Interview with Jake Mason: Soul always wins for me! Video

Jazz interview with jazz organist, songwriter, producer, educator Jake Mason. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Jake Mason: – I grew up outside of the main city area in the country. Lots of fresh air and time to tinker with instruments.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the organ? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the organ?

JM: – I began really getting into the Hammond Organ towards the end of my University music studies. At that time my main instrument was alto saxophone and while I still really love playing saxophone, the sound of the Hammond Organ grabbed me! I also love being involved in both the rhythm section and the front line something you can’t do on a saxophone. On the organ I am predominately self taught but have had lots of influence from the organ greats such as Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Larry Goldings and others.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

JM: – Part of playing the organ, just like most other instruments is constantly working and refining your sound. While most of this is done in a physical playing sense there is also working on your organ rig. I have built and modified many Leslie speakers (the speaker for the Hammond Organ) and through trial and error have found some great combinations to get the sound that I’m after. It can even at times get a little engulfing and you have to step back and regroup on the creative playing side.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

JM: – One of the big challenges when playing organ in an Organ Trio is maintaining rhythmic basslines in your left hand while improvising over the top in your right. I have spent lots of time working on this and freeing things up as much as possible while still holding down the groove.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

JM: – For me I love variety! Sometimes I’m happy on a one or 2 chord groove but on another day I’ll want to mix it up with more colors and complicated chords.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

JM: – Soul always wins for me! You can theorize about an approach to playing or what the best composition should be, but really you only really know if something is good when you get in there,  use your soul and bring it to life by playing it.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

JM: – A particular gig always pops into my memory when I reminisce about ‘great gigs’! It was 1am and we set up right in the middle of an already heavily packed dance floor. There was no PA just our instruments cranked and we played a nonstop instrumental funk set of an hour in amongst everyone dancing!

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

JM: – Its a big problem with the Jazz that it has an ‘old fashioned’ stigma about it. It’s up to us as todays performers to breath new life into it and give it a twist so its not just a carbon copy of 50 years ago.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

JM: – Now this is a conversion that requires a really good bottle or 2 of red wine and a feast to dig in deep!

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

JM: – Not a thing, I love it the way it is! Creating a musical short cut would upset the balance!

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

JM: – I’m really varied, I like to hear new music and get inspired when I hear something fresh and on the flipside I’m a sucker for something nostalgic. With the streaming revolution, I love the fact that I can find new music or inspiration via a single track instantly but also like I can dive into my record collection and put on a favorite LP or CD with liner notes and listen to the whole album.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

JM: – Drop me off in 1966 in the USA and I’ll take a road trip, so much great music happening then!

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

JM: – What is your take on the future of Jazz? How can we keep it alive and take it to the next level?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. In my humble opinion, the jazz was, has remained and will remain alive and on account to the next level, this great jazz musicians will decide not to you!!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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Threads spin into the open: From the luck of improvising in the no man’s land of jazz – an encounter with the Berlin harpist Kathrin Pechloff: Video

Between heaven and earth, the music of Kathrin Pechlof moves in an airy intermediate realm. Down below, where gravity is on the increase, contrabassist Robert Landfermann makes his rounds and sometimes lends a handful of wood to the sound.

At the top, where the oxygen is already decreasing, Christian Weidner’s alto saxophone traverses the widths that she spans with her harp on slender, vibrato-free wings. Sometimes, however, an abrupt roll exchange occurs when Kathrin Pechlof penetrates into the deep registers to the Contra-C and Landfermann explores with the bow finest Flageolettfärbungen.

On two albums of the Munich-based label Pirouet, the language of this trio, which is always clearly articulated in the floating, has meanwhile been recorded. “Imaginarium” was released in 2013 – and a few weeks ago “Toward the Unknown”. An impressionistically changing sound mobile in the growing no-man’s-land of jazz and new music with rhythmically surprising gripping moments. The pieces, mostly of magical silence, are predominantly improvised, but are based on carefully composed basic shapes and motifs that sometimes come together in a traditional fugue. This form awareness is no coincidence.

Kathrin Pechlof studied classical harp in Munich. The “original familiar” of this musical world, which reaches back into childhood, still bounces on it. The love for fixed points in the repertoire, such as Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, is unbroken, and when in the concert hall the force of a full orchestra passes through her, it can still happen that she stumbles home stunned. But the performing musician has given in to the inner voice that she has been calling for many years to devote herself entirely to improvised music.

What began with excursions in jazz-affine regions and finally culminated in a one-year jazz composition course in Cologne, is now very much in demand. For three years, she says during a conversation in her adopted home of Berlin, she has not played a single classical concert. While practicing the old notes are often indispensable, especially the distance to the sociotope classic but growing.

This also has to do with the feeling of interchangeability that she did not even get to know in jazz. “People are often thrown together for a single concert without much interpersonal contact and may be dealing with a conductor they have never met before. Although I find it quite uplifting to be a cog in the machinery of a Mahler symphony. But most of the time you sit around at the harp position and wait until you are allowed to play your seven bars.”

Conspiratorial proximity

What she has experienced in a happy community in the numerous formations of her career is even more true for her trio, where almost everything is involved in the personalities involved. In the course of time, a conspiratorial proximity has developed, which can initiate major musical changes with the help of tiny gestures. Anyway, where the borderline between the artistic and the private is at stake, it’s hard to say any more.

Robert Landfermann has become a good friend – and Christian Weidner even her husband. Together with her, she also curates the Serious Series, which begins in mid-September, with improvised music. One of those self-organized festivals in which the German scene on the axis Berlin – Cologne – Paris reveals all its wealth.

Her own way of improvising describes her as research work. On the one hand she shuns everything idiomatic and in formulas solidified of jazz, on the other hand her instrument is not that easy. “Licks and Scales,” she says, “do not exist with me in the same way that other Sonny Rollins or John Coltrane think. I make small studies of what I have improvised and then take that into my vocabulary. In the trio, we just as often spin our strings without any prescription.”


Beyond codified playing techniques, she has no interest in manipulating the sounds of her harp like Zeena Parkins does. “Whether I play Debussy or my own pieces: I do everything with my hands and do not use electronics.” For a while she tried an arsenal of sound-altering equipment, even working with a looper. The result left her cold.

She had a lot of stuff around, but hardly used it. “Even the seconds it took to bring a piece of wood to the string to make a sound became annoying to me. The harp is great to prepare with paper, cloth or felt. In the New Music, which I have played a lot, such extended techniques are used regularly. Ultimately, they remain an experiment. ”

She does not want to be fixated on sounds that she does not get rid of so quickly: “I want to be able to react flexibly when the situation changes.” The truthfulness she seeks does not even allow stylistic contortions. The existing six and a half octaves, each with seven diatonic tuned strings, which can be raised by the pedals by up to two semitones and thus receive their chromatic differentiation, are enough for them. “Of course I can set up a blues scale on the harp. But she’s just not built for such phrases, not to mention that the harp has nothing to do with the blues culture. She has something aristocratic about her – even if I try to stay away from it. ”

Faible for the colors

So their music, with all admiration for the great colorists of jazz from Duke Ellington to Henry Threadgill, has a distinctively European character. It has recently been enhanced by a string quartet that expands its trio to septet – although the new members, including violinist Biliana Voutchkova and double bassist Dieter Manderscheid, are seasoned improvisers and by no means make the nicely arranged icing on the cake. The pieces have remained the same, they are now being interpreted completely new.

Kathrin Pechlof composes at the piano. There she has all twelve notes of the octave available, and she thinks afterwards how certain ideas of sound can be transferred to the harp. “Writing, thinking about every sixteenth note for weeks on end, and improvising complements each other,” she says. “I measure the field in between. In contrast to the merely notated, where there is a work with x reference shots, through which one has to pave his way. ”

She also likes to improvise on given structures as she plunges into completely free play. The immersion in this cosmos has become a real need for her. Breaks in continuity avenge quickly. After three or four days of not playing, she complains, the instrument sounds strange. The cornea has receded, the obviousness of the touch must be reconquered laboriously.

Thus, the harp was part of their summer holiday, literally complaining about family luggage and relieving their souls. “For me, there is nothing better than sitting down and finding that space of reflection. You hug the instrument, and its sound flows through your whole body. I wish this engagement with each human being – no matter what instrument. “One can now get an idea of ​​the happiness that lies in the collective nights of the Berlin jazz collective.

Sechseinhalb Oktaven, 1001 Welt. Die Harfenistin Kathrin Pechlof.

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A masterful biography of Leonard Cohen reveals a selfish man with irresistible charm: Video

21.09. – Happy Birthday !!! At the age of 80, Leonard Cohen has created a masterpiece. It’s a smoky, late-night concoction delivered with a deceptively light touch that masks deep seriousness.

Opening track Slow proves a gentle curtain raiser, played out with wry humour over a bluesy electric piano, Cohen taking the opportunity to dismiss notions that advancing years might be responsible for the sedate pace of the music: “It’s not because I’m old/ It’s not what dying does/ I always liked it slow/ Slow is in my blood.”

The band builds throughout the track and those that follow with splashes of organ, the flutter of percussion, the fruity push of horns and harmonic sweetness of female backing vocals, each new element adding warmth and depth. The past few years of constant gigging seem to have emboldened Cohen to let his band have some headway, at long last ditching the constricted keyboard and drum machine sound he has favoured since the late Eighties. And where better singers battle decaying vocal cords and diminishing range, Cohen embraces it all, growly edges fraying his whispery baritone with bluesman gravitas.

The ‘popular problems’ he addresses involve internecine conflict, viewing civil war through the metaphor of human relationships and vice versa, illuminating the macrocosm in the microcosm of troubled times.

Almost Like the Blues frets at the darkness in the human soul, evoking the story of “the gipsies and the Jews”. Genocidal, geopolitical conflict lurks in these grooves but Cohen doesn’t pin his colours to any mast. The epic Born a Slave examines his Judaic roots while the astonishing Nevermind focuses on the plight of other displaced people, an inspirational flourish of Arabic singing implying compassionate identification with Israel’s historic enemies. Samson in New Orleans addresses cultural divides in America while the beautifully ruminative A Street views a battle from the perspective of a divided love affair: “You put on a uniform to fight the civil war/ You looked so good I didn’t care what side you were fighting for”.

Cohen’s couplets are so satisfying, you can’t help but smile when he reaches the inevitable rhyme, even when the underlying message is disturbing. He is not afraid of ambiguity but doesn’t use it to disguise woolly thinking. There is always a sense of deeper layers of meaning, images that linger and ideas to contemplate when the music fades. The album ends, rather wonderfully, with breezy anthem You Got Me Singing, suggesting Cohen is in no hurry to leave the stage: “You got me singing even though the world is gone/ You got me thinking that I’d like to carry on/ You got me singing even though it all looks grim/ You got me singing the Hallelujah hymn.” Hallelujah to that.

This notorious ladies’ man, Leonard Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons concludes more than once in her enthralling, meticulously researched account, would have made a very good rabbi. Never mind that Cohen – poet, singer, 78 – is also an ordained Buddhist; had attained the grade of Senior Dianetic, Grade IV Release in the Church of Scientology in 1969 before falling out with the organisation; and knows a hell of a lot about scripture. A grandson of a rabbi, Cohen was born into a priestly class in Montreal’s old, thriving Jewish community. But a keen interest in the profane – in sex and drugs, if not exactly rock’n’roll – has made him, instead, one of popular music’s most unflinching sages.

Fans of long-standing will know Cohen as the singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, whose devastating verses have the tensile strength of haikus. Those of us in his thrall, Simmons included, have no trouble claiming that he leaves Dylan in the dust for skewering the human condition. Songs about break-ups and hard-ons sit next to prostrations before higher powers, often female, just as often, unknowable. With his depressive’s grasp of the puny moral wraiths we are comes an active sense of the absurd, too, and some hair-raising tales.

The time when Cohen single-handedly stopped a riot at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival is well-documented. Less well known is the time his band, only weeks earlier, arrived onstage at a French festival on horseback and were derided for acting like rock stars. Or when, in 1977, while working on the Death of a Ladies’ Man album, producer Phil Spector puts a gun to Cohen’s neck and tells him he loves him. “I hope you do, Phil,” replies Cohen with characteristic dryness.

Latterly, though, Cohen has reached a wider renown as “that guy who wrote Hallelujah”, now a TV talent competition staple, whose many ironies include the fact that its parent album was rejected by his record company in 1983. Hallelujah’s path to ubiquity has so many meanders that there is an entire book devoted to it, due out in December. Simmons explores it here in the context of a long career in which Cohen’s songs often go on to have lives of their own, often for other paymasters. His effusive Russian mother warns him to beware of shysters, a warning that would come to be prophetic.

As befits the authorised biographer, Simmons assiduously tracks all Cohen’s works – the poetry, fiction and music – as components of the same artistic arc, painstakingly interviewing his literary peers, producers and session musicians, as well as the key female figures in Cohen’s mythology – the sainted Marianne Ihlen (So Long, Marianne); the Montreal Suzanne of the tea and oranges; Suzanne Elrod, the mother of his children; and latterday partners Rebecca De Mornay and Anjani Thomas. Dozens get away; the interplay in art of Cohen’s convoluted love life could easily fill another 600 pages on its own.

If Simmons’s book has a weak spot, it is one she alludes to throughout: everyone, but everyone, is putty in Cohen’s hands. Only two people have a bad word to say here about the selfish, philandering, commitment-phobic vagabond who dumps his women to go off and hang out in war zones such as Cuba (Marianne) and Israel (Suzanne Elrod, who’d just given birth to their first child, Adam). The son of his former manager, Steven Machat, confesses he never liked him, but helps him nonetheless.

Even his then-partner Anjani Thomas’s ex-husband, a music industry lawyer, gives Cohen his legal time for free and eventually becomes his manager. How? Simmons posits the young Cohen was a great hypnotist, who practised on the maid. (A 1985 poem, “Days Of Kindness”, apologises to Marianne and her son, Axel.)

With a delicious grasp of karma, the zeitgeist wound its way back round to Cohen in 2004, when a financial betrayal of the greatest magnitude struck. Semi-retired, Cohen was a practising monk at the Mt Baldy centre outside Los Angeles, serving his long-time master, the centenarian Roshi Joshu Sasaki, when he heard through the grapevine that all his money was gone. His trusted longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, had been draining his accounts. A long, ugly legal battle ensued, one that, alone, could yet again fill another tome, involving complex suits and counter-suits, bikinis and Swat teams; Simmons handles it all masterfully.

So the sage reluctantly came down from the mountain and started singing for his supper again. Latterday albums – 2004’s Dear Heather and this year’s Old Ideas – and a valedictory two-year world tour have, belatedly, established Cohen as a household name and earned him more money than he lost ($10m-$13m, Simmons reckons).

Gossips might want to know more about the scene when Suzanne turfs Marianne out of the house on the island of Hydra. Perhaps this might not be the biography that Cohen, the man, deserves. But it is the definitive volume on the guy right at the top of the tower of song.

Leonard Cohen's new album is a smoky, late-night concoction delivered with a deceptively light touch'

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Slam Stewart a distinguished jazz bassist celebrated for singing along with his solos: Video

21.09. – Happy Birthday !!! Mr. Stewart, whose professional career began in the mid-1930’s, played bass in groups led by Benny Goodman, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner and other leading musicians. During his stint in the popular duo Slim and Slam, with the singer and guitarist Slim Gaillard, he was co-author of several hit tunes, most notably the duo’s novelty song, ”Flat Foot Floogie With the Floy Floy.” Rich, Eerie Sounds From a Bass.

But among jazz listeners, Mr. Stewart is remembered best as the man who sang along with his bass while playing with a bow, producing solos with a rich, slightly eerie sound. Some critics thought the technique was a gimmick, but Mr. Stewart, who was always in demand for his more conventional bass-playing skills, always used it in a musicianly fashion, for musical rather than novelty effects. He featured the bowing-and-singing technique in ”Slam Slam Blues,” recorded at a mid-1940’s all-star session with Red Norvo, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Mr. Stewart, whose real name was Leroy, was born in Englewood, N.J. on Sept. 21, 1914. In 1934, he spent a year studying at the Boston Conservatory, where he heard a jazz violinist, Ray Perry, singing along with his solos. Mr. Stewart began singing along with his own bowed bass, but pitching his voice an octave higher, creating a broader, more sumptuous sound. He introduced the technique in New York City when he arrived there and began freelancing in 1935. He also acquired his nickname. ”At times, I slapped the bass when I played,” he later told John S. Wilson of The New York Times. ”It had the same sound as a slam. They gave me the name Slam, and I’ve been stuck with it ever since. But I’m very used to it and prefer it to Leroy.” Formed Popular Duo

A chance encounter with Slim Gaillard led to the formation of Slim and Slam, and the duo became one of the most popular acts playing the string of clubs and bars along West 52d Street, New York’s famous ”Swing Street.” The duo’s ”Flat Foot Floogie” became so popular that Benny Goodman began performing it on his radio show, ”The Camel Caravan.” Slim and Slam’s record of the song was buried in a time capsule at the 1939 World’s Fair along with a record of John Philip Sousa’s ”Washington Post March.”

When Mr. Gaillard was drafted in 1941, Mr. Stewart joined the Art Tatum Trio and then formed his own trio, with a young newcomer, Erroll Garner, playing piano. Mr. Stewart then played with Benny Goodman’s sextet and big band, and went on to record and perform with a veritable Who’s Who in jazz. He was actively performing and recording until a few weeks ago.

Slam Stewart was one of the most important bassists of the swing era and one of the most unique bassists of any time. He was among the most recognizable of soloists, almost always using the bow. This allowed him to be heard above the band acoustically, yet play fluid, quick ideas. His bass was set up to a lot of produce sound with no amplifier: gut strings high off the fingerboard.

Leroy Elliot “Slam” Stewart was born on September 21, 1914, in Englewood, New Jersey. He first played the violin but later switched to contrabass while attending Dwight Morrow high school. He went on to study at the Boston Conservatory where he heard Pay Pearson singing in unison with his violin. Slam adapted this technique to the acoustic bass by singing the melodies he bowed an octave higher.

In 1937 Slam moved to New York City where he met the guitarist, Slim Gaillard. ‘Slim and Slam’ played and sang for radio shows on WNEW. In 1938 they had a hit song when Benny Goodman played an arrangement of their tune Flat foot floogie on his radio show. Unfortunately they had sold the song for $250. The duo appeared in the 1941 film, “Hellzapoppin”, but broke up when Slam entered the army in 1942. Upon release in 1943, Slam returned to New York and started playing and recording with some of the major figures of his time: Lester Young, Art Tatum, Red Norvo, Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Cozy Cole, Errol Garner, Johnny Guarnieri, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Lionel Hampton. He appeared with Fats Waller in the 1945 film “Stormy Weather”.

Slam Stewart began leading groups in 1944 when Art Tatum became ill, leaving Slam to take up their regular gig at the Three Deuces on 52nd street in NYC. In 1945 he recorded his own groups, including a particularly interesting and harmonically advanced quintet made up of piano, vibes, guitar, bass and drums. Down Beat recognized Slam as the best bass player of 1945.

Slam Stewart remained active, playing as well as teaching at New York State University and Yale up until his death on December 9th 1987, in Binghampton, New York.

He is survived by his wife, Claire, and two children.

Картинки по запросу Slam Stewart

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I remember You … Johnny “Hammond” Smith was relentlessly tasty: Photos, Videos

Organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith was relentlessly tasty. Whenever I dig into one of his albums, my feet can’t stop moving. His grooves and chord voicings were intoxicating.

One of his finest albums, from the first track to the last, was Open House. Recorded for Riverside in 1963, the album featured Thad Jones (cnt,tp); Seldon Powell (ts,fl); Johnny “Hammond” Smith (org); Eddie McFadden (g); Bob Cranshaw (b); Leo Stevens (d) and Ray Barretto (cga).

Smith also was a wonderful composer. He wrote three of the album’s tracks—Open House, Cyra and Blues for De-De. The rest are standards—I Remember YouWhy Was I Born and I Love You. Alex North’s Theme From Cleopatra also is included.

Open House
 is an uptempo blues, with solos by Powell, Smith and McFadden, a sterling Philadelphia guitarist who played most often with organist Jimmy Smith. His comping behind Powell here is exquisite.

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Cyra is a beautiful ballad, with a cornet solo by Thad Jones.

I Remember You is an uptempo swinger. McFadden leads the way on guitar.

Theme From Cleopatra has a bossa nova beat and showcases Powell on flute. Powell’s tone is irresistible. I can’t get enough of him.

Blues for De-De is a light blues march with wonderful chord voicings by Smith. Powell on tenor saxophone and Jones on trumpet play juicy unison lines and solos.

Why Was I Born opens with thick, dramatic organ chords by Smith and McFadden takes a solo.

I Love You is taken at a peppy, mid-tempo tempo. Smith gets a terrific workout throughout and is joined midway by Jones on muted trumpet.

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Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Seldon Powell recorded together on two other albums—Look Out! and Black Coffee, both from 1962. They, too, are lovely albums. McFadden never recorded a leadership album, sadly, but can be found most often on Jimmy Smith’s recordings.

Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Seldon Powell both died in 1997.


I Remember You

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