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Bebop Spoken There

Howard Riley: “When I started out playing jazz back in the late 50s, early 60s, if you wanted a gig you had to learn some standards.” – (Jazz Journal April 2017)

Eric Harland: “I love swing and I’m always going to swing but I also know that you can take a hip-hop groove and improvise with that just like you would with a swing pattern.” – (Jazz Journal April 2017)

Today Wednesday April 26

Afternoon.
Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
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Evening.
Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.
Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:30pm. £3.00.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Q&A with the Cookers’ David Weiss

(Interview by Russell)
Hi David: The Cookers played the Gateshead International Jazz Festival in April 2015. To this day the concert is remembered by many as their highlight of the year. This month the band is on a short tour of the UK calling at Sage Gateshead on November 14 with two changes to the previous line-up – Craig Handy replacing Jaleel Shaw and Danny Grissett depping for George Cables. Are these changes temporary?

Actually, Jaleel Shaw was subbing for regular band member Donald Harrison on that tour. Craig Handy was actually the original alto sax player of this incarnation of The Cookers and is rejoining us for this tour. Donald Harrison is the alto saxophonist in The Cookers. These other changes were just temporary. Danny Grissett is subbing for George Cables on this tour. George, unfortunately, has some minor health issues that won't allow him to fly for a while so Danny is replacing him for this tour. Danny has subbed for George before in the summer of 2015 but this is just a temporary change for this tour.
Jaleel made a great impression at Gateshead both for his alto playing and his impassioned words about the then desperate situation of killings on the streets of America. Looking at the matter from this side of the pond it seems like nothing has changed. Are you inclined to address the issue on this tour?
I'm not sure we will verbally address this issue at any time but the music these great men play is informed and imbued by these realities of living in America for the past 70-80 years of their lives. It's a part of them as anything I guess and therefore part of who they are and part of the music they make. 

On a lighter note, what’s Jaleel up to these days?

I believe Jaleel is on tour with the great Buster Williams in Europe at the moment

And Mr Cables?

George is home resting and recovering. He will be fine but he needs to rest for a while. We hope he will be well enough to go to South America with us at the end of the month. In the meantime, he will be performing at the Village Vanguard the week of his birthday in a couple of weeks.

Born and bred in New York, you left the jazz capital of the world to further your studies in Texas. Did you intend to return to New York or were other options open to you?

When I was ready to go to college to study music and jazz in particular, there weren't nearly the options there were now so North Texas State was one of the better options available at the time. My intention was always to return to New York and I visited often while still in school. I left for New York maybe a day or two after I graduated. 

You have worked with many of the great names of the music – Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Heath, the list goes on. This must have been a jazz education – on the stand and in the studio?

It was always an education to be near these great musicians whether in the studio or on the bandstand or on the train with them or on the phone with them. Their experience, knowledge and approach to their craft was invaluable to me and helped shape who I am as a musician. 

You founded the New Jazz Composers Octet. Was funding available to establish the idea or did you simply make a few calls and get on with it?

There was no funding whatsoever. This is the norm in the US unfortunately. I heard all the musicians around New York and made calls and had many rehearsals and figured things out as we went along. At first, it was intended to just be a composer’s workshop so that these guys I thought had great potential as composers could work out their ideas. Later, we decided to do some gigs and record and later, we got the opportunity to work with Freddie Hubbard. 

The Cookers is a band of bop masters. Looking back, when did you first get the idea that an all star band could be a viable recording and touring project?

Like everything, you have the idea first, get a gig and then decide whether this is something to pursue or not. Even after you make a decision to pursue something, you still don't know if it will work and have no idea what you are in store for, whether the band will have legs or not, record and tour or not or work with the personnel you started with or whether changes will be made. It's always a journey where you really have no idea how it will all turn out. I'm thrilled with how this band has turned out of course. I still hope the guys in the band will get more recognition though. Recognition I think they greatly deserve. I think things might be a little more difficult these days. There are a lot of bands out here. It's a buyers market and even if you distinguish yourself like I think The Cookers have. It's still a bit of a battle to keep the band out here active and touring. I'm always willing to fight for things that are well worth it though.

Thankfully, the band goes from strength to strength. Will we hear some new material on the tour and will you be bringing a truckload of CDs with you?

Yes, some of the tunes on the new CD have worked their way into the book and are performed every night. We do tour with as many CDs as we can carry. No truck unfortunately ;)

Many thanks for taking the time to speak to Bebop Spoken Here, we are looking forward to your Gateshead performance on November 14.

Russell/David.

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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