With June just about wrapped up, it's time to look look back at the best quotes that emerged from my JazzWax interviews over the past three months. Part 1 of this quarterly series appeared at the end of March and can be viewed here. To merit a place in this roundup, a quote must be pithy or offer fresh insights into jazz and jazz artists. To access the full interview for each quote, click on the name of the individual quotes in the "JazzWax Interviews" section in the right-hand column.
Here are the top quotes from jazz legends over the past quarter:
"[Antonio Carlos] Jobim told me that he and other Brazilian musicians listened to the records I made with Laurindo Almeida in the early 1950s as well as other West Coast jazz albums I was on. He said those records helped them figure out what direction to go in for bossa nova." —alto saxophonist Bud Shank on West Coast jazz's critical role in the development of Brazil's bossa nova movement.
"Erroll Garner favored Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz and other mood music recordings when he came into [New York's] Colony Music Store. Since Erroll couldn't read music, he always wanted clear, correct renditions of pop songs so he could hear how they were supposed to sound before interpreting them himself." —Dan Morgenstern, director of Rutgers University's Institute of Jazz Studies, on his early record-store job.
"One time Miles came out of the shower and said, 'Phil [pictured], what do you think about me being black?' My brother was taken aback, he was such a gentle guy. He said, 'Aw, Miles, that stuff doesn't matter to me. All I know is you're the greatest trumpeter that ever lived.' But that, of course, was tongue in cheek. Phil loved Conte Candoli most of all and told me so." —Joe Urso, sharing a story told to him by his tenor saxophonist brother, Phil, who roomed with Miles on the road. Phil died earlier this year.
"Phil was sitting at the end of the bar. I got up and went over to him and asked, 'Why aren't you playing?' Phil [pictured] told me not to make a scene. I said, 'What do you mean? I brought my friend over here to see you play. What's the matter?' Phil says, 'Chet needed some money. He got $50 for my horn.' " —Joe Urso recalling how Chet Baker took advantage of his brother, Phil, to raise money for a fix.
"Erroll [Garner] said, 'Well, Ronnell, when I came along, pianists were all playing stride. Like Teddy, Fatha Hines and Art. I never could do that with my left hand. But I could do it in one spot in the same octave range. A lot of folks didn’t know I was left-handed. My right hand was weakest. I’d always have to play catch up with my right hand, which dragged a little bit.” —Pianist Ronnell Bright [pictured] recalling what Erroll Garner told about the origin of his piano style.
"Sarah bought sheet music [of Thanks for the Memory] for all of the musicians. She also had sheet music like everyone else, and was reading the word 'Parthenon,' which was hyphenated. Sarah was unfamiliar with the word or what the Parthenon was. So she couldn’t figure out where the emphasis was supposed to go." —Ronnell Bright [pictured] on why Sarah Vaughan had so much trouble with Parthenon on Thanks for the Memory, from After Hours at the London House (1956).
"Erroll [pictured] had no relationship to keys. He didn’t read music. He’d just play. The [bassists who played with him] said sometimes they’d have to play Misty in B or F-sharp. The next night the song might be in E or A. Whatever Erroll heard at the moment. There were no difficult keys for Erroll. That's why Erroll always started songs by playing solo or vamping. It gave the bass player time to figure out the key.” —Ronnell Bright on Erroll Garner.
"The inspiration for Park Avenue Petite came from my imagination and nothing real. I simply thought of a lovely single young lady living in one of Park Avenue's high rises. Each day she passes the building's doorman without knowing that he has great admiration for her. However, he is never able to approach her or express his feelings because of his job and her high position in society. The lady is so high above him socially. Sadness, futility, desperation, hopelessness and unfulfillment become his metier as he mechanically opens the door for her each day, sharing only her delightful, captivating and alluring smile." —Benny Golson [pictured] on the origin of his composition, Park Avenue Petite. [Photo by Tom Pich]
"I used to bring special copies [of Chris Connor's Lullaby of Birdland] to radio stations. These [promotional] discs allowed radio announcers to dub in their voices, so it sounded like they were announcing Chris at Birdland. Life was very simple then." —producer Creed Taylor [pictured] on how radio disc jockey Bob Garrity's voice wound up on some recordings of Chris Connor's Lullaby of Birdland.
"Jack Teagarden made it look so easy. He used different slide positions on the trombone because his arms were short." —producer Creed Taylor
"For me, lyrics are like the script to a play. You have to act them out emotionally. Every singer that does anything worthwhile has to be an actor. You have to act out the lyrics of a song and put your personality into it." —singer Chris Connor.
"Art was so sensitive. It was as if he had no skin. The way he dealt with issues was getting loaded and playing music. I think a lot of people become artists because they're so troubled, they need art to put their creativity and issues in order." —Laurie Pepper, record producer and widow of saxophonist Art Pepper [pictured].
Tomorrow, look for my second quarterly feature: Top Replays '08 (Part 2). It's a list of 10 albums that I've played more often than others over the past three months.