Jay Anderson: Driving the Bus
AAJ: How important is it to know the lyrics to really get inside a ballad?
JA: It's funny, I was talking to someone just last night about that. I don't think it's imperative, but any information you have to give you insight into the song is a good thing. There's a famous recording of Billie Holiday and Jimmy Rowles playing "Everything Happens to Me," and Billie stops and says, and I'm paraphrasing, "Jimmy, listen to the lyrics. You're playing way too happy for this tune." His accompaniment was not reflective of that story. Unfortunately, I'm not very lyrically oriented. Even when I played with Carmen, we could play a tune a hundred times and I still wouldn't remember the words. However, it will only inform your music on a deeper level if you do.
AAJ: What are your plans for the rest of this year?
JA: I have some work coming up with Maria [Schneider], which I'm looking forward to, and some touring in Europe with BANN for the As You Like record which just came out. The music business is in flux and I knock on wood; I'm lucky to play with a lot of great players and play music that I find satisfying. Jazz has never had a huge market share, but I believe there's an interest in it. You travel around the world and people love the music. Unfortunately, in America there's not much funding for the arts, and there seems to be a lack of appreciation, but I believe there are people out there who are still interested in hearing creative voices and what they have to say.
AAJ: What advice do you give to your students about the business side of the music?
JA: There are a lot of amazingly talented young people getting into the music, and sometimes we talk about the music business and what their role will be. I tell them, "You've got to follow your heart but balance this with a realistic view of your abilities, your drive and desire. And then you've got to go for it."
BANN, As You Like (Jazz Eyes, 2011)
Vic Juris, Omega is the Alpha (Steeplechase Records, 2010)
Toots Thielemans, The Live Takes, Vol. 1 (In + Out Records, 2010)
Another Nuttree Quartet, Something Sentimental (Kind of Blue Records, 2009)
Mark Soskin, Man Behind the Curtain (Kind of Blue Records, 2009)
Phil Markowitz, Catalysis (Sunnyside Records, 2008)
Rich Perry Quartet, E-Motion (Steeplechase Records, 2007)
Maria Schneider, Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007)
Vic Juris, A Second Look (Mel Bay Records, 2005)
Maria Schneider, Concert in the Garden (Artist Share, 2004)
Chaka Khan, Classikhan (Music World, 2004)
Bob Mintzer, Gently (DMP Records, 2003)
Paul Bley, Notes On Ornette (Steeplechase Records, 2000)
Dave Stryker, Blue to the Bone II (SteepleChase Records, 2000)
Bob Mintzer Quartet, Quality Time (TVT, 1998)
Lee Konitz, Dearly Beloved (Steeplechase Records, 1997)
Bob Belden, When Doves Cry: The Music of Prince (Blue Note Records, 1994)
Mike Stern, Standards (Atlantic/WEA, 1992)
Michael Brecker, Now You See It... (GRP Records, 1990)
Tom Waits, Frank's Wild Years (Island Records, 1987)
Toshiko Akiyoshi, Wishing Peace (Ken, 1986)
Red Rodney and Ira Sullivan, Spirit Within (Elektra Musician, 1981)
Carmen McRae, Live at Bubba's (Who's Who in Jazz, 1981)
Woody Herman Band, Chick, Donald, Walter & Woodrow (Century Records, 1978)
Page 1: Daniele Zappi
Pages 2-3: Courtesy of Jay Anderson
Page 5: Scott Friedlander
Page 6: Stefe Jiroflee