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Interviews

Gary Bartz

By Published: July 15, 2005

AAJ: Okay. Well, thank you very much for talking with me.

GB: Thank you. Because most people don't understand see, I've been fortunate enough to have been around the greatest musicians of the last century and this century. And from Duke Ellington I didn't tour with him, I was working with Miles, and so we were on the same tours, and so I got a chance to see him and meet him and be around Duke Ellington, and everybody that they had(?), Paul Gonzales, and Russell procope (phonetic). I never knew Louis Armstrong, but from Diz to Miles to Mingus to without a doubt, every musician, they hate the word jazz. And don't accept that word.

AAJ: Totally.

GB: So what is it about that word. First of all, its a negative word.

AAJ: I know what it means.

GB: So now negative words bring negative images. And I think that's got a lot to do with why this music isn't as successful, because it's got a lot of negative energies attached just through the very meaning of the word. And that's a bad thing. Composing is what we do. We compose music on the spot. And I challenge musicians everywhere of all types, to say they can do that at a quality that people would actually go out and spend money on. And that's a lofty, lofty goal. But that word I call it the J word. I don't even say it. Its the J word.

AAJ: I agree. I haven't found a single musician who's above thirty, who says, like, "Oh, I play jazz."

GB: Yeah.

AAJ: They say, I play my name, my music

GB: Right.

AAJ: or I play creative music. Someone might put a label on it. Yusef has his audiophysiopsychic music.

GB: Yeah.

AAJ: I don't understand it, either.

GB: Well, because we don't own newspapers, we don't own radio stations, we don't own TV stations, we don't own magazines, we don't own record labels. We don't own anything, so then you know, I mean, ownership means you set the parameters. You say, Okay, this is composing, this music where you are about to hear is called composing or improvised composition, that is what Mingus called it, improvised composition. So until we get to that point, we are still in the... I mean, for me, record labels are plantations, and you've got three types of musicians on the plantations. I've talked about this before. You've got as in any plantation during slavery, you've got house musicians, field musicians, and you've got free musicians. House musicians are the most successful at the record labels, because they'll do whatever masser says, whatever the record label wants you to do. You want me to do a tribute album to Kenny G.? I'll do that! You know, they're going to be successful. And all of the musicians most of the musicians successful today, I hate to say it, are house musicians. They've either given up publishing, they've given up their rights to choose who's on the album, the rights to say what songs are on the album, the rights to anything about the album. They are just house musicians Hey, boy, play this music, and we will make you rich.

AAJ: Would you perform at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, if he asked you to, under the big billboard of that word?

GB: If we can come to the right deal, yeah. If we can come.

AAJ: It has like jazz in big letters across the stage.

GB: Well, you know, I know that. I mean, that s the way its built. As long as I don't accept it. I don't accept it. But in a way, it is kind of like going to like an NAACP meeting and having nigger over top. (Laughs) You know, you've got a black convention, and you've got nigger over that. Okay, we go to play something here, we got jazz over there. Yeah, it is a problem. It is a problem.

AAJ: I agree.

GB: It is something that once you're aware of it, maybe we can work on it. And most people don't even know. I was just in Australia about a month ago, and I did a radio show. And we got into this very subject, because they've never even broached the concept that musicians don't accept that word. That was new to them. What? You don't like that word?

AAJ: If you don't hang out with musicians, you'd never know.

GB: Right. But yeah, we've got work to do. But I am very enthused and happy, and I am not worried about the music, because I think its going to be in good hands, because we have as good musicians as ever. So that is not a problem. The problem is the business end of it.

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