AAJ's Top Twenty Interviews of 2007

John Kelman By

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2007 continued the growth trend seen in 2006, with over 150 interviews published. The number of interviews is increasing so rapidly, in fact, that we've expanded the Interview Center on the AAJ homepage, in order to allow for four interviews a week, with an eye to publishing five a week in 2008. As always, AAJ provided coverage of well-known artists like John McLaughlin, Joshua Redman, Herbie Hancock and the recently departed Joe Zawinul, as well as relative up-and-comers including Kate McGarry, Steve Lantner, Anat Fort and Samo Salamon.

While every interview published provided valuable insight into the artist, here are twenty of the year's best (in alphabetical order):

Steve Berrios
Latin Jazz Innovator

Interviewed by: Mark Merella
Steve Berrios is an innovative drummer/percussionist well-known to aficionados of Latin jazz. His groundbreaking work with Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, numerous sessions as a sideman, as well as his two solo albums—First World (Milestone, 1995) and the Grammy-nominated And Then Some (Milestone, 1996)—show a body of work that is a unique amalgam of hard bop, Latin jazz and Afro-Caribbean folkloric rhythms.

Chris Botti

Interviewed by: Katrina-Kasey Wheeler
When one thinks of Italy certain things come to mind, chief among them—romance, fashion, the culinary arts and a cherished optimistic outlook on life. For years, the Italian arts have chronicled the human condition. And now, prolific trumpeter Chris Botti has personified this through his release, Italia (Columbia, 2007); employing outstanding singers Andrea Bocelli, Paula Cole and a posthumous duet with Dean Martin. The result is something truly extraordinary.

Taylor Ho Bynum
Spontaneous Yet Focused

Interviewed by: John Sharpe
Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is at the forefront of a younger generation of creative musicians in New York. He combines thrilling improvisation with stealthy composition, unconfined by genre. Best known for his association with Anthony Braxton, Bynum has played a leading role in the realization of the saxophonist's recent oeuvre. There has been a deserved upsurge in Bynum's profile of late, culminating in the release of two excellent, but very different, recordings: True Events (482 Music, 2007), a duet with drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and The Middle Picture (Firehouse 12, 2007) by his sextet. The latter is on the new Firehouse 12 label, in which he is a partner.

Graham Collier
Forging Ahead

Interviewed by: Nic Jones
British bandleader and composer Graham Collier is seventy this year. In the course of his career he has, perhaps, unusually become more expansive in his musical outlook, fashioning pieces for ensembles larger than those he was working with during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period which is effectively the high water mark of the documentation of his music on record.

Barbara Dennerlein
A Study in Contrasts

Interviewed by: Alan Bryson
In many ways Barbara Dennerlein is a study in contrasts. From a North American perspective she is an insider's tip, a superlative Hammond B3 player known to hardcore jazz fans, admired by fellow B3 players, and respected by her musical peers. We can contrast that with how she is known in the German speaking countries of central Europe.

Mark Feldman
His Own Music, His Own Sound, His Own Aesthetic

Interviewed by: Paul Olson
In his twenty years in New York City, violinist Mark Feldman's played a dizzying number of gigs and sessions with trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Uri Caine, saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Billy Hart, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Mark Dresser, and of course, saxophonist John Zorn, with whom Feldman has had a particularly fruitful association.

Alvin Fielder
It's About Time

Interviewed by: Clifford Allen
Drummer Alvin Fielder grew up in Mississippi, but the fruition of his musical career in Chicago came in the 1960s, when he worked with Sun Ra and appeared on Roscoe Mitchell's legendary Sound (Delmark, 1966) LP, one of the first AACM recordings to be released. After returning to a pharmacy career in Mississippi in the late 1960s, Fielder began working regularly with New Orleans saxophonist Kidd Jordan in the Improvisational Arts Ensemble.

Jerry Granelli
Groovemaster or Destroyer?

Interviewed by: Paul Olson
It's easy to mention drummer Jerry Granelli's accomplishments, but hard to really make clear his importance, or the way he's continuously, over forty years, been at the forefront of most of the innovations and new movements in jazz music.

Ingrid Jensen
Viking Spirit

Interviewed by: Jason Crane
For years, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen wanted to bring together her friend, pianist Maggi Olin, and her sister, saxophonist Christine Jensen, for an album celebrating their shared Nordic ancestry. That album is Flurry (ArtistShare, 2007), by their band Nordic Connect. It's another deep and moving recording from the Juno-Award-winning Jensen. All About Jazz contributor Jason Crane talked with Jensen about the Viking feeling, the long road to her present success, and whether or not Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer and Bobby Shew are crazy.

Sheila Jordan
A Life of Honest Expression

Interviewed by: Joao Moreira dos Santos
Her voice really cooks but what is the recipe for the way Sheila Jordan picks songs and transforms them into something special and swinging? Well, you take a quarter Cherokee child raised in poverty in Pennsylvania's coal-mining country, you add to it the definitive influence of a genius, Charlie Parker, and mix it all with a hard life, a great and creative voice able to express the soul through melodies and lyrics and... Sheila is ready to serve you plenty of good jazz and meaning.

Alex Machacek / Jeff Sipe / Matt Garrison
The Improvision Round Table

Interviewed by: Phil DiPietro
Alex Machacek, Matt Garrison and Jeff Sipe have been responsible for some of the greatest moments in electric jazz since the turn of the new millennium.

Kate McGarry
The Turtle, The Paradox, and The Big Yes

Interviewed by: Dr. Judith Schlesinger
It's a busy time for singer Kate McGarry, with European and U.S. tours, CD release festivities, imminent professoring at the New York Manhattan School of Music, and recording with the new vocal group, Moss. Her newest CD, The Target (Palmetto, 2007), hit Jazz Week at #37 and rose to #18 barely two weeks later; it's also climbing fast on the college charts, reflecting the broad appeal of McGarry's beautiful voice and rangy material. Married since 2004 to guitarist and band mate Keith Ganz, McGarry brings something new and refreshing to the music scene: true talent without pretension. As pianist/composer Fred Hersch puts it, "Kate McGarry is a singer of great warmth and emotional connection who is blessed with a magical voice and a curious musical mind. She really has it all."

Larry McKenna
Keeping the Legacy Alive

Interviewed by: Victor L. Schermer
Larry McKenna is a master tenor saxophonist. He has resided in Philadelphia all his life, and so is best known in that city, although he has been on the road a number of times, in particular with the Woody Herman band, and musical insiders everywhere know his work. His CDs as a leader include My Shining Hour (EPE, 1996), It Might As Well Be Spring (Dreambox Media, 2001), and 4 Brothers 7 (Jazzed, 2007), the latter with Frank Tiberi and two other sax alumni from the Herman band.

John McLaughlin
On the Road, Part 1: The Interview

Interviewed by: John Kelman
It's been nearly a decade since legendary guitarist John McLaughlin toured North America with an electric fusion band. With a new group, The 4th Dimension, and a new label, Abstract Logix, McLaughlin will be hitting the road in September, 2007 for a series of dates that will take him coast-to-coast in the United States, with a handful of Canadian dates also booked.

Sue Graham Mingus
All the Things You Could Be By Now If Charles' Wife Was Your Flamekeeper

Interviewed by: R.J. DeLuke
Charles Mingus was a larger than life figure on the music scene. Crashing. Volatile. Complex. Swinging. Intense. Delicate. Raucous and joyous. Depending on who you talk to, and maybe even what day, different images might be conjured up. Different words used to describe him by those who knew and performed with him.

Lola Perrin
Rave Music for Butterflies

Interviewed by: John Eyles
Born in New York (with Ukrainian and Hungarian roots), and educated in Switzerland, pianist Lola Perrin is now based in London. Following an early career producing soundtracks for television she went into a period of musical isolation until she launched her solo career in 2003. Ever since, she has attracted increasing attention across Europe as a performer and composer.

Leni Stern

Interviewed by: Ian Patterson
Songwriter and guitarist Leni Stern's Africa (LSR, 2007) marks a significant new chapter in a career marked by bold changes. Her fearlessness as an independent traveler, and her endless curiosity about the workings of the world which surrounds her, are reflected in her music. Her lyrics are tender, poetic and, above all, truthful.

Steve Swallow
The Poetry of Music

Interviewed by: Jason Crane
Bassist Steve Swallow and poet Robert Creeley were friends for 30 years. Swallow first read Creeley's work in the 1950s, and instantly fell in love with what Creeley had to say and the way he said it. Twenty years later, a chance meeting with Creeley led to a personal and professional relationship. Creeley's work inspired two of Swallow's albums—Home (ECM, 1980) and his most recent recording, So There (XtraWATT/ECM, 2006).

US3/Geoff Wilkinson
The Struggle Continues

Interviewed by: Frederick Bernas
In 1992 Geoff Wilkinson produced the groundbreaking jazz/hip-hop crossover track "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)," gaining international recognition with his Us3 project. Fourteen years and six albums down the line he's still going strong, but it could all have been very different. Here he tells AAJ contributor Frederick Bernas about the highs and lows of his long and convoluted musical journey.

Joe Zawinul
Still Stirring Up The Weather

Interviewed by: R.J. DeLuke
The music seemed fresh. If any of those bands stayed fresh, it was Weather Report, the band of the '70s and early '80s," says legendary keyboardist Joe Zawinul, cofounder, with Wayne Shorter, of the seminal fusion band that leaped to the forefront of the music during that time and hurled it around the globe, winning legions of fans as well as accolades from the critics and media.


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