Posts Tagged ‘Peter Ind’

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:

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.” ( 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. “ ( 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.



Interview with Peter Ind

August 12, 2013 1 comment
To me the greatness in jazz lies in improvisation and from improvisation there developed the musical language that we recognize as jazz.
A few weeks ago I asked bassist Peter Ind my questions about his work, his music, his thoughts. He sent me a beautiful letter. I am proud to publish it at interjazzblog.
Who is Peter Ind? A short biography:

images (1)Peter  (born 1928) was just 21 when he began travelling to New York playing jazz double bass  on the Queen Mary. He settled in New York in 1951 and America became his home for the next 15 years. He studied with Lennie Tristano, played with  many great names in Jazz – Lee Konitz, Buddy Rich, Coleman Hawkins, Billie  Holiday. While there he set up a recording studio and launched the Wave   jazz label. Revived in 1977, it still exists today.

Returning to the UK in 1966, he often performed in duos and trios – most notably  with Martin Taylor. In the 1980s and 90s he ran the very successful Bass Clef and Tenor Clef Jazz Clubs in London. He now concentrates more on recordings and playing internationally.

He is  a jazz musician and sound engineer, and also a skilful painter in the post modern idiom, and a collector and restorer of blue and white Chinese  porcelain. (read further at

Dear Robin
Firstly I feel I should point out that often people contact me, either asking me to fill them in on past jazz events, or to help them with their problems. I am not saying that you fall into that category, but if I seem somewhat hesitant, it is only a reflection on some past experiences. When my book Jazz Visions was released someone from the BBC contacted me asking to record for BBC radio. I recorded an hour’s worth of material, only to discover that when the “interview” was broadcast, about two minutes of my voice was included and the main part of the broadcast was of someone who had no direct knowledge of those times in New York (being far too young) but quoted from my book as though it was his own insight, with no reference to what I had actually written. Quite frequently, my words are used without acknowledgement and seldom get a mention as being the originator. Having said this, I am willing to answer you questions as fully as I can – and trust that you will not do like many others have done in the past.
Perhaps my views about the way jazz has evolved are tinged with regret, as I feel that many of the greatest and inspired musicians have failed to receive the recognition they deserved. I am leaving myself apart from that (it is for others to judge).  However one of the unfortunate effects on the recent evolution of jazz, is often a lack of real awareness of who created – and this has had a “dumbing down” effect on younger players, who sometimes do not even know about players who by rights should be in the forefront of their studies.
You ask how has jazz evolved since I began? I started playing piano in London in 1942. In those days I did not distinguish between dance music and jazz. Firstly having left school at fourteen years of age, I found I could earn almost as much money in one night, playing the piano with a danced band that working in an office for five days a week. Of course playing the piano was just fun and to get paid for it was fantastic. Though I could read music, I learned the tunes by listening to the radio. (Of course there was no television in those days.) It was simply dance music and during those days of World War Two, there were dances every day of the week, and as most professional musicians were in the armed forces I was always on call. I didn’t really become aware of “jazz” until later in my teens, though I was aware of the concept of improvising through the experience of playing at dances.  My parents encouraged me somewhat. I think they were surprised that I could earn money that way. I felt the need to get trained classically and for a while I studied part time at London’s Trinity College of Music, paying for the lessons myself. In Britain in those days it was customary to play a second instrument and the sound of the bass always fascinated me. In 1944 I bought a double bass and began to take gigs playing it. It was not until later around 1947 that I joined a professional band working at a “Palais de Dance” in London that I became a full time bass player. In 1944 I had heard the Glenn Miller band of the American Expeditionary Force, playing live on a BBC Broadcast. It was a revelation, so spirited and unlike the British dance bands of the time, who sounded so reserved and polite.  It was the first time I understood the difference between US jazz and British jazz.  It was not until five years later (in July 1949) that I visited New York as a musician on board the Queen Mary, and had the opportunity to experience that music at source. I stayed working on the Queen Mary until March 1951  I obtained a US Immigration visa and in April 1951 New York became my new home.  It was while I was still working on the Queen Mary, that I met and got to know many American jazz musicians and began studying with Lennie Tristano. In December 1949, after taking a lesson with Lennie at his home n Flushing, Long Island Lennie asked me what I was doing that evening. I coming to hear you at Birdland I said. He then asked me if I would play the first set with his band. After that experience I knew that I would make New York my home. In fact playing with his band at Birdland signified the start of a great change in my life.naamloos (2)
Looking back to those days of the late nineteen forties and early fifties, I recall them as being the most democratic years of jazz. That was when black musicians were beginning to get the recognition they deserved and often played alongside white musicians on an equal footing.  Much later on, the relationship between black and white musicians became more difficult and racial issues surfaced once again. The social issues began to improve for blacks and by the late nineteen fifties, American apartheid began to give way to more on an equal society. Nevertheless there is still a long way to go before racial tension in the US gives way to a more just kind of society.  Amongst the musicians I worked with in the US some became very good friends. Of course I include Lennie in this, but also one especially the Trumpet player Roy Eldridge, whom I miss very much. I can still hear the sound of his voice in my head, as though he’s still around. I became good friends also with Mingus and we used to meet socially as well as musically. Oscar Pettiford and I used to play at the Café Bohemia and play duos together, this was when Oscar was playing ‘cello. I used to play a lot with Paul Bley, mostly at a place in Long Island – a black venue – known as “The Pub Club”.  They served great ribs and there was some irony in the fact that we were a white group (Al Levitt was the drummer) and they all loved our music.  We really felt at home there. The blacks were so open and welcoming to us. This was around the time that Paul’s LP was recorded. Percy Heath was his choice of bass player. However after recording two sessions with Percy, Paul wanted to record more as he was not satisfied with some of the tracks, and I was invited to record another session. As it turned out the record company refused to pay for any more than one additional session, and two thirds of the album contained tracks that I had played on. I was disappointed not only in only getting paid for half of what I had contributed, but a further irony was that many the tracks I played on were given rave reviews, but attributed to Percy’s playing.  I had no beef with Percy – we were good friends and in fact he studied with me for a while. I then began to realise that my skills as a jazz musician did not necessarily equate with getting the recognition I felt I deserved.
naamloos (3)Though I remained faithful to my conviction about jazz, it began to be apparent that jazz criticism often lacked musical objectivity. I began to be aware of a kind of dumbing down as jazz became more commercially oriented.  To me the greatness in jazz lies in improvisation and from improvisation there developed the musical language that we recognize as jazz. This is not in any way to dismiss or demean jazz composition¸ whether big band or small band, but true improvisation gave jazz it’s language and as this ability declined to become mere riffs or fill ins, so in my opinion has jazz declined both in quality and in popularity.  One final point – in striving to become cleverer than the next player, many jazzy musicians have lost their following – simply by becoming too clever.
You ask about my activities as a recording engineer. Even while still living in New York I realised that a lot of jazz was played that deserved to be recorded. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase state of the art equipment and setting my East Side loft as a recording studio I began to be hired by recording companies for their various artists. I also recorded a lot of jazz that I have not been able to release for various reasons. I live in hopes that one day some of this music can be released. I have always been concerned that much great improvisation passed us by. Recording a little of this I believed to be especially worthwhile.images
Returning to the UK in 1966 after having spent three years in Big Sur California, I had to start again. I established a teaching practice, and then several years later bought some new recording equipment, and soon found my services in demand again. In 1981 I moved my recording activities to Hoxton Square. London and three years later began building the Bass Clef Club. This lasted for almost ten years and was very successful. I finally lost it – a bitter disappointment. However a few good recordings were made there – sometimes recorded live at the Bass Clef, and I have written a book about it which we are planning to release later this year.
You ask what is my secret? If I have one it is simply enthusiasm  (from the Greek EN THEOS) and a belief in life energy  –   I am currently writing another book about the Cosmos and where I believe we are all headed.
Please stay in touch,
Best wishes
Peter Ind
copyright Peter Ind and Robin Arends

Interview with Marilyn Crispell

 Why is everyone so intent on fitting things into previously determined categories, rather than just being open to what’s happening?

marilyn-crispell2-resized Last month I had a short interview with pianist Marilyn Crispell. Lately, Marilyn has brought out her album Azure. A cooperation with bassist Gary Peacock “You have to have an open mind – even no mind, a clear mind” to play this way” (Gary Peacock).

Who is Marilyn? A short bio.

Marilyn Crispell is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied classical piano and composition, and has been a resident of Woodstock, New York since 1977 when she came to study and teach at the Creative Music Studio. She discovered jazz through the music of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and other contemporary jazz players and composers. For ten years she was a member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble and has been a member of the Barry Guy New Orchestra and guest with his London Jazz Composers Orchestra, as well as a member of the Henry Grimes Trio, Quartet Noir (with Urs Leimgruber, Fritz Hauser and Joelle Leandre), and Anders Jormin’s Bortom Quintet. In 2005 she performed and recorded with the NOW Orchestra in Vancouver, Canada and in 2006 she was co-director of the Vancouver Creative Music Institute and a faculty member at the Banff Centre International Workshop in Jazz.

Besides working as a soloist and leader of her own groups, Crispell has performed and recorded extensively with well-known players on the American and international jazz scene. She’s also performed and recorded music by contemporary composers Robert Cogan, Pozzi Escot, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Manfred Niehaus and Anthony Davis (including four performances of his opera “X” with the New York City Opera).

In addition to playing, she has taught improvisation workshops and given lecture/demonstrations at universities and art centers in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has collaborated with videographers, filmmakers, dancers and poets.

Crispell has been the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship grants (1988-1989, 1994-1995 and 2006-2007), a Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust composition commission (1988-1989), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005-2006). In 1996 she was given an Outstanding Alumni Award by the New England Conservatory, and in 2004, was cited as being one of their 100 most outstanding alumni of the past 100 years (

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


The main change in my music is a greater use of space, silence and lyricism.

.In an interview with Lloyd Peterson in 2009 you say: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to say that I don’t play jazz and to hell with it. I just play my music, although I consider jazz to be a primary influence on my playing. How would you like to list your Music?

I call my music improvised music or jazz (yes, jazz)

You started to play the piano at age seven. Why did you choose this instrument?

My parents decided to give me piano lessons when I was 7, so it was really their choice.

You’ve been working with so many beautiful musicians,Anthony Braxton, Paul Motian, Gary Peacock, Henry Grimes and Reggie Workman among many others. How do you look back at working with them?

It has been an honor, privilege, and great adventure to work with so many incredible musicians  they have been a great inspiration to me-  I think I have been very lucky in this respect.

You were inspired by Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley, Leo Smith, Ornette Coleman and of course John Coltrane, all great improvisers, how have they influenced your work? Are you still inspired by them nowadays?
Yes, I’m still inspired by all the musicians you mention- emotionally, spiritually, compositionally, intellectually, etc., etc.

You like to play piano solo, as you said once in an interview:”The more people you have the more you have people playing all the time and the less transparency there will be.” . A few months ago I spoke to pianist Ran Blake. He also likes to play solo. Do you know his work?

Yes, I know Ran and his work. (By the way, I also like to play with groups-  I was just describing one of the different aspects of playing solo- it shouldn’t be taken out of context).


In his book Primacy of the Ear he 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)?

 Of course the ear is of primary importance in playing music, but that doesn’t mean it’s not related to the intellect!  When you play, everything is involved- the ear, the intellect, the emotions-  you can’t separate them like they’re in little boxes-  they’re all part of a greater whole.

In march I interviewed pianist Misha Alperin, who also recorded for the Manfred Eicher-label ECM, he said.  “As well I have no  exclusive deal with ECM, as most of the artists. Depending on whether Manfred likes the idea or not….” You also recorded for this label. Does this dependency disturb you? Why (not)?

I don’t have a dependency with ECM- I have a relationship with them.

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 can’t judge if music is too complex or not-  it’s whatever it is for each person-  music can be complex and sincere at the same time.

Carla Bley said in ‘72: “I think rock and roll is jazz. And jazz is classical music. And classical music has become rock and roll. They’ve all gone round one turn on the clock” Has the clock turned again since then? How do you look at the future of creative music? 
The clock is always turning.  As I said, it’s anybody’s guess where things are going.  In this day and age, things are very interconnected- everything is influencing everything else-  there’s a lot of information out there.  Why is everyone so intent on fitting things into previously determined categories, rather than just being open to what’s happening?

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

About future projects:  I’m especially into duos at this point-  they have many of the advantages of playing solo, are still very transparent, while being able to have a conversation with someone else.  I hope to continue playing duo with Gerry Hemingway, Gary Peacock, and others.  I have some months off now, and am looking forward to being able to compose some new music.  Also, I hope to do more work with dancers.

Marilyn plays Dear Lord:

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