Daniel Rosenboom: Fire Keeper


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To say Dan Rosenboom is no ordinary jazz trumpeter, is no exaggeration. His father, David Rosenboom is currently Dean, Richard Seaver Distinguished Chair in Music at the California Institute of the Arts (and has been at CalArts since 1990), and having a first trumpet teacher in the form of Wadada Leo Smith, where others may have rebelled to the surfscape or gone full Charlie Sheen, Daniel is confidently fulfilling his destiny to boom loud and boom proud.

Catching up with Daniel in Los Angeles he elaborated on what he is working on now, chiefly his album Fire Keeper, how he is extending the richness of the Rosenboom musical legacy, and the latest developments of his blossoming new label, Orenda Records.

All About Jazz: Talking about the album Fire Keeper, has to start with talking about where you are from, your genealogy, why you have arrived at this point, the blurb doesn't exactly say...

Daniel Rosenboom: I'm actually Californian, my father grew up in Illinois and my mother grew up in Michigan, so both from the Midwest, they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and I was born in Oakland and then we moved down to LA when I was a kid, so basically I am pretty much a California native.

AAJ: So in terms of older history than that, when you tap into music from different sources, do you see yourself as just American, or do you have other influences?

DR: I have plenty of other influences, I've spent a lot of time playing music from around the world, but especially music from the Balkans. I have another band, PLOTZ! that plays a variety of Balkan traditional music mixed with jazz and metal and other kinds of, I guess, more contemporary American music. But in terms of fusing styles and different influences, that doesn't really have to do so much with an attempt to blend cultures —it's that I appreciate music from all different genres and from all different parts of the world. And I have a lot of it swimming around in my head, so I write, it just comes out kind of as a natural combination.

AAJ: It does, it's nice to hear a young musician who isn't afraid of matching all of his interests equally, it's not straight rock or jazz, you're not trying to be a heavy rock musician, and not trying to be an in-your-face jazz musician, it's subtle, it's not art music in a poncy sense, it's very distinguished and it's easy to listen to.

DR: Thanks very much. It's all just very organic in the way it comes out, it's never really an attempt to say, "I'm going to combine Balkan music with New Orleans street music and metal" or something like that. It's more just like I just hear things a certain way and I can only write what I hear.

AAJ: I suppose you are fortunate, in a sense, in that you have been hearing music from a very young age, your dad, David Rosenboom is a composer isn't he?

DR: Yeah he's a very heavy composer and pianist, a pioneer in electronic and computer music, and has worked with a lot of revolutionary artists. I like telling the story, that my first musical memory is actually sitting on Anthony Braxton's floor...

AAJ: That's not a daily thing is it...

DR: Nooo, noo! My dad was playing piano in his quartet and they were both at Mills College at the same time, and I was about the same age as Anthony's kids, I was 2 years old, or something like that and we were playing with little cars or action figures on the floor while Anthony and my dad were jamming in the living room. I remember just looking up and to me maybe he was playing a bass sax or maybe it was just a baritone who knows, but it seemed like this gigantic piece of metal making this unimaginable sound and I was totally mesmerized. That to me is the first memory that I have of really experiencing music.

AAJ: Have you followed Anthony Braxton since? Did you see him get his NEA Jazz Master 2014 Award?

DR: Yeah I mean I've followed Anthony a bit, never super closely, and we haven't really had very much contact over the course of my life since he left the Bay Area, but I have always appreciated his music and tried to follow it. One nice thing coming around, I think will be pretty cool, at this year's Angel City Jazz Festival, they will hopefully be presenting Anthony Braxton's quartet, as well as my group—probably on different concerts on different nights but it will be cool to share a festival billing with him!

AAJ: I heard Anthony Braxton give his NEA Jazz Master 2014 speech His interest in new systems/models (his tri- centric thought unit construct) to discuss his music, his essence of wanting to put all these concepts together, absorbing lots of different sounds, almost making a classification system like biology, was really fascinating. I can imagine how his sound and how his system would input what you are doing with rock and metal by absorbing more elements of pop and rock music, and what essentially is, would you call it jazz music?

DR:Oh, well, this is a tricky subject, one thing that I think actually is very pertinent in my life, as well as for a lot of my friends and the community that I am part of. How do we classify the music that we are making, especially when it draws from such a wide range of styles and influences? I would say that the album Fire Keeper isn't really a jazz album but it involves a lot of jazz elements. And, as you said, it isn't really a rock album, but it has strong elements of rock and roll and metal, and in a more modern way, so it's not exactly "jazz-fusion" either. And so the question of genre really boils down to marketing, you think about who would really appreciate your music when they are searching in iTunes or something. And that's a really tricky issue, because if I were to classify it I wouldn't necessarily call it jazz, but I don't really know what else I would call it. It's an amalgam of a lot of different things that are just in my consciousness anyway, so to put that into a very narrow category—not that jazz is narrow— but just as a single word makes it difficult—it's sort of hard to swallow I would say.

One reason I like using the term jazz is because, as you can imagine, I have never been a traditionalist when it comes to music, or genre, or anything like that. I would say that my favourite definition of the word jazz comes from Wayne Shorter who said "Jazz means 'I dare you.'" I like that because it embraces the spirit of adventure and experimentation, and really trying to go somewhere beyond. I think that really embodies my approach to just making music in general, whether it's jazz or contemporary classical, or rock and roll or Balkan folk music. I mean, in PLOTZ! (My Balkan group) we never play the music in a traditional way. We just take the tunes and kind of do our own thing with them. I think that's kind of what keeps music rolling forward.

And I think getting bogged down and trying to stick to traditional lines with definitions of genres and stuff like that really clips our wings in a certain sense. When you think of people listening to music on their iPods, you know, they can literally go from Wynton Marsalis to Michael Jackson to Dubstep to black metal to whatever—literally song right after song! You put on shuffle, a million things can come up, all of that swimming around in the air. And I think while there's totally a place for preserving tradition and doing things in a traditional way, that's not particularly my interest. My interest is finding a way to tap into all the things that are going on in my mind and getting them on to record.

AAJ: Classical orchestral musicians are still trying to find a different word for classical, and its connotations of elitism, but jazz doesn't have that issue except that it's seen as cerebral. What are you doing to get kids into your music? There are words on your website, alluding to drawing young people away from chart music and getting them listening to the full palette of music that's out there.

DR: Well interestingly enough, I would say my experience in LA spans all different generations, from— well mostly speaking for jazz, from the 20s crowd, most of the time the younger ones can't get into the clubs, hahaha—all the way up to elderly folks. I think one of the things that makes my music and my community, particularly accessible to a wide range of audience, it that it is actually a little more abstract, but dealing with sounds, energies and emotions that people can access, so they can hear things in a new way. I would say that the LA audience is pretty adventurous. I do a lot of classical work in town as well and even the audience for the LA Philharmonic is really diverse. There are a lot of young people who go to the symphony, and also the typical traditional classical music crowd. They program a ton of new music at the LA Phil. There are quite a few contemporary classical music series like the Monday Evening Concerts, Jacaranda music and a few other things that makes LA a really friendly place to do experimental and contemporary music. I think the outside world doesn't realize about being on the ground floor here in LA there's a very progressive attitude towards art. That very sentiment led me and several of my artist friends to form a collective that we call Creative Underground Los Angeles. This is essentially a loose collection of artists who are dedicated to creating new, interdisciplinary collaborative works and really pushing each other beyond where we might go on our own. And that's getting a lot of traction and interest over the last year and a half, within the community as well.

One thing we put in our mission statement that is really true about LA is that it's a hotbed, almost a Mecca if you will, for creative people. A lot of times they come here because they think they can get into "the industry," but then essentially exist in the cracks between the mainstream entertainment industry. The industry is what it is and is always going to be a fairly tight-knit, let's say difficult to breach, career direction. But there are so many creative people with brilliant ideas who are just operating on the ground floor here in incredibly inspiring ways. As you were mentioning classical music, there's a wonderful group in town called Wild Up that's all young people making classical music, commissioning new works, and they are getting rave reviews and really great crowds and everything. And that's just one example of how the spirit here in LA can be really musically adventurous. Also the underground experimental electronic music world is really blowing up here in LA.

All by way of saying, there is a spirit amongst the people who live here of really being hungry and ready to try new things. And whether that is taking a Dubstep kid to the symphony or taking an older person to a rock concert or bringing into a jazz club music like mine that fuses all these things together along with a video artist, and possibly a dancer, or things like that, or doing almost sort of like a pop show set design in a jazz club and then playing some really experimental music. It really is exciting for people and I think they are ready for it. They are really hungry for something that is not only new but deep with many layers, and has a connection with tradition but takes it somewhere new.

And I think that in terms of the label Orenda Records, that is our aim. We are looking to create albums that people cannot just listen to over and over, but find something new each time, and can really take people on a journey. Music is about way more than a "single" that lasts 3 minutes. Music and ceremony have been completely intertwined from the beginning of time. Music is always part of major transformative and even spiritual experiences and it has a power that is way, way beyond listening to a single and bouncing around in a car or on a train or whatever.

I think that young people especially want that, I have done a lot of outreach shows in elementary schools not with my own music but with a brass quintet that does a survey of classical music and we talk to the kids about where the instruments came from and they are hooked from the minute we start playing till the end of a 45 minute assembly, and we're talking about 6 year olds. I think it's natural for humans to crave that kind of experience, and the "authorities" of music have a responsibility to provide it.

AAJ: I agree. In the UK we are suffering from chart influence too much, don't want to talk too much about politics and religion but I think these things can be talked about in the context of your music. In terms of the totality of a nation, if you describe them as one religion or a plurality, when it comes to pop music, there's no face for religion anymore, it's not quaint or gentile music, it's just about throwing themselves in front of a screen and screaming for 3 minutes. This craving that you've been defining is kind of like folk memory, that undefined something, maybe you aren't religious anymore but you still need that connection with the Earth and the people around you and what it is to be alive. You talk about this album Fire Keeper, as something that connects you with "Tadodaho," this Iroquois history, basically their humanitarianism, being good to the people around you and then they're good to you goes deeper. If you confine people, not in the limiting sense, but give them the nutrition to develop as human beings rather than aggressive people who just want to corrupt each other, you will build a better environment. It's difficult to understand how the testosterone in rock and metal doesn't corrupt you a little bit...

DR: Sure, what I would say is those sounds that have to do with the rock metal music aren't, from my perspective, inherently aggressive; I would call them inherently exciting. I think the way that I try to use them in my music is basically to create a sense of power, a sense of like that edge of your seat excitement, that sort of white knuckle driving feeling, but not from a place of anger, it's more from a place of joy, it's more from a place releasing the energy that's inside that leaves you in a way elated.

If you think about the quintessential symphony, let's say Beethoven's 5th Symphony, he has to take you through turmoil in order to get to the elation at the end. And without the turmoil there isn't the drama that makes the ending so powerful. If you start by listening to the 4th movement of that symphony, it's beautiful, but it doesn't have the emotional weight of the complete listening experience. So in terms of putting the album together you've got to have ups and down and ebbs and flows...

AAJ: You don't need ffffs all the time though?

DR: No, you don't need 4 ffffs all the time. This music is definitely more in the loud rock and roll vein to a certain extent, but at the same time you can create different dimensions of intensity with texture, density and instrumentation. I don't think that the rock elements are inherently aggressive, I think of them as celebratory and exciting. When I hear certain kinds of metal and rock and roll, it's not that I feel aggressive, it's that I want to throw my hands in the air and yell because it's fun to me, and so that in my music is the moment when I want to go, "YYYYEAH!"

AAJ: Yeah, I understand. I suppose I was thinking of the Shenandoah quote about "insulating people from corruption and greed." Not so many people have had the capacity that you have had to learn at the rate and in the environment that you have, and sometimes it's a little bit easier for them to become corrupted and see the necessity to become greedy so giving them an excuse to be rowdy and scream and shout isn't necessarily an elational experience for them. Maybe that's a bit too deep for a music interview..

DR: That's a complex question for sure. In terms of that particular quote, the music isn't so much dedicated to that specifically. There's a particular club in LA called the Blue Whale club, run by a really wonderful human being called Joon Lee. And that Shenandoah quote in the liner notes is written on the ceiling of the club, along with a Rumi poem, "Listening," and the Hafiz poem, "A Great Need." And I've actually written music inspired by each of those writings on the ceiling because, in creating the Blue Whale, Joon provided a community that was really in need of a home for their creative expression with a place where we can really do what we believe in, and there's no expectation that things fit a particular style or genre.

Joon has had every kind of music you can imagine in there. And I just love the way that he has cultivated that environment. So I actually see him as a kind of Tadodaho, which is the Onandaga word for "Fire Keeper" or "Chief," so that tune was dedicated to him. It seemed appropriate for the whole vibe of the album and how it all came together to draw the title from that, and to include the Shenandoah quote in the liner notes. I wouldn't necessarily say I started there— it just became something that was integrated through the liner notes for Fire Keeper that Gary Fukushima wrote...

AAJ: The DotD for AAJ from Fire Keeper is "Leaving Moscow" did you leave Moscow, what's the connection?

DR: Well, I was on tour in Moscow with the pop singer Josh Groban. It was the first date before a European tour and it was quite surprising to me to witness this stark juxtaposition of Czar era opulence and communist era, spartan kind of housing and architecture —it's really right next to each other. And that particular tune, I wrote all the riffs and the bass line and some of the melodic content on the bus ride out of Moscow, and each time I would look up from the paper and look outside I would see communist housing blocks next to palaces and Ferrari's driving next to Yugo's. It was just a really bizarre juxtaposition.

It terms of the title it felt appropriate because of the arc of the tune, it puts these seemingly incongruous grooves and vibes next to each other, but then comes out in this rising kind of hopeful, forward looking mentality. That's generally the feeling I had while on the bus out of Moscow.

AAJ: Did you get a chance to meet up with any local Moscow musicians?

DR: Unfortunately not, we were there for only a couple of days. I would love to go back and immerse myself more in the culture. We didn't really have much time to do anything other than a little bit of walking around and do our arena show.

AAJ: In terms of your progression from that tour with Josh Groban and getting the label together, you've been part of a lot of aggressive game sounds, what is the timeline?

DR: Basically my background is as a classical musician. And I was hell bent on being a classical orchestral musician through most of college. But by the time I was finishing my under graduate degree I felt like I wanted to expand into other kinds of music and I moved back to LA to do some graduate work both at UCLA and California Institute of the Arts. During that time experimented with a lot of different things, such as playing with Vinny Golia, and doing a lot of sort of free improvised music. And I still play with Vinny and his sextet to this day. That's an amazing thing because he writes in an almost Stravinskian style, an intervallic, angular kind of music which is really difficult, and then you have to basically improvise those concepts in a free context and it's really awesome. That was a very formative experience.

Also, working with this Balkan-Jazz-Metal band, PLOTZ!— I started playing with them while I was still at Cal Arts, and we've been playing for almost a decade now. That's been a very formative thing as well. But still, I have basically been making my living as a classical musician in LA doing freelance work and whatever I can do that way.

All of that came together in a variety of ways but I realised that what I really wanted to be doing is leading groups and playing my own music that fused all these things that were swimming around in my mind. So I started playing more in the jazz community with my own projects, which previously included an acoustic septet, and now this electric quintet.

The first time I went on the road with Josh Groban was actually in 2011. That was one of those moments where I was literally looking at my bank statement and sitting on the couch going, "Man, I rrreally need a big gig to come in," and the phone rang and they were in need of a trumpet player and I flew out and met them in the middle of their tour and toured for 5 months with them. After that there wasn't any touring for another year and a half or so. So I worked on my own stuff in town and we started Creative Underground Jazz Collective at the very beginning of 2013.

AAJ: How many bands are involved with the Creative Underground Los Angeles?

DR: It's a loose collection, there are probably around 17 core members, who are the main driving force and we bring in people from the community whenever we can to participate in various projects. Mostly, we're looking for serious artists, who are working in LA, have an original voice, and interested in collaborating. The biggest thing with the CULA is the collaborative element thing, it's more about putting artists from different disciplines together and saying "Ok, you've got a show on this date, now come up with something spectacular!" And then they all throw their ideas around and then they work it out. The whole idea is to create new work out of those collaborations. That's been going strong for about a year-and-a-half.

Then we flew to Moscow with Josh Groban at the beginning of May 2013, and were in Europe for about 6 weeks. I knew that I wanted to record the quintet album by September 2013 so I had most of the tunes written but then wrote a couple of others while on the road with Josh.

I came back and released my previous album Book of Omens in July—we did a live show and concert film of that and then did a little bit more touring through late July and August with Josh Groban. Then I recorded Firekeeper in September, and then went off and did an American tour with Josh through October and the beginning November. Pretty much founded Orenda Records in November, talked to a bunch of friends who were looking to put their music out and a lot of people jumped on board right away. Now we have potentially 11 releases by the end of the year.

AAJ: That's 11 records in one year basically isn't it?

DR: Yeah, a lot of the projects were projects with artists who I really respect and who I work with a lot anyway. We were all looking for a hub that would represent us really well. The way that Orenda Records came about was, I have always really admired people like John Zorn, Vinny Golia, Dave Douglas, who are absolutely the top level of musician, but who also really promote community by putting out peoples albums and supporting music that wouldn't otherwise have a home.

I had always thought that was something I wanted to do and had been thinking about it for almost 10 years. And I was talking to a friend of mine, who follows labels pretty regularly, and asked if he had any suggestions for labels to pitch Fire Keeper to. He said, "No man, you should just start your own." And I don't think he realized that that was the tipping point. I don't think he released I'd been thinking about doing that for like 10 years. And so I said "OK, I'm going to do it." And the concept came together to do this kind of boutique style label and my graphic design and art work partner, Eron Rauch, who is super into checking out independent music and design and totally on board from the beginning to help create a look and a vibe.

AAJ: You have a really nice website Orenda Records, it's easy to navigate...

DR: Thank you! A lot of that has been trial and error, because basically I do all the website design myself. Websites should be inherently simple and easy to access the content. We launched it as a legitimate entity January 1 2014. Since then we have put out a beautiful album by Cathlene Pineda, a wonderful composer and pianist. And then my record, and we now have 4-5 records in the wings that are just on the cusp of being ready to come out. I am really excited about where Orenda Records can go. I think that's one of my proudest achievements so far is getting the label off the ground.

AAJ: It's pretty amazing to see a new label in this MP3 climate. It must be difficult to want to support your friends, etc. What is your business plan, how do you support each other?

DR: Sure. This kind of music has a niche audience that is very spread out. It can be really hard to release a jazz album and sell 1000 copies straight away, it almost never happens. What we're focusing on at this point is making really beautiful packages and as we develop, to try to get more creative with that side of things. We want to make physical products that are collectors' items, target people who are really into the ritual of putting the vinyl on the player/turntable, sitting down and listening to the music as a ritual experience.

There are lots of vinyl communities have online forums and trade amongst themselves, tell each other what's cool, what they should be getting. We start off by having our artists press 500 CDs and possibly 100 vinyl and really making them gorgeous. And the music will always be available online via Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes but I try to encourage buying through our website or Bandcamp because there are no intermediaries to take a cut, it goes straight to the artist.

And the same thing with physical copies if people buy through our website rather than going through a service like CD Baby, even though those are well established reputable and valuable services.

AAJ: In terms of the youth market I can understand your passion for making a beautiful product that you can read and hold, rather than the quick list on an iPod shuffle. Are teenagers listening to more art music type products or is the market predominantly 30s-40s still hanging on for the CD experience?

DR: I don't think so, if you look at market trends, the only format in physical form that's actually on the rise is vinyl. We're actually working towards having as much of our catalogue in vinyl as possible. We'll be releasing Firekeeper later this year as a special edition on vinyl, as well as some other projects. One thing we're considering for certain projects is only vinyl releases, with download links for either bonus material or mp3s printed on the packaging, so people can get either one. I think basically this idea of creating music that people listen to as a ritual that they listen to for the length of an album is a hard sell when you're doing it digitally, because people are listening on their phones, computers and doing a million other things.

If you put on a turntable, put a CD in a player, it is a tactile experience, and it will still play in the background, even if you're on your laptop or phone and you have a better chance to experience the whole thing, or finding a hidden moment that you didn't know was there. And I think with regards to the demographic of the market, the older generation seems to prefer physical format over digital, in general. That is somewhat of a toss- up whether they would prefer CD or vinyl. The 30-40-somethings, from my experience, tend to prefer vinyl but are more ready to purchase a CD because they often don't own a turntable. I would say the 20-30 range is very much into vinyl, and here in LA, there are pop-up vinyl shops, buying and trading used or new vinyl products. There's even a little bit of resurgence in interest in cassettes.

AAJ: No way, really?

DR: Yeah... there are cassette only shops close to where I live which I think is a passing retro fad, but I think the vinyl thing is real because people really do like having the big artwork, they like putting it on display in their home. There's a really cool, tactile experience with putting a vinyl on a turntable and then half way through you have to stand up and turn it over, or turn it off. You actually have to be actively involved, and I think people really like that. In a weird way what I've noticed is there is resurgence in the younger crowd of interest in checking out more of a variety of different kinds of live music. And that translates directly to having physical copies of the music in their possession, because it feels like more of a live experience, especially when you're listening to a turntable.

AAJ: It is like one set followed by another.

DR: Yeah, exactly, and part of the whole sort-of bubble-gum pop MTV—well let's say later MTV, early MTV was pretty cool but later MTV, I think, really lost it—and the focus on smaller and smaller and less complicated bits of information is having a backlash.

I think people want to have an interpersonal experience with the music that they listen to, whether going to live shows or buying products. And people really appreciate buying music directly from the artist, and that's a nice trend. All of these are smaller trends than the big labels see, but I don't think we even really need to worry about competing with them. If we can sell 500 copies of a CD we've got enough to press 1000 more—it's more about being sustainable than making a profit for the company. For the artists it's more about having their music out there and having it available and associated to a community of other like-minded artists who are all pushing the envelope in similar ways in terms of principle and very different ways in terms of actual music.

AAJ: A lot of the music you are describing, from LA especially, is multi-artform and includes dance, video and games. How did you get into game and film music?

DR: I don't write music for games but I have recorded as a trumpet player in an orchestra for video games. That's like the other side of my career, as the freelance classical player for games, film and TV. I haven't actually written original music for any of those formats, although I did recently put it out on Facebook that I am interested in scoring films. I think that's something that I could really get into.

AAJ: You could add another dimension. Action films aren't that cerebral, the graphics and animation are fantastic but the plots are samey, different composers would be fun.

DR: Who knows, we'll see what happens, that's a whole industry in itself as well.

AAJ: You're in the right place.

DR: It's true, I think putting it out into the universe is a big step, and also one thing that would be wonderful that I'm keeping my fingers crossed to see if it ever happens. I can't necessarily say that I'm taking an active role in pursuing this, finding a director who really likes the kind of music that I make and creating a relationship—almost like a Tim Burton/Danny Elfman kind of thing—would be really cool to me. Who knows if that will ever happen, but hey, you never know!

AAJ: What human attribute do you most like about the sound you make with the trumpet?

DR: Oh, well...hmm I would say that there is a way to kind of affect emotion with the tone of the trumpet that's almost more viscerally immediate and almost instinctual in listeners, the trumpet is such an ancient concept of an instrument, it goes all the way back to conch shells and ram's horns. And it's fundamentally used as a "signal" instrument. Alerting of important events or that danger is approaching, announcing something glorious, or playing taps at a funeral like the death of a soldier. The way that you shape a single note can really hit somebody in the heart, that in a way that is pretty unique for the trumpet. Using that awareness of how the tone affects emotion you can really create a visceral experience for your listeners and it is an incredibly physical experience for the player. It is a total body immersion experience, from breathing deeply and using your whole torso and legs to generate the sound, to feeling your face and head vibrate—you feel like you are exploding when you are really going for it. I love that.

AAJ: So you're totally engaged with the instrument, it's not just a piece of metal?

DR: No. Every instrument family has an explanation of how close they are to the human voice, but if you think about the physics of it, brass instruments are the only family that operate by having vibrating human tissue on the air column to create the sound. The metal is essentially an amplifier for the sound that you create with your own body. But then it's more than an amplifier too because it pushes back in a certain way and you can feel connected vibrations from the feet to the end of the bell in terms of the vibration and it really feels like a physically visceral experience to both play and listen to the trumpet.

AAJ: Desert island question, which 2 classical and 2 jazz artists?

DR: Ok for Classical: these are like if I can have their catalogue of their music on a desert island, trying to sneak a little more in there... It may be cliché but I would have to go with J S Bach, because the balance and grace with which every line is constructed is just awe-inspiring. I am waffling between Stravinsky and Bartok. I would have to go Bartok—I find his music is a little more emotionally raw, there are pieces of Stravinsky that are totally emotionally raw, so I know that's a bit of a stretch, but I especially gravitate towards the Bartok string quartets and the piano music.

For jazz: I think I would have to go with Miles Davis because there is conviction, economy and pure class in everything that he played and you can go across the whole of his catalogue and you just feel absolutely like a total commitment to every note and phrase—that to me is really admirable and inspiring. And to say nothing of his brilliance in putting together a band or his sense of adventure in expanding the idiom! I would have to go with late John Coltrane, post Love Supreme, just because of that visceral, exploding nature of the spirituality in the music.

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