~Interview by Vittorio LoConte~

...a bit about the enclosed interview. It is from August 2002 Cadence Magazine by the Italian Jazz Critic, Vittorio LoConte. This is the UNEDITED version......kind of wild what they chose to leave out. For example:
    LoConte wrote:
  1. "...your sound and the way you improvise is the most original sound on alto sax nowadays."
    what they published was:
    "..your sound and the way you improvise is most original..."
    [...i asked them to put the original line in the 'corrections/additions" page...]:
    --On Thursday, November 14, 2002 2:57 PM -0500 Richard Tabnik wrote:

    > > Dear Ms. Ryan

    > > It was good talking with you on the phone. Thanks to you and Bob and
    > everyone at Cadence for the August 2002 Vittorio LoConte interview. It was
    > the longest piece that has ever been done about me in a jazz magazine.

    > As per our phone conversation, I was wondering if you could please print > the following item in your "Additions/Corrections" scene:

    > > ===
    > ===
    > ===
    > The August 2002 Vittorio LoConte [or Cadence?] Interview with Richard > Tabnik, pg. 13, should have read:

    > > LoConte: [or Cadence:] "Your sound and the way you improvise is the most > original sound on alto sax nowadays."
    > ===
    > ===
    > ===

    > > [...what you wrote was: "Your sound and the way you improvise are most > original."]

    > > Thank you for your time. I would sincerely appreciate it if you would be > kind enough to contact me and let me know what decision was made.

    > > Thank you very much.

    > > > ===
    > ===
    > ===
    > Peace On Earth...Good Will towards All
    > Sincerely,
    > Richard Tabnik, Jazz Alto Saxophonist
    > e-mail: rctabnik@inch.com
    > WWW: http://www.inch.com/~rctabnik
    > http://www.newartistsrecords.com

    What they replied was:

    To: Richard Tabnik
    Subject: Re: thanks and possible correction
    Hello Richard

    after looking at the original text versus the published text and talking with the Editor, we knew it had been an intentional edit.

    The interviews that get published are speaking for Cadence Magazine and to say that one particular artist has the most original sound is not an opinion that all parties at Cadence hold. We try to reflect the thoughts of a majority.

    We do hope that you receive a good response from the interview. Our readership depends on us to print quality interviews and they usually respond in kind.

    Thank you
    Hillary J. Ryan
    Cadence Magazine

    Cadence Building
    Redwood, NY 13679 USA
    ph: 315-287-2852
    fax: 315-287-2860
    email: (hillary@cadencebuilding.com)


  2. They also took out any mention of Connie as a band leader and any mention of Roger Mancuso at all...they took out my "tirade" against the myth that Tristano didn't influence anyone...they took out that I feel that Lee Konitz is more of an influence on me than Bird...

Oh, well, at least they spelled my name correctly.

The reason that it matters to me is that, with what they published, i got one offer to go to Europe to play. This is not sufficient to make a trip to Europe pay for itself. If they had printed what was originally written, I might have gotten more than one offer. It was about survival as an artist, not ego...

Also, if you read my reaction to what was originally written, then read my reaction to what they had edited, it makes me sound overly grateful or even a bit strange. In other words, it's just a bad edit in every way... In answer to the assertion that "The interviews that get published are speaking for Cadence Magazine and to say that one particular artist has the most original sound is not an opinion that all parties at Cadence hold. We try to reflect the thoughts of a majority.", this is just absurd and they could have printed a disclaimer if they wanted to. It is my feeling that they should either let the interviewer's opinion be printed, or do the interview themselves... ===
Here is the original interview by Vittorio LoConte: ===

>You have recorded lately with Connie Crothers on *Ontology*, you sound and the way you improvise is the most original sound on alto sax nowadays. Did you work much on it? Does that influence the way you understand improvisation?

Well, first let me thank you very much for the kind words. Actually, they hit me pretty hard...like, I've received good reviews, and bad reviews, and mixed reviews...but that is the first time someone has ever said that...and, I don't know quite know how to say it...well, just getting a good review a person might get interested or happy but to read something like that, it makes me feel something deep about my entire life...you know, I put my first band together in 1964...I was 12...it was pretty bad...but I've been in bands almost non-stop since then....and this is the greatest band that I have ever been in.

As you know, Connie is a great teacher, and I also have the good fortune to have heard her accompany many different people from the most advanced like Warne Marsh, Lenny Popkin....to absolute beginners...and she creates something unique and totally tailor-made, so to speak...like your own universe...plus Connie and I have played together so much for the past 21 years that it is deeply evolving...although the intuitive musical connection was there from the beginning

...and as a soloist, to me, there is simply no one on Earth who can create the complexity of feeling and yet be miraculously thrilling with a single note....simply put, her solos can take a person places that they have never been before...on a feeling level...using just an acoustic piano...it is uncanny...

...and she is amazing as a band leader...and by that, I mean someone who is the musical spark, the point of view, the one who brings it all together and makes a unique thing called a band, not just a bunch of soloists...and she does that with her playing, her composing, her focus in rehearsals that is so relaxed...it is just different than any scene that I have ever felt...

...and I've been playing with Roger for more than 10 years and Connie and Roger go back to the early 60's...I mean there is a tremendous depth there...Roger is the greatest drummer I have ever played with...what he has come up with as a musician, as a drummer, as a painter on the canvas of time, so to speak...have you ever heard anything like that before?......what he and Connie get to...well, I just feel like the happiest saxophonist in the world because I feel like I'm in the best band...I know that sounds wild and actually, I hope that everyone feels that the band they are in is the best in the world, otherwise, what*s the point?

So anyway, to have someone say something that deep about me in print really hit me in a deep way...I mean, I have recorded with Connie before. It was a record entitled DUO DIMENSION and was recorded in 1987. We have played together and performed for some time. The band today is more stretched out than anything I have ever heard. We already have several recordings that are more evolved than ONTOLOGY, and hope to release one in the near future.

It really blows my mind that you are so kind about my playing. I first began playing saxophone at the age of 10 in 1962, studied with Lee Konitz in 1970 for two years, ended up studying with 12 private teachers and walking in and out of 4 music schools...but when I started studying with Connie, that was the beginning of my life as an artist.

For me, a sound is as much a part of originality--on any instrument-- as the notes are. Certainly, that is true of all the great improvisers--Armstrong, Lady Day, Pres, Bird, Lee, Warne, et. al. You can tell who it is in one note. It is amazing.

I wish to give mention--and my bio and study history is on my web site--to the great teacher Joe Allard, with whom many classical and jazz saxophonists and clarinetists studied. For me, he validated everything that Connie was showing me early on in my studies with her--basically that you do not play the saxophone with your lips or teeth or chops or muscles or diaphragm or brain--you play the saxophone with your ear, your intuition, your feeling, your heart.

Studying with Connie, working on sound included:
-eliminating unnecessary tension.
-connecting with the music of the greats, thereby finding my own music
-lots of slow and relaxed playing...it is more like Tai Chi than Karate.

To me, improvising is releasing the spark of the moment. Why is Jazz Improvising *the* artistic innovation of the 20th--and, as far as I can see, the 21st century?

If art is something that expresses something about being human, about being alive, about life, and;

If where we really exist is in the moment, not the past or future.

Then, an art form almost completely [and in some cases completely] focused on improvising can express something unique!

In my opinion, this makes Louis Armstrong the most innovative and influential artist of the 20th Century!

Lennie Tristano felt that, even though one can hear happiness or sadness in jazz improvising, there is something there that defies description, so he called it *jazz feeling*.

It is a note-to-note awareness coming from feeling, hearing and intuition...

>Is there some alto sax player you listen to, or that you have listened and you
could name as a source of inspiration for you?

Well, first let me say that I am influenced by more than just alto saxophonists. I dig Louis Armstrong, Bix, Tram, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Christian, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Fats, Bud Powell, Blanton, Pettiford, Papa Jo Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Warne Marsh, Lennie Tristano, Sal Mosca, Lenny Popkin, Liz Gorrill, Connie Crothers [my greatest influence], Freddie Hubbard, Sheila Jordan, Billy Bauer and many others.

For me, the two great alto saxophonists in jazz are Charlie Parker, of course, and Lee Konitz, especially his work from 1948-9 to 1955. The fact that he came up with such an original scene while Bird was alive, makes his achievement that much more amazing.

Lee was the first great artist that I ever met. His music changed my life and the chance to study with him probably saved my life! I say that because, at the age of 18 [in 1970], there weren*t too many adults that I could relate to, to say the least. ...and I was really a space cadet [even more than now!]...didn*t know what *practice* was, had been basically a self taught rock keyboard player and saxophonist turned on to jazz and blues in the late 60*s. Music was all that I cared about really [to this day...] and I was lucky enough to have Symphony Sid Torin on the radio playing Bird and Lennie and having 2 friends studying with Lennie and one friend studying with Lee [and one with Billy Bauer!]. Considering the almost unanimous blackout re: Lennie and his music and those deeply influenced by him, Sid*s scene is all the more amazing!

Musically, to me, simply put, the two great alto saxophonists in jazz improvising are Charlie Parker [of course] and Lee Konitz. In terms of studying, Lee introduced me to many doors which he opened for me:
1/] Learning solos from records by ear...since I had a C-melody at the time, he was hip enough to start me with Frankie Trumbauer, the genius with Bix who influenced Pres! This was one of Tristano*s great innovations. Lee Konitz studied with Lennie Tristano in Chicago from the age of 14!
1.] choose a solo by one of the greats: Pops, Roy Eldridge, Lester Young [especially/ before WW2], Lady Day, Bird, Bud, Fats, Tristano, Lee Konitz [before *55], et al
2.] choose one chorus to focus on
3.] listen to it so much that you naturally start to sing with it
4.] sing with it so much that you are eventually able to sing it without the recording
5.] once you can do that, teach it to yourself on your ax...you may wish to do all this at 1/2 speed first, which is great fun and a trip!
6.] go and play it with the recording

this has allowed you to internalize the music. In Karate, they say that learning BEGINS, not ends, with a Black Belt. In jazz improv. it begins when you learn the notes because there is so much feeling from the artists to connect to...

this can take a week or more...don*t limit the time or be in a rush! Let it happen naturally and enjoy it. Don*t try to judge learning...that*s just one of the traumas that school lays on us...just have a ball! TRANSCRIPTION?: well, now you can write out the solo like writing out your own name...and this step, although fun, becomes OPTIONAL! Well, drinking water is more important than analyzing it, so to speak.

2.] free playing...I still remember Lee saying like: *O.K. just let the music flow out of your horn...* and I experienced, for the first time in my life, some music coming out that was intuitive and almost seemingly alive. I felt like a happy conduit instead of clueless brain. Free playing was another innovation of Tristano*s; it was first recorded in 1949, but in addition to the band having 3 free sessions a week, they played free in Birdland!

Hey, what about the myth that Tristano didn*t influence anyone, didn*t play out, wasn*t known? O.K., who was the first tenor saxophonist who combined Pres-Bird-Coltrane lineage with Lee-Warne? Not Mark Turner, but Wayne Shorter! And he talks about it in his 1970*s Downbeat interviews...

and of course there are many who are influenced by Tristano: Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, many others, and today there are musicians, I mean I have heard recent recordings by pianists in Italy and Japan who ware influenced by Lennie. One of the pianists who plays at Smalls in NYC, Sascha Perry digs Lennie, in addition to all the other people there are and you hear it in his ability to transcend his influences...
3.] Lee of course got me into improvising on standards that began my scene and carried me through for the next 10 years [even through my tenure with Al Tinney!] until the time when, after much professional playing and private study, I began studies with Connie Crothers.

4.] Lee also got me into ear training and theory in a very open-ended and cool way that let me feel that I could discover things for myself.

For me as a student, Lee was the beginning of my jazz life. For me as a fan of over 30 years, Lee Konitz is one of the two greatest and, for me, is actually more of an influence.

My nickname for him is Grandmaster Lee, which is the name of the great Chinese Martial Artist Alan Lee, as well.

And he really is the Grand Master! To come up with a completely different scene from Bird on the same horn while Bird was still alive...! Wow!

Lee always sounds like himself and no one else! A great original, with an amazing career. With an artist of such great stature and with such a deep discography, it is only natural that folks would have their own individual favorites.

For me, it is 1948/9 to 1955...but also I love things from /57, 59, in fact, there are things in every decade that I love.
And I have heard him play recently and it is truly astounding. Lee Konitz is definitely the Grandmaster of Jazz Improvising on the Alto Saxophone!

You have recorded alone too, is that a kind of dialogue to yourself, or a way to express new possibilities on the instrument?

Actually, I simply did not have a band at the time and since every musician spends most of their time playing solo, I just did what I had been doing for years--improvising.

It really was a wonderful scene. I recorded at the old RCA studios in NYC. They have since been demolished [and the space is now used by the Federal Internal Revenue Service, to add insult to injury!!!] when RCA was bought out by BMG and they did not want to maintain them. But the studios were like a natural resource--rooms of beautiful wood and plush curtains big enough to contain several orchestras and a football game! The great recording engineer, Dick Baxter, who had recorded everyone from Elvis to Sonny Rollins to Perry Como, as well as many classical and Broadway scenes, set up four Neumann mics for me, and Connie was there listening. It was so intense and so much fun.

The tricky part was coming up with the names for 40 tracks on one CD. What I finally did was listen to them with the feeling of *you t4ell me your name*. I would get the title like that and it worked.

That was SOLO JOURNEY [NA1011CD] and was recorded in 1990.

It gave me tremendous freedom. I played some tunes and some free, all improvised, except for playing Pres' solo on Countless Blues and an excerpt from Parkers Mood...

For me, playing music is as important as water is to a fish.

I had heard some other solo sax scenes---Lee, Braxton, et. al...and felt that I could have fun doing that. From the age of 18, Lee connected me to my love of music...and studying and playing with Connie in much more depth years later got me to my beginning as an artist...

But I always feel like I am beginning these days...and that is wonderful.

Lee introduced me to free playing. I remember like it was yesterday, even though it was 1970, him saying, *O.K., just let the music happen...* and almost like a living thing, music jumped out of my horn.

Years later, the first time I played free with Connie, it had such beauty and form and logic that I stopped and said:

*Are you doing it? Are you making it happen?*

*No, it is just happening.*
It was amazing to me. It is like there is a music force and I feel like I spend my life trying to let it flow through me as pure as I can.

What a joy. I love music now more than I ever have, I am happy to say...

Please e-mail comments to:(rctabnik@inch.com)

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