Interview: John Levy (Part 2) - JazzWax

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February 16, 2010


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Doug Zielke

John's comments about early engineers not knowing how to record the bass, is proven out by many recordings in my collection. For example, compare Milt Hinton recorded anytime in the 40's, with probably his last recorded appearance, on Branford Marsalis' "Trio Jeepy". Lovers of the string bass cherish this record.

Michael Steinman

Wonderful interview, as always! I'd point out that the bass -- although always overlooked by people who don't know (the listeners who talk through the bass solo) remained a fundamental part of small-group jazz through bebop and beyond. Dizzy and Bird needed the strong pulse of a Ray Brown, a Tommy Potter, or Oscar Pettiford. Think of Paul Chambers with Miles . . . and onwards. Those players could improvise freely during their solos, but they were also responsible for the strong four -- freeing up the pianist's left hand and the drummer's foot for accents. Myself, I look back nostalgically to the days when the whole rhythm section was interested in that four, but then again I remember Pleistocene days with some affection. Cheers! Michael

Rab Hines

Thanks for this informative and very enjoyable feature.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of Calif. Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax was named the 2015 "Blog of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association.
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