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Dave Liebman: Archives and Improvisations - The Past and the Now of a Life in Jazz

Victor L. Schermer By

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Prolific saxophonist, composer, band leader, and educator Dave Liebman is a living legend, an NEA Jazz Master who has been making waves since the 1970s and never stops growing, learning, and discovering. His autobiography, What It Is (Scarecrow Press, 2012, with Lewis Porter) is an honest probing of his more than half century experience as a musician in the context of his personal life and those with whom he has performed.

During all those years, Liebman has collected recordings, transcriptions, photographs, and memorabilia documenting every nuance of the jazz world that he encountered along the way. In August, 2018, he donated his extensive archives to the library of the famed Berklee College of Music, where he has served as one of their distinguished teachers. It is a treasure trove of hard copy items for researchers, musicians, and others who want a vivid glimpse of what went down in Liebman's life and career, and in the jazz world of the time.

All About Jazz felt that the milestone donation of his archives was a good occasion to touch bases with "Lieb," get some information about the archives, and explore a few of the many sides of his life and music. As in his book, Lieb here provides down to earth, sharp-as-a-tack perspectives on himself, the music, and the people, places, and ideas that informed his own development as a person and a musician.

All About Jazz: When did the idea of compiling your archives first come up for you?

Dave Liebman: I've been storing my recorded materials, photos, manuscripts, and so on since the 1960s. I've always been a collector. More recently, I was having dinner with my friend the photographer, Larry Fink, and he said, "I'm going to donate my archives, why don't you do something similar?" Such a thing never occurred to me. I thought only very famous people did that. But I thought it was a good suggestion, so a year or do later, I hit on the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music about housing my collection of manuscripts, recordings, and memorabilia. They were interested, but didn't have room for it in their facilities. Eventually, when I was doing some teaching at the Berklee College of Music, one of their staff said, "Oh, we have an archive setup, and we're looking to expand it!" It turned out they were really interested in what I had. Although I heard that Bob Dylan and Philip Glass had sold their archives for a few million dollars, I wasn't really interested in the money, Berklee's enthusiasm and the fact that it is such a great jazz institution led me to donate it to them free of cost. It was the perfect place for my collection, and it's on the East Coast, so I could still have convenient access to it.

Last August (2018), their archives staff came to my house with a van. They were real professionals. They sorted it out, boxed it and labeled it. I gave them my books, tapes, and recordings, both my own and those that influenced me. There was a book of my transcriptions of Coltrane. Some will be kept in Berklee's library and others are stored in an archives site at another location in Boston. For the material in the archives site, you will need permission to access them. They'll be carefully preserved with the techniques they have today. The Berklee College library will have everything listed, and folks can go there and request what they want to look at or listen to. The library has a special office where you can do your research. I'm not yet sure who's going to use it or for what purpose. But a lot of my own history and that of the jazz milieu I was in is documented there.

AAJ: So potential users would go to the library, check out the listings, and request what they want. But if it's at the archives site, they'll have to get specific permission.

DL: Yes. The archives site is nicknamed "The Fortress," which tells you how secure it is!

AAJ: If it were me, I would feel attached to all that memorabilia and not want to give it all up. Why did you donate your collection now, rather than as a bequest?

DL: I'm not at all attached to it! I did have a real twinge when I saw it all go out the door, but after it was gone, I was glad I did it. I hadn't looked at most of it for over thirty years. For example, there is a collection of my vinyl records that I stopped listening to when they came out with CDs. And I can get anything I want by requesting it. What matters to me is that it's safely taken care of, and hopefully musicians, researchers, journalists, and so on will find it interesting and useful.

AAJ: So you were emotionally ready to let go of it.

DL: Definitely. I just liked to collect them, and then occasionally I might go to them for one reason or the other, which I can still do.

AAJ: To go a little deeper on a personal level, which of the items you donated are the most precious to you?

DL: That's a very good question. I would say in general it would be the personal recordings of myself and others that I made along the way. They're in every format imaginable: reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, many from my performances. The library will digitize them so they'll be easy to use. But, for me, I can't dwell in the past.

AAJ: What do these archives represent for jazz history?

DL: I think they say a lot about my generation of musicians from the 1960s on. This is a record of someone, namely myself, who was intimately involved and in a lot of places and events of the time. So you can get an idea of what it was to be a musician from the 1970s as distinct from those in the 1940s for example. My archives collection shows a lot about the priorities, the lifestyle, the bands, the learning process. For a long time, I lived and worked in New York, so I was at the center of things. People will relate to the fact that I was right in there during the times of Coltrane, free jazz, fusion, and so on. And in addition to performing, I wrote a lot of books, and I've been heavily into jazz education. The archives document a period of jazz history that I've been part of. I'm an NEA Jazz Master because of what I participated in and contributed to musically and personally. So scholars and musicians who are interested will hopefully find much that is enlightening in what is there.

AAJ: Do you think the student musicians will find it interesting as well?

DL: They like to use the computer and internet for such things these days, but there's still something to be said for what you have direct access to and can see and hear in their original hard copy form. And there is some material in the collection that is not on the internet.

AAJ: And they might want to study and play the transcripts of your compositions and other music.

Liebman's Autobiography: What It Is

AAJ: Let's talk about your life and music. I read your autobiography, What It Is, which you initially recorded in conversation with your friend, musician, and author Lewis Porter. I found it to be a fascinating, provocative book that's moves so well that I couldn't stop reading it.

DL: Lewis is a terrific interviewer, and he had a way of getting me to open up. We worked on it over a two year period, often at the Manhattan School of Music when I'd be teaching there. I was inspired by Lee Konitz's book (Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art, with Andy Hamilton; U. Michigan Press, 2007). Konitz was so honest and truthful, and I wanted mine to be like that.

AAJ: I was surprised you had such a passion for Konitz because his style of playing is so different from yours.

DL: But I saw it from a different angle: we're both Jewish saxophone players. He's a wonderful musician and very outspoken. He's very honest and can even be caustic. He didn't hold back, and I happened to agree with a lot of what he wrote.

AAJ: The Jewish connection has had a big impact on jazz. There's always been a link between Jews and African Americans on account of their histories of persecution and minority status. And so much of the music owes a lot to Jews: Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, the Great American Songbook, Leonard Bernstein, the influence of the Jewish Musical Theater.

DL: For me, there were two important influences from my Jewish family. One was that you had to have an education. In my youth, during the 1950s-60s, a Jewish boy had to go to college. That was different from a lot of the other jazz musicians of the time. The other point was that you were expected to do something significant for the world. You had to make a contribution to the betterment of mankind. For a lot of us, it meant becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, where you could make a good living but also do some good. For me, I came to think of music as making such a contribution. We musicians are "shamans," and we bring a message to people. When you hear great music, you feel something that affects you deeply. Other ethnic groups have a similar idea, but for me the idea that the music carries a positive message for our species is part of my Jewish heritage.

AAJ: So this Jewish guy, Dave Liebman, takes up the saxophone, and he starts out playing with his high school cronies, and then gets gigs in the Catskill Mountains. So he's playing pop music for people who are more interested in eating, socializing, and dancing than listening. Suddenly, one night he goes with his girlfriend to Birdland to hear John Coltrane and pianistBill Evans on the same bill. And his whole life changes! That's what you say in your book.

DL: That might be over dramatic, but it's very true! Actually, my goal at the time was to become an orthopedic surgeon. I had polio from a young age, and I wanted to be like the doctors who helped me. So it's quite true that Coltrane's music, in particular, took me to another place. My whole life changed after hearing him on a couple of occasions. Before that, it was about a family and culture that had nothing to do with jazz as such. My mother played piano, but there was no impetus at home to be a creative artist, like a musician or a painter or an actor.

The Influence of John Coltrane

AAJ: Something about Coltrane and his music took you over. In retrospect, do you know what it was that grabbed hold of you so much as to change your life?

DL: Yes. I'm pretty sure I know what it was. It definitely wasn't about the music per se, because I'm still trying to figure that out! I went to hear Coltrane many times after that night at Birdland, up until he died. It was his unpretentious attitude and the straight-ahead honesty of his group with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones that totally impressed me. There was no bullshit! They didn't even announce tunes. They just got up and played like there was no tomorrow. I was really attracted to that way of doing things. They were completely into the music, and everything they played was consistently great. You can hear that on all the records they made, even some that were only recently discovered (Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse, 2018).

AAJ: And their straight from the hip approach is consistent with aspects of both Jewish and African American cultures and history.

DL: I think that might be true.

AAJ: Some jazz performances are mind-blowing and mind-expanding, and you can't even say what it is that makes it so.

DL: Especially in my generation, growing up in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. We really enjoyed it. It was always so new and exciting. Even all the later music like fusion and world music were already beginning to percolate in the '50s. And you could just go to a club or record store to hear it all.

AAJ: Which clubs did you go to in addition to Birdland?

DL: The main places were Birdland, the Half Note, and the Village Vanguard. And in those days, when I first started hitting the clubs, there were three sets a night, and there were often two bands on the same bill—like Evans and Coltrane, Miles and Monk. In the late '60s, it became only one group, but they played three sets! Until 3 or 4 in the morning! Even on a weeknight with a small audience!

AAJ: Did you ever play in any of those three set gigs?

DL: My gig with Elvin was a little bit of the old setup and a little bit of the new. After a while, we started playing more college gigs, and then did tours of Europe. But all that time we also played clubs. And we worked very hard. People make it seem very romantic, but basically we played in shit holes, dirty bathrooms, smoke everywhere, and that whole lifestyle. And musically, we played so many hours, which is what I wanted, but when you do that often, it's hard to come up with something novel and different. When you play the same F sharp seventh chord 40 times in a night, you start wondering what you're going to play on it the next time. The jazz clubs of the time were over-romanticized, like that famous photo of Dexter Gordon with the cigarette smoke.

AAJ: I've always been struck how jazz really blossoms in the dungeons of the world! Only recently have the clubs become smoke-free and really pleasant to be in.

DL: Well, a lot has to do with that intimate, underground feeling in contrast with the typical American lifestyle of the time, with the suburbs, the factory, and the office. Also, there were very few festivals and concert hall gigs around that time, so the clubs were where you made a living. And by playing so many hours and days, the music quickly evolved. Sonny Rollins wasn't the same in 1968 as he was in 1965. You got up 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and then you went to work at 9 o'clock at night and were still playing at 2 in the morning.

AAJ: I always felt there was something intimate and secretive about going to a small club, like being part of something unique.

DL: I agree with that. You were part of the in crowd. Like people who went to Studio 54 where you could be part of that special thing. [Studio 54 was a well-known hip midtown New York nightclub and disco that is now a theater. -Eds.]

AAJ: Another important part of your development took place in the lofts, many of which were in the Chelsea district of Manhattan at the time.

DL: I had several lofts there in the 1970s. One of them was on Sixth Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets. It was right across the street from the famous Jazz Loft, where the photographer W. Eugene Smith had many jazz musicians like Thelonious Monk and Zoot Sims come in and jam all night. But that was in the '50s and '60s before I came there. That was the generation before us.

AAJ: Do you still have any recordings from your lofts? I'll bet a lot of people would like to hear them.

DL: Well, it was pretty primitive recording equipment: one microphone and a cheap tape recorder. There are lots of those tapes in the archives, but they're hard to listen to. But speaking of recordings, there was one from that time period that influenced all of us: Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse, 1965) with all the horns playing simultaneously. It influenced me when I was in the lofts, because I wanted to play like that. My cohorts and I were completely blown out by Coltrane's Ascension. We would get together for hours at a time with all the horns playing at once!

That's where I and some others from my generation cut our teeth. Eventually we got to Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960), but we started with Coltrane's Ascension and Meditations (Impulse, 1965) and Sun Ship (Impulse, 1971 and Kulu Se Mama (Impulse, 1965) and Expression (Impulse, 1967). For me it was the late Coltrane—that was what I wanted to do. I didn't even know about "Giant Steps," which had a big influence on many others. We didn't have a plan or concept. We just picked up on what turned us on and went with it.

AAJ: What a creative foment it must have been!

DL: There was no method to our madness. Jazz education hardly existed then. Hall Overton, the arranger for Monk's big band, was about the only one. He had a Wednesday afternoon Open House at the New School from 4-6pm. He taught Monk. He handed out printed Monk tunes on onion skin. And he brought in Monk's manager, Harry Colomby. Outside of that there was nobody to learn from at that time in New York except Lennie Tristano.

AAJ: When I listen to Coltrane's "Mediations," I hear what I would think of as "free jazz."

DL: But it had a definite form and structure. My wife, Caris, transcribed that record, and much later I assembled my own groups to record it and do live performances.

AAJ: When you do "Meditations," do you think of playing a "tune" from it, or how do you go about it?

DL: No. "Meditations" does have five very distinct melodies. People think Trane wrote them, but McCoy Tyner told me he didn't. My wife transcribed them. But back in the day, we weren't into playing them. We just were in that milieu. And then Interstellar Space (Impulse, 1974) came out with a duet between Rashied Ali on drums and Trane on sax for a whole record! Unbelievable!

Living with the Consequences of Infantile Paralysis (Polio)

AAJ: Earlier you referred to your thoughts of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. In your autobiography you talk about your experience with polio, not only as a kid, but throughout your life. Could you say more about how your coping with polio has affected you as a person and your music? You obviously describe your struggles with your leg when it got injured in various ways.

DL: Well, it helped me become a type-A personality, non-stop stress! I have relentless energy. I can only think that coming back from polio had something to do with being a relentless worker. If you get ill when you're young, it's not the same as when you get older. When you're a kid, you just accept it as something that happens. It did make me feel different from anybody else. But I was the kind of kid who just said, "Let's go. Let's deal with this." I'm sure it made me more ambitious and more tending towards extremes.

I had to see lots of doctors for operations and such. When my mother took me to see the next doctor for an operation, I could see my mother visibly changing in front of my eyes. She would look at the doctor in his white coat like he was God, handing down the message: Moses from the mountain. So the doctors became my idea of a hero. Later on, I realized that connection to what I've been striving for all my life.

AAJ: That might help explain how you became the leader of a lot of groups. And being different from the other kids got transformed so that in your music you were willing to take risks, to be different from the norm. You didn't have to be like everyone else.

DL: Exactly. Even in high school, I was known as the class musician. That's what I did, and I didn't have to be like all the other guys. And I keep looking for my own path.

AAJ: I was thinking of Franklin Roosevelt and how polio transformed him into a great and compassionate leader.

DL: Right now, in my wallet is a picture my mother gave me of Roosevelt on crutches, and you know, he was never publicly seen or photographed with crutches. When my mother took me to Roosevelt's estate, Hyde Park, it was like I was going to Mecca. He was loved by many of my mother's generation. But this was beyond that because he had polio, and my mother's message to me was, "If he could succeed, you could do it too!"

AAJ: Your mother and Roosevelt had something in common. They were both very powerful people!

DL: Yes. My mother had a very strong personality.

Inverse Racism

AAJ: Now to change the topic, as we're discussing your book, there was one thing that turned me off that I wanted to ask you about. You said when you were coming up, you experienced inverse racism, in that the black musicians dismissed the white ones as inferior, unable to groove like blacks, or something like that. In my experience observing and talking to many jazz people over the years, I've never once experienced that among black musicians. They seem not to care about who you are; they're just interested in what you play when you step up to the bandstand.

DL: Today, black musicians no longer dismiss whites. But when I was with Miles Davis, it was at the height of the Black Panthers. Miles' on-stage equipment had the colors red and black for the Black Panthers.

AAJ: Well, there were whites like Leonard Bernstein who loved the Black Panthers! But more to the point, the group you were in with Miles was integrated: there were black and white musicians.

DL: Right. It was Ed Toumaine, Richie Lucas, Steve Cosey, Michael Henderson, Al Foster.

AAJ: Were any of those who were black prejudiced against you?

DL: Yes. It wasn't obvious. It was an undercurrent. And truthfully, if I were them, I'd have felt the same way too. One night, when I was in Elvin's band, his wife Keiko told me that a musician who shall be nameless told her that he was very upset that Elvin has "three white boys" in his band. Elvin, the "king" has three white boys —and two of them are Jewish! No kidding!

AAJ: If I put myself in the place of an African American of that time or earlier, I would feel that jazz is "our music." So if a white guy stepped up to play, I would think, you have to earn your keep if you want to be like us. I don't see that as prejudice. I just think it's natural to think that way because the jazz music itself is all about its ethnic origin. So a white guy is like a novice compared with a black guy who was immersed in it his whole life.

DL: That's absolutely true. We were put on a different measuring scale.

AAJ: That doesn't seem like inverse racism to me. It seems like reality.

DL: You're right. It wasn't overt racism. It was like, "You are like a stranger in a strange land. You have to earn your stripes and be cool, because this is not your music." If I was in their position, I would think the same thing if a white guy came in. "Why are you taking the place of our brothers?" I'm just saying, I was regarded with a certain suspicion because I was white. But it's another story with the critics of the time, both European and American. Many of them really believed that black musicians were superior to white. They were overtly prejudiced against white musicians, especially some of the English and French critics. And they had complete ignorance of the facts. And ignorance is what creates racism. But it goes without saying that racism of whites towards blacks has been the real problem of our society from slavery to Montgomery, Alabama, and it unfortunately still persists today in large measure.

Liebman's Devotion to Jazz Education

AAJ: Now let's talk about your very devoted and outstanding work as a jazz educator. A long time ago, you made a conscious decision to do jazz education on a larger scale than most musicians. In 1989, you found the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), which is now flourishing globally. You also have published influential books on theory and practice and have done a variety of master classes, lectures, and seminars near your home and around the world. Could you say why you made that career choice, while many just devote themselves to playing and composing, with perhaps a few students and proteges.

DL: That's a long story, but I'll say it briefly. First of all, I'm from a family of teachers. Both parents were full-time teachers in the New York City school system. I was surrounded by teachers. When they had a dinner party, it was all teachers. Secondly, in the early 1980s, after having been with Miles and Elvin, winning polls, and traveling around the world, I felt I had pretty much done everything I set out to do. I was looking to make a contribution to society and do something on a larger scale than say, playing at the Village Vanguard. I looked into the Peace Corps and the Save the Children movement, trying to find a way to use my energy and organizational skills for the good of mankind. I thought of being a lawyer, and drummer Pete La Roca, who had become a lawyer, helped me look into law schools. It's all in my autobiography.

But also, I could see the writing on the wall. Unless you become one of the five or ten big stars, playing jazz is not going to give you a substantial income. You could play a lot of gigs, you could do studio work, or you could just sit around and wait for things to happen. I decided that teaching would both fulfill my desire to do some good in the world as well as help me make a living. And sure enough, it turns out that education (doing workshops and clinics) now accounts for 80% of my income! So I made the right move at that time. And remember that jazz education was not yet a major item then as it is now. It was just starting to take hold in America. Also, I'm very good at teaching. I'm good with speaking and writing. So I really fit the bill for it, and those are the reasons I took that path.

AAJ: Did you also have a feeling that there was a need and a demand for jazz education at the time?

DL: Yes. You know, George Bernard Shaw said sarcastically, "He who can, does; he who can't, teaches." Often, but not always, less talented people teach music instead of performing for a living. Before the 1980s, jazz education was actually looked down upon—oh, he's a teacher, not someone who plays gigs. But soon the younger musicians were going to college, they sought more education, and the jazz schools and departments started popping up all over the place.

AAJ: Do you have a sense that the way jazz musicians learn their craft is changing?

DL: Yes, very much! But back then in the '80s, we couldn't have predicted how computers would influence it so much. Now you can get anything on the web. You can be in your pajamas in Westchester County and see Coltrane when he was ten years old. (LOL!!) It's all there. It's a good thing, because it's information.

Liebman's Approach to "Chromatic Improvising"

AAJ: A propos of jazz education, you've been known for years for teaching a particular theory and approach to improvising which to me seems like relativity theory. But Einstein wrote a book explaining relativity to the average person. So could you tell us your theory in the simplest way possible so that we can understand it?

DL: I'll try my best. My approach is described in a self-help workbook (A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody, Alfred Music, 2015) that gets you to play in a style that is sometimes thought of as "chromatic," but that's not quite it. It's to learn a style that is less oriented to the specific key. We call it "diatonicism."

AAJ: Isn't that what Miles and others started with "modal" playing?

DL: Modal is a subsection of it. I have a way of looking at harmony that enables you to go to places that one does not ordinarily occur in the specific key. It is a way of getting out of the key that is correct, educated, sophisticated, and hopefully meaningful. And if you use my book you get step-by-step instructions about how to do it. Then you can use it in your own playing.

AAJ: How were you able to systematize all that?

DL: I studied guys like Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, who did all that stuff in the 1960s. I systematized what they did. They were the godfathers. And their godfathers were Scriabin, Bartok, Stravinsky, and Alban Berg. This harmony already existed in twentieth century classical music. Bartok took chords and added dissonances which were not possible before. And then Armstrong and Bird and Trane caught up with them with diatonic harmony in jazz. When you listen to Coltrane on "Meditations," or even on "Impressions," you hear someone using chromaticism along with diatonicism, which to me is what makes it so interesting.

AAJ: Would you say chromaticism is somewhere half way between diatonic and 12 tone rows?

DL: Yes. 12 tone rows are a way of systematizing composition. But my chromaticism is just a way to get out of the lock of being stuck in a key.

AAJ: Isn't that just modulating to a new key?

DL: Yes, but where do you modulate to? There's a t-shirt from the Coltrane Church in San Francisco. It has a record on it, and it says "All Twelve Keys are Cool." That's a quote attributed to Trane. In other words, he liberated the music so that it was OK to play in more than one key at once. It's implying that all the twelve keys are equal, and freed musicians to play dissonance. And yes, that is Schoenberg's 12-tone composition in a sense, because they're both saying that all the keys and notes are equal.

The first thing I say to a new class is "All twelve keys are cool. But that doesn't mean that all twelve keys work in any given situation." I made a system that, if followed, will allow you to have more possibilities on your plate. Like if I have a C chord, I can do much more than the standard harmonies permit.

AAJ: So it makes for much richer possibilities.

DL: I would hope that it would make for a much richer palette. Yes.

AAJ: In your biography, you say that your long-time pianist and friend Richie Beirach had similarly expanded harmonies, but from a different angle.

DL: Yes, he was doing something related to mine, and we sometimes worked together. He, as a pianist, had the advantage of getting close to Scriabin and Bartok, because he could play the scores. Richie systematized their music and that of others, and he helped me with my approach and book. He was an expert on it because he studied the classical literature. So did Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. They had definite classical interests. Keith Jarrett went through the whole literature: 500 years of classical music! By contrast, the saxophone literature is only 150 years old and it's very limited in scope. A pianist has the whole history of music in front of him with those 88 keys. The pianist is the real genius in the room!

AAJ: Louis Armstrong was a musical genius who innovated jazz on the trumpet, not the piano.

DL: Yes, but he was a rhythmic genius. He did not change harmony; he changed rhythm. And rhythm of course is where jazz comes from. But Charlie Parker was from another planet. When he arrived from Mars in 1940—that early!—and played the way he did with those lines, harmonically, lyrically, sound, passion—it was earth-shattering. He really changed the diatonic harmonic system. Then in the 1960s, you get McCoy, Herbie, and Chick, and they got out of the box even more.

AAJ: Did Parker incorporate chromaticism?

DL: Absolutely. He played parts of the chord that were melody parts, and he turned them into a structural thing where you had a G 13th, and you had a sharp 11th, which was always there, but he used it in a new way. Above and beyond his amazing technique, he was a real innovator of harmonic structures. What Parker did was amazing.

Personal Interactions in the Jazz Group: Influence on the Music

AAJ: OK, now to change keys in our discussion, are you familiar with a fascinating book by Ingrid Monson called Saying Something (University of Chicago Press, 1956)? She believed that the interpersonal interactions between the musicians while they are playing affects the music that emerges. She tries to prove this with careful research. She transcribed part of a recording by {{Jaki Byard} and his group. Then she interviewed the musicians in the group about their experiences during the recording. She looked at the time sequence and found that their improvisations were connected with the relationships and emotions they had towards one another in any given moment. In other words, the music reflected their psychological interactions as a group.

When we listen to jazz, we seem to be involved subjectively with the musicians along with the music. And we see a "dance" between them, an interaction that affects their playing.

DL: Yes. I think that's true. I do feel that way. But you're saying that Monson actually showed specific instances where musicians have a personal interaction that results, say in a C 7th chord. That's a more scientific way of proving it with facts. I'd have to look at her book to see if she really demonstrates that kind of thing.

AAJ: Do you sometimes feel that your relationship with your group members affects what you play, and sometimes can make it really exciting to hear?

DL: Yes. I usually credit that to familiarity with one another, like in a marriage. You feel and respond to one another's presence instinctively. And to me, jazz is first and foremost a group music. We have our stars, but jazz is music that is typically meant to be done by several players at the same time, and also includes the audience. And of course, if you have some trust in each other, it will affect your musical mates. Whether it affects the exact notes you play isn't clear. But there is definitely a heightened feeling as a result of the interaction.

AAJ: Sonny Rollins said that improvising is spiritual, it comes from another source.

DL: I don't know if it's spiritual. But the one thing about music that makes it different from the other arts is that you can't feel it, you can't touch it. It's there for a moment and then it's gone.

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