Interview with Dr. Lewis Porter
AAJ: If readers would like to learn more about the masters program, how can they do so?
LP: That information is on the Web in a couple of places, especially at http://nwk-web.rutgers.edu/gradnwk/jazz. My email address is there, and people are welcome to contact me after they look at the material.
AAJ: One final question: Are you working on any books or articles now, and what do you have in mind for the future?
LP: Right now, I'm exhausted! The Coltrane book really knocked me out! I did recently complete another large project for the Baker's Dictionary of Musicians , which is known to be the best one volume biographical dictionary of classical musicians.The last edition was edited by the late Nicolas Slonimsky. They want to expand that to include all kinds of music. It's going to be four or five big volumes of over 1000 pages each, to come out at the end of this year. For that purpose, I put together about 1500 biographies of jazz musicians, and those biographies contain a lot of my geneological research- for example, you'll find familiy histories of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, etc., that you won't find anywhere else, since it's my original research. You'll find itineraries of where people performed, specific dates that they were with specific bands. That was quite a project, and I'm taking a bit of a break before starting anything new. I'm concentrating on two things right now: one is teaching my graduate courses, and the other is getting out and performing more, and I have some college concerts coming up. My big project this summer will be to record my first CD of my own music.
AAJ: Congratulations! Your own compositions?
LP: Yes, although I'll probably include "Central Park West" by Coltrane. And some of my compositions are arrangements of folk songs, which is something that Coltrane liked as well in connection with his interest in world music. I have a great band: Harvie Swartz on bass, Dan Faulk on sax, Ken Wessel, guitar. Ken has been touring internationally with Ornette Coleman, but he also plays beautiful straight ahead jazz. My work is more modal than straight ahead. The drummer is a fantastic young musician named Marcus Baylor, who is touring with Kenny Garrett and Cassandra Wilson. It's a very fine band, and I'm lucky that these guys are available now and then for me to get them together. We've done a number of college concerts, and I think we're ready to make a recording. Dave Liebman will be a guest soloist on two numberswe've known each other for 20 years but this will be the first time we've played together.
AAJ: We could go on and on, but we're running out of time. I really appreciate your doing the interview, Dr. Porter.
LP: My pleasure.