Bob Perkins: The Art of Listening

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count

Daily Life and Approach to Living

AAJ: Now, before we wrap it up, could you tell us about your family and what you do when you're not working?

BP: Actually, my avocation is my vocation. I go around looking for unique recordings that I can spring on my listeners. I get euphoric when I find something interesting because I know I'm going to "hit someone's hand," as they say in pinochle. Someone's gonna say, "I haven't heard that in 50 years! I'm gonna call Perkins and thank him." I also write for a good magazine called Icon, which gives me a chance to write about some of the musicians.

AAJ: Do you ever talk to your wife? [laughter.]

BP: She's not much of a jazz fan. But we go lots of places together. She's more into classical music and vintage rhythm and blues. She's a professor at Pierce College and is also working on her doctorate degree in education, like Bill Cosby. Sometimes we pass like ships in the night. We'll have a late dinner at home, and catch up with each other then.

AAJ: One more question—Coltrane said that music was his spirit. Could you tell us about your philosophy and life and spirituality.

Miss JustineBP: We're at the crossroads of the spiritual and secular, and we make a "joyful noise." People are creative and shouldn't be pigeonholed. Consider vocalist Miss Justine, for example. She was a banker when I knew her way back when, and then decided to become a singer. Recently, people were amazed by her at that Billie Holiday concert. For me, a good upbringing with loving parents and siblings helped a lot—the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Respect other people. Carry yourself the right way. Be yourself, don't put on airs. And my mentors had a lot of humanity. I learned from them. I'm a walking composite of a lot of people. I have big ears. And I surround myself with the right people. I owe them a great debt of gratitude.

AAJ: And we all owe a debt of gratitude to you for your big ears, because we all benefit from them! If you have a secret, maybe that's it, because you play the very best music on your show.

BP: If you have a gift, pass it on. Someone once asked Einstein, "What's our purpose here on earth?" He said it all very simply: "Man's mission on earth is to help his fellows."

AAJ: There's a funny story about Einstein. He played the violin pretty well, but he wasn't a polished professional. One time the great classical pianist Artur Rubenstein came to his house to play duets. Rubenstein became very frustrated, and at one point shouted, "Einstein, can't you count?" [Laughter.]

Photo Credits

Page 3 (Barkley Hendricks Collection): Courtesy of Barkley Hendricks

Page 4 (Charlie Parker): Frank Driggs Collection

Post a comment




Read Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Beauty, Love and Justice: Living A Coltranian Life
Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Read Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music
Read Top Jazz-Rock Fusion Recordings
Read Dean Brown: Global Fusion on Acid
Read Instrumental Duos
Building a Jazz Library
Instrumental Duos

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.