Specializing in Media Campaigns for the Music Community, Artists, Labels, Venues and Events

Gunther Schuller (1925-2015): JazzWax

Gunther Schuller (1925-2015): JazzWax






Gunther Schuller (1925-2015)

Gunther Schuller, a classically trained French hornist, composer and conductor whose passion for jazz motivated him to record with jazz musicians and then fuse classical and jazz into what would become known as Third Stream, died Sunday in Boston. He was 89.

I interviewed Gunther in 2010 on his jazz experiences. Here are all four parts of that inteview combined…

JazzWax: Where exactly did you grow up? 
Gunther Schuller: As a young child, I spent 4½ years in a private school in Germany for foreign children of German 1941_Bass_Section-1parentage. My parents were German, but they had emigrated to America and my father was in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. I was a slightly unruly, rebellious child, so they placed me in a boarding school in Germany. [Pictured: The 1941 New York Philharmonic bass section]

JW: Why did they do that? 
GS: My parents had assumed that a German education would1129365009_d134632dcf be best for me. Besides, both of my parents had relatives there, so on vacations I would stay with them. I attended that school from January 1932 until December 1936. I had an incredible education there. In the second grade I was studying subjects like French, Latin, geography and geology. [Pictured: German countryside] 

JW: As you’re studying civilization, Germany is growing rapidly uncivilized. 
 Yes. We were isolated in the school from what was Hitler460happening there. By definition, these private schools for foreign children with German parents were sealed off from outside distractions, and Hitler had promised to leave them undisturbed. However, since Hitler never kept any agreement that he had made, he invaded all those private schools in 1936.

JW: What happened to you? 
GS: In the last half year of my stay there, I was inducted into the Hitler Youth. There I was in a brown uniform parading 6a00d8341c8e0153ef01156fc434e9970b-400wiuselessly up and down outside, with the commandant beating us severely once a week. I wrote my parents about what was going on there, but they were in disbelief. They were 3,000 miles away in New York. Even in America, people in the 1930s were in disbelief that Hitler was really that bad or evil.

JW: How did you finally leave Germany? 
GS: In 1936, when I turned 11, I lost my right eye in a knife accident. It's too gory to get into, but I was in the hospital for a week and underwent a double operation on my eye. You can imagine SuperStock_463-5105how my mother felt when she heard the news. I had to leave the school, of course, and my mother had to come to Germany to take me home to New York. In those days there were no airplanes crossing the Atlantic, so it took her seven days to get there. I’ve had an artificial right eye ever since.

JW: Where did your parents live in New York? 
GS: In Queens. As soon as I arrived, I was enrolled in another private school—St. Thomas Choir School. I was there for 800px-Sttomchoirschjehthree years. The school was nearly as rigorous as the one in Germany, so I had little time for anything more than my studies. What I am today is largely a result of the education I had in Germany and New York.

JW: Did you find New York exciting? 
GS: Well, of course. Though we lived in Queens, we were in Manhattan a lot. When I came to New York, it was discovered that I had musical talent. I didn’t know that and no one else knew that either. So I became a musician very quickly, between age 11 and 16. And a composer afterward.

JW: How was high school after St. Thomas? 
GS: I don’t know. I finished three years ahead of everyone else. I had already covered everything that the high school was Gshtteaching for graduation in my earlier private schools. That’s how I wound up becoming a professional French horn player at age 16 and playing with Arturo Toscanini in the New York Philharmonic.

JW: Were you aware of how advanced you were? 
GS: I knew I was good. My father was the leader of the second violins in the Philharmonic. He was a terrific violinist. My teacher and father had recommended me, and I was hired. Toscanini was inspiring, but he was one of those temperamental tyrants who just behaved ridiculously on the podium.

JW: How so? 
GS: Toscanini was the greatest conductor of that era, but he86f202bd779ac554_landingwould explode in these outbursts, these scatological fits with Italian curse words. It was frightening to work with him. But he was such a great musician and conductor. We played extremely well with him. But if he landed on you, you were in trouble. [Photo of Arturo Toscanini conducting Metropolitan Opera stars in 1946 by W. Eugene Smith for Life]

JW: Did he ever land on you? 
GS: Not in that first performance. Toscanini tended not to conduct contemporary music, and my first performance L05182063pljust happened to be Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, which was composed in 1941. Toscanini didn’t know the symphony as well as he knew works by Wagner, Beethoven and Rossini. I came away unscathed [laughs].

JW: Why do you suppose that happened, specifically? 
GS: Probably because he hardly knew I was there. The Toscaninisymphony, you see, has eight horns instead of the usual four. I was hired as one of the extra players. But I was scared. I was just 16 years old and I feared he’d look around, see me and say, “What is this little kid doing in this orchestra?”

JW: So you were playing in the orchestra with your dad? 
GS: Yes, he was about 30 feet away.

JW: Did you feel the added pressure of your father’s presence and judgment? 
GS: Yes, always. I played with the New York Philharmonic later as first French horn player, and my Toscanini_bng_piccolofather was always sitting by. But I was good. There were a few bad moments. Only once in a great while would he look at me with a sour look. But not in the Shostakovich symphony. I think Toscanini was just glad to have gotten through it.

JW: Did Toscanini give you a hard time later? 
GS: Not really. He was a great conductor of Wagner, whose Conductinghdl12108late operas required eight horns. For those performances, Toscanini would hire the four extra horns he needed from the Metropolitan Opera, where by that time I was playing first horn. That’s how I was able to play with him many times, when he conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in those Wagner programs. [Photo of Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony in 1947 by Robert Hupka]

JW: How did you avoid distractions in New York? 
GS: Well, I didn’t. I became heavily involved with all the arts—film, painting, literature, dance and other forms. This is hard to  Picture 1explain. My girlfriend, who later became my wife, and I lived the full cultural life of New York, which is now quite gone. New York was, in the late 1930s and 1940s and well into the 50s, the cultural paradise of the world. It was unbelievable in its richness, wit, breadth, depth—and I feasted on that. It was so mesmerizing. It's almost impossible to describe the energy and excitement today. [Pictured: Women with Statue at the Museum of Modern Art in 1948 by Ruth Orkin]

JW: Did you explore it all? 
GS: My wife and I hardly ever slept. We existed on three or Fritz_langfour hours’ sleep. Whenever we were free, we’d see three or four films showing at the Museum of Modern Art. I was obsessed with the art of film—the great films from Germany and France from the 1920s and 1930s. We went to all the museums and galleries, saw performances of all kinds. We went to jazz clubs. We did everything. We just ate up the entire cultural ambiance of New York at the time.

JW: Was it an obsession? 
GS: That’s just the way I am. To this day, I have a voracious appetite for anything cultural and artistic. I just cannot not pursue it. When I was young in Germany, I had a great talent for drawing, painting and design. I still have the whole fascination and involvement with art in me, and it shows up in a lot of my music.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.21.02 PM 
 What was it about New York that excited you? 
GS: Artists in all of the arts created works at the highest  levels. Enjoying all of the arts came together for me. They didn’t come together for most of my colleagues. But I’m crazy. We were  crazy. Just pursuing jazz and classical music day after day was enough. But we would go see and hear anything and everything. We couldn't get enough, and it was all terribly exciting. It’s hard to believe. It’s hard for me to believe in retrospect. Once I hooked up with the jazz world, though, through John Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and others, I was completely captivated. It was just outrageous. 

JW: When were you first exposed to jazz? 
GS: I started collecting jazz records when I was 12 years old. I quickly became a jazz fan and read all the books on jazz that existed at that time. Jazz was Jjjohnsondefinitely a part of my life in the mid-1940s, but not yet as a performer. I was an admirer of Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, J.J. Johnson and all the other bebop musicians who were breaking new ground. Then one day I decided to make it a point to meet John Lewis.

JW: When did you meet him? 
GS: We met in December 1948. I’d go to all these clubs and concerts, but I was too shy to go up to any of these people to talk to them at length. But with John, I was so Lewistaken with his playing that I made it a point to meet him. He was so warm and friendly. We hit it off immediately, and John became my entrée to the jazz world. In those days, if a musician in jazz’s inner circle introduced you or said, “This guy is one of us,” you were in.

JW: How did you become “one of us?” 
GS: By then, I was at a high level of creativity, Picture 2playing, writing and composing in my area of music. You see, in the classical world, you audition. You have to prove yourself to win a place in an orchestra. In the jazz world, if Duke Ellington lost a player, word would go out and three or four of his musician buddies would say, “Listen, there’s an incredible bass player in Lincoln, Nebraska. Get him.” This was absolute, and it never failed. None of these people ever Miles-davis-playing-trump-001recommended anyone who wasn’t good. With me, it was unusual because I was a French horn player. The horn was not a jazz instrument at the time, but it was creeping in. So when Miles needed a French horn, he asked John Lewis for a recommendation, and John said, “Get Gunther.”

JW: Classical was beginning to seep into jazz during this period—not as an aspiration but as a resource to draw from. 
GS: That's correct. Classical in the late 1940s was Orchestra_church_bw_w482__482x309_ec53976242becc58d95088582001d6d6increasingly viewed by jazz musicians as a form from which to adapt. None of these musicians, of course, was striving to become a classical player. But they were intrigued by the music, its harmonies, its tonality and its complexity.

JW: Which only stimulated your thinking about merging classical and jazz. 
GS: Yes. One of my obvious rationales for combining jazz and classic was that both musics had a lot to learn from each other. They may not have known that at first, but they discovered it soon enough. Especially the form. The forms of jazz back then were primitive, despite the enormous dexterity and skill of the musicians. In a very short period of time, jazz steadily became much more intricate and developed. 

JW: The musicians in the late 1940s also were much more sophisticated than most people realized at the time. 
GS: Absolutely. Look, Dizzy Gillespie back then was known as a great trumpet player but also as a kind of a clown. He danced around on stage and did all this scat Dizzygillespie1965singing. But I’m telling you, that guy when you were alone with him was the most serious person, the most socially conscious, the most politically aware, the most intellectual and the most spiritual. It was just incredible. Being with him was like attending a university seminar course. All of those guys were voracious readers and enormously curious.

JW: Jazz and classical coming together continued through the 1950s. 
GS: When I started the whole thing in 1957 with the Third Stream, which was bringing the two forms of music together—but really bringing them together in B000002ADQ.01_SL75_compositions, styles and performance—it was extremely controversial. I was vilified on both sides. Classical musicians, composers and critics all thought that classical would be contaminated by this lowly jazz music, this black music. And jazz musicians and critics said, “My god, classical music is going to stultify our great, spontaneous music.” It was all nonsense and ignorance, of course. Eventually the two came together anyway.

JW: Exposure to classical and classical training certainly made jazz musicians better readers and studio musicians. 
GS: Yes, to some extent. Classical training was certainly important in this regard. But the greatest jazz musicians would have been great jazz Milesmusicians anyway. As for other jazz musicians, classical training, either in school or through lessons, became essential for the reason you mention. Jazz orchestral arrangements were becoming more complex starting in the early 1950s, especially with the rise of the LP and longer recorded pieces. Reading a music part once and perfectly was essential and that required training.

JW: Speaking of orchestral jazz, how did you come to replace Junior Collins and Sandy Siegelstein on French horn on the last "Birth of the Cool" recording session in March 1950? 
GS: Both Sandy and Junior had played on the previous two dates. I believe that both went to California afterward French_horn_275x295and the horn position was open. Miles told John Lewis, his pianist, “I just lost Junior.” Miles and I had already known each other casually. I had met him earlier, in Detroit, when I was on tour with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I’d see Dizzy, Duke, Miles—anyone and everyone—on the road. After, they performed, we’d hang out. Of course. I didn’t sleep much in those days [laughs].

JW: On the Miles Davis nonet session, did you just come in, sit down and record what was on the stands? 
GS: My goodness, no. This was not such easy music that you could walk into the recording session and say, “Take it Lkonitzfrom the top, here we go.” Miles held something like four or five rehearsals, which wasn’t easy given all of the musicians involved and each one’s schedule. Lee Konitz [pictured], Al McKibbon, Max Roach and all the rest were busy people. At only one rehearsal did we have all nine players there at once.

JW: What was your schedule like at the time? 
GS: I was at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, with eight or nine performances each week. So my schedule was tight.

JW: At the "Birth of the Cool" session, you recorded Deception, Rocker, Moon Dreams and 506846_356x237Darn That Dream. Which one was hardest? 
GS: Without a doubt, Gil Evans’ [pictured] arrangement of Moon Dreams. That’s the ultimate masterpiece of the session.

JW: Really? The most difficult? 
GS: Absolutely. The coda at the end goes into atonality and counterpoint. There are five different layers of contrapuntal lines. No one had ever written anything like that before in jazz.

JW: How did the rehearsals work out? 
GS: In all honesty, we couldn't really play Moon Dreams very well, and it shows on the studio recording. I mean we GM_amp_miles_amp_LKonitzplayed it well enough that it could be issued by Capitol. The piece works because of the greatness of those musicians and how much feeling was squeezed into that very difficult music. I have performed Moon Dreams many times over the years in what I call repertory jazz concerts, and it's still hard to play in an ensemble. [Photo by Popsie Randolph]

JW: I’m surprised it was so difficult. Moon Dreams sounds so relaxed. 
GS: All you have to do is listen to The Complete Birth of the Cool CD that includes the live recordings from the Nsaks042Royal Roost. You can hear that the performances of it are falling apart. The musicians were out of tune, the executions were ragged, Junior Collins on French horn was two measures ahead of everyone else and so on.

JW: Was Deception truly arranged by Davis? It sounds a lot like Mulligan. 
GS: Look, Miles immediately learned from Gil and Gerry. In those days, very often, some other person’s name was put on a title for one reason or another. Miles had hired Gil and Gerry for the date because Miles loved what they had been doing with the Claude Thornhill orchestra.

JW: There certainly is a lot of Thornhill in terms of Impressionism. 
GS: In all of those arrangements. They purposefully Rugoloreduced the Thornhill band concept from 16 musicians down to 9. They did that because Capitol didn’t want to hire a big band for the material. That was Pete Rugolo [pictured], who was a great arranger for Stan Kenton and the label's East Coast music director at the time.

JW: How did the musicians on the date interact? 
GS: We all loved what we were doing. We kind of knew we were doing something exciting that hadn’t been done before. But that Moon Dreams scared everyone to death. It was strange that Gil Evans and Pete Rugolo weren't at that session.

JW: Rocker still has a modern sound. 
GS: Gerry [pictured] was one of the leading creative improvisers of the period. The freshness of what you hear comes from the clarity Mulligan had in his writing. Gil’s music is quitePicture 3 dense and rich and full on the inside. With Gerry, there was always this wonderful linearity and clear harmonies. Though they are modern, he keeps them simple. Gerry also had a certain bounce in his rhythms. John Carisi’s Israel is a whole different kind of writing. And John Lewis’ arrangement of Denzil Best's Move is different again. That’s like Mozart.

JW: What made pianist John Lewis special? 
GS: He was the gentlest soul. Kind, quiet, intelligent and an intellectual who was well versed in all of the arts. And just a beautiful person. He could be stern and tough in rehearsals when producing his music. But he was very good at getting the music right. And he could make anybody get it right. But deep down he was a sweetheart. All of the jazz musicians I knew were—and are. They are all beautiful people.

JW: Was Lewis instrumental in helping to merge classical and jazz? 
GS: Oh yes, early on. Then the influence spread to people like Ralph Burns, Bob Brookmeyer and many other great musicians who came into the jazz-classical field. That was how exciting the post-war period was.

JW: What was the Modern Jazz Society? 
GS: John and I founded the ensemble in 1955 because we felt we Modern had to put teeth into what we were saying about jazz-classical fusion. We soon renamed it the Jazz and Classical Music Society.

JW: Looking back, do you view the group as a success? 
GS: Yes, absolutely. That doesn’t mean the group and our attempts were all perfection. But the group was a success in SK+PRterms of helping the new music break through. All the things that happened after we put those jazz-classical ideas together happened because of what John and I did. I won’t say we were the only ones. Pete Rugolo and Stan Kenton [pictured] and others had been doing things with jazz and classical. But they were doing it in a slightly different way.

JW: Was your timing right? 
GS: I think so. The concept was in the air at the time. John and I advanced the cause in New York and for the first time used the word "classical" in what we were doing. Stan Kenton didn’t do AlbumcoverKentonInnovationsOrchestrathat with his Innovations Orchestra in 1950, much of which is uneven and awful. Pianist Lennie Tristano did not use the word classical, either. Many musicians felt they would wind up in trouble with the critics if they did. And they were right. John and I did use it, and that of course made it controversial.

JW: Classical gradually became more accepted by jazz musicians and listeners. 
GS: Yes, eventually the jazz-classical language changed to the extent of breaking into atonality. That happened later, though, Ornette-Coleman-Free-Jazz-459655with Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus and so many others. Everything went forward tremendously through the 1960s and then settled down into a sort of standardization. There was little experimentation after that.

JW: In 1955, you were in another exciting jazz ensemble led by Gigi Gryce. What made Gryce so special? 
GS: His personality. He’s such an underrated player. Sadly, he's nearly forgotten today. These guys were such talents and maybe geniuses. Whatever they put their Gryce(596x600)hands on would emerge with their special personality attached. That’s the greatness of jazz—the individualism, the distinctiveness of each of these great players. Unfortunately, we don’t have that today. Instead, we have 10,000 John Coltrane clones.

JW: What are we hearing with Gryce that sounds so fascinating? 
GS: His sound was different. He arranged the reeds for a thinner feel, and he had in his ear a different conception. The result was a very light, flowing sound. And that’s also how his harmonizations worked. He was another one of these quiet guys who had studied classical music of all kinds. On a personal level, he was very witty. It’s amazing how interesting they all were and yet how different.

JW: In 1957, you and George Russell arranged and conducted the Brandeis Jazz Festival concerts in New York. That was pretty incredible music. 
GS: I don’t know what you mean by incredible. It was damn hard [laughs].

JW: Why? 
GS: Milton Babbitt’s All Set? Can you imagine? That piece was 150 years ahead of its time. I can’t even begin Babbittto describe what I had to go through to get that recording made. No one had ever played anything like it. All Set is just on the periphery of jazz. We couldn’t really play it as jazz, so the initial recording was pretty stiff. 

JW: Tough stuff? 
GS: We never were able to play All Set live. This was especially true during the first Brandeis Jazz Festival concert in June 1957. The next morning, at the second concert, we repeated the program from the night before. We had lost our jitters by then and played it much better. But we still 2950918736_2700ddb81a_mdidn’t perform the piece like it was supposed to be played. I wound up spending about 35 hours editing that piece together on tape for the record. Wow, that was some piece. I mean, come on. That could have been written by Arnold Schoenberg or Anton Webern.

JW: This was a very different form of classical music, wasn't it? 
GS: Absolutely. When we talk about jazz musicians studying classical music, we’re mostly talking about musicians exploring Ravel, Debussy, maybe Brahms, and English classical music. Most didn’t study Schoenberg or any of the 12-tone composers. My god, All Set was a hard-core 12-tone piece.

JW: Did you ever perform the piece to your satisfaction? 
GS: I have performed it at least a dozen times over the years since 1957. I will say, though, that there was only one time in Cleveland [pictured] that I felt we had finally performed that piece correctly. And it happened by sheer luck. It was Clevelanda coincidence that I had all the right players in place. And this is only several years ago. Between 1957 and then I had the best musicians on sessions, but it was still like walking on the moon. Forty years later, we had just the right musicians for whom that atonal material had finally become familiar.

JW: Has the Cleveland rendition been released? 
GS: No. We recorded it, of course, but we haven't released it. Every style, no matter how difficult or unfamiliar at first, eventually becomes assimilated. Even atonal pieces. Now I can put together a performance of All Set and know that it would be damn good. All of those Brandeis pieces were hard initially because the feel and approach was completely new to the musicians.

JW: How about your Brandeis composition, Transformation? 
GS: It, too, was hard, for the same reasons. Transformation is an atonal piece, and the language was new. Jazz musicians who had classical training were Ravelfamiliar with the language of Ravel [pictured], Debussy, 11th chords, 9th chords, flatted fifths and all that stuff. Atonality was completely different. But I put enough swinging stuff in there so at least the musicians could feel it rhythmically [laughs].

JW: What about Bill Evans’ solo on All About Rosie? 
 Bill was unbelievable. That was an epiphanal experience. Bill was the one guy… [pause]. He had studied so much classical music that he was able to sight read all of this stuff. He could even sight read Milton Babbitt's All Set perfectly. I didn't have to coach him on that.

JW: What was so remarkable about his playing during that concert series? 
GS: We were astonished that all of the material was so easy for him. He not only could deal with it straightaway, Pic-gallery-bill-evanshe also could improvise on it. Then Bill played one of the greatest piano solos of all time on All Abut Rosie. I become speechless when I think back on Bill and that solo. We were all staggered. We were all looking at each other while his solo was taking place.

JW: How was that possible? 
GS: We weren’t playing. We were playing stop-time chords. We’d play one chord at the beginning of each chorus and stop. As Bill improvised, we all looked at each other in amazement at what we were hearing.

JW: What was so exciting about it? 
GS: I just didn’t know that someone could create such an incredible full-speed jazz-classical solo and have it turn Images_2out to be so perfect.

JW: When All About Rosie was finished, what happened? 
GS: I don’t recall exactly but I think it was like at the end of World Series game, when the winning players all leap on the guy who made the last out. I’m sure we all jumped on Bill.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.22.40 PM 
 I hear elements of Cool from West Side Story in your Brandeis Jazz Festival composition Transformations. Yours came first. Did Leonard Bernstein hear your work? 
GS: He probably did. We were very good friends at various times and worked closely together. He was a great admirer of my music. Lenny never said, “Oh, Gunther, you don’t know how much you influenced me.” But the feeling was there.

JW: Do you think Bernstein came to a finer recognition of jazz as a result of your work in the mid-1950s? 
GS: Lenny wasn’t influenced only by me. He learned from a great many jazz-classical artists. He was a quick study Leonard-bernstein-conductingwhen it came to jazz. But in terms of the musical language, Lenny would never go into jazz-classical styles beyond tonality. Rhythmically, he learned a lot from Count Basie and Stan Kenton. Basically, Lenny’s jazz sensibility was from the 1920s. He was real cornball. When he used to play piano at parties, I had to close my ears because he was so corny. He thought he was as good as Art Tatum [laughs].

JW: You played French horn on Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess. How did your involvement come about? 
GS: The idea for that 1958 session was actually producer George Avakian’s, before he left Columbia. George was a great admirer of the Porgy-and-bessrecordings that Miles and Gil had done between 1948 and 1950 [later known as "Birth of the Cool"]. He couldn’t understand why they weren’t more popular. And they weren’t until they were brought together on an LP in 1957 and the album was named Birth of the Cool. Even before Capitol decided to bring them together on an LP, George had decided to unite Gil and Miles for a broader interpretation of that concept on music that was widely known. That was his conception.

JW: What was your role? 
GS: I say this with all modesty: George went to Miles and said, “Listen, I think there are only two people here who can turn Gershwin into modern jazz orchestral works—Gunther Schuller and Gil Evans." Miles went with Gil, and I played French horn.

JW: Would you have done something different with it? 
GS: No, probably not. I was as enamored of Gil’s style as I was of my own. I knew what Gil was doing with the Picture 1orchestration and why. Since the music had to be, at its core, Gershwin, it couldn’t be mine. If I had arranged it, the session would have come out something like that. I might have had some different orchestral ideas now and then. But I was thrilled to play horn on that recording.

JW: Is there anything that most people aren’t aware of about that session? 
GS: Probably how difficult it was to play. Porgy and Bess is not a perfect recording. There’s a lot of sloppiness in there if you listen closely. We had to add three more Miles_and_gilsessions to capture what was needed in good enough shape to be issued. Cal Lampley, the album's producer, had to do an enormous amount of editing with the tape. We couldn’t play any of those pieces perfectly all the way through.

JW: Was it that the music was hard or that the musicians on the date weren’t well trained enough? 
GS: Both. That was a pretty big orchestra, with 19 instrumentalists including Miles. Some of those musicians were unfamiliar Gil-evans-and-miles-daviswith Gil’s great music and the harmonies were a mystery to them. You have to remember, there was no other jazz like that at the time to refer to. No band was playing anything like that with the sounds that Gil produced—not Benny Goodman or Dizzy Gillespie. And Gil did that with horns and flutes and muting of other instruments. That was all unfamiliar. As a result, it’s pretty ragged at times.

JW: As you listen to Miles Davis during the recording, what were you hearing? 
GS: I know how he struggled. At one session, his lip started to bleed. The endurance, all that slow playing. It’s 496735801_07219e3de2_mvery hard on a trumpet player. But he came through beautifully. Again, a lot of editing by Cal Lampley took place. He first had to take care of Miles, which in some cases meant choosing great trumpet takes even if the orchestra behind him was uneven. There are probably 800 splices in that thing.

JW: What was it like recording John Lewis’ score in 1959 for the film Odds Against Tomorrow? 
GS: Remarkable. John was stretching out on there. There’s a lot of intense, almost harsh, nasty chords when OddsTomorrowBajasome of the bad things happen in the film. It was years since we had first met, and by then he had learned so much. He was trying to get out of traditional tonality more and more.

JW: How did you come up with the term "Third Stream?" What was the thought process? 
GS: It was very simple. Back in 1957, there were two main streams of music—jazz and classical music. Today, of course, you can argue that there are many more streams—rock and roll, hip-hop, ethnic music and so on. In 1957, I 1345called one the First Stream and the other the Second Stream. The two streams got married and they begat a child, like in the Bible says [laughs], and a Third Stream was born. But a Third Stream meant that that the other streams would have to amalgamate or fuse in a thorough, deep way—not in some superficial construction by laying a few clichés on top of each other.

JW: So the two would have to give up something? 
GS: No, why? You just combine the best of both musics.

JW: But if they’re fusing, by definition they’re becoming something else entirely, yes? 
GS: Yes, that’s the true definition of a fusion. But that didn’t mean these music forms had to give up anything in Third Stream. Both retained their characteristics as they formed something new.

JW: What did the critics say? 
GS: The critics said you can’t mix oil and water. They pounced on me. I was crucified. But their reaction was as dumb as racial prejudice. Their notion that jazz and classical should not be polluted by each other’s sensibilities was dumb. Both jazz and classical critics said basically the same thing.

JW: Was the Third Stream a successful adventure? 
GS: Oh, yes, totally. The new music form spread to other great ethnic musics in the world. By 1975, Third Stream had influenced Turkish4-5913-6310-1 music and Greek music and Indian music. That’s apparent now. The record companies don’t call the result Third Stream. They call it fusion or crossover. You now can have three or four different forms of music together as long as it’s done creatively. And honestly.





Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com



Leave a Reply

Call Now Button