INTERVALS: THE NEWSLETTER OF DAVID LIEBMAN-SPRING 2001
HELLO TO ALL
Just to mention that if you don't wish to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe through the web site (if that is how you subscribed in the first place) or directly to me if this came as an e-mail. Some people may be on both lists, so if you receive two copies PLEASE go to my web site and unsubscribe since that will be the easiest way. I am always adding people whom I think would be interested but that assumption may be erroneous and I apologize if this is the case. To all new readers, I welcome you to the newsletter which I have been writing by mail since 1993 and electronically as of 1999. I encourage first time visitors to go to my web site which is revised several times a year. It offers in-depth articles, a list of available publications and CDs with sound clips, private photos and recordings of historic interest, information about my annual Saxophone Master Class, the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) and more. The address is www.davidliebman.com/lieb
FEATURE ARTICLE: THE NEW ORDER IN JAZZ
The 12th Annual Jazz Meeting of the International Association of Jazz which I founded in 1989 will be held in June at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. As usual we have students and representatives from over 20 countries attending. Because of the fantastic facilities at Berklee we will be able to record each ensemble and give the students CDs to take with them. Also they will be offered some time in the technology department which should be an eye opener. I am grateful to Larry Monroe and his staff and Gary Burton for his cooperation in having the IASJ there. Also one of our official Board of Adviser members, the great trumpeter Tiger Okoshi will deliver a lecture concerning Japanese music. Along with the usual teacher's concert, student final performances, jam session and master classes, the week looks like it will be a memorable one. With this event looming I want to take the opportunity to write something about jazz education.
We who have been to the annual IASJ Meetings have a distinct advantage in the jazz world in that we are exposed to young musicians from all over the world and really get an idea of what is going on musically. The most remarkable thing I have observed is the difference in repertoire between the jam sessions which is held a few times during our week and the final concerts where each international ensemble performs a set of rehearsed music. At the sessions we expect and do hear the standards from the bop and post bop era-they have become the lingua franca of jazz musicians everywhere. Without even speaking the same language, musicians just mention a tune like "All Blues" or "Autumn Leaves" (maybe just play a few notes like Miles used to do) and they are off and running. The same tunes even might be repeated during an evening's jam. But at the final concerts where original material is presented for the most part, all the new ideas and trends are heard-and this is the future of the music in my eyes.
There are no more categories from the musical standpoint. (Of course critics and writers will from necessity always resort to catch phrases and the like.) From the last ten years or so, but definitely as I write today in early 2001, the young musicians are representing themselves through all sorts of mixtures and conglomerations of styles, which they may have heard either through radio, TV, friends and in some cases their classes and teachers. Just listening to a "typical" recording by a young group (and believe me I get a lot in the mail), would be convincing enough as to the breakdown of the old categories of fusion, free, bebop, etc. Not only is the repertoire changing but I hear the actual premise of how to play shifting from the smooth line oriented texture of post bop and Coltrane to one that stops and goes, stutters mid-stream, goes loud to soft or in and out of time in what appear to be milliseconds. Not to mention metric modulation which is as natural to the present generation as playing modally was to mine.
The effect of all of this upon jazz education is yet to be felt since the teachers represent for the most part the old stream and it will take time for what's happening on the street to find its way to the academy. This is how history works-a little late maybe but new trends will eventually be taken into account. The well publicized and controversial (at least to some segments of the jazz community) documentary on jazz by Ken Burns which recently aired on public television in the United States is a testimony to my point. Basically it is a history from the beginning up until the last thirty or forty years and there is a case to be made for a smooth line of development from one innovation to another, UNTIL you get to the 60s when fragmentation became evident. Our period now is the result of that fragmentation and it will not go back to what it was. We will not see major innovators who encompass an entire scene, but representatives of tributaries of all sorts flowing from the basic premises of contemporary improvised music. The old will still be there (as Dixieland is) but the new "jazz" world is sounding unlike anything before.
"JAZZ"-THE KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY
The Ken Burns documentary is the classic case of the two sided coin or more philosophically, yin and yang principles. Expansion of the audience, familiarity with even a few of the great jazz people and whatever music seeped through to be heard via the incredible media blitz that was afforded Burns can only be helpful on the grand scale of things. Omission of the last forty or so years, the perception that jazz should sound a certain way as a result of the amount of air time apportioned to the older styles, the racial implications and the "great man" theory that Burns champions (a few personalities are what jazz is about) are of course detrimental to what some musicians and myself might feel. In the final result, the views of "Jazz" by Burns, Marsalis et al will be the general impression for a long period, whether one likes it or not.
In a recent Bird Lives, the great internet site run by Bret Primack, readers saw a letter that I wrote to Downbeat Magazine in reference to a spotlight article they did on Bob Karcy of Arkadia Records. The basic thrust of their article was that Karcy was a friend of the artists and very supportive, etc. As his first signed artist I had much to say about his so-called "friendship" which of course they didn't print, but thankfully Bird Lives did. I received a lot of comment from sympathetic musicians, all too familiar with the vagaries of the jazz record business.
Besides the lies and half truths that Karcy fed myself and others, he was also financially liable to me on several counts, the most glaring being an advance for a finished and delivered which I never received and was listed in his most recent catalogue as a release this coming spring. Several lawyers wrote letters of protest and even terminated the contract which were never responded to. The lawyers all said that to go further for them would cost me much more than it was worth. So as a matter of principle I went to Small Claims Court in New York City (a trip unto itself by the way!!) and pressed for the limit you are allowed to at least try and get some of the money due me. The date was set and to my surprise Karcy actually showed up. Seated in front of what they call an arbitrator, I told my side of the story in respect to this particular advance. He tried to switch the subject claiming I had recorded without his permission for other labels as a sideman, etc, etc.-the details of which are too complicated to go into and not pertinent to what I was claiming in any case. Well, happy to say, there is justice in the world after all!!
My claim against him was granted by the arbitrator and he owed me the advance plus interest (what a surprise. Others should take note that whenever possible, as a matter of principle you cannot let these kind of people get away with it. Sometimes musicians are too timid and distracted to stand up for themselves, but I think one must feel that he has done everything possible to combat lies and deceit. Chalk this one up for our side!!
The yearly convention of the International Association of Jazz Educators was held in New York in January. These meetings have become full blown music fairs with not only performances and lectures, but many vendors and companies doing business. It is incredible how the business of jazz has grown as evidenced by the numbers who come to these yearly meetings. I remember my first IAJE Conference in Philadelphia in the late 70s with the theme being Coltrane. I played in the afternoon in the lobby of the hotel for a few people and that was it. This year I had my big band under the direction of long time associate Gunnar Mossblad featured for one of the evening concerts for which people were turned away because it was filled to capacity. The concert will be featured on gmn.com in the near future.
Also, although I didn't hear the speech, only reading the text after on the web, Pat Metheny gave a wonderful keynote address emphasizing the need to find one's own voice. Given the Burns controversy (and he was of course a guest of honor at one of the high priced dinners) I commend Pat for pointing out what should be obvious-which is that respect and knowledge of the past is proper but the search for an individual voice in the present and future is the point. You can read his speech at: www.patmethenygroup.com
I was invited to play one evening at a New York club called the Cutting Room with a big band lead by trombonist Pete McGuiness and saxophonist Rob Middleton. I knew a lot of the folks in the band from teaching and it was great fun. It is amazing how many great musicians there are in New York!!
I had an exciting week in Tel Aviv as guest of the Rimon School with funding provided by a family in memory of their son who loved jazz. Besides teaching, the final concert was a real treat featuring my music presented in several different settings including string quartet, duos each with cello, piano and drums as well as playing with a student combo. The level is very high in Israel and in fact everything is amazingly intense there. (I must say that I was happy to get out the day before the recent election.) I have been there many times and it is fascinating place and must for everyone who can make it.
FRANCE WITH THE WORLD VIEW TRIO
Among the several groups of European musicians I have recorded and performed with, one of my favorite settings is with French bassist Jean Paul Celea and Austrian drummer Wolfgang Reisinger. We have done two recordings and several tours over the past five years playing music in a very loose, freely structured way quite different than my own group here in the States. They are great musicians and I get to play some piano also which is a lot of fun. This was a two week French tour and recording of standards for a new label, all done in our own inimitable fashion. We played one club that has been around since 1955 in Brest which Sidney Bechet played then. We both now have signed the same guest book, a great tradition in France for jazz.
RECENT RECORDINGS: BIG BAND
I recorded the big band that I put together for the past few months doing originals of mine arranged by the likes of Vince Mendoza, Jim McNeely and others. We have no label at this time but the session was great and I look forward to the final mixes being done over the next few months.
ELVIN JONES MUSIC
This is a project organized by saxophonist Dan Moretti centered around the Elvin Jones recording called Genesis which was my first date with him in 1971 and featured three saxophonists along with bass and drums. This rather unusual recording became well known through the years and Dan suggested we play some of those tunes, but in a Latin style. We have done a few gigs over the past few years but for this session I was very impressed by how drummer Mark Walker, bassist Oscar Stagnaro and percussionist Pernell Saturino worked together. It was like being in a foreign country as far as what rhythms they came up with. They would talk to each other in code-calling out the name of the beat and then proceed to burn on it. All great musicians have something unique they can own which will be of use somewhere, sometime. Mark and Oscar play in Paquito D'Rivera's regular band.
(check with venues for exact dates)
APRIL:Four nights with Lieb at the Knitting Factory(Main Space);with Indian flutist Jayant Banerjee and tabla player Sai Shyam;duo with Bob Moses;quartet with John Abercrombie, Tony Marino and Jim Oblon; trio and quartet with Jim Black, Mike Formanek and Loren Stillman;the Dave Liebman Group at the Scranton Cultural Center, PA; One Station Plaza in Peekskill, NY; Ryles in Cambridge, MA; Alex's Jazz Underground in Philadelphia, PA; with pianist Roberta Piket, Billy Hart and Rufus Reid at the Blue Note; with the Lehigh Valley Repertory Orchestra at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA doing Bill Warfield's Le Jazz Hot; with Ron Bosse and Pursuance at the Upstairs in Montreal, Canada; lectures at Berklee School of Music, Boston, MA; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA and East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
MAY:the Dave Liebman Group at Birdland, NYC; performing Le Jazz Hot and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark; Saxophone Master Class in Bari, Italy; with Badal Roy and Jayanta Banerjee at the Puffin Cultural Forum, Teaneck, New Jersey; duo with Wolfgang Resinger in Linz, Austria; Portrait at Porgy and Bess in Vienna, Austria-3 Nights including duo with Wolfgang Reisinger; with the Koehne String Quartet; and in quartet with Wolfgang Reisinger, Fritz Pauer and Peter Herbert;in Poland with trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik (Kratowice and Warsaw);Saxophone Master Class in Murrhardt, Germany
JUNE:With Dimitrious Vassilakas, Marc Johnson , Ralph Petersen and Satoshi Takeishi at Birdland and the Greek Cultural Center, NYC; the IASJ Annual Meeting at Berklee College, Boston, MA;
SAXOPHONE MASTER CLASS NOTICE:INTERESTED PARTICIPANTS FOR AUGUST 2001 SHOULD CONTACT ME FOR EXACT DATES AND COST. A TAPE MUST BE SUBMIITED FOR ACCEPTANCE.
JAZZ ON THE INTERNET
There is an excellent site called allaboutjazz.com which has been around for a while now and does some great work. Recently they instituted a section on Coltrane that I contributed to which is and will be very worthwhile as it develops. The address is: www.allaboutjazz.com/coltrane
WORLD MUSIC INSTITUTE
My recording of Coltrane's Meditations was done at Symphony Space in New York for the World Music Institute in December of 1995. The concerts they put on are certainly among the most interesting in New York with music from places that you would never expect to hear. It is a worthwhile organization to support for those in the New York area. Their phone number is 212-545-7536.
OMMISSION:30 YEARS AND COUNTING
It is inevitable when making lists that something gets left out. In my mentioning of important people who have supported me through the past thirty years, I omitted Tom Alexander, a good friend and also the manufacturer of the wonderful Superial reeds.
THE MILES DAVIS STORY IN FILM
British trumpeter and writer Ian Carr wrote a bio of Miles over twenty years ago and a new version recently. His book is for me the definitive bio at this point and with the help of the BBC, he coordinated interviews for a documentary on Miles that will be released by Sony in various video formats in the near future. As one of the musicians interviewed I was invited to see one of the first screenings of the movie. It was quite an honor to attend the showing with George Avakian who of course was responsible for Miles at Columbia Records beginning in the 1950s. The film is great with wonderful interviews and shots of Miles speaking and playing of course. It even goes back to his school in St.Louis and several family members are interviewed. I believe this will be THE Miles Davis movie for the future.
In a past newsletter I alerted those who were interested to go to a site on the web which describes a traumatic experience that I went through at the hands of a tormenter over ten years ago that I considered put to rest. But this guy began again to harass me in the last year or two by posting derogatory statements on sax newsgroups. Most recently he bought davidliebman.com and daveliebman.com-for what purposes I know not. I was unfortunately negligent in not buying these obvious domain names because I like the name of my site (upbeat, etc) and just never thought that it was necessary. In any case the only official site is davidliebman.com/lieb and whatever goes on in the future on those domain names are not my responsibility. The full story can be seen at: www.gis.net/~schwartz/anom.html
We lost two pioneers in these past months: J.J.Johnson and Milt Hinton-two men who epitomize the best in the jazz business both musically and morally.
All the best to everyone and hope to see some of you at the gigs I will be doing in this period.