Too bad we didn’t video record this listening session. To see Dee Dee Bridgewater’s animated facial expressions and watch her respond, both physically and emotionally, would add an extra layer or two of meaning to the text. I caught up with the peripatetic vocalist (and her little Maltese, Iyo) at her hotel during a tour with the Monterey Festival All-Stars, a few hours before their performance at the Kennedy Center. The actress and three-time Grammy winner continues to host NPR’s Jazz Set while pursuing her intercontinental musical adventures. Her latest recording is the compilation, Midnight Sun, on her own DDB Records.
1. Betty Carter
“Thou Swell” (from Social Call, Columbia). Carter, vocal; Ray Bryant, piano; Wendell Marshall, bass; Jo Jones, drums. Recorded in 1955.
Betty, man. She was so friggin’ underrated. She was a genius. I mean, just the way she heard music and how she could take a simple song like “Thou Swell” and turn it into a masterpiece of the moment. The trio was so tight and she just floats on top of it like a horn. People say they’re inspired by Ella, Sarah and Billie, but she’s my main inspiration. Continue reading →
I recently found an interview I did 15 years ago with saxophonist, composer Tim Berne. At the time, he was on tour with his trio Paraphrase (including Drew Gress and Tom Rainey) and in DC to perform at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room in Adams Morgan. Chief Ike’s was just a couple of blocks from WPFW-FM, so Tim dropped by the studio for a bit of live on-air chat before sound check.
Tell us about the group Paraphrase. What do you see as the musical direction of this trio?
We had played together in different situations, always playing written music and improvising. We decided to depart from that strategy and just improvise. So we really don’t know what we’re going to do [laughs]. Continue reading →
On Sept. 30, 2009, I met with Russian author, journalist and Managing Editor of Jazz.ru Cyril Moshkow at the Library of Congress to discuss the history of jazz in Russia and the American influence on Russian jazz musicians. The conversation was co-sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center and the Library’s Music Division.
Since winning the Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition, Ben Williams has recorded his 2011 debut as leader, the critically acclaimed State of Art (Concord), formed his own group Sound Effect, and continued recording and working with top stars, like Pat Metheny’s Unity Band. The 29 year-old acoustic and electric bassist placed 2nd in the JazzTimes critic’s poll for best new artist, and he appears most recently on the newly released NEXT Collective CD. Though he’s been in New York since his Juilliard days, I managed to catch up with Williams the day after Christmas in his hometown of Washington D.C.
1. Wayne Shorter
“Orbits” (from Without a Net, Blue Note). Shorter, soprano saxophone; Danilo Perez, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums. Recorded in 2011. Continue reading →
This interview took place June 2, 2012 at the Alfa Jazz Festival in Lviv, Ukraine. The festival had arranged a meeting room for us in the hotel and invited half a dozen photographers and other journalists to shoot and watch. Despite distractions and endless clicking of camera shutters, McLaughlin remained focused, thoughtful and open throughout.