Ted Gioia (written) Interview & John Scofield (audio) Interview (Part 1 of 2) [Listen 15:00] Listening And Trying To Figure It Out With John Scofield S04 Ep09
Special Guest: John Scofield (Part 1 of 2) is one of the most influential Jazz guitarist to come out of the 1970’s. His style of playing combines a distinctive rock oriented jazz sound mixed with elements of fusion, soul, and post-bop creating a sound and tone that is truly unique. If I had to describe the John Scofield sound I would use words like funky, upbeat, fluid, and adventurous. And like with all the greats, the command and facility Scofield (or “Sco” as he is often affectionately called) has with his instrument allows him the ability to make music seem smooth, unforced, and with a heavy dose of some intangible quality that makes it just downright cool.
This week I’m interviewing guitar great John Scofield about his fantastic new album Uberjam Deux; he breaks down some of the tracks for us as well as discusses the inception of his amazing guitar tone and technique.
Ted Gioia Interview
Special Guest: Ted Gioia (Part 1 of 1) is a musician, author, jazz critic, and a leading expert on American music. His books include: “The History of Jazz,” “Delta Blues,” “The Jazz Standards,” “West Coast Jazz,” “The Imperfect Art,” “Work Songs,” “Healing Songs,” and “The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.” He is held in high regard by The Washington Post (twenty best books of the year), The New York Times (notable Book of the Year) and The Economist (picked as one of the best books of the year). He is one of the best music writers and historians on the shelf, and we are excited to have a written interview with Ted Gioia.
GTV - Jazz and jazz records are rare for a reason; the earliest jazz records came out before most people could afford records or record players. Even at the height of Bebop, most households would only have a handful of records if they were lucky. How important are records when telling the story of Jazz?
TG - Without recordings, jazz could never have evolved as an art form. The first generation of jazz musicians in New Orleans had little influence beyond the small group of people who saw them perform in person. But with the rise of the record industry, jazz could now be disseminated, studied, and imitated all over the world. After 1923, the history of jazz is well preserved on record and we can follow the milestones in the music’s evolution long after the artists who made that music have passed away.
GTV - One of the fascinating things when reading your book “The History of Jazz” was learning the connection between New Orleans and Chicago. Would you explain for our readers why New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz people like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Sidney Bechet felt the need to go to Chicago?
TG - There are many peculiarities in the history of jazz, but the geography of the music is especially confusing. People are puzzled when I say that many of the most important events in New Orleans jazz took place in Chicago, just as decisive developments in Chicago jazz took place in New York. But the explanation is fairly simple: musicians follow the money. They can’t live on music alone, and need to be in the places where they can earn a living. For this reason, most major musicians in the US gravitated to a few key cities during the course of the 20th century—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and a few others. So New Orleans may have created jazz, but it was unable to keep it.
GTV -Your books are filled with stories about the interesting lives of culturally important figures – their struggles, accomplishments, short-comings, and what kind of people they really were. Some of my favorite parts was the side stories of people like Mutt Carey, Buddy Petit and Emmett Hardy. Musicians who were said to have been on par with the greats (or better) than some of the people we have come to know like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver. Is the story of history forgetting musicians a common story one and were there any side stories left out of the book that you would like to talk about here?
TG - There are many gaps in our understanding of early jazz. The biggest mystery is Buddy Bolden, the cornetist who is reportedly the “inventor” of jazz, but left behind no recordings. After the early 1920s, almost every musician of note left behind recordings. Yet even here we encounter intriguing jazz players who left behind a very small body of work, either because they died young or other circumstance intervened. Here are a few of these almost-forgotten artists who, under slightly different circumstances, might be far better known today: Dupree Bolton, Tony Fruscella, Fats Navarro, Richard Twardzik, Booker Little, Scott LaFaro, Chick Webb, Kenny Kirkland and Emily Remler.
By the way, we just added another name to this list—the amazing young jazz pianist Austin Peralta, who died last year at the age of 22. I believe that he could have been a major jazz star, but now we will never know what he might have achieved.
GTV - Jazz and blues music have very similar histories in that both originated and developed just after the turn of the 20th Century in poor southern African-American communities. In your opinion, what are some important conditions in the development of a musical or cultural movement?
TG - Jazz and blues spring from very different social circumstances. Jazz arose from the fervor and interplay of a large city—New Orleans—as do most innovative artistic movements. Blues follows a different pattern of dissemination, and arose in more isolated rural areas, especially in Mississippi and Texas. In other words, the blues does not look like an innovation, but more like a preservation of an older cultural tradition, probably African in origin. Most historians of American music take these geographical discrepancies for granted, but I believe it is very revealing that the blues arose in the parts of the United States that were more the most insulated from outside influence. Mississippi, during the period when its first great blues singers emerged, had the lowest per capita penetration of radio, telephone and automobiles of any of the states. Is this coincidence? Definitely not. The kind of urban hustle and bustle that spurred on jazz was not conducive to the blues. As a continuation of a very old tradition it needed to be protected from big city influences.
GTV - I've never collected 78's but many of the historical jazz and blues records of the past are of that speed. Do you mostly collect 78's?
TG - I am not really a record collector, and I have adapted my own listening habits as technology has changed. I listened to albums, when albums were easy to get. When they were replaced by compact disks, I moved on to CDs. Nowadays I listen to most of my music in digital format. As for 78s, I’ve never taken much interest in them—especially since almost all of the important music on 78 rpm records was later released in other formats.
GTV - Which of those formats do you believe was best?
TG - When digital music arrived, I thought it was a great advance. But more recently I have changed my mind. I now believe that analog music sounds better than digital music. I continue to listen to digital music, because it is easier to access. But if the music industry ever shifted back to analog, I would applaud the move.
GTV - Rock ’n’ Roll as an art form came from a combination of Gospel (Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Little Richard), Blues (Arthur Crudup), Country (Gene Vincent), and Jazz (Louis Jordan); Do you have an opinion on what, specifically, was the first Rock and Roll record?
TG - When I was younger, I was told that “Rock Around the Clock” was the first rock song, but clearly there were earlier blues, jazz and R&B albums that anticipated rock-and-roll. Check out, for example, “Rocket 88,” a 1951 track from Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston, or Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” from 1952. But I have a candidate for ‘first rock record’ that almost nobody knows about: Big Joe Williams’s “She Left Me a Mule” recorded for the Trumpet label back in 1951. This track, which clearly sounds like a rock song, deserves to be far better known.
Aiming for the Simple and Innocent Things with Alex Paterson of The Orb (2 of 2) [Listen 22:37] S04 Ep06
Special Guest: Alex Paterson (The Orb) (Part 2 of 2) is a major player in the Electronica genre, splashing on to the scene at a transitional time in the genre's history: the period when European musicians were just starting to pick up on the new Techno revolution happening in Detroit and the Acid House scene from Chicago. The Orb were one of the leading bands playing their own form of Electronica at the beginning of the biggest electronic music explosions--the UK Rave scene in the late 80’s to early 90’s--and were fundamental in the direction that Acid House took; spawning "Ambient House" in the new "come down" or chill-out rooms of the rave clubs.
In this podcast, we continue from where we left off, and get into the details of sampling and all the fuss therein, what he's been doing with Lee Scratch Perry, and what he might like to do next. Have a listen
Chiptune: What's Old is New Again . . . And It's Really Old
As some musicians are striving to get the latest sounds and technology, other musicians are turning to old technology and hacking, modding, and stripping things away to make something new, something better. And they're using technology more than 20 years old.
It can be fairly technical, from adding additional chips, to just ripping some of the parts out haphazardly to see what kind of noises it'll make. It comes from several sources, but most often from old video game technology such as Gameboy and old pc's such as the Commodore 64.
Chiptunes and modding has always had a large place in the computer demoscene, but the exact origins are debatable. They could be attributed to Eno from the days of Roxy Music fiddling at the controls of the board on stage, and with The Yellow Magic Orchestra, more closely with sampling computer game music.
But the interesting thing about it is that it hasn't died. The advancement of technology has only promoted the love and furthered the interest. And to show that everything is circular, it's made it's way back to vinyl. I'm mot talking about converting classic albums to 8 bit chiptunes--although that's been done--I'm saying that the format has gone from being the "new medium" that was going to knock vinyl off it's throne, to being discarded as refuse and come full circle to be revived to earn a place in the history of music on vinyl.
While Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Leafcutter John have been known to put elements of hacked and modded synths in their music, the indie artist, Jim Guthrie, might be the one who's been infected to the highest degree of chiptune into his music. You might have to call it "Chipfolktronicatune," if you weren't afraid for another lame subgenre label coming into usage. What a long strange trip it's been for the medium that was to be the killer of vinyl, to the bottom of the technological scrapyard, and back into vinyl again. What's next; videos of astronauts covering Bowie classics in space?
Dub Gabriel Interview (Part 1 of 2) [Listen 30:43] Wondering about the revolution with Dub Gabriel S04 Ep04
Revolutions, remixes, and peace with Dub Gabriel1 Special Guest: Dub Gabriel (Part 1 of 2): is a producer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and is one of the biggest names in dancehall, dubstep, and global bass to come out of the U.S. and is one of the most in-demand and respected dub producers in the world. He has worked with a diverse set of musicians including Michael Stipe (of REM), Reggae Toasting legend U-Roy, the Scientist, punk icon Keith Levene, David J, Balkan Beat Box, and many more. His new album “Raggabass Resistance” is an ambitious project taking three years to make, spanning continents and brings together an array of artists and musicians all collaborating on the album.
Dub Gabriel is set to release his 4th album, Raggabass Resistance, on limited vinyl on the 20th of April. The fantastic list of collaborators include: U-Roy, Warrior Queen, The Spaceape, Brother Culture, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Dr. Israel, MC Zulu, Juakali, PJ Higgins, David J, Pedro Erazo, and Mark Pistel
Fall of Greenwich
Perhaps for most people, upon the mention of Greenwich Village, Bob Dylan immediately comes to mind. But besides Dylan, much more came out of Greenwich Village. Would you believe Maya Angelou sang blues there? By her own admission, not very well. But the artists and movements that came out of that "most significant square mile in American cultural history" are incredible and prolific. To get into everything notable that came out of there would fill a book; and has many, of course. The significance is so extensive and broad.
the artists and movements that came out of that "most significant square mile in American cultural history" are incredible and prolific.
Greenwich has been described as "the place where everything happens first." The setting and people who came to settle the area came to be accepting of differing cultures and ideas, perhaps out of necessity because of the different cultures brought in to live in close proximity in that polyglot population, not only Americans of different cultures and lifestyles, but also exiled Europeans just off the boat. But this acceptance, and true melting pot ideal carried on through the inhabitants and throughout generations despite outside attempts to gentrify the area and to push the settled inhabitants out through gross rent increases, police harassment, and the type of behaviour that has the same stink on it. Unfortunately, after all the inhabitants have survived, and the resistance of the community to these onslaughts, the final blow seems to have fallen, and Greenwich is now home to movie star royalty and top political retirees and their bastard children. Whatever America had culturally doesn't seem to hold any value against real estate profit and fashion outlets where you pay too much money to look like everyone else. This includes threatening to push out vinyl havens, Bleecker Street Records, and Bleecker Bob's. The more I learned about the Village and the fate that's befallen it has proven to be damn disappointing, but not sadly not shocking or unfamiliar, although it severely dampened any enthusiasm on writing the article which I was feeling initially.
this acceptance, and true melting pot ideal carried on through the inhabitants and throughout generations despite outside attempts to gentrify the area.
The independent documentary that sparked this article "The Ballad of Greenwich Village" doesn't do any justice to the scope of tragedy in losing the heritage. Mostly the documentary focuses on reminiscences of notable artists and persona from the area and shows one artist who's losing their home something of 30 years, but that doesn't show the death of a cultural and intellectual centre. Many residents have relocated nearby, and the historic buildings are to be preserved, but once something is killed, it's gone, despite the best attempts to revive and recreate it elsewhere. It's like trying to force yourself to have a sequel to a fantastic dream you recently had. You can pretend, but you can't will your unconscious.
once something is killed, it's gone, despite the best attempts to revive and recreate it elsewhere. It's like trying to force yourself to have a sequel to a fantastic dream you recently had. You can pretend, but you can't will your unconscious.
To demonstrate what forward thinking institutions that came out of there, Greenwich Village gave birth to the first racially integrated night club in the United States, Café Society. Which helped launch the careers of Sarah Vaughn, Big Joe Turner, and Lena Horne among others. And besides the American Folk Music Revival, new movements if not sparked from the Village, took root and were fostered there. The American Modernists, the Beats, the American Realists, and the Theatre of the Absurd all had a prominent place in the Village. The social and cultural significance the area has is now a simply a draw for cash and a tourist attraction. And what does it say to the eccentrics, intellectuals, and new bohemians across America and exiled forward thinkers? Make your own Mecca, it's not here any longer.
Watch the documentary here: http://ww3.tvo.org/video/162855/ballad-greenwich-village
Whether it’s Neil Young singing about his roadie and friend Bruce Berry in his landmark tune, “Tonight’s the Night” or Charlie Parker naming a classic Bebop tune after his drug dealer, “Moose the Mooche,” musicians have realized that it’s the people in the background that are often the ones with the interesting lives. Professionals who not only drive the buses, make the costumes, or run the soundboards, but also help give context and life lessons to the artist’s work. Aside from making stuff happen behind the scenes, these over-looked workers sometimes take centre stage. Take for example Lemmy; did you know that before he got famous as the lead singer of Motorhead that he was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix? He is not the only one either. David Gilmour was a roadie for Pink Floyd before they asked him to join them as lead guitarist. In fact, Noel Gallagher(Oasis), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedy’s), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) and even Henry Rollins (Black Flag) all got their start as roadies. 1
There are guys like Owsley Stanley (nicknamed “Bear”)
When I first approached John Ashley about doing a podcast for the site, the first question I asked him was “what album would you like to cover?” His answer, 1980’s ‘Remain in Light’ by Talking Heads. I couldn’t have been happier; my favorite album by one of my favorite bands. As a child I remember being at a friend’s place and seeing the record cover for the first time; I was entranced by the cool bizarre computer generated artwork. I remember at the time really liking the music too but wasn’t able to fully get into the album until I owned the record myself a few years later. It’s as listenable today as it must have been in 1980. Although “Remain in Light’s” sounds and structures have had years of being ‘borrowed heavily from’ (as most cutting edge records have), what becomes clear is that this album hasn’t lost