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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.

 

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 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)

 

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.

 

Kenny Ball

kennyI arranged the interview in january. I waited to long. Today I heard he is dead. Kenny Ball.

Trumpeter and bandleader Kenny Ball died in the early hours of this morning in hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia. He was 82, and was still performing until three weeks ago.

Radio 3’s Alyn Shipton says:

“With his ready grin, mop-haired appearance and upbeat singing and playing, Kenny Ball was one of the most extrovert and cheery figures in British entertainment. His chart-topping hits of the 1960s brought jazz to a huge audience, and he was a dazzlingly accomplished trumpeter, with one of the most developed techniques in jazz. Amid the bravura cadenzas were subtleties that passed many of his audience by, such as playing complex solos in unison with his clarinettist, and his high note range seemed so effortless that he made light of its difficulty. Britain has lost one its most charismatic bandleaders, and a figurehead of the “trad” movement. ” (LondonJazz: RIP Kenny Ball)

Kenneth Daniel Ball, 22nd May 1930, Ilford, Essex, died 7th March 2013

Ball was born in Ilford, Essex. He began his career as a semi-professional sideman in bands, whilst also working as a salesman and for an advertising agency. He played the trumpet in bands led by Charlie Galbraith, Sid Phillips, Eric Delaney and Terry Lightfoot before forming his own trad jazz band in 1958. His dixieland band was at the forefront of the early 1960s UK jazz revival.
In 1961 their recording of Cole Porter’s ‘Samantha’ became a hit, and in March 1962 they reached No. 2 on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart, with “Midnight in Moscow”. The record sold over one million copies, earning gold disc status. Further hits ensued, including a version of ‘March of the Siamese Children’ from ‘The King and I’, which topped the pop music magazine, New Musical Express chart in March that year, and such was their popularity in the UK that Ball was featured, alongside Cliff Richard, Brenda Lee, Joe Brown, Craig Douglas and Frank Ifield, on the cover of the New Musical Express in July 1962, although in the U.S. they remained a ‘one-hit wonder’.
In January 1963, New Musical Express reported that the biggest trad jazz event to be staged in Britain had taken place at Alexandra Palace. The event included George Melly, Diz Disley, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Alex Welsh, Ken Colyer, Monty Sunshine, Bob Wallis, Bruce Turner, Mick Mulligan and Ball. The same year, Ball became the first British jazzman to become an honorary citizen of New Orleans,[4] and appeared in the 1963 film Live It Up!, featuring Gene Vincent.
In 1968 the band appeared with Louis Armstrong during his last European tour.[1] Ball later appeared on BBC Television’s highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing “Midnight In Moscow” with his Jazzmen on the show broadcast on BBC 1, on January 1, 1970, and his continued success was aided by guest appearances on every edition of the first six series of the BBC’s Morecambe and Wise Show. He later claimed that the peak of his career was when Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen played at the reception for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. (wikipedia.org)

Butch Morris dies at 65

January 30, 2013 2 comments

butchMorris was born in Long Beach, California. Before beginning his musical career, he served in the US forces in the Vietnam War.
Morris came to attention with saxophonist David Murray’s groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Morris’s brother, double bassist Wilber Morris, sometimes performed and recorded with Murray during this period.
He also played with well-known artist and would be drummer A.R. Penck in 1990.
Morris led a group called Orchestra SLANG. The group features Drummer Kenny Wollesen, alto saxophonist Jonathon Haffner, trumpeter Kirk Knuffke and others. He performed and presented regularly as part of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, held annually in New York City.
Morris died of lung cancer.
Morris is the originator of Conduction (a term knowingly borrowed from physics): a type of structured free improvisation where Morris directs and conducts an improvising ensemble with a series of hand and baton gestures.
These conductions have received generally positive reviews, and are often considered quite unique, not quite fitting into any one musical genre: critic Thom Jurek has written, “There are no records like Butch Morris’ conduction sides, nor could there be, though he wishes there were.” and Ed Hazell writes, “At his best, Morris can shake players out of their old habits, or place a microscope on one aspect of a musician’s artistry and build an orchestral fantasia around it.” (wikipedia.org)

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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