Recently I filmed a new documentary called Portrait of a Jazz Artist: Innokenty Ivanov
, which follows a Moscow-based Ukrainian jazz artist performing at the Jazz Province Festival, and in the recording studio recording "Cuban Fantasy," a song composed by my good friend Robin Blakeman, a UK saxophonist.
How do you discover new artists?
With Facebook and Youtube it has become easy. But in Russia I just go out to the clubs because every show allows me to further my jazz friendships with new artists.
If you were a professional musician, which instrument would you play and why?
Hands down it would be the piano. I've always had an affinity for that instrument as far back as I can remember, and really started to attempt to learn it back in the early 1970's when I was introduced to the music of Stevie Wonder. I recall sitting for hours listening to an LP over and over again just to get the right notes and chords from a song.
What's your desert island disc?
In this day and age, I have all my favorites just sitting on my telephone... but if I was forced to choose I would pick either The Intimate Ella
or Ella and Oscar
. Or Crystal
by Ahmad Jamal
by Stevie Wonder...or...man, I would just have to find a way to keep the darned cellphone charged!
Do you have a favorite jazz anecdote?
When I was in high school, Buddy Rich came to play at our school and I was enthralled. As I was working in Audio Visual, I had an opportunity to try to get an autograph from him. He had a young blond woman on his arm when I approached him and directly asked him for his autograph. He smiled at me and said, "Get away from me kid." I should have been insulted but I took it as a badge of honorI had experienced up close his acerbic wit.
What do you think keeps jazz alive and thriving?
I think that the influx of international artists into the genre has pumped new life into jazz. This is why I so love traveling to Russia and other countries to see all sorts of talented and inspired young artists playing and re-interpreting some of the great standards from my lifetime.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Each year I host a "Jazz BBQ" at my home. We bring in a local jazz group to play for neighbors and friends. It's nice to be able to bring local jazz to people who might not ever get a chance to hear it live.
Finish this sentence: Life without music would be...
...a good indication that I have shuffled off of this mortal coil.