Heroes: Musicians and Their Influences

From our our archives, here’s an interesting item from June 18, 2004.

If you’re looking for a good read, pick up the July issue of Downbeat. It’s being promoted as the “70th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” and the focus is a feature called “Our Heroes” in which more than 70 musicians talk about their primary influences. Here are a few highlights:

 Sonny Rollins on Coleman Hawkins: “I first saw him play on 52nd Street. I used to put eyebrow pencil on my lip to make a fake mustache so I could get in. We’d stand in the back, and it was like looking at a god playing.”

 Joe Zawinul on Art Tatum: “He always sounded like two piano players. The story goes like this:

His grandmomma had one of those player pianos. But the recordings in the piano were by two piano players. So Tatum, that’s just the way he just heard the music. He though that’s the way you’re supposed to play the piano.”

Antonio Hart on Cannonball Adderley: “What inspired me most about him was that he played with tremendous intellect and technical facility, but was able to maintain that down-home feeling in his playing. There was total communication.”

There are many interesting articles, including Jimmy Heath on Dizzy Gillespie; Wayne Shorter on Charlie Parker; Branford Marsalis on Sonny Rollins; Michael Brecker on John Coltrane; Gary Bartz on Clifford Jordan, and others. People sometimes ask me which jazz magazines I prefer. Downbeat is the only one I read consistently. To me it has the most interesting articles, best writing and a good mix between the older stuff and current music. They could write more often about the vinyl market, but we’re happy to serve that niche.


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