In the Wall Street Journal this week, my candid interview with Judy Collins about the struggles she endured growing up in Denver before her folk career took off (go here). As a kid, I still remember her hit cover of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now in 1968 and how it swept me away at age 12. Judy's voice is so singular and powerful, and she's such a joy to talk to and know. Her holiday album, Christmas With Judy Collins, remains among my all-time favorites. And her new album, Strangers Again, is excellent (go here).
Also in the WSJ, I interviewed former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on his favorite song—Simon & Garfunkel's Sound of Silence from 1965. I think you'll be surprised why the Commissioner found it meaningful (go here).
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Bill Evans interviewed. Following my "Bill Evans: Last TV Show" post last week, reader Dave Thomas sent along a link to a terrific interview that JAZZ.FM91 CEO Ross Porter conducted with the pianist in 1980. Go here...
Chet Baker podcast. Reader Phillip Andrews sent along a link to a BBC Radio podcast interview with Jim Coleman, who managed trumpeter Chet Baker during the final two years of his life. Go here.
Yogi Berra Explains Jazz:
Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it's right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.
Interviewer: I don't understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead.
Some would kill for it.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.
Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.
Bob Bain, studio guitarist. Reader and Hollywood arranger Roy Phillippe sent along a link to an article on Bob Bain, Henry Mancini's favorite guitarist. That's Bain you hear playing Moon River as Audrey Hepburn pretends to play the guitar at the start of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Go here.
What I'm Into: This week I'm into old fashioned candy-store pretzel rods. The perfect writer's snack. How so? You're able to stick one in your mouth like a cigar and nibble it down little by little while your hands never have to leave the keyboard. Salty, satisfying and motivating.
Oddball album cover of the week.
This one was arranged by trombonist Hale Rood, who worked extensively with Ralph Flanagan and Benny Goodman in the 1950s and, obviously, for Volkswagen in the early 1960s. The album was the soundtrack to Right Hand of Plenty (1962)...