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Interview Marc Copland

October 10, 2013 1 comment

There will always be listeners, and musicians, old and young, who get bored by pop music and are looking for something more. And jazz has what a lot of them want.

coplandThe story of pianist Marc “The Piano Whisperer” Copland is exceptional. He started his career in jazzmusic playing the saxophone and later on changed to the piano. His trio, including giants Gary Peacock and John Abercrombie, is groundbreaking. His cooperation with pianist Bill Carrothers on the wellreceived album No Choices (which finds two artists on equal ground, deeply committed to the interpretive, interactive and conversational fundamentals of improvisation, John Kelman, All About Jazz, August 2006) has left the jazzworld breathlessly. I’m happy I have interviewed both Copland and Carrothers.

First, who is Marc Copland?

“Copland (may, 27, 1948) became part of the jazz scene in Philadelphia in the early 1960s as a saxophonist, and later moved to New York where he experimented with electric alto saxophone. In the early 1970s, while pursuing his own harmonic concept, he grew dissatisfied with what he felt were inherent limitations in the saxophone and moved to the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, where he remained for a decade to retrain as a jazz pianist.”

He returned to New York in the mid-1980s, his own keyboard style firmly in place. Since that time Copland has enjoyed considerable success, both as a solo performer and a group leader. (wikipedia.org)
Mr.Copland, in 1966 you moved to New York City where you became involved in the city’s jazz scene. How has music evolved since you started performing?

Everything is totally different. The business side has changed enormously, with respect to the clubs in NY and with respect to record companies. The music has changed dramatically also. It would take many hours to go through all of this. But one constant, for me at least, has remained: European record companies often remain dedicated to producing music that they believe in, that they think has merit. In America—and this may be the biggest change since the sixties– most of the record companies are now owned by large corporations, and have been so for twenty-some years or more. The focus of these American record companies is very different from what it was in the 1950s and 1060s.

You started to play the piano since you were 7 years old. Why did you choose this instrument? Later on you switched to the saxophone and eventually you switched back to the piano. Which instrument do you like best by now, beneath piano

I started taking piano lessons, like many young children, around the age of 6 or 7 years. When I reached age 9 or 10, the school I attended offered me a choice of band or orchestra instrument to learn–and I chose saxophone because my aunt had a toy plastic one that I thought was cute! I still love the saxophone, I love playing with saxophonists! But for the harmonies going on in my head for the last forty-five or fifty years, piano is the best vehicle.

You’ve been working with so many beautiful musicians, among many others: Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Hank Crawford, Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Tom Harrell, Eddie Harris,Harold Land and Blue Mitchell, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Chico Hamilton, John Abercrombie, Gary Peacock, and Sonny Stit, Bob Belden, Jane Ira Bloom, Joe Lovano, Herbie Mann, James Moody, John Scofield, Jim Snidero, and Dave Stryker What have you learned, working with them?copland 3

Again, answering this question could be an entire article by itself. I will concentrate on just a few:

From John Abercrombie I learned to play only from the heart,and to play honest music.

From Dave Liebman I learned what it means to be dedicated to the music.

From James Moody I learned that as a leader, it’s important to treat the members of the band the way you would want to be treated.

From Gary Peacock, I learned that I was not alone in this musical world. We both believed that it was important to feel free to go with the feeling of the moment, and if the music came to us, to get out of its way.

You are an innovator in jazzmusic, an example for many pianists. What music do you listen to yourself nowadays? Are you inspired by contemporary jazzmusic?

I listen to all kinds of music, especially orchestral music written from the 1890s thru the 1950s. The use of colors and harmonies in this music is so varied and sophisticated, one could study it for a lifetime, which is more or less what I’ve done.

I am happy to say that there have been some younger players coming up in the last several years who are really trying to say their own thing, and are very talented. I have listened to their work and been moved by it. I almost hate to mention names, because I will doubtless leave some out, but in particular there are some players who deserve much more recognition for their work: (in alphabetical order) Bobby Avey, Bill Carrothers, Jason Moran, Craig Taborn.

In 1988 you recorded your debutalbum My Foolish Heart with drummer Jeff Hirschfield and longtime playing partners, guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist Gary Peacock. How do you look back at making this album?

It’s a nice album, and certainly I’m in good company there! The first albums I made that really seem to capture the sounds I hear are “All Blues at Night” (Jazz City, same label as “My Foolish Heart”) and “Haunted Heart and Other Ballads” (Hatology). After that, it became easier to put the sounds in my head onto cd, and most of my recordings since then are a pretty fair representation of what I was hearing at the time.

In 2006 you recorded the album “No Choice”, a dual-piano recording with Bill Carrothers. Please, tell me more about your your cooperation with Bill.

For many years Bill seemed to be the only other pianist who heard harmony in a way that relates to my own work. Recording the CD seemed like a logical outcome of this common feeling for harmonic usage, although stylistically we are quite different.. The session was very enjoyable, but that’s a once-in-a-career thing. I have no plans to do another piano duet album.

copland 5You played a lot as front- and sideman in many different formats, you play in a trio, a quartet, as well as solo. What is your favourite format? Why?

Trio can be very intimate and one has partners up there helping make the music, so that feels easy and personal. It’s easy to do night after night and watch the thing develop. Solo piano is very, very personal, but it’s also very draining. I like doing it, but not every night!

Miles Davis. I have interviewed your companion Randy Brecker, Miles taught him: ”How to tell a story in as few notes as possible. Sound comes first. Take chances. Fuck whatever anyone else thinks. Rehearse as little as possible since as he said :’ You can’t rehearse the future!” Do you agree with this method?

In many cases this is exactly right. Sound does come first. Taking chances is the essence of playing, this is something I always felt, and when I started playing with Gary Peacock, I knew I’d met a musical soul who believed this as much as I did.

But that only works for me if I’m practicing, listening, expanding my ears. Going out for a drive with no plan, with just the desire to explore new places and see new things, works fine—but only if there is gas in the tank.

Your latest record, Some more Love Songs, is a beautiful one, and received very well, as we can read at Allaboutjazz (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=42219#.UieSSpLp2t0 ), what is the secret of the succes of this album?

There’s no secret to making a good recordiing. It’s always worked for me like this: go in with a plan, but don’t follow it, just let the music happen. Go in to express what’s in your heart, not to show what a terrific musician you are. Go in with musicians you believe in and feel comfortable with. Don’t go in to try and play. Go in with the thought that you need to sit at the instrument, find a quiet space, and let the music find you.

In his book Primacy of the Ear, pianist Ran Blake, states “one’s single most crucial ally in the exploration of music is the ear. When you listen, the ear reacts before the brain has time to process; it is an honest broker.” This means jazz or improvisational music cannot be related to the intellect. Do you agree with him? Why (not)?

Yes and no. The intellect is, as I see it, responsible for learning the tools of the trade, exploring and working with new musical materials. The intellect can also be an important guide in making sure one remembers to be artistically honest. If the intellect had no role at all then an animal could play jazz.

That said, when you start to play, you can’t think. You just go for it, and what Ran says applies….but the intellect has worked in the background, and continues to observe and learn.

Think of it this way. An athlete or dancer learns all sorts of techniques and strategies, which are practiced over and over with a great deal of thought and self-observation, until they become second nature. But in the heat of competition, the athlete doesn’t think a whole lot, there isn’t time. Of course sports and music are very different, but I believe this analogy makes sense.

You played a lot in NewYork, but also in Europe for different European recordlabels. Do you think jazz in Europe develops a different direction than Jazz oversea?copland 1

Jazz is kind of worldwide now, and the directions of the music are more than ever independent of where the musicians live. However, record companies still decide what gets recorded, and as noted above, this does affect what type of music is released on CD in Europe, and what time is released in America. And I think there is a difference there, although it’s not all black and white.

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.” What is your opinion? Do you regard yourself as a part of this jazztradition?

Without the tradition, I wouldn’t or couldn’t exist. And Bird’s not dead, certainly not for me. He’s a big part of the foundation on which everything else has been built.

In an interview with allaboutjazz (you quote at your website), you said: “Commercial interests often lose sight of important artistic developments – or, sometimes while recognizing them, lose faith in the public’s ability to do the same. As a result, a lot of great art goes undiscovered; and when an art form loses opportunities for growth it is all the poorer for it.” What does this mean for the future of jazzmusic?

What it means is this: we’ve all got to hope that enough people will continue to come out and support good music to keep it alive. We can’t count on the record companies developing the best artists anymore. Some of the record companies are still dedicated to this, particularly in Europe; but many of the companies, in American and also in Europe, are not. One positive development is the growth of artist-owned labels and the use of the internet to spread the music. These are hard roads to travel, but in some cases the artist may not have any other alternative.

copland liebmanDave Liebman, one of your playing partners, said to me: “If you compare music to the Amazon River, jazz is one of the major tributaries. Its future lies with how the music will be absorbed and transformed by people from other parts of the world other than the U.S. and Europe. For these people, jazz is new and exciting. This is the hope for jazz, that by spreading its wings, it will stay relevant.”do you agree with him? Jazz is the most recorded musicstyle by now, but do you think jazz will reach our youth?

I only know this: there always seems to be an audience of people in any age range who are looking to hear good jazz. I see it every few years, here in NYC, at the clubs. There will always be listeners, and musicians, old and young, who get bored by pop music and are looking for something more. And jazz has what a lot of them want.

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

A new project in quartet with John Abercrombie, under his name, is being released at the ECM label as I write this. As to future projects, there are ideas and plans, but I’d rather not say until it happens!

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.

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 Dave Liebman

January 4, 2013 1 comment

If you compare music to the Amazon River, jazz is one of the major tributaries
dave liebmanA few days ago I interviewed saxophonist and flautist David Liebman. I saw him in 1997 at the North Sea Jazz Festival and heard him play the piano and the saxophone. Truly, one of the most powerful musicians I’ve ever heard. Since then I have been interested in this man and his music.

Bio:David Liebman-tenor and soprano sax, flute, composer; also piano and drums. Born: Brooklyn, New York, 4 September 1946. Piano lessons as a child, then clarinet and later sax; began gigging at 14 years; inspired by drummer Bob Moses with whom he was associated from age 16. Liebman also studied privately with Joe Allard, Charles Lloyd and Lennie Tristano. He graduated from New York University in the late 1960s with a degree in American history and a teaching diploma. Dave Liebman is steeped in the work of John Coltrane; other influences are Sonny Rollins. McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter. He is one of the most gifted of the post-Coltrane saxophonists and his work is always infused with a very human feeling; his groups have created some of the most vital music heard (Carr, Fairweather, Priestley, Jazz, the Essential Companion). Notably, Liebman is the Founder and Artistic Direcor of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) a network of worldwide schools from over 40 countries where jazz is taught since1989.
Currently, Liebman is Artist In Residence at the Manhattan School of Music. He has received several distinguished awards including two National Endowment for the Arts grants for composition and performance; Honorary Doctorate from the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, Finland; Grammy nomination for Best Solo Performance in 1998; the Order of Arts and Letters from France; Jazz Educator Legend award from the Jazz Educators Network (JEN); Best Record of the year (2010) from the German Jazz Journalists Association and most notably the highest award given in the jazz field from the U.S., the Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award from the NEA. ( On Wikipedia, look for more information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Liebman).

Mr. Liebman, you have been active in jazz music for more than 40 years. How is jazz now different from before?

There are two things that have transformed jazz in our time. First of all is the growth of jazz education worldwide. Students are now trained in an organized way, rather than trial and error which was by and large the process for myself and my predecessors. The other factor is the growth of the internet meaning so much jazz history is available for learning by a click. You can see Coltrane play sitting in your bedroom anywhere in the world now. That means instant access to the history of jazz if one is motivated. On the negative side, there is less opportunity to see and hear jazz in our contemporary world. The reasons are both economic and social which is another discussion, but the result is less venues and more distractions for potential listeners. In the 1960’s you could visit a jazzclub in large cities throughout western Europe and America, which is less and less the case now. And clubs are where the music is best heard.

Yusef Lateef said to me in an interview the word “Jazz” is a misnomer. Do you agree with him?

Jazz means a certain historical style with its own set of customs, just like other improvised musical traditions in the world. These days, you have to be more specific about what style of jazz you are referring to in a conversation.

Which album of yours do you like best? Why? “Drum Ode”,”Double Edge”, “Voyage”,  “Setting the standard” and “Colors” are mentioned in The Penguin Guide to Jazz. Are these your favourite records too?

My most representative recording is “The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner (1986),” dedicated to the well-known soprano stylist Steve Lacy. It is a solo soprano sax album with a lot of composition and saxophone overdubs. The thing about a solo recording is that you are bare and naked without the assistance of other musicians, so you are 100% responsible for the contents. This very personal recording traces the path of a long distance runner as a metaphor for the life of an artist.

Do you visit concerts yourself? Do you still learn from your youthful colleagues? Are you inspired by them?

I don’t have much time to go to concerts. It is on tour that I have a chance to hear other groups. Concerning youthful players, if an artist wants to continue to evolve they should listen and be in some way influenced by the next generation(s) of players. The talent pool is tremendous now, so there is a lot to hear.

John Coltrane….you are long time fan. He’s been an example for a generation of jazz musicians. It’s forty five years ago since he passed on. What does this mean to you?

John Coltrane was and still is the major influence on my life. I saw him live many times and am still learning from his saxophone playing, use of harmony and music structures. For me, his work is still the highest of the high…… technically, spiritually and emotionally.

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

It will continue on of course. Jazz is still alive and can be heard more and more worldwide. It is a classic form of music like any historical style…. Baroque, Romantic, Indian classical, etc. If you compare music to the Amazon River, jazz is one of the major tributaries. Its future lies with how the music will be absorbed and transformed by people from other parts of the world other than the U.S. and Europe. For these people, jazz is new and exciting. This is the hope for jazz, that by spreading its wings, it will stay relevant.

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