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Interview with Yusef Lateef

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The word “Jazz” is a misnomer.

TodImageay I had an interview with Yusef Lateef.
Where to start?
Mr. Lateef  is a Grammy Award-winning composer, performer, recording artist, author, visual artist, educator and philosopher who has been a major force on the international musical scene for more than six decades. In recognition of his many contributions to the world of music, he has been named an American Jazz Master for the year 2010 by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Yusef A. Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on October 9, 1920 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved with his family to Detroit in 1925. In Detroit’s fertile musical environment, Yusef soon established long-standing friendships with such masters of American music as Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, Donald Byrd, the Jones brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin), Curtis Fuller, Kenny Burrell, Lucky Thompson and Matthew Rucker. He was already proficient on tenor saxophone while in high school, and at the age of 18 began touring professionally with swing bands led by Hartley Toots, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Herbie Fields and eventually Lucky Millender. In 1949 he was invited to join the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra.
In 1950 he returned to Detroit, where he began to study composition and flute at Wayne State University, receiving his early training in flute from Larry Teal. He also converted to Islam in the Ahmadiyya movement and took the name Yusef Lateef. From 1955–1959 he led a quintet including Curtis Fuller, Hugh Lawson, Louis Hayes and Ernie Farrell. In 1958 he began studying oboe with Ronald Odemark of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Yusef first began recording under his own name in 1956 for Savoy Records, and has since made more than 100 recordings as a leader for the Savoy, Prestige, Contemporary, Impulse, Atlantic and YAL (his own) labels. His early recordings of such songs as “Love Theme from Spartacus” and “Morning” continue to receive extensive airplay even today. He also toured and recorded with the ensembles of Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Babatunde Olatunji in the 1960s.
As an instrumentalist with his own ensemble, Yusef Lateef has performed extensively in concert halls and at colleges and music festivals throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Japan and Africa, often conducting master classes and symposia in conjunction with his performances.
Mr. Lateef, you’re active in Jazzmusic for more than 60 years, that’s a Lifetime. Has Jazzmusic evoluated since you started? We know there are Labels for different kinds of Music, but (in the Core) in what whay is Jazz nowadadys different from Modern Jazz?
I have been active in autophysiopsychic music (music from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self) for over seven decades. In short, “music from one’s heart.”  I believe that anything in which an is seriously involved reflects evolution.
The word “Jazz” is a misnomer.

Do you still visit Concerts? (and if  so) Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?
I occasionally attend concerts.
I am inspired by observing nature and my inner self.
Which album you produced do you like best? Why? According to The Penguin Guide to Jazz “Tenors” (YAL 977 with Archie Shepp), is your best album. Is this Record your Favourite too?   
I often feel that the next album will be the one I like best because it is the outcome of the previous ones. I must say though, that The African American Epic Suite, as of today, is at the top of the list of my favorites.
You’ve played many instruments, amongst them oboe, bamboo flute, cor anglais, all kinds of saxophones, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa and taiwan koto. Which one you like the best?
As you have mentioned, I’ve played many different instruments and that is because I really like all instruments.
Is there Jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded Musicstyle by now, but do you think Jazz will reach our Youth?
Robin, I cannot predict the future. As for the youth and what reaches them, I hope that they avoid the highly ambigious term known as “Jazz” and become inclined to music which reflects their interests, talents and promise beyond limitations of external criticism.
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Interview with Don Friedman

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment
There’s at least one element of jazz that has remained the same and that is improvisation.

Today I have the honour to publicise the interview I had with pianist Don Friedman.

Donald Ernest Friedman (born May 4, 1935 in San Francisco California), better known as Don Friedman, is a jazz pianist. On the West Coast, he performed with Dexter GordonChet BakerBuddy DeFranco and Ornette Coleman, among others, before moving to New York. There, he led his own trio in addition to playing in Pepper Adams‘s, Booker Little‘s and Jimmy Giuffre‘s bands in the sixties. He was also a part of Clark Terry‘s big band. He currently works in New York as a pianist and jazz educator.[1] He has many fans in Japan, and has toured the country.[2]

Mr. Friedman, you’re active in Jazzmusic for more than 50 years, that’s a lifetime. Has jazzmusic evolved since you started? We know there are labels for different kinds of music, but (in the core) in what way is jazz nowadadys different from modern jazz?

Yes, jazz music has evolved. When I started out there was very little information available and almost no teachers. So I had to learn by listening to records and going out to play every chance I got. Today, because of the internet and the fact that most colleges have jazz programs, people have tons of information and learning tools.  There’s at least one element of jazz that has remained the same and that is improvisation. All jazz music is primarily improvised. Todays up and coming jazz players are exposed to more different types of music then we were when I was young. That’s why todays jazz is different than “modern jazz”.

Which album you produced do you like best? Why? “My Romance”, is your best appreciated album in The Penguin Guide to Jazz. Is this record your favourite too?

No, I’m most proud of the recording I did at a concert at Jazz Baltica. It’s called Don Friedman The Composer. It is my compositions played by my trio and a string quartet. I loved playing with the strings and since it’s a live performance it has a great intensity and feel.

Do you still visit concerts? (and if  so) Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?
Bill Evans. He’s been an example for a generation of  pianists. This year it’s thirtytwo years ago he has perished (as many great jazzmusicians passed last three Decades). What does this mean to you?

Bill Evans and his trio had a great influence on me. I loved his concept of group playing and interaction among the players.

The bassist Scott Lafaro was your companion, he died at the start of your carreer. I noticed there has been released  a record with Scott as bandleader in 2009 with you as a pianist accompanied by Pete La Roca.  If there had been no accident, would Lafaro have been your permanent accompanist?

I was very close to Scotty and for me it was terrible that he died so young. I can only imagine all the great music he would have made and I would have loved to play with him whenever possible.

Is there jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth?

Yes, I think jazz has a great future thanks in part to all the young people that are taking music and jazz courses in college. Even though most of them will never be professional jazz musicians, they will have a much greater appreciation of the music and they will be the audiences of the future.

Interview with Mundell Lowe

October 7, 2012 Leave a comment

“Jazz is a growing musical force. It will keep expanding and growing for many years to come.”

It’s an honour for me to start this new jazzblog with the interview I had with Mundell Lowe. Mundell Lowe, pioneer of the jazz-guitar, is a living legend and he is inventive now as he was more than 70 years ago. Wikipedia says: “He was born April 21 1922 in Laurel, Mississippi.  In the 1930s he played country music and Dixieland jazz. He later played with big bands and orchestras, and on television in New York City. In the 1960s, Lowe composed music for films and television inNew York City and Los Angeles. He has performed and/or recorded with Billie Holiday,Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Helen Humes, Roy Buchanan, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz,Doc Severinsen, Kai Winding, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Benny Carter, Herb Ellis,Tal Farlow, Barry Manilow, André Previn, Ray Brown, Kiri Te Kanawa, Tete Montoliu, Harry Belafonte and others. Lowe was responsible for introducing the pianist Bill Evans to producer Orrin Keepnews resulting in Evan’s first recordings under his own leadership.”

Mr. Lowe, you’re active in jazzmusic for more than 70 years, that’s a lifetime. Has jazzmusic evoluated since you started? We know there are labels for different kinds of music, but (in the core) in what whay is jazz nowadadys different from modern jazz?

Jazz has grown a lot with the development of the use off different harmonies, and a better use of melody. Jazz has changed (grown) in many ways.

 Which album you produced do you like the best? Why?

My favorite album is “Tacit For Neurotics”…best recorded, and better music (Alec Wilder Music)

You’re a musician’s musician. Do you still visit concerts? (and if  so) Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?

Yes, I go to many concerts, and yes, I learn from most of them. There are some young musicians that have different views of music, which I do admire.

The late pianist Bill Evans has been introduced by you . He’s been an example for a generation of  pianists. This year it’s thirtytwo years ago he has perished (as many great jazzmusicians passed last three decades). What does this mean to you?

Bill Evans was an exceptional musician he is missed by all people that have an advanced view of the new music, especially…jazz.

Is there jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth?

Jazz is a growing musical force. It will keep expanding and growing for many years to come. And it is after al, one of the only art forms that we, the USA has produced.

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