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Joe Vella: Podcasting Trane

By Published: March 15, 2007
Steve Kuhn, who had experiences with Coltrane at his home and at his music room—he came and played with Coltrane prior to McCoy joining the band. He has a very sweet take on Coltrane from a personal and musical experience. Jimmy Cobb's stuff with Miles is phenomenal. He's a great man and a wonderful drummer and a funny and generous man. He was so open-minded.

I had first thought that the Traneumentary would be episodes with music underneath the interviews. I was fooling around with my computer before Jimmy came. Before I met him I got to the Verve offices early and was setting up the microphones and I had an old bootleg of Stockholm 1963 with Miles. And I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to ask Jimmy about this?" It's not really covered in the four labels' catalogs, but Trane was really on to something there and really pushing the limits. I thought it would be cool for Jimmy to tell us what it was like. I didn't want to talk a lot about Miles and Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959) because it's just been talked to death.

Joe Vella

So after I'd finished the interview with Jimmy, I said, "Jimmy, will you try an experiment? I've got this old thing you did with Trane in the '60s, and I want to try to do a commentary track like on a movie [on DVD], where the director talks and they tell you all the secrets about how they did it and the behind-the-scenes stuff." I had a headphone splitter, and I set it up. He was listening. He didn't talk at first. Then he said, "Run it back, I remember that." And boom, he did this commentary track and it was really fascinating. The three or four minutes that we captured were very compelling. It was a very different interview.

After that, I prepared a commentary part of each interview and a traditional interview. So I have two sets of interviews with almost everyone. My style of doing podcasts, which I really like, is like the person is in your office or living room. I've always liked that sort of intimacy. I always liked that about interviews when you're not watching them. I conducted all the interviews except the one with Sonny Rollins, which my friend Bret Primack did. He works with Sonny on Sonny's video podcast series.

It worked out really nicely. Everybody came to the table with open arms and open ears. They loved it. They loved doing the interviews, they loved hearing the music, they loved doing the commentaries. And they were very interested in the end product. It worked because it was John Coltrane and he's an amazing artist who affects people in all sorts of ways. What you learn from it is that John Coltrane is not just a jazz artist—he's just a great artist, and that's why people like to talk about him. That's why he makes such a great impression on people, because the work is sincere and comes from genuine innovation and spirituality, and that's why he is so special.

Listen to the Tranumentary for free via iTunes.

Photo Credit
Top Photo: Deann Lewis
Other Photos: Courtesy of Joe Vella

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