Interviews

BUDDY COLLETTE (†)

Buddy Collette - Ray AveryWilliam Marcel “Buddy” Collette was an unsung jazz hero. A pioneer of jazz flute, he dedicated much of his life and musical knowledge to the preservation and dissemination of jazz history. Collette participated as a political and cultural activist in the battle against segregation in the music industry, and the burgeoning influence of McCarthyism. He was a key figure in the Central Avenue music scene of Los Angeles which had a profound influence on the development of jazz. It was Collette who inspired Charles Mingus, his childhood friend and band-mate, to switch from cello to contra-bass and their personal and musical association spanned a lifetime. Collette maintained a stedfast dedication to music in Los Angeles  until he passed on September 19, 2010.

MICHAEL CUSCUNA

Michael Cuscuna is one of the most prolific record producers in jazz.  His career has taken him from jazz radio to the deepest regions of some of the most fertile catalogues in recorded jazz history.  He has produced records for the Atlantic, Motown, ABC, Arista, Muse, Freedom, Elektra, Novus and perhaps most significantly Blue Note labels.  Throughout all those affiliations he has been responsible for some of the most essential reissue packages since that process became such a significant priority for labels starting in the mid-late 1970s.Along with Charlie Lourie, he founded Mosaic Records in 1983 specializing in jazz reissue box sets, with almost 200 releases as of 2009.

HENRY GRIMES

Henry Grimes was one of the most in-demand bassists on the jazz scene. At the peak of his career without warning, he left New York for the west coast and his last documented appearance was in April 1969 in San Francisco as part of saxophonist Archie Shepp’s ensemble. The obituary in 1984 from Cadence magazine  closed the book on this great creative musician. But in a time when giants of jazz depart, he was rediscovered alive in Los Angeles 2002, over thirty years after he left the music world.

JONI MITCHELL

Joni Mitchell is one of  the most influential popular artist of her generation. An accomplished musician, poet and painter, her narrative style allows her listeners to identify closely with her sentiments.  A self-directed musician who has maintained complete control of her career, Mitchell is a blunt critic of the music industry. From her early folk-based work, Mitchell’s music grew increasingly complex through the 1970s.  It culminated in “Mingus,” a collaboration with Charles Mingus, in which she wrote lyrics to several of his compositions.

RAFAEL ALVAREZ

Rafael “El Rifle” Alvarez was an original member of the “Los Viejitos” Orchestra with Don Francisco Lopez and the Cuarteto Sonora. A respected educator who brought the influence of American music across the border. Collaborating with Mexican and American musicians throughout his career, he was recently awarded the Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado. Based in Hermosillo, Mexico, and retired as a performer, he is dedicated his time and energy to bringing the traditions and multicultural aspects of jazz to other generations.

CHARLES McPHERSON

Charles McPherson is an extraordinary artist who combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation.He started playing saxophone professionally at age 19. In 1959, he moved from Detroit to New York and performed with Charles Mingus for more than ten years. Throughout his four decades of being an integral performer, Charles has not merely remained true to his Bebop origins, but has expanded on them. He is a singular voice who has never sacrificed the fluidity of his melody making, and is held in high esteem by musicians.

MARCUS BELGRAVE

Marcus Belgrave is a Detroit jazz master who continues to mentor the “next generation” of jazz musicians.  He came to prominence in the late 50’s, touring and recording with the late great Ray Charles. He spent the early 60’s spearheading the modern jazz movement in New York, working and recording in the bands of such major innovators as Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Max Roach.  He was recently recognized as Jazz Master Laureate for the City of Detroit and awarded as the Kresge 2010  Eminent Artist.  His performances encompass the history of jazz musical styles while he continues to tour and record on the world’s stage.

JOHN HANDY

John Handy is a talented and adventurous alto saxophonist who started playing in late 40s. He moved to New York in 1958 and had an intense period with Charles Mingus showing his soulful and fiery saxophone style. He featured several recordings with Mingus Band including “Mingus at Monterey” 1964.
As a composer he has written a number of highly acclaimed, original compositions. “Spanish Lady” and “If Only We Knew” both earned Grammy nominations for performance and composition. He leads his own bands and is a consummate world musician and teacher who has devoted his life to jazz music.

ERNIE ANDREWS

Vocalist Ernie Andrews has a raw vitality that communicates instantly. A master of ballads and the blues, his interpretations reflect influences from the intensity of his life to his gospel roots. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to Los Angeles in his early teens where he studied drums and continued singing. Already immersed in the scene of Central Avenue and collaborating with Charles Mingus, at the age of 17 he recorded his big hits, “Soothe Me,” and “Wrap it Up and Put it Away.” Today Andrews has toured all around the world. Despite his success as a performer, he has remained attached to the West Coast where he still strives to preserve jazz in the community, presenting one of the best live performances in Los Angeles.

GERALD WILSON

Recognized as one of the premiere composers, arrangers and band leaders in modern jazz, Gerald Wilson is still active in the jazz community, sharing his writing, enthusiasm and creative energies through his music. Wilson settled in Los Angeles in the early 1940s and not only formed his own band, but worked as an arranger/writer for many artists, television shows and films. One of the most generous of artists, Wilson has continually sought ways to share his knowledge and passion, from hosting a daily jazz program on LA’s KBCA in the early 70s to teaching jazz history at California State University campuses Northridge and Los Angeles, as well as UCLA.

COMING SOON, BIOGRAPHIES OF:

– Hank Jones (†)

 

– Don Friedman

– Lee Konitz

– Richard Wyands

– Toshiko Akiyoshi

– George Wein

– David Amram