Catching Up With Bob Mintzer For The Moment Part 1!
Has the questionable economy made the process of making a record and even attempting to become a viable artistic commodity twice as hard as it used to be or am I looking at the business side too much?
B.M. " I think the musicians of my generation had the good fortune to experience a thriving music scene where there were many working bands, lots of studio sessions, and live music opportunities. The trend outside of jazz music has been towards music that is computer generated, where the look is as or more important than the sound. That said, there are and will always be interesting musicians in all genres that pay great attention to detail, and come up with interesting music. I have to believe that if recorded music is really strong and compelling, the public will latch onto it some kind of way. The Internet is helpful in this endeavor.
Bands like Kneebody and Dirty Loops have achieved a sizable level of success via the Internet which eventually translated into an opportunity to perform live. Most of the musicians I know today are all about performing live. The prospect of making a lot of money selling jazz recordings is pretty bleak, and kind of always has been."
Finally - We've got a ton of fresh talent out of schools like Berklee or Manhattan that are of the speed is king mentality and seem to hang out in odd meter in some sort of ill conceived notion that becoming the flavor of the month will get them to that star status faster than putting in some more time on the bandstand working and absorbing what a variety of more seasoned players have to offer. Can real swing be "taught" or is it something you are born with? What is the greatest lesson you have learned as a teacher/ clinician?
B.M. " When I first was hanging around New York the aspiring saxophonists were very taken with Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Sonny Rollins. Mike Brecker found a way to encapsulate all these players and also carry it over into the R and B realm. Then everyone started to emulate him. We all emulated various players while trying to find new musical pathways. Nowadays young saxophonists emulate Chris Potter, Mark Turner, and Kenny Garrett. I guess saxophonists emulated Bird in the 50's. It's a common scenario. Complexity, vis a vis odd meter time signatures, dissonance, polychords, etc. are a logical area of exploration for jazz musicians. It's not really anything that early 20th century classical composers hadn't done already.
With the shrinkage of the number of working bands in jazz it seems like the "scene" has developed around the university jazz programs. I teach at USC with Peter Erskine, Russ Ferrante, Alan Pasqua, Bob Shepard, etc. Our students are playing all the time around L.A. and getting to train with working professional jazz musicians. I use students in my pro bands on occasion.
I was a classical clarinetist in college. At Hartt College in Hartford, Connecticut I got to hang out wit Jackie McLean. He was so inspiring and supportive even though I was mainly doing orchestral music on the clarinet. I would go home after class and listen to sides and practice jazz. I found the local jazz players to hang and play with. I learned jazz through playing with other musicians and listening incessantly to the recordings and any live performances I could get to. New York was ideal for this.
Jazz is a life long commitment. You never stop learning and evolving. The best lesson I can give a student is how they can continue to explore and teach themselves. I tell them to write music and start their own band, find a group of musicians they can hang with and play with. "
Extra special thanks to Bob Mintzer for his time and be sure and check out the new release For The Moment. Photo via http://www.bobmintzer.com/
My review can be found at:
http://www.criticaljazz.com/2012/06/bob-mintzer-big-band-for-moment-mcg.html One of the very best for 2012!
You can also find out more at http://www.bobmintzer.com/