Before & After: Marc Cary

photo by Larry Appelbaum

Emerging from the Washington D.C. go-go scene, pianist, composer and bandleader Marc Cary cut his teeth with Dizzy Gillespie, Betty Carter, Abby Lincoln, Arthur Taylor and other veterans. He’s since established his own identity as a leader mixing straight ahead sounds with East Indian, West African and hip-hop flavors. Cary sat for this JazzTimes B&A session following his set at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.

 

 

1 Abdullah Ibrahim

“Green Kalahari” (from Bombella, WDR). Ibrahim, piano. Recorded in 2008. Continue reading

Before & After: Lou Donaldson

If we’re lucky, Lou Donaldson will write his autobiography. He was not only in the thick of things during the hard-bop, soul jazz and funky crossover eras, but the 82 year-old alto saxophonist has stories to tell, a biting sense of humor and, as he showed in front of an audience at the 2009 Portland Jazz Festival, he shoots from the hip.

1. Hank Crawford
“Save Your Love For Me” (from Low Flame High Hear, Label M). Crawford, alto saxophone; James Clay, tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper, baritone saxophone; John Hurt, Phil Guilbeau, trumpet; Sonny Forrest, guitar; Edgar Willis, bass; Bruno Carr, drums. Recorded in 1966.

Before: [after two notes of saxophone]. That’s Hank Crawford; Beautiful tone, beautiful soul, from Memphis, Tennessee. He came up with me. We met in the ‘50’s, he was playing with Ray Charles. He wrote arrangements for Ray, too. If you can’t play the blues, you can’t play no jazz, I don’t care who it is or how much you study. Continue reading

Before & After: Larry Coryell

IMG_2997Unlike some wary musicians, guitarist Larry Coryell seemed to really enjoy the Before & After experience. In between selections, we talked about his 40-year recording career, lessons learned from working with Gary Burton and Jimmy Smith, his role as a jazz-rock fusion pioneer, his current power trio with Paul Wertico and Mark Egan, the shrinking jazz record industry, global politics and a recent fascination with Abraham Lincoln. His 2007 autobiography Improvisation: My Life In Music has been published by Hal Leonard, along with a retrospective print folio of  Coryell compositions.

1. Tal Farlow
“Gibson Boy” (from Legends of Guitar Jazz Vol. 1, Rhino) Farlow, Barry Galbraith, guitars; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Joe Morello, drums. Recorded in 1954.

Before: It’s beautiful. Yeah! That’s Tal. [listens, chuckles] I sat with his records when I was 16 years old. He and Jimmy Raney had no text book, they just lived in New York and tried to play like Bird. I cut my teeth on that guy; His tone, his time feeling, his ideas. Tal Farlow was one of the greatest musicians in the world. but he was off the scene during the revolution, the revolution that I helped start in the middle 1960s. After he came back I went to see him in a small club in New York and George Benson was there that same night. I talked to him and I related to him a lot of things I had read about his life on the back of his albums and he said, “Oh, those are just fables.” Later on we hung out and did a  bit of jamming. I showed him some of the tunes and solos I had learned off his records, he was flattered and pleased. His intro to “Yesterdays” was amazing. His entire solo on “Autumn In New York,” I carried that with me forever. That really shaped my ballad playing, it’s still with me today. That’s not even a song. That’s a composition.

After: Oh, I love Barry Galbraith. He was so humble. He made a good living as a studio musician and at that time in the middle to late 50s, that’s all I wanted to do, be a studio musician. I grew up in the sticks, man. I just wanted to make a living. I wanted to be like Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell and Barry Galbraith.

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Before & After: Kurt Elling

photo by Larry Appelbaum

Kurt Elling sat for this JazzTimes B&A one winter afternoon just before his 2004 New Year’s Eve show at the Kennedy Center. We began by listening to one of his favorite singers.

1. Mark Murphy
“Charleston Alley” (from Jazz Standards, 32 Jazz). Murphy, vocal; David Braham, piano;
Harry Leahy, guitar; Gerry Niewood, sax; Ted Curson, trumpet; Ed Caccavale, drums; Larry Killian, percussion. Recorded 1984, reissued 1998.

I love everything about the way Mark approaches all this Lambert, Hendricks & Ross stuff, and I know this recording really well. The thing about vocalese is that by its nature it has a tendency to be re-creative in a way. I mean, you’ve copped somebody’s solo or arrangement or whatever. But Mark comes on with his personality and his own musical identity so strong that it recreates a vocalese in a way that is totally Mark, and in a way that I have a real hard time imagining anybody else really accomplishing. It’s a completely unique artistic thumbprint. I mean, Jon [Hendricks] writes the grand lyric and performs with such a stately and magnificent representation of that which he’s apprehended. Then Mark comes on and he doesn’t need three people or a choir or whatever to do it–it’s just Mark and it’s totally whack, and it’s a totally new experience again. I’ve always thought that’s one of the greatest ways that Mark displays his ingenuity. Because he’s not hindered by the intricacies of somebody’s solo, and he can even recreate that and cast it in his own image.

Have you ever talked with him about this?

Mark doesn’t really take compliments very easily. You have to catch him in the right mood and be in the right place. And this [interview] is an ideal opportunity because I think he probably takes a lot more stuff in from what he reads. We’re friends and I know he’s been very generous about my thing and coming on the road with me and trusting me. It humbles me and makes me want to live up to that trust. I love talking about great singers. I hope you don’t give me any tragic ones [laughter].

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