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Interview with Cyrus Chestnut

September 22, 2013 3 comments

cyrus 3A few months ago I interviewed jazzpianist Cyrus Chestnut, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1963.

Chestnut, son of a churchorganist and the director of a churchchoir,  started his musical career at the age of six, playing piano at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in his hometown. By the age of nine, he was studying classical music at the Peabody Institute. In 1985, Chestnut earned a degree in jazz composition and arranging from Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, Chestnut was awarded the Eubie Blake Fellowship (1982), the Quincy Jones Scholarship (1983), and the Oscar Peterson Scholarship (1984).

Chestnut toured as pianist for Jon Hendricks, 1986–88; Terrence Blanchard, 1988–90; Donald Harrison, 1988–90; Wynton Marsalis, 1991; and the Betty Carter Trio, 1991-93. His association with Carter significantly affected his outlook and approach to music, confirming his already iconoclastic instincts. Carter advised him to “take chances” and “play things I’ve never heard,” Chestnut said.

In 1993, at the age of 30, Chestnut signed with Atlantic Records, releasing the critically acclaimed Revelation (1993), followed by The Dark Before The Dawn (1994) (the album debuted in the sixth spot on the Billboard Jazz Charts),Earth Stories (1995) and then Cyrus Chestnut (1998). Chestnut has also performed and/or recorded with, Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Jon Hendricks, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Scott, Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, Kevin Mahogany, Dizzy Gillespie, and opera diva Kathleen Battle, most notably on the Sony Classical recording “So Many Stars”. Their shared church roots resulted in such a positive chemistry between Battle and Chestnut that he then joined the soprano on a fall 1996 U.S. Tour. Later that year came Blessed Quietness: A Collection of Hymns, Spirituals and Carols (1996), a reverently assembled album of traditional numbers instilled with the gospel and blues Chestnut grew up listening to. In addition to appearing on the soundtrack to director Robert Altman’s 1996 feature film Kansas City, Chestnut also made his big screen debut portraying a Count Basie-inspired pianist.

In 2000, Chestnut signed with manager Bruce Garfield, who convinced him to collaborate with Vanessa L. Williams, Brian McKnight, The Manhattan Transfer and The Boys’ Choir of Harlem on A Charlie Brown Christmas. In 2001, he released Soul Food featuring bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash and special guest soloists including James Carter, Stefon Harris, Wycliffe Gordon and Marcus Printup. This album was one of Down Beat′s best records of 2002 and ascended to “Top 10” on the Jazz Charts.cyrus 2

In 2006, Chestnut released his first album, Genuine Chestnut, on TelArc Records. On it he is accompanied by his regular trio of Michael Hawkins, bass and Neal Smith, drums. Additional artists on this session include Russell Malone, guitar and Steven Kroon, percussion. It includes jazz interpretations of some well-known pop numbers of the past half-century, including “If”, the early 1970s soft-rock ballad by Bread. “This song has been with me ever since the sixth grade,” Chestnut recalled, “I had to play it for my English teacher’s wedding. I’ve played it in many and various contexts. I actually played it in a Top 40 band when I was just out of school. A lot of time has passed, but then recently I just started thinking about it again.”[4] Chestnut’s own “Mason Dixon Line” is one of the album’s high points, a joyful bebop number.[5] Chestnut continually tours with his trio, playing live at jazz festivals around the world as well as clubs and concert halls. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has also led him to be a first call for the piano chair in many big bands including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. Chestnut is currently represented by Addeo Music International (AMI).

(wikipedia, read further at: http://www.cyruschestnut.com)

Mr. Chestnut, you’re professional active in music for almost 4 decades. How has music evolved since you started performing?

I think music has become quite intricate. With the role of the computer in music today, there are more complex rhythms. Melodies and harmonies follow suit as well. It’s much more than II V I

You started to play the piano at age five. Why did you choose this instrument? Your very first professional gig, you played the drums. You also played the alto-sax, trombone, a baritone horn, and you studiedguitar.a little. Which instrument do you like best, beneath your piano?

I enjoyed all the above instruments, however it was and still is the piano that I believe is my voice. I on occasion will pull out the guitar but the piano takes all of my time

cyrus 3You started playing in church when you were seven. What did you (like to) play?

I was playing in the church at five. I liked playing music that had a groove. It did not have to be fast always. I just liked to play…

You’ve been working with so many beautiful musicians, among many others Jon Hendricks, Terrence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter, Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Scott, Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, Kevin Mahogany, Dizzy Gillespie. How do you look back at working with them?

I am grateful to have shared on the bandstand with these great musicians. They not only taught me about music, they taught me about life. I will forever be grateful for their influence

You were inspired by the gospel and jazzmusic you heard in your youth, Baby Cortez, King Curtis and Jimmy Smith and amongst others . The first record you bought was a Thelonious Monk album with his greatest hits. Who are you inspired by nowadays?

I must say that I did not really hear Baby Cortez in my youth however, In these days I am inapired by all types of music. Bach, Mozart, the Clark Sisters(gospel group), Leny Andrade, etc….

You like to play piano trio. What makes playing in a trio so special? Which piano trio in jazzmusic you like best?

Playing in trio gives me full control of the musical experience. I become front man and accompanist all-in one. It is very difficult to nail down one piano trio as I like different ones for different reasons. I like the Oscar Peterson trios in the 60’s for their driving swing. I also like the Ahmad Jamal trio for the spontaneous freedom. I can not leave out Bill Evans, Red Garland, and Wynton Kelly. I am leaving out some. I could take a page listing…..

Last week I interviewed bassist Peter Ind, He stated: “in striving to become cleverer than the next player, many jazzy musicians have lost their following – simply by becoming too clever.” Do you think nowadays jazz- or creative music is too complex?

I think sometimes musicians in an attempt tob e different, they tend to “throw in the kitchen sink”. One should be patient and allow the music to come to them. That way it does not sound forced.

Charlie Parker. This year it’s fifty-eight years ago he has died . Sheila Jordan said 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?cyrus 4

Anyone who truly plays jazz music seriously is a part of the tradition form Jelly Roll Morton through Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and beyond. It is unfortunate that the younger generation seems to put the founding fathers on the side. More importantly I think it is the duty of the generations before NOT to keep silent and pass the history. It was done for us and we should do it fort hem.

In an interview with Cassandra Henry (2006) you said: “ jazz music was referred to as Jackass music. A lot of times when you talk to certain classical musicians about jazz, they can’t give it any credence because they don’t feel it’s really serious. Jazz musicians are just as serious because we are doing the same things the classical musicians are doing but adding improvisation to the composition at a higher rate of speed. You know there are people in this industry who are just starting to embrace jazz music a little bit more now, but there are still some who say jazz is not interesting. Jazz musicians are constantly fighting to be recognized and taken seriously.” (http://3blackchicks.com/movie-reviews/reviews-archives/51-2004-interviews/372-m-casschestnutinterview). Do you think jazzmusic is the stepchild of American Music?

Unfortunately, I have to agree. There are some who think of jazz as a sub genre when not only does it require virtuosity, It requires spontaneous thought. The true jazz musician is a spontaneous composer.

Later on in an interview with R.J. Deluke for all about jazz you say: “It’s been an interesting time. The legends who we’ve loved over the years are slipping away. It’s hard to touch hands on them now. It’s very sobering. The guard is changing so rapidly. I fight to keep a good outlook for the music, because I believe as long as the voice of freedom lives in the world, there will be jazz. “ (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=28279&pg=3#.UdhIB6fCSM8) So there is a future for jazzmusic?

ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!! As long as the voice of freedom is alive, there will be jazz!

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

Each day brings something new. I continously write and I am doing a project on the music of Dave Brubeck. It is an exciting time.

 

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Cedar Walton

August 24, 2013 Leave a comment

cedar walton This week two great jazzpianists died; Cedar Walton and Marian McPartland. Let’s continue with Cedar.

Cedar Walton, a pianist who distinguished himself as both an accompanist and a soloist, and who wrote some of the most enduring compositions in modern jazz while a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early 1960s, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 79. His death followed a brief illness, his manager, Jean-Pierre Leduc, said. (NYTimes, 8-20-13)
“Walton grew up in Dallas, Texas. His mother was an aspiring concert pianist, and was Walton’s initial teacher. She also took him to jazz performances around Dallas. Walton cited Nat King Cole, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum as his major influences on piano.

Walton was tempted by the promise of New York City through his associations with the likes of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Richie Powell, whom he met at various after-hours sessions around the city of Denver, Colorado. In 1955, he decided to leave school and drove with a friend to New York City. He quickly got recognition from Johnny Garry, who ran Birdland at that time.

Walton was drafted into the U.S. Army, and stationed in Germany, cutting short his rising status in the after-hours scene. While in the Army, he played with musicians Leo Wright, Don Ellis, and Eddie Harris. Upon his discharge after two years, Walton picked up where he left off, playing as a sideman with Kenny Dorham and J. J. Johnson, and with Gigi Gryce.[2] Joining the Jazztet, led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer, Walton played with this group from 1958 to 1961. In April 1959, he recorded an alternate take of “Giant Steps” with John Coltrane, though he did not solo.

In the early 1960s, Walton joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as a pianist-arranger for three years (on the same day as Freddie Hubbard), where he played with Wayne Shorter and Hubbard. In this group, he demonstrated a keen sense of arranging in originals such as “Ugetsu” and “Mosaic”. He left the Messengers in 1964 and by the late 1960s was part of the house rhythm section at Prestige Records, where in addition to releasing his own recordings, he recorded with Sonny Criss, Pat Martino, Eric Kloss, and Charles McPherson. For a year, he served as Abbey Lincoln’s accompanist, and recorded with Lee Morgan from 1966 to 1968. During the mid-1970s, he led the funk group Mobius.

Many of his compositions have been adopted as jazz standards, including “Firm Roots”, “Bolivia” and “Cedar’s Blues”. “Bolivia” is perhaps Walton’s best known composition, while one of his oldest is “Fantasy in D”, recorded under the title “Ugetsu” by Art Blakey in 1963.Cedar Walton 7 28 13

In January 2010, he was inducted as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.” (wikipedia)

In february this year he played in jazzclub Bimhuis in Amsterdam, in the same week Curtis Fuller gave a concert at the same place. I only visited the Fuller concert. It’s a pity. Happily there was a visitor who recorded (a part of) the concert.

Read further at:

http://www.jazzwax.com/2013/08/cedar-walton-on-giant-steps.html (Jazzwax)

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/arts/music/cedar-walton-pianist-and-composer-dies-at-79.html?_r=0 (NYTimes, 8-20-13)

and

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2013/08/19/213571089/jazz-piano-giant-cedar-walton-dies-at-79 (NPR Blog)

 

Cedar Walton at the Bimhuis, 2-14-2013:

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 Sheila Jordan

April 17, 2013 Leave a comment

23Sheila Jordan, born Sheila Jeanette Dawson, Nov. 18 1928, Detroit, Michigan, USA raised in poverty in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining country. She began singing as a child and by the time she was in her early teens she was working semi-professionally in Detroit clubs. Her first great influence was Charlie Parker and, indeed, most of her influences have been instrumentalists rather than singers. Working chiefly with black musicians, she met with disapproval from the white community but persisted with her career. She was a member of a vocal trio, Skeeter, Mitch And Jean (she was Jean), who sang versions of Parker’s solos in a manner akin to that of the later Lambert, Hendricks And Ross.
After moving to New York in the early 50s, she married Parker’s pianist, Duke Jordan, and studied with Lennie Tristano, but it was not until the early 60s that she made her first recordings. One of these (Portrait of Sheila, Bluenote) was under her own name, the other was “The Outer View” with George Russell, which featured a famous 10-minute version of “You Are My Sunshine”.
In the mid-60s her work encompassed jazz liturgies sung in churches and extensive club work, but her appeal was narrow even within the confines of jazz. By the late 70s jazz audiences had begun to understand her uncompromising style a little more and her popularity increased – as did her appearances on record, which included albums with pianist Steve Kuhn, whose quartet she joined, and an album, Home, comprising a selection of Robert Creeley’s poems set to music and arranged by Steve Swallow.
A 1983 duo set with bassist Harvie Swartz, “Old Time Feeling”, comprises several of the standards Jordan regularly features in her live repertoire, while 1990’s “Lost And Found” pays tribute to her bebop roots. Both sets display her unique musical trademarks, such as the frequent and unexpected sweeping changes of pitch, which still tend to confound an uninitiated audience. Her preference to the bass and voice set led to another remarkable collaboration with bassist Cameron Brown, whom she has been performing with all over the world for more than ten years so far and they have released the live albums “I’ve Grown Accustomed to the Bass” and “Celebration”. Entirely non-derivative, Jordan is one of only a tiny handful of jazz singers who fully deserve the appellation and for whom no other term will do (Copyright 1989-2000 Muze UK Ltd).

Mrs. Jordan, you started singing when you were just three years old.

Yes, I appeared at the Michigan Theatre in Detroit, Mich. My mother and her sister took me down there. It was amateur nite. I was about 3 years old.

You’re active in music for over six decades. You had a close relationship with Charlie Parker.

Bird was like a big brother to me. I met him when I was a teenager in Detroit. Our friendship continued after I moved to NYC in the early 50’s. I’m trying as best I can to keep Bird’s music alive. There are a few of us around who will never forget Charlie Parker or his impact on Jazz. Great musicians like Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Cobb just to name a few of the older musicians. We all know the importance of Bird’s music.

You even married Parker-pianist Duke Jordan. You’ve seen it all! In which way jazzmusic evolved since you started?

Yes, I was married to Duke Jordan and have a beautiful daughter from that marriage. Jazz music has evolved and hopefully will continue to evolve in years to come. There are a lot of jazz schools cropping up all over the world. I think this is wonderful. I started one of the first vocal workshops at City College in NYC back in 1978. I taught there one day a week until a couple of years ago. I also do several summer workshops for a one or two week period. I find these workshops very successful and it’s a joy to hear the young singers dedicate themselves to this incredible music.

How can we label your beautiful music?

I have no label for the music I do except to call it Jazz. I have always been an innovative singer. I come from the school of the great Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. Don’t get me wrong … I don’t try to sing like them. Who could? More importantly who would want to try to imitate these great singers. I would feel like a thief if I tried to copy them. I have my own sound and a lot of it has to do with listeneing to Bird and Bebop music when I was growing up.sheila jordan

According to the Penguin Guide to Jazz, “Portrait of Sheila” is your best album. Is this your favorite too? Since then you have produced so many terrific abums, like “Last Year’s Waltz” (1981). Which album you produced do you like best? Why? Is this album your best appreciated album?

Firstly, I don’t have a favorite record of myself. I have yet to make one. Secondly, I never listen to my records once there completed. I will never be a jazz diva. I am only a messenger of the music. That’s my purpose in life, keeping this music alive.

The late Jazzcritic Joachim Ernst Berendt called your early version of “You Are My Sunshine” with George Russell “eine Persiflage voll beissendem Zynismus auf die amerikanischen Mittelstandsbürger.”, “a parody full of biting cynicism on the American middle class citizens.” He said the time was not ripe for your music, do you agree with him?

Joachim Ernst Berendt was entitled to his opinion of the arrangement. George Russell made a recording of me singing You Are My Sunshine and dedicated it to the out of work coal miners of South Fork, Pennsylvania. I lived in this area with my grandparents until I was about 14. I moved to Detroit, Michigan at this age to live with my mother.
I interviewed Norma Winstone last week, I offered her the occasion to ask you a question. Her question to you was: “How did you remain so dedicated and determined to carry on through the bleak times?”
Norma is a wonderful singer/musician. She writes incredible lyrics. So to answer her question about my dedication: I have loved music since I can remember. Growing up with no water or heat or bathroom can be very hard on a kid. I got thru all of these disadvantages by singing. It made me feel better when I sang. My life was not easy growing up. There was a lot of alcoholism in my family so times were really tough. I kept this dedication and still do to this day doing whatever I have to do to support the music. I worked in an office most of my adult life until I was 58 years old. I had a daughter to raise so I needed a steady income. That doesn’t mean I stopped singing tho. I always found places to sing. I was determined not to lose the one thing that kept me going all those years. Thank God I haven’t lost it.images

You have worked with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, who played at your debut-album. Tomorrow I will interview them (also by email). Do you have a question for (one of) them?

Ask Carla to please write another beautiful Jazz Opera. I would like a part in it no matter how small.

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?

As long as older musicians, like myself keep teaching and encouraging the young musicians (instrumentalists/singers) coming up to stick with this wonderful music, the music will continue to stay alive. They need to be dedicated and support it until it supports them. Believe me if they don’t get discouraged and give up they will be given one of the most beautiful gifts in life. After all, Jazz is the only music America can call it’s own. Unfortunately, it seems to be the stepchild of American music.

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


At some point, I would like to re-record my String Quartet project. I also have a bio coming out next year. So we will see where that takes me.

Interview with Phil Woods

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

phil woods

Jazz is a life force that continues to influence musicians all over the world.

Last week I interviewed Mr. Woods.

Phil Woods was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1931. Springfield, Massachusetts in 1931. After studying at music school, touring jobs with big bands and then small-group with Jimmy Raney (1955) and George Wallington(1956, 1957).

He studied music with Lennie Tristano, who influenced him greatly, at the Manhattan School of Music and at The Juilliard School. His friend, Joe Lopes, coached him on clarinet as there was no saxophone major at Juilliard at the time. Although he did not copy Charlie “Bird” Parker, bop’s greatest saxophonist, he was known as the New Bird, a label which was also attached to other alto players such as Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderley at one time or another in their careers. (wikipedipedia.org)

He played with Dizzy Gillespie big band, including overseas tours (1956), and formed two alto-quintet with Gene Quill (1957). With Buddy Rich quintet (1958-9) and was founder member of Quincy Jones big band (1959-61). Also worked with Benny Goodman (1962) and did considerable amount of studio sessions in the 1960s. Moved to Paris with his then wife Chan Richardson (former consort of Charlie Parker) and formed his European Rhytm Machine quartet. (Brian Priestly, Jazz, the essential companion)

He returned to the United States in 1972. In 1979, Woods made the recording, More Live, at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Perhaps his best known recorded work as a sideman is a pop piece, his alto sax solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” He also played the alto sax solo on Steely Dan’s “Doctor Wu,” from their critically acclaimed 1975 album Katy Lied, as well as Paul Simon’s 1975 hit, Have a Good Time.

Although Woods is primarily a saxophonist he is also a fine clarinet player and solos can be found scattered through his recordings. One good example is his clarinet solo onMisirlou on the album Into The Woods (see discography below).

Phil Woods A Life in E Flat-Portrait of a Jazz Legend is a documentary film released in 2005 by Jazzed Media. Directed by Rich Lerner, and produced by Graham Carter, the film offers an intimate portrait of Woods during a recording session of the Jazzed Media albumThis is How I Feel About Quincy. (wikipedia)

Mr. Woods, 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 nowadays different from Modern Jazz?

There has been a big infusion of Latin rhythms first introduced by Dizzy Gillespie and now further developed by musicians such as Paquito D’Rivera and Ignacio Berora and many more.

Which album you produced do you like best? Why?
‘Phil Woods/ Lew Tabackin”, is your best appreciated albums in The Penguin Guide to Jazz. Is this your favourite record too?
This is like asking a father which child is your favorite. My favorite record is my next one.

Do you still visit concerts? (and if so) Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?
Not as much as I did when I was younger but I still travel – off to Tel Aviv next week and then on to a Jazz Cruise in the Carribean. And yes I am still learning from young players and discovering new things from the Jazz Masters that preceded me.

Charlie Parker. You’ve been a long-time fan. He’s been an example for generations of (jazz)musicians. This year it’s 58 years ago he died (as many great musicians you played with passed last six decades). What does this mean to you?
Bird, Dizzy and Monk revolutionized the world and continue to do so. They mean everything to me – my life time heroes!

Mundell Lowe said to me three months ago: “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. ” Do you agree with him?
Yes I do. Mundell was a dear friend and knows what he is talking about.

Is there Jazz in the future? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think Jazz will reach our youth?
Jazz will never die. Too many good men gave their lives to this music. Jazz is a life force that continues to influence musicians all over the world.

The Midnight Sun Will Never Set:

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