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Bill Leikam

His jazz interviews have been published in 28 languages.

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About Me

I began writing about jazz and blues in the early 1980s for Artist Publications. My mainstay was doing interviews with some of the most highly respected artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. (Amazing stories there.) Hal Wilner, at that time music director for Saturday Night Live, was my first encounter/assignment and during that interview I carved out my technique. He had just released a tribute album to Thelonius Monk. That interview was published with reprint rights to about 50 publications. By the mid 80s, my jazz interviews had been published globally in varied languages. In the 1990s I took a break from covering venues to develop an indie record label and to work with an amazing genius, trap drummer, Muruga Booker. (It was not jazz nor a blues oriented label.) I got back into writing jazz reviews late in 2006 because Pete Douglas, proprietor of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society aka the Douglas Beach House asked me to do reviews again and specifically at his venue. I was honored and began writing. Jazz vocalist Tessa Souter has said, after reading my review of Dori Caymmi, “Fantastic evocative piece. So jealous not to have been there! but reading this is like being there.” I try to transport my readership into the concert so as to get just a brief taste as to what it was like so that maybe if they have the opportunity to go see that performer live, they will go and enjoy something quite magical.

My Jazz Story

I love jazz because it is the most soulful music ever created and its never become staid. Instead it continues to develop and age like good wine. I was first exposed to Louis Armstrong's jazz on the radio in the late 50s. I met Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald who became friends. Those are only two of so many great jazz musicians who I've met and came to know. The best show I ever attended was at the Monterey Jazz Festival back in the mid-80s when Oscar Peterson and "Dizzy" Gillespie performed an unscheduled, impromptu duo. As a member of the press I was backstage when it all came down. It touched me so deeply that I cried and still had tears in my eyes when I shook "Dizzy's" hand and said to both of them, "I'll never, ever forget this moment." My advice to new listeners is that if you come to love jazz, look upon it as an ever evolving musical form.

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