Before & After: Igor Butman

Listening With Russia’s Jazz Ambassador

 

Tenor saxophonist, bandleader and entrepreneur Igor Butman occupies a unique place in Russian jazz circles for his considerable musical skills, media visibility and savvy political connections. The St. Petersburg-born Berklee graduate is not only recognized as the most famous Russian jazz musician in the world today, he also runs a successful record label, operates two jazz clubs and provides artistic direction for a jazz festival.

Before & After: Lee Konitz

A memorable Lee Konitz moment occurred just before we met. Stepping off the elevator on his hotel floor, I heard the faint sound of an alto saxophone gradually growing louder as I walked toward his room. I stood outside his door listening to him practice, transfixed by his sound and melodic variations. Eventually, he took a break, which broke the spell and I knocked. For this B&A, the 82 year-old Konitz was characteristically outspoken and unguarded. 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