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Mulgrew Miller

imagesMulgrew Miller, one of our greatest jazzpianists has left us today. We will never hear his voice, his music, alive again.The cause was a stroke, said his longtime manager, Mark Gurley. Mr. Miller had been hospitalized since Friday. (NYTimes, 05-29).

Mulgrew Miller, one of our greatest jazzpianists has left us today. We will never hear his voice, his music, alive again.The cause was a stroke, said his longtime manager, Mark Gurley. Mr. Miller had been hospitalized since Friday. (NYTimes, 05-29).

Miller began his career with Betty Carter (1980), Woody Shaw (1981-1983), and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1983-1986).

He has released four albums with Derrick Hodge (bass) and Karriem Riggins (drums) (both on the label MAXJAZZ): Live At Yoshi’s Vol. 1 (2004), Live At Yoshi’s Vol. 2 (2005), Live At The Kennedy Center Vol. 1 (2006), and Live At The Kennedy Center Vol. 2 (2007).

On May 20, 2006, Miller was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Performing Arts at Lafayette College’s 171st Commencement Exercises.images (1)

Miller spent the last years of his life in Easton, Pennsylvania. He was the Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University and the Artist in Residence at Lafayette Collegefor 2008-2009. His last working trio consisted of Ivan Taylor on bass and Darrell Green on drums.

In conversation with Mulgrew Miller: http://www.jazz.com/features-and-interviews/2009/4/7/in-conversation-with-mulgrew-miller

 

 

Interview with Claude Bolling

Last week I interviewed Mr. Claude Bolling. 

Claude Bolling (born 10 April 1930), is a renowned French jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and occasional actor.
He was born in Cannes, studied at the Nice Conservatory, then in Paris. A child prodigy, by age 14 he was playing jazz piano professionally, with Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, and Kenny Clarke. Bolling’s books on jazz technique show that he did not delve far beyond bebop into much avant garde jazz. He was a major part of the traditional jazz revival in the late 1960s, and he became friends with Oscar Peterson.

claude and duke

He has written music for over one hundred films, mostly French, starting with the score for a 1957 documentary about the Cannes Film Festival, and including the films Borsalino (1970), and California Suite (1978).

Bolling is also noted for a series of “crossover” collaborations with classical musicians. His Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio with Jean-Pierre Rampal, a mix of Baroque elegance with modern swing, has been a top seller for many years, and was followed up by other works in the same vein. It was particularly popular in the United States, at the top of the hit parade for two years after its release and on billboard top 40 for 530 weeks, roughly ten years.

Following his work with Rampal, Bolling went on to work with many other musicians, from different genres, including guitarist Alexandre Lagoya, violinist Pinchas Zukerman, trumpeter Maurice André, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He has also worked with, and performed tributes to many others, including Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, and Oscar Peterson (wikipedia.org).

Mr.Bolling, you’re active in music for more than 7 decades. How has jazz music evolved since you started performing?

When I started performing, I was 14 years old. Jazz was very popular. Free or modern jazz did not exist at this period. Jazz musicians were performing in bars, brasseries, pubs. It was only live music. Today, jazz is not as popular and each style of music has his public.

You played a lot with classical musicians, like Alexandre Lagoya, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Yo Yo Ma. Is jazz the right label for your music? If not, which term do you like better for your music: Crossover Music, Third Stream, or Contemporary Improvisation or none of them?

Jazz is the first music I played and loved. Thanks to jazz, I met very nice and great persons who encouraged me to continue on this way. Jazz is the motor of my life.

The other musics (films, songs, crossover) came later in my career, depending of luck, meeting or friendship. I cannot describe my works. I use to tell : composer, arranger, pianist and bandconductor. But the main thing is always Music !

You have often played with American jazzmusicians and have cooperated with Europeans, like Stephan Grapelli. Do you consider yourself as a representant of European jazz? Do you think jazz in Europe develops a different direction than Jazz oversea?

European (or French) jazz is influenced of course by American jazz and vice versa. Numerous American jazzmen came to Europe in the 40’s just after the war, and 50’s because of American black segregation. So, European musicians who played with them where influenced and then developed their own style.

You have made solo-albums as well as orchestral Music. What do you prefer yourself? Playing in company or playing piano solo?

Big band or trio or combo or solo are not the same work. Of course I love each one of them. Each is a challenge and I love challenges. If not, why and how could I play it ?!

claude bollingCharlie Parker. This year it’s fifty-eight years ago he has died . Sheila Jordan said last month to me in an interview: “people don’t talk about him anymore,The younger generation of jazzmusicians say they are inspired by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Parker is a forgotten part of jazzmusic. That’s a pity, because he is an important part of the jazztradition.” Do you agree with her?

Charlie Parker, exceptional saxophonist, represents for me the beginning of the
evolution of jazz music. I don’t think that is more forgotten then John Coltran.
It’s important to be a member of the saxes section and a good soloist. The audience does not realists the quality of each member of the band when he is not soloist.

Duke Ellington, has been a great example for you. What did you learn from his music?

Everything. From “Black and Tan Fantasy” or “Mood Indigo” his latest compositions. He was a great composer and had the talent of bringing out the special talent of each of his musicians. He wrote his musics in order to bring out deepest saxophone note to the most treble note of the trumpet.

Which musicians are you inspireded by nowadays?

When I started my career, I was influenced by Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Willy “The Lion” Smith and of course Duke Ellington. Duke used to say that he was inspired by all pianists. And I feel pretty much the same.

In 1972 you acted (as a director) in the Jerry Lewis movie “The day the clown cried.” a poignant film about the Holocaust, the life in a death camp. The movie is unreleased. What do you think of this?

There had been a project of a film directed and played by Jerry Lewis for which Jerry asked me to write a score. But it never was achieved because of a money problem with the producer.

Your musical activities span a wide range of styles and combinations. Which projects do you have in store for us?

Actually I have no composition project. My main activity is performing in trio, combo or big band and my project is to play for a long time.

Is there jazz in the future? Jazz has been for the most part well documented by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth?

Music follows the same way than fashion : up and down, out and in. For example, Jean-Sebastien Bach was quite forgotten during the 19th century and “came back” during the 20th one. So, I hope that swing jazz will be soon popular again.

Interview with Jerry Bergonzi

 I don’t think jazz has enough other names. It is so much music lumped under one small word jazz.  The music nobody likes.

Last week I had a beautiful interview with Jerry Bergonzi.

bergonzi 1

[Jerry Bergonzi] first gained recognition as he became a frequent guest-artist on several Dave Brubeck- ensemble tours and recordings during the 1970s, and he held the saxophone chair in the Dave Brubeck quartet from 1979 – 1982. Bergonzi recorded nine albums with Brubeck, from 1973 to 1981.

Bergonzi teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston

He is the author of the Inside Improvisation, a multi-volume series of instructional books with play- along CDs and videos, and another series of books about improvisation published by Advance Music. He is also the author of the book/CD set Sound Advice, published byJamey Aebersold Jazz. Bergonzi is also a professional level pianist and bass guitarist.he New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

He has recorded on the Blue Note, Red, Not Fat, Concord, Atlantic, Label Bleu, Enja, Columbia, Deux Z, Denon, Canyon, Cadence, Musidisc, Ram, Ninety One, and Freelancerecording labels. (wikipedia.org).

Among the many other artists that Bergonzi has performed and recorded with are; John Abercrombie, Nando Michelin, Antonio Farao, Bill Evans (with the National Jazz Ensemble), Joe D’Orio, Eddie Gomez, Miroslav Vitous, George Mraz, Billy Hart, Andy Laverne, Steve Swallow, Hal Galper, Roy Haynes, Charlie Mariano, Bob Cranshaw, Ray Drummond, Billy Drummond, Danny Richmond, Danny Gottlieb, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Desmond, Bennie Wallace, Gerry Mulligan, Hal Crook, Herb Pomeroy, Mike Manieri, Mark Johnson, Michel Portal, Martial Solal, Pat Martino, Franco Ambrosetti, and many more. (read further: http://www.jerrybergonzi.com/bio/)
Mr.Bergonzi, you’re active in music for more than  4 decades. How has jazz music evolved since you started performing? Is jazz the right label for your music?

How has Jazz evolved in 4 decades.  4 decades ago Jazz Education was in it’s infancy. Now it is a huge business. Now everybody knows everything. The information boom has young people being more proficient on the intillectual plane but maybe lagging in others.

Your uncle took an active role in your jazzeducation. He wrote out jazz solos for you to play and he made you listen to Count Basie, Lester Young and Duke Ellington. Do you recognize his influence in the way you look at (your style of) jazzmusic today? 

 I don’t think jazz has enough other names. It is so much music lumped under one small word jazz.  The music nobody likes.
My uncle didn’t really have a conscious effect on me as much as he was just a musician who lived one flight up and he wrote out a few solo’s but my family was into jazz. Why?  I have no idea.

Your first album (as a leader) was Jerry On Red (1988). How do you look back at this album?

Jerry on Red was my first opportunity as a leader.  I was on the road in Italy and Sergio Veschi (the owner of Red) wanted to know if I wanted to record a record the next day. So we went into the studio and just put them down.bergonzi 2
You first gained recognition playing with Dave Brubeck from 1973 to 1981. He died last december. What have you learned from playing with Mr. Brubeck?
When I lived in New York City in the 70’s, no one wanted to put out Jazz records.  When I was with Dave Brubeck, I never met a producer, a festival manager, a record company consultant, a club owner or anyone as Dave existed in a bubble of only Brubeck. So I was very happy to make CD’s for Red.

Since 1996 you have recorded a lot with organist/pianist Dan Wall and drummer Adam Nussbaum. A trio without a bassist. What is it like to play without bassist?

It is challenging to play with organ and drums as sometimes it is difficult to hear a really defined bass. That being said, Playing with Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum was total joy for me. We couldn’t get arrested with that group never mind a gig.

In 2008 you recorded your album Napoli connection. Last week I visited this beautiful city for the second time, so I’m interested…what is your connection with Napoli? 

My mother’s family is from Naples and my father’s from Parma.Naples is like no other place in the world. I can’t put it into words but it is a city of passion. (and great pizza)
You’re a full professor at NEC. “I’m the eternal student, myself; I think that’s what makes me a good teacher,” you said to jazztimes in an interview (2008). What do you learn nowadays?

I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me. They have their own way of doing things. In a way, they are a reflection of what is going on in today’s music as that is what inspires them. So I get to hear that reflection and learn a great deal. People ask me where is music going and I tell them to ask the youth.

Charlie Parker. This year it’s fifty-eight years ago he has died . Sheila Jordan said in jacnuary to me in an interview: “people don’t talk about him anymore,The younger generation of jazzmusicians say they are inspired by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Parker is a forgotten part of jazzmusic. That’s a pity, because he is an important part of the jazztradition.” Do you regard yourself as a part of this jazztradition?

Do I consider myself part of Jazz Tradition? I do but only because I love that music. I don’t really care if someone else loves the tradition. There are enough who do. Go with what your passion and heart tell you. Students ask me who they should transcribe and I ask them “Who do you Like”  After a while you realize the lineage in the music.

Is there jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth? According to saxophonist and flautist Dave Liebman the future of jazz lies with how it will be absorbed and transformed by parts of the world where it is new to the people. Do you agree with him?bergonzi 3

I never disagree and Lieb, as he is always right. In other parts of the world where everything isn’t just dollars and there is still an artistic value, I think jazz can be alive.

Next week I interview trumpetist Randy Brecker . Do you have a question for him?

My question to Randy is “What is his favorite Italian dish” .

Your musical activities span a wide range of styles and combinations. Which projects do you have in store for us?

I have a few records in the can.  One will be out on May 21st It is called “By Any Other Name” it is all tunes written on standard chord changes. Phil Grenadier on trumpet, Will Slater on bass and Karen Kocharian on drums. I have a CD with Dick Oatts coming out called a Granny Winner and another Quintet CD called Rigamaroll.
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