Friday, February 22, 2013

"Out There" Creator Ryan Quincy - LA Weekly

Out There.jpg
IFC Television

Emmy-winning animator Ryan Quincy has always dreamed of having his own show. During the decade and a half he spent working his way up to animation director for South Park, he spent his hiatuses creating a world entirely his own, inhabited by hairy but harmless creatures just trying to sort out the difficulties of adolescence.
Now, following in the footsteps of primetime animators like Mike Judge and Seth MacFarlane, Quincy is having that dream fulfilled. Out There, which Quincy created, wrote, directed and produced, premiered on IFC last Friday. He spoke to us by phone to explain how a relative unknown lands his own animated TV show and manages to secure voice talent like Megan Mulally, Kate Micucci and Fred Armisen to help make it come to life.
How did you end up making a living through animation?
I was always sort of aimless in school. I liked to make movies. I liked to draw. The college I went to in Nebraska had an art program only offered one animation class. I took it and I really enjoyed it. I never had any formal animation training prior to that.
After I graduated from college I floundered in Lincoln, Nebraska for a year. There wasn't going to be anything too fulfilling there so I moved to L.A. to sleep on a friend's couch and pursue animation. When I first moved to L.A. I moved right next door to the animation director of South Park. [South Park creators] Trey Parker and Matt Stone lived across the street. It was a total coincidence. They had just started the TV show that year.
The stars were aligned there but they were fully staffed then so I didn't get a job. I kept stumbling along and dumb luck got me to this job doing the interstitials on Mad TV, parodies of Rankin/Bass stuff like a Rudolph meets Scorsese. We did a South Park parody where we actually did cut-out construction paper stuff. When the job was done, I had that on my demo reel and saw that the South Park movie was hiring. I got the job with theSouth Park movie and ended up staying with them for 14 years, but in between seasons I was working on my animated shorts.
Your shorts eventually led to you getting a TV deal. How was the process of producing your own show?
It was a lot more challenging than I thought. A lot more daunting. Once I got the call from IFC that they'd picked up ten episodes, you'd think I would be elated but I was white as a ghost. I was thinking, "What lies ahead here?" I was coming from a show that was pretty streamlined and had the system down and I had to start from scratch. There were huge challenges like expanding the world, the casting, figuring out full stories.
Who were your influences in creating Out There?
Definitely all the Charles Schulz material, the comic strips and the animated stuff. I think there is a kindred spirit with that stuff. People have asked me if this is the South Park kids in high school but I feel it's more in the Peanuts universe. Artistically, a lot of children's book authors like Dr. Seuss, Richard Scary, Maurice Sendak and William Steig. Those were big influences on my style. I like stuff where there are is frog and a monster and just weird looking characters and you don't really question it. They just are who they are.
And now you've got actors like Jason Schwartzman, Sarah Silverman and Nick Offerman guesting?
Twentieth Century Fox is the production company. They have a partnership with IFC so I had access to one of their casting directors, who had cast Futurama and King of the Hill. He already knew a lot of these folks and that was huge to have access to people like Pamela Adlon and John Dimaggio. I was amazed when they said give us your wish list and they were like, "Yeah, this person is in." Everyone was really cool to work with.
Yet you are voicing the main character.
When I did the shorts, that was very low-budget, do it yourself, get favors from your friends. I just did it out of necessity, the voice of the main character. A lot of things were autobiographical like passing out in sex ed class and working at Dairy Queen. When the show got picked up, we were talking about casting and IFC said the only voice they wanted to bring over was the main character, Chad. I was like, "You gotta be shitting me."
I'm not really doing a voice. It's just my own voice. They were very adamant. That was something that took me by surprise and I thought, "Oh man everyone is going to think this is some kind of vanity project." I was resistant and nervous at first but I got over being annoyed at how bad my voice sounds.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Darryl Jones on Miles Davis - LA Weekly

Juan Morse
Darryl Jones (left), Ndugu Chancler (center), John Beasley (right)
Bassist Darryl Jones should be a household name. His fluid, funky low end has supported at least a dozen of the biggest concert draws of the last 30 years, starting with Miles Davis' band when he was just 21. When Sting left the Police for a solo career in the mid-'80s, Jones was the man he hired to play bass. He supported Madonna in her prime on the Blond Ambition tour and for the last 20 years he has played on every gig and album by the Rolling Stones. Now, for the first time in his career, Jones is stepping into the spotlight.
Alongside keyboardist John Beasley and famed session drummer Ndugu Chancler, Jones has launched a new project called 3 Brave Souls. All three men worked for Miles Davis but their tenures did not overlap. Beasley and Jones became close in a Miles alumni band; when Chancler became available, the trio buckled down and recorded their self-titled album of groove-slathered funk, in two weeks
"When we were in the studio, John said, 'It'd be nice if we had one or two vocal tunes.' I chimed in and said I had a tune that might be good for that and he made me a man of my word," says a bemused Jones by phone. "That's my first real lead on a record."
Raised on a steady diet of jazz and soul in Chicago, Jones wandered from the drums to the guitar before settling on the electric bass. He started gigging and recording while still a teenager with artists like Pops Staples and regional blues star Little Oscar. Through his friend Vince Wilburn Jr, who happened to be Miles Davis' nephew, Jones landed an audition with the Prince of Darkness, lasting with him for four years during the 1980s.
"One of the most important things that I learned from working with Miles was to listen actively to the musicians around you. It's one of the things that allows the magic in music to happen," says Jones. "If you are in your house late at night and you hear an unfamiliar sound, there is a way that you listen that is very different from when you are listening to the radio in the shower. That kind of hyper vigilant listening, where you are not only listening to what the musicians are playing but are trying to tune into what the musicians intention is. That kind of attention is what allows the kind of music that Miles has been so famous for to occur."
Within 10 years of joining Miles' band, Jones found himself filling the bass chair for the Rolling Stones. After befriending Keith Richards, he aced his audition and seamlessly switched from jazz legends to rock legends. Soon he was playing in front of crowds of over one hundred thousand people, eventually peaking in 2006 in Rio de Janeiro with an audience estimated at 1.5 million. "That was kind of transcendent. I remember Keith starting 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' and the feeling from the audience...When there are that many people there, you can physically feel it."
Through it all Jones has kept his funky chops in tact. It's hard to imagine a jazz musician ever getting the chance to play before more than a few thousand people, but it doesn't seem to have fazed the low-key Jones. In his opinion, an intimate jazz venue can be just as rewarding as playing to a crowd the size of Rhode Island. Discovering a new element of expression in his early '50s seems to have really helped. "I'm excited about beginning vocals as a secondary instrument. I really do love lyrics and singing and I looking forward to get more experience doing it," he says. "And hopefully I'll get better at it."

Darryl Jones @ LA Weekly

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Blue Note's Don Was interview - LA Weekly

don was rick diamond.jpg
Rick Diamond
Don Was is a frequent sight at shows around L.A. He's hard to miss: all hair, hat, sunglasses, and smiles. He made a name for himself as a bass player with Was (Not Was) as well as a producer for the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt. Last year, he became the president of Blue Note Records. Around the same time, we took the label to task for what had become a gradual dilution of a great legacy.
Blue Note released some of the most important jazz albums of the 1950s and 1960s but since the turn of the century had opted for a radio-friendly folk vibe that left jazz fans scratching their heads. One of Was' first signings was saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who plays Walt Disney Concert Hall Saturday to promote his first record with the label in over 40 years. In our interview below, Was talks about his work at the label.
What was your relationship with Blue Note before you started working there?
In the '60s, when my peers were in the throes of Jimi Hendrix, David Was and I were Blue Note fanatics. At that time there used to be record stores that were mom and pop stores. Every record store had a completely different inventory that reflected the personality of the owner. So we'd call around record stores on the other side of Detroit and see if they had a copy of something we hadn't seen before. We'd hop on a bus and ride forty-five minutes just to see the records. We didn't have the bread to buy them. Stereo copies were like $4.99. We just went to hold them and read the credits. It was more than just music. It was a lifestyle, a cultural force, especially those photographs by Francis Wolff -- the room with no walls and smoke everywhere. I wanted to be one of those guys. The way people reacted to the Beatles or the Stones or Bob Dylan when I was a teenager, Blue Note was that force. And it's something I never really lost but it was never my intention to work at a record company.
How does one become the president of Blue Note records if they aren't looking for it?
It was Dan McCarroll, who's an old friend of mine and a great musician. He is the president of Capitol Records and we met for breakfast. We weren't even talking about music. It was just a friendly breakfast and I had gone to see this singer the night before, Gregory Porter, at a club up in Harlem. He was great. I loved him. As we were leaving the restaurant I asked Dan, "Is Blue Note Records still part of the Capitol group 'cause if it is you should sign this guy I saw last night.' And that turned into, 'Maybe I should sign him.' It was an irresistible offer.
I understood it was a challenge but I kind of had a sense of what to do. It wasn't that hard to see that you can't keep recreating the 1960s and that was not what the music of the '60s was about. That was radical revolutionary music in reaction to the rules of 1950s bebop. That first Jazz Messengers album is as radical a departure as what Wayne [Shorter] and Herbie [Hancock] were doing with Speak No Evil and Maiden Voyage. Repeating things that happened 40 years ago is not the idea. It's taking the aesthetic behind that and moving it forward but we still have to be the best jazz label we can be.
How hard is it to keep the different factions happy? The artists? The executives?
Well, running a label, if you distill it down to its basics is really kind of simple. You try and make really great records that are really going to touch people. Maybe you can't touch all the people all the time with all the music but everything you put out has got to put people in touch with their feelings. There was a great interview with Bob Dylan in Rolling Stoneabout six months ago. He said some of the most profound stuff I've ever heard. He said, 'My job is not to get up on stage and tell you how I'm feeling every night. No one cares about that. It's my job to get up there and put people in touch with their own feelings.' And that's really true and it's something that is really kind of overlooked. I never heard it expressed that way. So you want to make records that make people feel something and then let as many people know about it as possible and trust that people actually do have taste and will gravitate to the music. It's not that hard.
What I was concerned about was having to read profit/loss statements and get into the financial stuff. Truth be told it's actually kind of fascinating to see how the thing works. I've been making records for 35 years and never really understood how it worked. Now I see why certain records I thought should have happened didn't happen and what could've been done to make that happen.
How have things changed with you at the helm?
There's a whole different vibe now at Blue Note. There really seems to be a return to instinct. The records that we love from years ago were all made by entrepreneurs -- Ahmet Ertegun, Chris Blackwell, Jac Holzman and Alfred Lion -- guys gambling with their own bread with really good instincts. That's what the record business is about. You can't really run it by profit/loss statements. You have to be willing to operate on instincts and that's the climate here. It's a musical climate as opposed to a financial climate and that is a huge difference.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Dexter Gordon - NYC Jazz Record

Dexter Gordon
Satin Doll - Live in Stockholm

In June of 1967, Dexter Gordon was 44 years old. He
had been steadily blasting east from Los Angeles to
New York before hopping the Atlantic in 1962.
Copenhagen became his home base for the remainder
of the ‘60s and much of the ‘70s, with the Montmartre
Jazzhus becoming his regular office. 15 years ago Blue
Note Records unearthed recordings of Gordon backed
by pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Bo Stief and drummer
Art Taylor. This newest collection hails from that same
summer engagement, pitting Gordon against Taylor’s
popping snare for three epic battles while Kenny Drew
rows the boat for a Gordon ballad standby.

The album opens with the swinging title track,
finding Gordon working the full range of his horn in
honks and hoots as Taylor dances boisterously around
his phrases. In the liner notes, Stief speaks of his
nervousness on the gig. Only 20 and surrounded by
legends, it was understandable but none of that
apprehension is heard on “It’s You or No One”, as he
takes an extended, brisk quarter-note solo. Gordon is
especially intense, locked in with Taylor. “Darn That
Dream” gets a flowery accompaniment from Drew that
allows Gordon to stretch out, Taylor sticking to brushes
as Drew digs into his own tasteful moment in the
spotlight. “Billie’s Bounce” closes out the set with a
playful spoken intro from Gordon before the band
launches into a slightly reworked spin on Charlie
Parker’s melody. Each member gets plenty of room to
open up as Taylor closes out the solos, trading 12-bar
intervals before seemingly driving the drum kit
straight through the floor.

The playing is delightfully fierce. Gordon and
Taylor give it everything they’ve got on the bandstand,
with “It’s You or No One” and “Billie’s Bounce”
combining for a running time of over 35 minutes. How
many more of these recordings lie in the vault? And
how soon can we hear them?

Dexter Gordon @ NYC Jazz Record