Annie Ross: Let Me Sing
AAJ: I don't know if you've heard the Julliard Jazz Orchestra.
AAJ: Well, they do concerts over at Juilliard and Alice Tully Hall and the year before last they did Ellington; the stuff he wrote after Billy Strayhorn died. And these are kids that weren't alive when Ellington was alive. But they were so into the music. And last year they got permission to do the Stan Kenton book. And nobody's doing that because he said, "When I die, the band dies with me. I don't want anybody to keep it going. They got permission to do it and these kids are really into the band, the arrangements. That kind of thinking. So you start to think, well, maybe there is somewhere down the line a future.
AAJ: That there are kids because....who's out there now that you think is anybody vocally.
AR: Shirley Horne.
AAJ: Well, Shirley's been around for awhile.
AR: I know. And there's a girl that I think is great called Gail Winters. She's wonderful. But apart from that, there's nobody that really gets to me.
AAJ: I was wondering because everybody is busy touting this one and that one, the other one. Well, I don't know what Norah Jones is doing on Blue Note anyway because she doesn't sing jazz ever. People like that. You know, the next great what??? The business has changed.
AR: Tell me about it.
AAJ: Well, in what way the most drastic to you compared to what used to be.
AR: The loss of originality. You know, the thing that's great about singers, great singers in jazz, you can always tell who it is. You know it's Lady. You know it's Dinah. You know it's Sarah. You know it's Ella. They have a style. And it's the same with instrumentalists. Most of the people now weren't alive when Dizzy or Clifford Brown or Miles were alive. Poor babies. So all they've got to go on are records and things like that. They never had the chance to see them live and that's such a terrible shame because that was all part of it. The whole atmosphere. I haven't heard that kind of originality. I mean you can have great instrumentalists that can play but, no, you can't say "that is so and so. You can say, "It's somebody who loved Dizzy a lot or yes, he plays very well but I couldn't tell you who it is. Because those people were innovators and they were creators. I remember I was living in Paris, the first time I ever heard Things To Come, Dizzy Gillespie. I felt like a freight train had gone by. And I said, "Excurse me, can you play that again? It's like listening to Art Tatum and saying, "I don't believe what he just played. Can you play that again? And the first time I ever heard Bird. Like a meteor.
AAJ: It's funny but all of those guys learned from listening to other guys.
AR: Well, they learned from listening mostly to Pops. Louis Armstrong.
AAJ: But a lot of the pianists listened to Art Tatum. Almost everybody.
AR: Oh, of course. There's no way you could ignore Art Tatum.
AAJ: I have, I think it was the first album he ever did. On 78rpm. Erroll Garner. His first album. I think it won the Down Beat award that year. Before he found his left hand. And it sounds so much like Tatum. He drank from that well, too. And then he developed his own particular style.
AR: It really makes me furious the way people ignore Erroll Garner. They need to listen to him.
AAJ: Basically, and I'm sure you've found this what jazz is all about is feeling good.
AR: That's the way it's supposed to be.
AAJ: Even if you do the blues.
AR: Shoot. The blues is hard. The real blues. But Erroll Garner. There's a wonderful piano up at Nola's Recording Studios. That where he recorded with two telephone books.
AAJ: And he didn't read music.
AR: No, he didn't read. And I was talking to Martha Glaser and she said, "Do you read music? And I said, "No. And she said, "Well. Erroll didn't either. I said, "No. I think in colors. And she said, "So did Erroll. I said, "What! It's a name. I think synergy. Some term and painters did that. Painters thought in color. Caravaggio thought in color. Certain composers thought in color. Now, where does that come from?
AAJ: That's something you either have or....
AR: Boy, oh, boy. And those people who create like that. And there's only one Erroll Garner. There won't be another.
AAJ: I think a lot in colors, too, when I'm listening to things. Just like certain words have colors.
AAJ: Let's talk about a wordsmith. Stephen Sondheim.
AR: Okay. Difficult to learn. But, oh, "good times, rough times. I've seen them all, but I'm here. I'm still here. Plush velvet sometimes. Sometimes just pretzels and beer. But I'm here. I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes, strummed ukeleles, sung the blues, seen all my dreams disappear. Such a great song.
AAJ: You know, another song he wrote on the same scale. I don't know if you've done it. "The Ladies Who Lunch from Company.