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Bermkruidblues

imageVrijdagavond zes uur. Ik heb een plaat opgezet. Een echte plaat. Vandaag gekocht voor slechts vijf euro bij de Bijna-Gratis-Markt, een zaak die wordt gerund door een voormalig dakloze met een tomeloze overlevingsdrang. De plaat op de draaitafel stond ooit voor 25 gulden 95 te koop bij de Bijenkorf. Tristeza van Oscar Peterson. Ik vraag me af wie de eerste koper was. Op de vaal- paarse hoes, zie ik -over de volledig lengte en breedte- de in het zilvergrijs gekleurde beeltenis van Peterson die over een stuk bladmuziek hangt. Zo te zien brengt de pianist/ componist met ballpoint enkele wijzigingen aan. Net boven zijn linkerwenkbrauw zie ik een blauw rond stickertje met “Import Music Service”. De rechterhand houdt het papier vast, in de hoogbegaafde rechterhand steekt de pen. Een trio-opname. De overige trioleden zijn de ondergewaardeerde, in 1981 overleden contrabassist Sam Jones, en de 6 juli 2008 te Genua overleden drummer Bob Durham. Peterson zelf is gestorven in 2007. Ik heb nog even gehuild toen ik vernam dat hij overleden was.
ik draai de muziek van een dood trio dus.

Een dag voor vandaag loop ik met mijn voor de gelegenheid uit de kast genomen jasje  over de Ferdinand Bol en verder. Tram 3 heeft vertraging en ik heb geen zin om er op te wachten. Mijn oudste dochter heeft haar diploma uitgereikt gekregen in de Oude Katholieke Kerk aan de Ruysdaelstraat. Ik heb mijn middelste dochter op de bus gezet naar het Reinaldapark te Haarlem. We zijn even daarvoor gereden langs de EK-atletiek-vrijwilligers richting het Olympisch Stadion. Als ik terugrijd zie ik het stadion weer. Het begint saai te worden. De vrijwilligers zijn bijna thuis, maar ik moet nog heel ver. Mijn doel is oost. De trams zijn uitgevallen. Ik trek schoorvoetend mijn conclusie,. Lopen dan maar. Ik ga aan de wandel…en ik wandel maar door, straat in, straat uit. Ik loop hard. Mijn hemd kleurt donker vanwege al het zweet. Ik ben moe en wil zo snel mogelijk thuis zijn, maar helaas is thuis nog ver weg. De tram is nergens en de plek waar mijn fiets is gestald is onvindbaar. Amsterdam is een woestijn.

Een dag later. Het is 19.00 uur geweest. Op de draaitafel ligt een LP van Bill Evans. Ik hoor Gloria’s Step. Een klassieker. Met name door deze Village Vanguard sessie van Bill Evans met zijn trio bestaande uit bassist Scott LaFaro en drummer Paul Motion is een groot aantal rock-and-Roll liefhebbers overgestapt naar de Jazz. Ik ken de muziek ten voeten uit. Ik kan alle Evans- solo’s naspelen. Maar zodra de plaat op de draaitafel ligt, lijkt het alsof ik erbij ben en val ik even stil. Het is medio juni 1961. Een dag of tien later na de opnames overlijdt LaFaro op de snelweg.

In een persoonlijk interview in Oegstgeest heb ik zijn opvolger Chuck Israels gevraagd naar zijn opinie over zijn voorganger (als u het wil lezen, dan leest u het interview maar). En ik heb Don Friedman een jaar of drie geleden gesproken over LaFaro, die hij liefkozend Scotty noemde. Don is afgelopen week overleden en zei me tijdens ons interview: “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.” Het is inmiddels juli 2016 en beide heren zijn dood. Evans heb ik nooit kunnen interviewen, maar ik ben nu enkele jaren bevriend met zoon Evan. Hij corrigeert me als ik iets ongekends publiceer over zijn vader.

Vrijdagmiddag. Het is nu het einde van de week. Ik open de luiken van mijn huis. Het is ergens tussen 17.00 en 18.00 uur. De kinderen zijn weg. Ik neem plaats achter de piano en ik speel maar door. Akkoorden en combinaties in ongelooflijke volgordes. Mijn spieren doen pijn en ik schreeuw het uit, maar ik weet dat niemand luistert.Met mijn laatste krachten gooi ik de pianoklep naar beneden. Ergens buiten slaakt iemand een zucht van verlichting.

Hij doet maar. Ik ben klaar. Morgenavond zal ik als een bezetene spelen.

 

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Eliot Zigmund (part 4) Eighties – now

December 20, 2013 Leave a comment

 I still love to play and I’m still developing!

Part four of  this Eliot Zigmund special covers his years with Michel Petrucciani in the eighies till now.

Eliot 1

As to your question about Michel (Petrucciani, RA) and Don Friedman. I think both those great pianists were influenced by Bill, but they are very different pianists as far as what is felt like to play with each of them. Don is a contemporary of Bill so shares a certain history of time, place and identity, some harmonic and trio concepts, but is a very different piano player with his own very distinctive style. Maybe in fact, Bill was also influenced early on by Don if he had heard him play somewhere, who knows?. Michel was influenced by Bill like every pianist inevitably was who came after Bill, but he was more a disciple of the straight ahead swingers, McCoy, Cedar, Chick, with a little of the lyricism of Paul Bley or Keith Jarrett thrown in.
My recording Breeze on Steeplechase was the culmination of a bunch of playing sessions at my house over a period several months. We decided to go into the studio and document the music and ending up selling it to Steeplechase under my name. I had played a bunch with Mike Lee on some gigs and jam sessions, we both lived in Brooklyn then, he lived in an coop apartment building in Sunset Park that was all musicians and I had a studio in a store front in the same building, so there was a lot of playing going on. I think Mike introduced me to Gary Versace, Mike had some nice tunes, wrote in a soulful but sophisticated way, Phil Polombi and I knew each other from the scene. I’ve gone on to do different projects with Phil and we do the occasional gig together in town. Breeze was kind of a one off project, although we may have done a few gigs, I worked some at that period as a leader in town in small clubs but we didn’t really actively try to find work for the band, it was a recording project.Eliot 2

In a broader sense playing with myriad players over 50 years, the process of learning from other musicians is a big continuum. There’s a saying, being a jazz player is like singing the same song your whole life. Basically we’re all trying to find people who we’re comfortable singing our song with, and who are comfortable singing their song with us. As all musicians know, there are different levels of comfort zones with different players, in different bands, it’s all very fluid and dynamic. And that the music succeeds on different levels in different ways for different styles that demand different things of the way we play. I still approach it that way today. Every playing situation – every time I sit down to really play, is different – leaves it’s mark, shapes the clay, gives you a challenge to solve, hopefully moves you forward an inch or a foot. I’ve learned from every musician I’ve ever played with, from the worst to the best. I’ve learned how fragile jazz can be, how it’s dependent on everyone you’re playing with, especially the rhythm section players. I’ve learned how strong the music can be when the subtle rhythmic bond is there, when it feels like you can do no wrong.

When you’re a rhythm section player, you’re playing, articulating, every beat of every tune with the rest of the rhythm section and the soloists. We’re like worker bees, continually stitching a rhythmic/harmonic carpet for the soloists to fly on.

Eliot 3I think today we have lived through a tremendous stylistic expansion, the infusion of jazz techniques and theory throughout the world, the popularity of jazz education worldwide, jazz both influencing and being influenced by world ethnic musics. We are no longer moving so boldly forward, to borrow a phrase from Startrek, as when I was younger, when it felt like great waves of stylistic innovation were continually sweeping over the jazz world influencing all who heard it, and it seemed there was endless musical territory to expand into. Expansion or evolution today seems to come more from individual artists – perhaps more self-consciously – mining some unique combination of elements within this amazing choice of style and technique, rather than as part of a musical movement or style that is influencing many people at the same time, as was the case when I was growing up.

For me the playing scene now is very varied, eclectic, and I try to be flexible and supportive, trying to play true to the style of the music I’m playing while still being myself. The music can be anything from swing to bop to post bop to straight eighth note, trio, quartet, backing a singer, playing with a big band, live gigs, recordings, videos, commercial one nighters, whatever. Whereas we used to go on the road for weeks or months at a time with one group, the tours now are much shorter, sometimes only a few days, a week, or even flying around the world for one concert.

I remember people asking Bill Evans, when I was in the band, who was influencing him at the moment. He’d say, more or less, he liked anyone that played well, and maybe he’d name one or two cats he’d heard recently by playing opposite them or on a recording. I’m kind of the same way now. I hear and play so much good music in NYC and around the world,, so many good young players on all the instruments, that I’m inspired and influenced all the time, but not by any one drummer or player, but just by the joy of playing real music with great players. I see myself 50 years ago in all the young drummers I meet trying to make a way for themselves, but one must wonder, given the state of the business of jazz, what the opportunities will be for them.eliot 4
Will jazz survive?What will the future of the music be?

I think the questions are broader in scope.

Will serious culture survive? Is it possible to function in the digital age as a professional, working artist? Is academia the answer? Are too many young people seeking careers in the arts? Certainly jazz techniques will survive, they are the language of today’s harmonic/tonal music and improvisation, a must for any working musician on the scene today. In New York we have a marvelous array of older and younger serious jazz musicians who cover the stylistic gambit of what American jazz has offered and is offering over the last 70 years, as well as musicians from all over the world, who, enamored with jazz and the city, come to NY and bring their musical cultures with them to blend with what’s happening here. In Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, worldwide, certainly the States, we find great jazz musicians with regional scenes and communities of musicians everywhere, with the usual hard core fans and musicians hanging on in the usual devoted and low budget, hardscrabble ways. I think the music will always survive while there are musicians in the world dedicated enough to learn and play it and there seem to be no shortage of those. Will it sound like what was coming out of the Cafe Bohemia or Slugs in 1967, or Bradley’s in 1978, probably not.
In general the digital age has cheapened the value of art, artists, and media in lots of different ways. Combine that with the number of young people graduating from jazz programs in the States alone (some 5,000 per year I hear), and the general lack of interest in and knowledge of real jazz in the real world, most glaringly in America, and you don’t have a great prescription for the business of jazz in years to come.

I’m hoping to be proven wrong. And, most importantly – I still love to play and I’m still developing!

Eliot Zigmund (part 2) -mid 50’s to mid ’70’s

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

“However it became apparent that jazz was really in my blood, it defined me, refined my taste in music, and my playing goals.”

Part two of  this Eliot Zigmund special covers his years between his teenage years in the fifties and the time he met Bill Evans in the seventies.

Eliot with Art and Gary

Eliot: “Growing up, NYC was swing, bebop (later post bop) from the 50s onward, and they mixed and matched. So one week I could hear Coleman Hawkins play with Rex Stewart and Eddie Locke, by standing in front of the Metropole on 7th Ave and 48th St, and the next week hear him play with Monk downtown somewhere. In a relative sense, to a 16 year old, everyone was alive and playing, their presences were a given, part of life in the city.

My high school “dance band” did the the bassist’s Chubby Jackson’s children’s TV show (a jazz musician with a TV show!) and the guests were the great Gene Krupa and our “dance” band. Going to the drum stores in Manhattan you might run into Papa Joe Jones holding court, Elvin Jones hanging out between students, Jake Hanna giving advice about sticks, etc. The period from the 60s-80s in New York was a very exciting time. Great band leaders and their sidemen, from one incarnation to another, expanded the forms and vocabulary forward. Recordings were rarer, monumental, and would immediately influence players sensibilities, like a benign contagion.

I played along endlessly to my Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Count Basie, et. al. recordings until I wore them out. I learned to identify drummers just by the way they played time, Philly Joe, Max, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb, and many others, the gladiators. As I became more of a jazz player myself I was influenced by some of the younger up and coming drummers of the day, Pete LaRoca, Joe Chambers, and of course the genius of Tony Williams and Jack Dejohnette. Harmonic concepts broadened, modal playing combined with a sophistication in blues playing, combined with european harmonic and formal influences produced a rich harmonic jazz language.

The next generation players were constantly revolutionizing their styles and approach to their instruments, strong stylistic tributaries arose, moved, merged, influencing and influenced by a decidedly intellectual black/urban musical and political agenda and the urgency of the civil rights movement in the US. There was a feeling of being swept along by a wave. As a young player, I did all kinds of commercial gigs, worked with singers, shows, jazz gigs, some early pop stuff with Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick and later on briefly with the Pointer Sisters. However it became apparent that jazz was really in my blood, it defined me, refined my taste in music, and my playing goals.

I started getting serious about my jazz playing. There was always lots of jam sessions going on either on the gigs themselves – after hours if they were location gigs in resort areas, or at peoples houses in the city. A typical summer resort in the Catskills or Poconos, local resort areas driving distance from NYC, might have had 2, 3, 4 bands living on the premises. So guys, weren’t many ladies in the bands back then, got to hang out for 12 or 16 weeks with lots of other musicians. I first met Marty Morrell working opposite him at a Catskill hotel one summer. I remember one summer away where I played endlessly after hours with Eddie Daniels and a bass player named Lanny Fields, we played trio, clarinet, bass, drums, all summer long, late at night or during the day when we weren’t working.

To this day I try to play one or two sessions a week at my place or other people’s houses or studios, I’ve spent literally thousands of hours throughout my career playing with other musicians at jam sessions. New York is one of the few, if not only place, where that kind of extra-curricular playing is always happening and welcome.

I lived on the west coast for a few years in the early 70s, did a lot of  interesting playing vince guaraldithere (Vince Guaraldi, Art Lande, Steve Swallow, Ron McLure, Mike Nock, Art Pepper,) and came back to NYC in ’74 and started working with Bill Evans a year or so after that.  Playing with Art Lande and Vince Guaraldi was a good training ground for my later time with Bill Evans.  Vince loved to swing, was a real bebopper at heart and always had first class work in the bay area.  I did some soundtracks for the Peanuts TV shows with him.   Art Lande’s music was always challenging and on the cusp of what was happening at the moment, swung in a different way. He had a huge book of originals and we worked a bunch in the bay area in the early 70s with Art’s quintet with saxophonist Mel Martin, percussionist Glen Cronkite, Steve Swallow and myself,  and also with Art’s trio with Steve Swallow.”

(to be continued)

Eliot Zigmund (part 1)

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

evansI started this blog with my interview with guitarist Mundell Lowe, who introduced the unknown pianist Bill Evans in 1956 to Orrin Keepnews, one of the founders of jazzlabel Riverside Records. This introduction resulted in Bills’ first record “New Jazz Conceptions“, including the wellknown pieces “Waltz for Debby” and “Five”. February 1958 Bill recorded with the Miles Davis Sextet and in 1959 he played at Miles’ album Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time. In 1961 Evans had his own trio.

This year it is 33 years ago (15 september 1980)  Bill Evans died,   “to me it (Bills music, RA) is the music of a very romantic person- tender, caressing, gently yet at times strong and vibrant. Bill seems to be a gentle person, though I’m sure this is only one of the many facets of his complex personality that often reveal themselves in music.  I hear in his playing a level of emotion that doesn’t  come through in ordinary conversation. Bill speaks in a rather dry monotone. He is very direct and straightforward, with a lively sense of humor that comes out in wry anecdotes and stories about different clubs he has played.Marian McPartland writes in her book “Jazz World. All in Good Time” (1987)

Further on Marian says: “Bill is immensely tolerant of the musicians in his group, letting them express themselves in the music as they see fit. He once told me:”When a man starts with the trio, I tell them what I want. From then on it is his responsibility to play what is right for the piece. I allow him to come out and contribute in his own way….I want to be involved with my own musical problems, so I expect the others in the groups to be attuned to me, and to know instinctively what their role is.”

What happened to the people that accompanied Evans in his trios? Bassist Scott LaFaro died in an automobile accident in the summer of 1961. Drummer Larry Bunker died in 2005 at the age of 76.  Drummer Paul Motian died exactly 2 years ago.

Interjazzblog approached drummer Eliot Zigmund, bassist Chuck Israels and Eddieevans gomez zigmund Gomez, as well as drummer Marty Morell. With three of them there was an interview. We had a very nice converstation with Chuck Israels and Eddie Gomez and Eliot wrote a beautiful letter. We will start with Eliots letter. Eliot, Bills drummer between 1975 and 1978, is a good writer. His 10-page letter reads like a small novel.

First: who is Eliot Zigmund?

Wikipedia says: “Eliot Zigmund (b. April 14, 1945) is an American jazz drummer, who has worked extensively as a session musician.
Zigmund studied at Mannes College of Music and CCNY, where he graduated in 1969. After moving to California, he found work in the 1970s playing with Ron McClure, Steve Swallow, Art Lande, Mike Nock, Mel Martin, and Vince Guaraldi. He moved back to New York City in 1974, where he played with Bill Evans from 1975 to 1978. He also played with Eddie Gomez, Bennie Wallace, Richard Beirach, Jim Hall, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Fred Hersch, and Red Mitchell before the end of the 1970s.
He played with Don Friedman from 1979 to 1984, and then joined a trio with Michel Petrucciani until the late 1980s. After this he worked both as a leader in small ensembles and as a sideman with Gary Peacock (1980), Carl Barry (1982), Keith Greko (1985), Eiji Nakayama (1988), and Stefan Karlsson (1995).
Zigmund has also done work as a session player for Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick, and The Pointer Sisters, among others. Zigmund has taught at William Paterson College and New York University.”

Now let’s listen to Eliot himself:

I started playing professionally in the early 60’s. I grew up listening to popular music that was jazz oriented and some early rock and roll, Elvis Presley, Frankie Lyman, Jerry Lee Lewis, stuff like that. When I was 12 or 13, in the late 50s, started listening to jazz with my older brother, an aspiring jazz guitarist. For me, all music from the beginning was about swinging because most of the music I listened to was swinging (or at least wanted to swing), whether real jazz or more commercial music of the time. Even a lot of the early rock stuff was shuffle four/ four time, or twelve/eight ballads and swung.

My older brother was a guitarist and I very much wanted to play with him and thought the simplest most direct way of doing it was to play the drums. I started playing with him with a snare drum and brushes, eventually got a hi hat and after a few years, got a full drum set together and started doing my first gigs with my brother and others. It was a simpler time and the goal was to be a working musician, you would learn whatever was involved to work, a lot of the working technique coming out of jazz music and adapted to the particular music you were playing, latin, pop music of the day, shows. There were fewer musicians, more of a community of players, many of whom knew each other, more and better paying gigs which fueled jazz activity. There was always an overflow of work so I had a bunch of drummer friends and we’d trade off work, sub for each other, etc. I studied music in college, never as a percussionist but as a theory major, learned about classical music, theory, discovered Bach and Mozart (!!) and all the wonderful others, broadened my knowledge base and set out to become a working musician upon graduation from college. There was no formal jazz education, it was mostly off limits in university music departments, whatever jazz I learned was from listening to records, working and practicing.

(to be continued)

 

Evans time

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

evans 1 Last month I interviewed a few Bill Evans musicians, Eliot Zigmund, Chuck Israels and Eddie Gomez. I hope I can interview Marty Morell as well in the Spring.

This week we will start with Eliot.

The day I announced my interview with Chuck, Evan Evans said to me: “Jazz music the last 3 decades? Well, no Bill Evans is a big loss, but his Modal Jazz concept transformed the art and many still are trying to push the boundaries further. Keep an open mind, like my dad, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy some of the new and radical styles from many new and radical artists. The last thing Dad wanted, was to hear something that had been done before.”

Never mind what happens. It is Evans Time!

Interview with Norma Winstone

February 2, 2013 1 comment

norma winstoneI have been lucky in all my playing partners.

Last week I interviewed Norma Winstone.

Winstone sang in the early sixties mostly in pubs in East End of London (where she was born). She did sing around the Dagenham area too  (Norma moved there when she was 10) but quite a few of the London pubs featured jazz at the time and were a great learning opportunity.  Later on Norma joined Michael Garrick’s band in 1968. Her first recording came the following year, with Joe Harriott. In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll. She recorded the album, Edge of Time, under her own name in 1972.[1] Winstone contributed vocals to Ian Carr’s Nucleus on that band’s 1973 release Labyrinth, a jazz-rock concept albumbased on the Greek myth about the Minotaur.

Winstone has worked with many major European musicians and visiting Americans, as well as with most of her peers in British jazz including Garrick, John Surman, Michael Gibbs, Mike Westbrook and her former husband, the pianist John Taylor. With Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler she has performed and recorded five albums for ECM as a member of the trio Azimuth between 1977 and 1994  their CD “How It Was Then… Never Again” was given four stars by Down Beatmagazine. In addition she made an album with the American pianist Jimmy Rowles (Well Kept Secret, 1993). (Wikipedia and Norma Winstone)

Norma Winstone is a singer of of brilliant virtuosity and flexibility; she can handle very complex lines and wide intervals, improvise with the fluency of an instrumentalist and also breathe life into a simple song. Her favourite singers are Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams and Carmen McRae, and other inspirational figures for her are Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor (Ian Carr, Jazz, the essential companion).

Mrs. Winstone, you’re active in music for more than  4 decades. How has jazz music evolved since you started performing or singing. We know there are labels for different kinds of music, can we label your  music?
I would rather that music did not have to be labeled. I guess the music I am involved in and have been involved in for many years is jazz. What I wanted to be involved in was music like I had heard from Miles Davis, John Coltrane etc but I have always loved cassical music too and I think that somehow the music has evolved to include these influences too.
According to the Penguin Guide to Jazz, “Edge of Time” is your best album. Is this your favorite too? Which album you produced do you like best? Why?  Is this album your best appreciated album?
No, this is not my favourite album and I can’t see how they think it is my best. It has a spirit of the jazz scene in London at the time and it was fairly ambitious for a first recording under my own name, but I was much better recorded later on ECM. I began to be able to listen to my voice and hear what I had hoped I  sounded like. Edge of Time did have an urgency about it and was unusual in terms of a vocal album at the time (and probably even now), which is probably why the Penguin Guide thinks it’s the best, because I sound as if I am searching. I really like “Somewhere Called Home”, “Azimuth ’85” and “Distances” because I think that here I achieved something beautiful. “Distances” was nominated for a Grammy and won various awards for best vocal album so I would say that this has been my best appreciated album. 
Bill Evans. He’s been your inspiration, as he’s been for a generation of  (jazz)musicians. This year it’s thirty-three years ago he died. What does this mean to you?
Bill Evans always touched me with his playing. I saw him twice at Ronnie Scott’s club and as soon as he touched the piano he made it sound so beautiful, even though at the time it wasn’t such a great piano. He always made me cry. He had his own voice which is what we always want to hear from a musician. His harmonies were always the best you’re likely to hear.
Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues and what should they learn form you? Are you inspired by them as you were by the colleagues you played with in the seventies and  the early eighties?
I am always inspired when I sing with musicians who love the music and are prepared to be a bit adventurous. I don’t know what I’ve learned from my younger colleagues except how to make music with them. It is a precious thing when you find musicians with whom you don’t have to discuss anything and playing together just works. I have been lucky in all my playing partners.
norma winstone  visibelli group
Jazzcritic John Fordham called your cooperation with pianist Jimmy Rowles one of the highlights of the mid-nineties in his book Shooting From the Hip (published in 1996). How did you experience working with Mr.Rowles?
It was a great experience even to meet him and singing with him was a delight. I always loved the way he played the whole piano (not just the middle), rather like Duke Ellington. I remember breaking into a smile when we slipped into time after the verse of “Where or When”: it felt just right. He said that he felt that it was his job to make the singer sound as good as possible!
Next tuesday I will interview well known jazzsinger Sheila Jordan, who was very succesfull with her album Portrait of Sheila (1962), do you have a question for her?
 I love Sheila. She is such a warm and lovely human being and it shines through her singing…. what could I ask her? How did she remain so dedicated and determined to carry on through the bleak times?  but I guess I know the answer. She loves the music. What more do you need? To keep healthy, I guess, to cope with all the travelling.
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?
 I’m not sure I understand what he means… do we have to keep on until we’ve run out of people who have not been exposed to jazz? Lots of young musicians are still interested to play jazz albeit sometimes with influences from different genres of music as Dave suggests. It shouldn’t  have to stay the same. I think though that it gets more and more difficult for our youth to be exposed to jazz by chance, as it doesn’t have enough exposure in the media, but it was never easy anyway. It will survive in one form or another.
Your musical activities span a wide range of styles and combinations. Which projects do you have in store for us?
 I have just recorded again with my trio (Glauco Venier, piano and Klaus Gesing, soprano sax and bass clarinet) and we have included some more contemporary/ popular songs as well as originals. At the moment we seem to be about conveying the meaning of a song more than experimenting, but that may change. I will also be working in England this year with a group of great British musicians we call “The Printmakers” including Nikki Iles, piano, Mike Walker, guitar, Mark Lockheart, saxophones, Steve Watts, bass and James Maddren, drums. There is quite an age range in this group but we seem to have the same musical objectives. Other than this we don’t know what’s round the corner but as long as the voice holds out I shall be singing.

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.

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