• Talking Jazz

    For all the jazz fans out there this is one of the coolest boxed sets I've seen. Talking Jazz doesn't contain a single second of music on any of the 24 discs! This set provides a view into the minds of 60 jazz greats like Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, and Art Blakey. Ben Sidran interviewed these artists as part of his NPR series "Sidran on Record." Here is Ben discussing his interview with Miles Davis:

    "...Sidran specifically recalled his encounter with Miles Davis. Though Davis was notoriously difficult to talk to, Sidran remembers "just the opposite."

    "When I hear that [interview], the first thing I hear are the waves on the beach," he says. "I was sitting on the deck of his beach house in Malibu with him. And he was sitting across from me, and he was drawing on this pad."
    The interviews frequently illuminate aspects of the musicians' creative processes.

    "[Davis] actually is one of the great advocates of putting creative people in a room and mixing it up and seeing what happens," Sidran says. .." Full Article.

    From The New York Times:

    Monday, December 25, 2006


    BEN SIDRAN / "Talking Jazz: An Oral History";

    Ben Sidran's interviews with jazz musicians, many of whom are now dead, broadcast on National Public Radio in the 1980s, were consistent, intelligent, not glib or jivey, and revelatory to the extent that these musicians would reveal themselves. For a time they were the closest thing in jazz to the Paris Review's interviews with writers.
    But these conversations, 60 boxed in a 24-CD set, have a qualitative difference. Writers talk more uniformly, because they are all in a solitary war with consciousness and with words; when they finish a novel or poem or story, they start again, still alone. Many jazz musicians want to write a good composition, but it often happens almost by accident. They are more obsessed with social matters: musical communication within a group, audience reception, how jazz operates at home and abroad, record-business ignorance and prejudice. They can talk heartily about all of these things and sometimes not be bothered to explain how they play a note. Full Article.


    From The Financial Times of London

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007


    BEN SIDRAN "Talking Jazz: An Oral History"

    Music and the meaning of life

    It's easy to think that when you hear a musician play he is exposing his inner self, but perhaps there are revelations to be found too in the more mundane dealings of life. An intriguing collection of recorded interviews with jazz players by the American musician and writer Ben Sidran marries both artistic and quotidian insight—so while drummer Art Blakey tells Sidran that when you perform, "you are in the nude… people can see clean through you," Sidran elsewhere notes the fascination of watching musicians "trying to get paid… how they deal with the club-owner disappearing" and of "look[ing] at them in their daily round".

    Sidran's conversations with major jazz figures—he throws in the odd club-owner and recording engineer for good measure—do precisely that. In the 1980s he did a mammoth series of interviews for US public service broadcasting, of which he has now edited 60 for release on 24 CDs. Full Article.

    Purchasing information and audio samples can be found at the following sites.

    Ben Sidran.

    Talking Jazz.