AAJ: Is that why you stopped making records for almost ten years until a couple of years ago?
FK: No. I didn't publish anything for those years because I was spending most of that time on various spiritual retreats, in South Asia and elsewhere, meditating and studying. I had made a decision that the most important thing I could do was go as deep as I could into the feeling of this music. That naturally led me to trying to be honest with myself about the things that were holding me back.
I identified that as my 'self' [laughs] so I made a conscious effort to address that as directly as I could. I was still involved with music when I wasn't on retreat, but trying to get records out and be part of the business was not my focus. I realized that life was short and I'd better follow where my inquiry was leading now if I was real about where the music needed to go. I really wanted to go further, [laughs] and wherever that took me I had to go.
AAJ: Back in the present Franklin, is this band a working band and are you focused on getting gigs?
FK: Yes, absolutely. It's our wish and our intention that we're out there as much as possible playing for the people that can benefit from what we are doing. It's at the beginning of the process of reaching people with this music. The goal in all of this is to go play for the people we're reaching. All of us are really looking forward to that and how the music will inevitably grow from performance to performance.
AAJ: The very best of luck with this endeavor. Franklin, where do you see your music going from here?
FK: I see it going further, [laughs]. I'm looking forward to playing with this group and doing subsequent recordings. There are other formats I want to explore as well. Right now, I am hopeful that this record will contribute to an increased awareness of what we're doing. The main thing is taking this band on the road and the beauty of that is that each time we play the music will evolve. Each time we play it'll be a happening.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.