized now compared to when you started? 

EG: The music evolved and developed that way. You can also say that of classical music. In the 14th, 15th century it was very specialized music and it was not available for the average people. For the average person there was folk music. It took a time before it was not only available for the privileged people. You can say the same about jazz, in a shorter timescale. By now there are more people who listen to jazz music like it is classical music, but the experience is so different. The world now is not in for steady bands. It is hard to sell records. There are many good bands, but there is not enough work, there is not enough touring. In my time there were many bands: Art BlakeyBill EvansMiles DavisSonny Rollins, there were lots of good bands and they stayed together. This is a treasure for the music, for the art form. They recorded three, four albums.

Click here to read Eddie Gomez: The Call Of The Wild

—peter blasevick