Joanne Brackeen interview

Interviewee biography: 

Joanne Brackeen studied at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. In 1969, she became the first woman to play in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. She has since performed around the world with musicians such as Joe Henderson and Stan Getz, and she has released 25 albums as a lead musician. She is currently a professor in Berklee’s Piano Department as well as at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.


FB:you were doing trio dates under your own leadership in the 70's.

JB: Yes I did...

FB:Snooze, 75- 6/8-75 or 6, Tringaling, -77,

JB: mm hmm.. yeah .. that was the one with Michael Brecker trio...


JB: and Rhythm section Billy Hart, and Cecil McBee..

FB: Is Cecil still around?

JB: Yeah he is ...

FB: Is he in New York. .


FB: You ever.. you guys work together?

JB:Oh yeah, sometimes. - Sometimes the little hidden jobs..


JB: Actually I like to do concerts with him too when they want a duet. I think we make a great duet.

FB: Oh he has such a big beautiful warm sound .

JB: Yeah he does..

FB: and he can bow..

JB: and he's crazy. and I like that.

FB:yeah.. you gotta be a little crazy to survive in this business.

JB: To create ...,yeah.. I don't think its surviving because ..we can all survive.

FB: Yeah.-

JB: To be Alive?- you need to be a little crazy.

FB:Now that we're up that far- you're starting to write some pretty amazing pieces of music.

JB: I was writing all along, - you know I wrote a whole lot in Califorina. -and somehow... we lost the recordings, we didn't actually write them down we played em.. ..

FB: Oh you mean the tapes got lost,

JB: Yeah.. So I had a lot of tunes before I even. we even moved to New York.

FB: Do you have a Joanne Brackeen Songbook.-

JB: No.. ..they've been .. yeah .. one company .. Globart was trying to do that . and we actually finally .. after about two years, that could put my tunes on the computer.-

FB: Whoa.

JB: Cause they're not easy to put on .. even now... here it's very hard. : We were trying to put Africa Aztec on it and I think one measure took two hours. ..

FB: haha

JB: and it never did look right. -so I'm like .. well.. this needs to be written so that other band members could play it easily.
because you don't always have a chance to rehearse. So they'd gotten about 4 or 5 tunes ready and they were gonna do a song book and I would play with a rhythm on.. and then 911 happend. and they were right there. they exploded.. and moved up to Vermont somewhere. - and that never happed.

FB:Thats when I talked to you for Berklee today, and we had that little interview... segment for .. the berklee alumni magazine, .. I'd just asked you about.. you were right in the middle of the Malstrom down there. ..

JB: Yeah, my apartment was too, but it didn't ..somehow I always close doors, and close windows when I leave and nothing got into my apartment .- because I was on the right side. ... on the correct side .. the back side. - the .look at the river side. the people who were looking out at the street, got it .. .. so but this big building they were in .. was really .. ...contaminated or whatever, anyway they moved . .. so.. no longer, New York, they'd been very difficult to do.

FB: Can you explain some of your precepts or your compositional techniques, ... how do you dream up something like ADB or ah...Green Voices of Player.. that kind of stuff..

JB: It's just .. I feel a certain energy, and I usually got to the piano and just find it feels like there's already a tune there, and it feels like there's already a part of it in my hands .. and so I just go and find it.

FB: so..

JB:I have over 300 compositions.. but you know alot of them are just on tapes, but ..there is about.. maybe there is 100 that I know .. that I would play. and of those .. I keep writing. but I don't usually go back in old ones and pull them up. .. I just you know.. keep wriitng.

FB: So you don't nessecarily, if you have an old favorite, you would just .leave that as .. something to build on .. -

JB: I don't even know that I'm leaving it, I just get new ideas and just .. write new ones.. I wrote about six or 7 last summer, -and there was about 3 or 4 of them that we're using.. sometimes it takes the band a little while to get them ..

FB::uh hiuh...Is it the kind of material that takes a lot of work with your bass and drummer? Adam or Uganakegwo, or whoever you're workin with..

JB:It can .. I mean everybody does their own...on their own.. I just give them the music. I hire people that I know can hear into the sound of the compositions.

FB: They just learn them and...

JB: Yeah .. then we work together..

FB: Build it up .. .. and give them some jumping off spots too.. ..solo on. um...lets um..
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