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geology jazz mixes music

Granite The Eighteenth

following on from my series of mixes dedicated to individuals here is one for thelonious monk and as usual i will write a bit about each track.

when he got a contract with riverside records in 1955 they thought it wise to start his album account with covers from the duke ellington songbook. this might have seemed insulting to someone who already had written a good number of classic bop tunes but monk liked the idea, saying later in an interview

i wanted to do it. i felt like playing that’s all. i knew that duke started playing some of his numbers more than he had as i recall

before the riverside contract he had been with prestige records and the second tune dates back to october 1951. toot was thelonious’ son’s nickname. art blakey was the drummer and gary mapp the bassist.

at the prestige session in november 1953 they were about ten minutes short of the material needed for an lp. it was friday 13 november and so that was used as the title of the composition that monk made up on the spot. listening to the track it’s fairly obvious to me why most critics dismissed the music back then. the music was way before it’s time and a lot of people thought they were playing like that because they couldn’t play properly.

brilliant corners brings us back to the riverside years to be precise 1956 and it was really the breakthrough album that started to bring a modicum of success and critical acclaim. the celeste that monk uses on the track happened to be in the studio and he set it at right angles to the piano keyboard so that he could use it on the heads and on his solo. of course the track is named after his famous rich patron pannonica de koenigswarter. the following is monk’s introduction to the track caught on a home recording some time.

it was named after this beautiful lady here. i think her father gave her that name because of a butterfly that he tried to catch. i don’t think he caught the butterfly.

in november 1957 there was a concert at new york’s carnegie hall which was a benefit for the morningside community center. as well as the thelonious monk quartet there was ray charles topping the bill, and also the bands of billie holiday, dizzy gillespie , zoot sims and sonny rollins. the concert was broadcast on the radio as a voice of america production. the recordings of the monk quartet were discovered in 2005 in the library of congress vaults.

ruby my dear started life as manhattan moods which was intially registered for copyright in 1945. sometime in the next year the name got changed. rubie richardson was an early girlfriend of thelonious’ but things didn’t work out. her parents never approved.

and so he eventually married nellie smith who he’d known since she was ten and he was sixteen. this tune dedicated to her was originally to be called twilight with nellie and it was nica who suggested using the french word instead. criss-cross now takes us to the columbia records years. the track was recorded on 29 march 1963 and the other musicians were charlie rouse on tenor saxophone, john ore on bass and frankie dunlop on drums.

underground is in my opinion the last great album he produced and the title refers to the nickname of his daughter this time

finally from halloween 1964 (or the evening after) the quartet with a new rhythm section larry gales bass and ben riley drums playing live at the it club. throughout his career monk was famed for his eccentricity but it seemed that around this time things were reaching a peak. here’s an excerpt from robin kelly’s thelonious monk biography which provides an example.

hampton hawes, who had not seen monk since he and nellie helped him out in new york, came by the it club one night to check him out. when hawes approached thelonious at the bar during a break, “he didn’t seem to recognise me. looked over my shoulder, elbow on the bar, staring into space the way he sometimes does…i said ‘monk it’s me, hampton’. he kept staring past my shoulder as if he hadn’t heard then turned his back and went into a little shuffling dance; danced a couple of quick circles around me, danced right up to me and said, ‘your sunglasses is at my new york pad.’ and danced away”

titlealbum
mood indigoplays the music of duke ellington
little rootie tootiethelonious monk trio
friday the 13ththelonious monk and sonny rollins
pannonicabrilliant corners
nuttythelonious monk and john coltrane at carnegie hall
ruby my dearsolo monk
crepuscule with nelliecriss-cross
boo-boo’s birthdayunderground
misteriosolive at the it club
Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 8

When I don’t change anymore then there’s no point in playing anymore – of actually trying to do anything different or trying to play modern. After you reach a certain point when you no longer improve then you just stay the same.

Art Pepper

What I think Cecil and I did mainly–we both were familiar with each other’s work, and as Stanley Cowell so aptly put it, we co-existed. We didn’t rehearse as such–what we did was we sat down and dealt with each other as two human beings and when we found out that we could live with our own attitudes and thoughts about life and things in music and liberty and all the other things that people talk about, we knew that we could deal with each other on stage. And it was pure improvisation, we just dealt from that point of view and we knew from experience that something would happen if we went our own ways but were sensitive to each other at the same time. And I think we co-existed.

Max Roach

You’ve got to study each man in the band, because each has a different disposition. Actually, you’ve got to use a lot of psychology because they all have different temperaments and habits. You have to holler at some guys–others you have to joke with. Another you may have to take across the street to the bar to get your point across. You must impress them that to be a musician you’ve got to do the things that are required of a musician–look the part, play your horn; also time-making.

Some guys didn’t aspire to be soloists; others wanted to. Trummy Young was one of the latter. He was always venturing out, always wanting to play his horn. Everywhere he went he carried his horn with him. The same with Bennie Green. These men later turned out to be outstanding. Like Walter Fuller, he was another, and there are several others I can name–Omer Simeon, Darnell Howard, and, of course, Budd Johnson and Jimmy Mundy, though it finally turned out he didn’t want to be a soloist–he wanted to arrange–but he played a good horn. In the trumpet section, Dizzy stood out so much.

Earl Fatha Hines

Carrying along that same thought, I think musicians do have a tendency to sort of copy and get on the bandwagon instead of accepting one thing for what it is and realizing that it’s another area of progress. They immediately want to emulate. Music is a very personal thing. It’s strictly an individual thing. This one tenor player comes to mind who played like another player. He just tried to play every note exactly the same. He might have been sincere in his love for the musician but it didn’t turn out that way. Eventually, he just went right down and like you never heard of him again. He was a very competent musician but it’s just like my uncle always said, “There’s only one thing that keeps us all from being rich and if we knew what that was, everybody would have a million,” and that’s probably the thing the tenor player didn’t realize — copying was just another form of saying the other man was great. You just extend more adulation and acclaim or whatever to the other guy.

Thad Jones

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?

Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.

Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.

And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.

Miles Davis
Categories
geology jazz mixes music

17 gianter steps

embarrassed at not including any john coltrane in my earlier granite mix this year i thought i’d make amends by doing this new granite mix as a tribute to the great saxophonist. these are all tracks from albums that were released with coltrane as session leader or co-leader. the recording sessions come from the period 1957 to 1963. his first session as leader was in 1957 and his last session was in may 1967 two months before his death so it was a pretty incredible body of work to put out in 10 years.

Granite Mix 17
Artist Title Album
John Coltrane Body And Soul Coltrane Jazz
John Coltrane & Milt Jackson The Night We Called It A Day Bags And Trane
John Coltrane While My Lady Sleeps Coltrane (1957)
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane Freight Trane The Kenny Burrell Quintet with John Coltrane
John Coltrane Aisha Ole Coltrane
John Coltrane Big Nick Coltrane (1962)
John Coltrane Naima Giant Steps
John Coltrane Theme For Ernie Soultrane
John Coltrane Alabama Live At Birdland

the first track was recorded on october 24th 1960 which was one of 3 days in a week where he was in the studio for atlantic records. the tracks recorded made up 3 albums and most of a fourth.

his first session for atlantic was in january 1959. a session that he co-led with vibraphonist milt jackson who he had played with earlier in the fifties in dizzy gillespie’s band.

before atlantic he was with prestige and this next track is from his first session as a leader. while my lady sleeps was a favourite ballad that he often quoted in his solos and is an early example of using a pedal point which became a major feature in his work later on.

then from a prestige recording session a year or so later which was led by guitarist kenny burrell who he also had played with when he was a sideman for dizzy gillespie. according to the sleeve tommy flanagan the pianist on the session was credited as writer of freight trane but he wasn’t and burrell himself has stated that he didn’t know who wrote it.

aisha was written by pianist mccoy tyner and named for his wife. the recording session for this album was the last session coltrane did for atlantic and in fact 2 days before he’d done his first recording for his new label, impulse and that date was a grander affair with a 20 man ensemble which came out on the africa/brass album.

this next track was not initially released on the album in fact it was recorded a couple of months before the main recording sessions for this record. but it features the classic coltrane quartet with elvin jones on drums mccoy tyner on piano and jimmy garrison on bass here playing coltrane’s homage to another saxophonist big nick nicholas.

just as the fifth track is named by mccoy tyner for his wife this seventh is named by coltrane himself for his wife. both women were from philadelphia and naima was a friend of aisha’s sister khadijah. it is one of his greatest compositions and the only one from the fifties that he was still playing live towards the end of his career.

another track with philadelphia connections in that it was written by guitarist fred lacey in memory of saxophonist ernie henry who died from a heroin overdose in 1957. In trying to glean information about this track i stumbled on an interesting article by bass player steve wallace who seems to have done a good bit of research on the subject.

on sunday september 15th 1963 a large explosion at the 17th street baptist church in birmingham alabama killed four young girls who were preparing for a church service and injured many more. ku klux klan members were eventually found guilty of planting the dynamite. they escaped justice for a long time thanks to an insidious web of corruption and racism that reached right to the top of the fbi. two months later coltrane went into the studio and recorded his dedication to the victims which was one of two studio tracks included with the three live tracks on the live at birdland album released by impulse the following spring.

granite 17

Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 7

[He] uses the first and second left-hand fingers most of the time in single-note work; in chord work he can make use of the third and fourth fingers to a limited extent on the first two strings. He plays his famous octave passages on any two strings, with a “damped” string in between, i.e., on first and third; second and fourth; third and fifth; etc., avoiding that frenzied rushing up and down the fingerboard which would otherwise be necessary. His famous chromatic runs, if played in the first position, are fingered; if played up the fingerboard, they are glissed with one finger. He plays unusual chord shapes because of his handicap…Reinhardt‘s right hand is phenomenal. He does not rest any part of it on the guitar; it pivots from the elbow a little but principally swings from the wrist. He employs down strokes most of the time except for extremely rapid passages and notes played tremolo.

Billy Neill & E Gates

Everybody in this country is very neurotic now. They’re afraid to experience an intense emotion, the kind of intense emotion, for instance, that’s brought on by good jazz. There’s more vitality in jazz than in any other art form today. Vitality arises from an emotion that is free. But the people, being neurotic, are afraid of being affected by a free emotion and that’s why they put down jazz.

Since the last war we’ve been overwhelmed by a feeling of insecurity. To try to offset that insecurity, people are reaching back toward happier times. And we’re in an era of nostalgia which is being inflicted on the younger people who have nothing to be nostalgic about.

Nostalgia brings on anticipation because you know what’s going to happen next. When people start to anticipate, they become intense, waiting for what they know is going to happen. And this tension feeds their neuroses.
That’s why there’s such a small audience for what I’m doing. What I play is so unorthodox that when you first hear it, you don’t try to anticipate. You just sit there. You have to be very relaxed to start with before you put on one of my records. Consequently, people don’t want to hear my sides as often as, say, Garner‘s, because as a rule they won’t be in a mood that’s receptive to what I play.

Lennie Tristano

To begin with we are the music we play. And our commitment is to peace, to understanding of life. And we keep trying to purify our music, to purify ourselves so that we can move ourselves and those who hear us to higher levels of peace and understanding. You have to purify and crystallize your sound in order to hypnotize. I’m convinced, you see, that through music, life can be given more meaning. And every kind of music has an influence either direct or indirect on the world around it so that after a while the sounds of different types of music go around and bring about psychological changes. And we’re trying to bring about peace. In his way, for example, that’s what Coltrane, too, is trying to do.

To accomplish this, I must have spiritual men playing with me. Since we are the music we play, our way of life has to be clean or else the music can’t be kept pure.

Albert Ayler

I follow the improvisation the soloist has taken and when he’s through I pick up the last phrase he’s played and use this as the beginning to my improvisation on the melodic pattern of the composition. It can be very simple or very complicated and you can get unlimited rhythmic and polyrhythmic patterns and phrases. Actually a lot of solos I have taken have drum and rhythmic phrases just as a saxophonist or trumpeter will play phrases with his instrument – drums have to breathe too.

Elvin Jones

I played with Fletcher Henderson for a short time when Coleman Hawkins left. I had a lot of trouble there. The whole band was buzzing on me because I had taken Hawk’s place. I didn’t have the same kind of sound he had. I was rooming at the Henderson’s house, and Leora Henderson would wake me early in the morning and play Hawkins’ records for me so I could play like he did. I wanted to play my own way but I just listened. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Finally I left and went to Kansas City. I had in my mind what I wanted to play, and I was going to play that way. That’s the only time that ever happened – someone telling me to play differently from the way I wanted to.

Herschel Evans was a Hawk man. That was the difference between the way we played. He played well, but his man was Hawk like my man at the beginning was Trumbauer. As for Coleman Hawkins, I used to ride in Hawk’s car. He plays fine. He was the first to really start playing tenor. I thought Chu Berry played nice, too. He was on a Coleman Hawkins style. I think he got the job with Henderson after I left. Ben Webster had a taste of it, too. I think Ben plays fine too.

Lester Young

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jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 6

The new underground required a new linguistics. To “broom” meant to travel by air; the hipster figure of speech referred to the witch’s favored conveyance. Money was gold. Eyes meant willingness or enthusiasm. A pad was a bed, therefore someone’s room or apartment. Old jazzmen’s expressions, once in, were now out, and hopelessly dated the speaker. As root ideas they gave way to verbal improvisations, in the same way that old tunes served as armatures for bop compositions. Etymology remained reasonably straightforward. The intent was always the same: to exclude the uninitiated, to confound the square, to strengthen the inner community. Out of the world became gone, shorter and more allusive. Blow your top became flip your wig, leading to flipped, flipped out, wigged, wig and wiggy. Knocked out yielded gassed, as in an old-fashioned dentist’s chair. The verb gas gave the noun gas, a delightful experience (an evening at The Deuces, or uptown at Minton’s). Cool and dig served as verbs, adverbs, adjectives and nouns. Hipsters invented such portmanteau words as chinchy (cheap plus stingy). Like, already done to death in the mother tongue as adjective, adverb, verb, proposition and conjunction, now appeared in every other sentence. Sometimes it stood alone, a sentence in itself, followed by an implied exclamation point or question mark, or merely a dash and a raised eyebrow. If you were hip you dug (or used your imagination). The put down became the put on, a highly developed art, often so subtle that the victim was unaware that he was being put.

Dan Burley, the with-it columnist for the New York Amsterdam News, New York’s leading Negro newspaper, compiled and published The Original Handbook of Harlem Jive, a slightly fanciful lexicon of the new argot. It contained parodies of John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Barefoot Boy” and the soliloquy from Hamlet in jive (to dig, or not to dig, Jack, that is the question…”). Slim Gaillard began recording his musical versions of jive, liberally mixed with nonsense syllables, such hits as Cement Mixer (Puttie-puttie) and A-Reet-a-Voutie. Pod, more commonly pot, first appeared to describe cannabis, standard drug since jazz began in New Orleans, heir to a lengthy list of names: hay, golden leaf, cool green, gage, muggles, mezzirolls (after Chicago jazzman Milton Mezzrow), and shit.

Like the new music, the new linguistics revolved around fixed points and established ideas. Like the music, it was a language in motion, subtly changing from day to day, with ever fresh coinages and connotations, subject to common concepts and needs. Spoken quickly, inflected, it was a nearly incomprehensible dialect. Linguistically as well as musically the boppers had closed the door. The idea was to be on the inside looking out. That was the reason for all those heavily smoked glasses, defiantly worn in the darkest night club.

Ross Russell – Bird Lives

Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 5

It’s singing with soul that counts. Billie has so much soul. When I sing a tune, the lyrics are important to me. Most of the standard lyrics I know well. And as soon as I hear an arrangement, I get ideas, kind of like blowing a horn. I guess I never sing a tune the same way twice.

Sarah Vaughan

But Bird never encouraged me to do anything that would prove wrong for myself. And on that record date, he really told me what to do so far as music and my life was concerned.
He asked me how I had been doing because he knew I was a young wild kid running around and not knowing what was happening. That day he showed me the thing he wanted me to do and the thing he stood for. The purpose of his whole existence was music and he showed me that music was the paramount thing and anything that interfered with it, I should stay away from. Later on I was able to take advantage of his advice, but he died before I had a chance to see him and tell him I had.

Sonny Rollins

What is most important is not the style itself but how you are developing that style and how well you can play within it. You can definitely be more creative exploring specific things within a style. Sometimes, Paul, Scott, and I play the same tune over and over again. Occasionally, everything falls in right, and we think it’s sensational. Of course, it may not mean much to a listener at the time, but, then, most people in clubs don’t listen closely anyway.

Bill Evans

It turned out that Milhaud was the one who convinced me to go back, saying I couldn’t possibly give up jazz, that it was in me and if I wanted to represent the culture, jazz was such an important part. He said it was more important to express the culture and not gain the technique. And he pointed out that every great composer had expressed his culture in which he was familiar and was completely familiar with the folk idiom and jazz was the folk idiom of America. He talked me back into it. It took a period of six months, I guess, and then I became interested in jazz again.

Dave Brubeck

I’ve never been in jail so I can’t write about chain gangs or cotton fields. Then I remembered when I was in Chicago and the watermelon man used to go through the alley-a couple of times a day-and he had a little song, ‘Wah tee mee lo-w.’ There were cobblestone alleys, and the first idea I got was to try to make some kind of rhythmic sound like a soulful wagon going over the cobblestones, with the horse’s hooves and everything. For the melody I started thinking, ‘Suppose somebody were calling the watermelon man-what would they say?’ They’d say, ‘Hey, watermelon man.’ So I tried to write a melody that sounded like that. And even before the lyrics came out, any time anybody joked with me about ‘Watermelon Man,’ they’d sing, ‘Hey, watermelon man,’ to the first melodic phrase, even though they didn’t know I had this in mind. I guess the melody sounds so strongly like it that you automatically get that kind of verbal image.

Herbie Hancock

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geology jazz may mixes music

Granite Mix 10

The last Granite Mix had a track by Bill Evans in it (not to mention earlier appearances in the geological section) and now I’ve decided to dedicate a whole mix to the man, just to show how much I love his music. His world is a curious mixture of beauty and tragedy perfectly expressed by the way he would hunch over the piano in his simultaneous role as servant and master. Here’s a clip to show what I mean.

Tony Scott was another character who found his contemporary world hard to deal with. There aren’t many clarinetists in so-called Modern Jazz (so-called because I don’t like labels/genres in music, but unfortunately the alternative is to redefine musical history which would be tedious).

1957 was a very productive year for Charles Mingus and as well as East Coasting he put out The Clown, Mingus Three and A Modern Jazz Symposium Of Music And Poetry as well as recording Tijuana Moods which wasn’t released until later.

Kind Of Blue was my first (as far as I’m aware) encounter with Bill Evans and it is no doubt the most well-known album that he played on. There is a certain amount of controversy over whether Bill should have had any of the composition credits on the album, specifically on Blue In Green. In his autobiography Miles insists

Some people went around saying that Bill was co-composer of the music on Kind Of Blue. That isn’t true; it’s all mine and the concept was mine. What he did was turn me on to some classical composers, and they influenced me.

On the other hand Evans has told how Davis gave him a piece of paper with 2 chords (Gmin13 & A7(#9#5)) and asked what he’d do with it. It seems he did a fair bit with it and all he did with it was used. So on the original album the track is credited to Davis and on subsequent recordings that Evans did of the track it’s credited to both men.

The live recordings taken from the 2 albums released in 1961 – Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby which were recorded on June 25th 1961 for me are up there with the finest ever live recorded music. It’s all a matter of taste come to that but certain things affect the whole shape of what comes after and other things just disappear down a black hole.

Jim Hall – hugely underrated. Here’s his obituary from a couple of years ago.

So my favourite things by Bill Evans are the June 25th live recording, the contribution to Kind Of Blue and then there’s the solo session recorded on January 10th 1963 which Evans requested never to be released. For me that’s like Kafka saying in his will that all his unpublished manuscripts should be destroyed. Luckily in both cases it didn’t happen. Basically he was so strung out on heroin at the time that he did the session to get some money to score. I don’t remember the exact story. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I’ve read about it. Most of the time in this world you’re not there. Unless it’s yourself of course. But the thing about the session is that the deliberative, totally introspective nature of the performance means that… well it’s difficult to explain, but the most I can say is that listening to the music from that recording is like eavesdropping on a genius when he thinks he’s alone and musing with the universe.

After that there’s a couple of live tracks with the 2 main bassists that Bill found to replace Scott LaFaro (I haven’t even covered that, I’m going to have to save it for later). Firstly Chuck Israels and then Eddie Gomez.

And then finally another solo piece another popular song by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse a ballad that was one of his favourites not least for the title. Fool though he might have thought himself sometimes for his massive heroin and then cocaine intake the legacy’s there. Few can claim to have achieved more.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 10
Artist Title Album
Tony Scott Five The Modern Art Of Jazz
Charles Mingus Celia East Coasting
Miles Davis Flamenco Sketches (alt take) Kind Of Blue
Bill Evans Trio My Man’s Gone Now Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Bill Evans & Jim Hall Romain Undercurrent
Bill Evans Everything Happens To Me Solo Sessions Volume 1
Bill Evans Trio Stella By Starlight At Shelly’s Manne-Hole
Bill Evans Trio Blue In Green Live In Paris Volume 3
Bill Evans What Kind Of Fool Am I Alone Again
Categories
jazz news rock n roll years vinyl

When I Was 4

Here’s the next year of the Rock And Roll Years series. I better confess now that I don’t have all of these. In fact I’m missing some of the ones that I would most like to have in particular those that cover the period when British bands first made their extraordinary impact. In addition some of the episodes I have aren’t complete. This one pretty much is except I’m missing the closing credits. I’m sure you can live without those. In fact you can probably live without the final act. I would hope so anyway.

For 1957 I went through some of the films released that year. This time I’m going to cover some of the albums released in the year in question. I’m taking my information from the 1958 albums category page in wikipedia. Not a definitive list no doubt but an interesting and thorough enough work in progress. My aim is to concentrate on those albums which I have in vinyl. I’m sure I could dig through my collection and find albums missing from the list in my collection, but I must say I would be happy to get hold of any of the albums that are covered in the list, pretty expensive items some of them must be.

Firstly there are 2 great Miles Davis albums, Milestones and Porgy and Bess. I’m discounting 1958 Miles because that shouldn’t be on the page as it wasn’t released in 1958.

Then Miles crops up again on the brilliant Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else.

None of those 3 do I have on original releases from the 50s, but the next 2 I do.

Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk. The title sort of says it all. The other musicians playing on the session are Bill Hardman on trumpet, Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone and Jimmy “Spanky” DeBrest on double bass.

Finally there is The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn Volume 2 which has Sonny Rollins as guest artist. My copy of this is not pristine, there’s a chunk of the front cover missing. Anyway this one shouldn’t really be there because although recorded in 1958 it wasn’t released until 1959. Well I suppose the whole premise is rather arbitrary. Really does it matter?

Just enjoy the programme.

Categories
jazz music quotations

jazz quotations 4

more in my series of quotations connected to jazz. these ones are not actually from downbeat.

So here you’ve got a case where I was playing with Fletcher Henderson, and Fletcher Henderson’s fellows always said to me, “You play those strange chords! Why don’t you just play like a piano player?” And I said, “Well, Fletcher plays piano, he likes the way I play, and hired me, and you just play horn, so you should shut up! I think a piano player would know what I’m capable of, and he likes what I’m doing; he ain’t saying nothing, so you should shut up!” So then it was a big problem. I put in my notice. I said, “I’m not going to put up with this, because I’m not what you would call a human being. I deal with precision, and if they keep on messing with me, they’re going to get an explosion.” I had to do something about it, it was irritating me. I said, I’ve got to do something to teach these humans don’t mess with me. So the next night I got me a straight razor, and I put it right on the piano, by one of the trumpet players, and I said, “Tonight, I’m going to cut somebody’s head off if they say something about my playing, `cause I’m very evil tonight, and I’m not going to take nothing from no human being. Off goes somebody’s head!” So he didn’t bother me no more. And then the next thing that happened, I just put my notice in. So I came back to see who Fletcher got to play piano. And he was down there directing. He had no piano player. And Fletcher said if I didn’t play, they wouldn’t have a piano. He said, “Come back on the stage!” So I went back on the stage, and Fletcher smiled, and I had my job back.

Sun Ra

I used to run into Paul Motian in the Sufi center in the late ’60s and early ’70s and we’d see Hazrat Inyat Khan speaking and this guy is a very, very high person. And he would stand up in front of the 40 or 50 people there who were into him and he’d just be looking out at people in the audience without saying anything for about three or four minutes, which is a long time if you’re waiting for somebody to speak. But he’d be like in the ozone but in a very special way, waiting for the words to come and being totally real and totally spontaneous with the people. And this is really beautiful to see. In fact, it’s the most natural state of human beings. Anyway, that’s kind of an analogy to what I feel about music, which is to say we’re really ourselves most naturally when we’re being spontaneous with each other, which is the best way to be in life anyways. You know, when you have a family, everybody is spontaneous with each other and sometimes a little brutally honest, but nevertheless it’s spontaneous so it cannot really be bad. And that is really my philosophical foundation, if you like, about how groups should be. And maybe this is why I always want great players. I need stimulation, I need them to kick my ass, as it were, and provoke me in some way that will push me to a place that I don’t know, that I’ve never been before.

John McLaughlin

It interests me more to have a human relationship with you than a musical relationship. I want to see if I can express myself in words, in sounds that have to do with a human relationship. At the same time, I would like to be able to speak of the relationship between two talents, between two doings. For me, the human relationship is much more beautiful, because it allows you to gain the freedom that you desire, for yourself and for the other.

Ornette Coleman

Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 3

This is the 3rd in my series of jazz quotations drawn from the Downbeat archive. My choices are commentaries and also reflect my own life and concerns.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not claim any of the creation of the blues, although I have written many of them even before Mr. Handy had any blues published. I had heard them when I was knee-high to a duck. For instance, when I first started going to school, at different times I would visit some of my relatives per permission, in the Garden district. I used to hear a few of the following blues players, who could play nothing else-Buddie Canter, Josky Adams, Game Kid, Frank Richards, Sam Henry, and many more too numerous to mention-they were what we call “ragmen” in New Orleans. They can take a 10¢ Xmas horn, take the wooden mouthpiece off, having only the metal for mouthpiece, and play more blues with that instrument than any trumpeter I had ever met through the country imitating the New Orleans trumpeters.

Jelly Roll Morton

I took a job playing in a tonk for Dago Tony on Perdido and Franklin street and Louis used to slip in there and get on the music stand behind the piano. He would fool around with my cornet every chance he got. I showed him just how to hold it and place it to his mouth, and he did so, and it wasn’t long before he began getting a good tone out of my horn. Then I began showing him just how to start the blues, and little by little he began to understand.

Now here is the year Louis started. It was in the latter part of 1911 as close as I can think. Louis was about 11 years old. Now I’ve said a lot about my boy Louis and just how he started playing cornet. He started playing it by head.

Willie Bunk Johnson

A hundred people would crowd into one seven-room flat until the walls bulged. Plenty of food with hot maws (pickled pig bladders) and chitt’lins with vinegar, beer, and gin, and when we played the shouts everybody danced.

Willie The Lion

What attracted Bird to Gil was Gil’s musical attitude. How would I describe that attitude? ‘Proving’ is the most accurate word I can think of.

Gerry Mulligan

When Bird did hear my music, he liked it very much. Unfortunately, by the time he was ready to use me, I wasn’t ready to write for him. I was going through another period of learning by then. As it turned out, Miles, who was playing with Bird then, was attracted to me and my music. He did what Charlie might have done if at that time Charlie had been ready to use himself as a voice, as part of an overall picture, instead of a straight soloist.

I remember that original Miles band during the two weeks we played at the Royal Roost. There was a sign outside-‘Arrangements by Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, and John Lewis.’ Miles had it put in front; no one before had ever done that, given credit that way to arrangers.

Gil Evans