Posts Tagged ‘sonny rollins’

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

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

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

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

Eliot with Art and Gary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(to be continued)


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. (

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:
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.

Trumpeter Donald Byrd dies at the age of 80

February 8, 2013 1 comment


The influential jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died on Monday at the age of 80, his nephew has said.

Alex Bugnon, a jazz pianist, reported his uncle’s death on Thursday, though it has yet to be confirmed.

Bugnon wrote on his own Facebook page: “Donald passed away Monday in Delaware, where he lived. His funeral will be held in Detroit sometime next week. I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family. ” (The Guardian:

Byrd attended Cass Technical High School. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State Uni

versity and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as replacement for Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Jackie McLean and Mal Waldron. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock. Byrd’s first regular group was a quintet that he co-led from 1958-61 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, an ensemble whose hard-driving performances are captured “live” on At the Half Note Cafe. In June 1964, Byrd jammed with jazz legend Eric Dolphy in Paris just two weeks before Dolphy’s death from insulin shock.

Byrd lived in Teaneck, New Jersey until his death on February 4, 2013 at the age of 80. (

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