interview with Lazaro
GRAND RAPIDS—On May 18, 2002, The Roscoe
with special guest Fred Anderson played a successful benefit concert
Lake Fine Arts Camp at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
quintet's performance was recorded for future broadcast by Blue Lake Public Radio and GRTV/The
Community Media Center
of Grand Rapids. The concert tapes will be archived at the Jazz
Chicago collection at the University of Chicago.
The following interview with Roscoe Mitchell
at home (near
Madison, Wisconsin), May 8, 2002, was excerpted for radio broadcast
FM 90.3 (Muskegon and the Lake Michigan shoreline) and WBLU FM 88.9
Rapids) prior to the concert. Lazaro Vega is Blue Lake Public Radio's
director since 1983.
LV: When you come in with Fred Anderson, one thing I think
people who study
the evolution of jazz in the last 40 years realize about Fred Anderson
he's one of the few players in the saxophone tradition developing with
who doesn't rely as much on overtones or extending the range of the
through effects. Not as much as you have. That seems like something
embraced and made virtuostic: the use of overtones, split tones, you
false fingerings and false registers, circular breathing, glissandos.
yourself have expanded the range of the woodwinds capabilities of sound
through those devices, whereas Fred has found another way that doesn't
emphasize those as much.
It seems to me to be a perfect match. I think that
saxophone-wise you come
from two different directions that are very, very personal. I was
you might comment on that having played with him recently at the Velvet
and Hot House in Chicago.
That's the grand tradition of African-American music, isn't
it? to find your
own voice and pretty much stick with it?
(Record producer) Chuck Nessa has described Fred Anderson as
one of the
"great meanderers" with his style producing long rambling solos of
intensity and beauty. Do you find that to be true when you're standing
him? that he'll take off like that?
Right, he started before the A.A.C.M. and probably before the
influence of John Coltrane. It seems like Fred Anderson was developing
voice before 'Trane was playing his long extended solos; in the period
Coltrane influenced you.
From the most beautiful Johnny Hodges created rhapsodies to
even some of the
European free players who followed in your footsteps. They don't
admit it, but players such as Evan Parker, they wouldn't be possible
some of the things that you, Joseph Jarman and Anthony Braxton did in
immediate post-Coltrane era.
What does that mean to you, a super-musician?
In talking about the concept of the super-musician it sounds
to me like
you're talking somebody who has come as close as they can in their
mastering their knowledge of the history of music, their capabilities
their own instrument, as well as a unique and personal approach to
Is that it?
With the two performances you and Fred presented over the last
at the Velvet Lounge last fall and recently at Hot House for Fred's
birthday party, I'm curious to know how you deal with it from a
point of view? (You've defined several clear compositional areas), and
numbers include "Dark Day" and "Ladies In Love." I wonder
about the meeting of minds there: Rehearsal leading to pieces chosen
beforehand, a regular repertoire? How does that go?
One of the things I was reading in Alyn Shipton's recent "New
of Jazz" was that some of the developments in the evolution of jazz
happened in a sense out of boredom. For the bebop era, for instance,
people playing in dance bands every night, playing theater shows every
in and day out, the same material, they may have grown tired of doing
may have thought, well, let's try something new musically. Let's try
changes or this rhythm, or let's speed it up, try this other stuff, and
that's how bebop developed.
Today, at this juncture, it's not 1966 anymore. Looking at
output it may seem as if classical music has much of your attention,
you deeply and become more ingrained in what you project these
I was just thinking of "The Le Dreher Suite" and "Off
Shore" on the recording "In Walked Buckner" where you're playing
baroque flutes and the bass recorder. You know, Alyn Shipton makes
point in mentioning that as an instrumentalist you not only added
woodwinds, ones not often heard in jazz, but you've also added
emotions. Sarcasm, lyricism and irony usually don't exist
simultaneously in a
jazz solo, but in some of your music they do.
Do you mean by the 'time of the composer' European history, or
talking about Duke Ellington?
I like this concept of the super-musician.
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