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Interview with Elvis Costello about jazz
Jazz Times, 2002-05-01
- Christopher Porter



From Elvis in Ireland: Costello's Jazz Jones

By Christopher Porter


Elvis Costello grew up in a house filled with jazz. The pop-songwriting master's father, Ross MacManus, was a professional singer-trumpeter, usually working with the dance band Joe Loss Orchestra, and Costello's mum, Lillian, managed the record department of a store and often took her son to jazz and classical concerts.

Even when Costello was tearing it up like an angry young man in the late '70s and early '80s, his hard-driving songs featured elements of sophisticated writing inspired by his love of jazz and its composers. As early as 1979 he covered the standard "My Funny Valentine" for the B-side of a single.

Costello brought in Chet Baker to record a trumpet solo on "Shipbuilding" for the 1983 album Punch the Clock, and he has since collaborated with many jazz people on his own albums, including the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on 1989's Spike and Bill Frisell on 1995's live Deep Dead Blue.

He's also been a regular traveler with the Jazz Passengers, whose members return the favor on Costello's great new CD, When I Was Cruel, which features vibist Bill Ware and horn arrangements played by trombonists Frank Lacy (who also plays trumpet) and Curtis Fowlkes and saxophonists Roy Nathanson and Jay Rodriguez. Despite the presence of all these jazz guys, When I Was Cruel is a raw, rhythm-heavy record featuring some of Costello's catchiest rock tunes in years.

Costello has long been fascinated with the music of Charles Mingus. He participated on Hal Willner's 1992 CD Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus, and it was during that session that he met Sue Mingus, whose new book, Tonight at Noon: A Love Story, chronicles her life with the bassist-composer. Costello has sang with the Mingus Big Band for several live performances, penning lyrics to Mingus' instrumental compositions, as he does with "Invisible Lady" on the Mingus Big Band's marvelous new Tonight at Noon CD.

The following is a transcript of a chat I had with Costello, who was calling from Dublin, about jazz, Mingus, Baker and his new CD.

Elvis Costello on His New Album

Just seeing the lineup before I had heard When I Was Cruel, and seeing all the Jazz Passengers guys on there, I was expecting a certain amount of jazz, or something even like your co-compositions with Burt Bacharach on Painted From Memory. But the CD turned out to be your most rock record in years.

I don't know about rock, but it's some sort of music--like a rhythm record, some kind of rhythm and blues record, though I suppose what I call rhythm and blues means something else nowadays. You know all those words they keep changing the meaning of all of the time on me; it makes it so confusing to talk about music.

Did you go about composing this record sort of in a response to the more formal or orchestral work you've been doing as of late?

I don't know about in response, because I don't really think in that way, but I think what you do is you go along in a vein in which leads one thing into the next. In the last 10 years I've [often] worked in a collaborative form, whether large-scale, whole album projects like with Bacharach, or guest appearances with [saxophonist John Harle on 1997's Terror and Magnificence] or other people that I've sung with [such as pop-classical vocalist Anne Sofie von Otter for 2001's For the Stars]. I made a couple song-based records of my own in the mid-decade, but in the last few years it's been really concentrated in ballads you know culminating in this bizarre pop hit that I had in '99 with "She" from the Knotting Hill film, which was such a surprise, an anomaly, really, in all of the records I've recorded.

I mean it's very attractive to take up the opportunity to work with Bacharach and to work on these highly concentrated, harmonic, highly developed melodic compositions, and I wrote an orchestral score for [the T.V. series G.B.H. in 1994 and Jake's Progress in 1996]. All of these require a tremendous amount of concentration, discipline; to use the notated, coded form of music there isn't a same degree of scope for to put that kind of a bass on a record [laughs].

Having a fuzz box and a drum machine at home got me down another road rhythmically, and suddenly I had a way to play rock 'n' roll that didn't sound like I'd done it before and that's the most attractive thing. Once I got working, I found the guys who, I thought, were not really at all tainted by the past of rock 'n' roll or what part in it that I played. They kind of had a new idea about the sound that gave us another way to proceed, and we were able to perform very spontaneously. It has that feeling. We just traveled to New York for one day to put the horn section on, which we would have loved to cut live but that was kind of impractical since we were recording in Dublin.

Do you think that your increased involvement with ballads and orchestrated music was concurrent with the way you developed your voice? It seems like in the last 10 years your vibrato is so much more pronounced than before.

I think my vibrato was always there; it's just a question of tempo. If I sing slowly the vibrato emerges. I think your vibrato widens as you get older. There's people that would say, "It's certainly not a good thing to let that happen, you know?" So I think there's a point I think the vibrato is very attractive to some people, but as you've noted and heard this record all the way through, you'll hear there's hardly one note of vibrato in my record. It wasn't a conscious decision so much as that is there's hardly any held notes on the record. There's a lot of sort of short, very short notes, which is why in my earlier records you could barely detect a vibrato, which was always in my voice. Certainly I did try to warm up my voice, as the compositions that I wrote in, say, the early '80s, things like "Almost Blue," certainly had more tenderness in them than some of the earlier records. So I allowed that sound to come through and then it's become a predominant aspect of my singing when I was working with Burt Bacharach.

Elvis Costello on His Early Jazz Influences

Most of the slower songs that you did earlier were your own but I know that you did "My Funny Valentine" around the time of Armed Forces, and jazz has always played a part in your life because of your parents.

My folks' record collection was pretty rich in great stuff. I can't pretend that when I was a tiny child I understood it all. I certainly grew up in music, based around singers who were popular-song singers who certainly had a jazz foundation: Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday. My mother sold records, my mother used to run jazz clubs that my dad played in, before they were married, even. My dad was hearing music that was coming out of America like a lot of English musicians. I mean, he's born in England, but he was from an Irish background, but there are records of the local music scene in Birkenhead, which sits across the Mersey from Liverpool. Recently, there was an article looking back at the late '40s, early '50s jazz scene on the Mersey side that actually names my father as the first person to play bebop in Birkenhead. I think you should have it on a T-shirt.

Can you imagine what those early Dizzy [Gillespie] records must have sounded like, coming from 78s? They must have sounded like music from outer space.

My grandfather was a military-trained coronet player; played in ships' orchestras, then he was a pit musician, so he had a very disciplined, formal way of thinking about music and my father starts playing stuff that was--his favorite trumpet player was Clifford Brown. So I grew up with these names buzzing around the house. I can't pretend I sat down at seven years old and examined all these records, but I was aware that we had Charlie Parker records in the house, Miles Davis records.

I remember even when I was a teenager I was really absorbed with rock 'n' roll and beat music--what we called beat music--the Beatles, all the English groups and Motown and Dionne Warwick and all that great stuff. I remember my dad giving me a big stack of records one day that he had been listening to and he thought I would be interested in, and Oh Yeah was one of them--a Mingus record. I think that was the first Mingus record I had. Certainly we had records that he was on in the house when I was really a child, not even a teenager. That doesn't necessarily educate you, but it takes away the mystery and the fear that when you get out of the end of that teenage stuff, where you only like the thing right in front of you, when you actually start to want to look beyond, you're curious and the names you're familiar with are there to be discovered.

I remember going into my school library and there being a biography of Coleman Hawkins; that's really unusual, I know, but some really hip teacher put it in there. I just wanted to hear that record; you know, "Who's this Coleman Hawkins guy?" It's discovery, isn't it? It's what so much of it is about.

Elvis Costello on His Later Jazz Influences

When did you first start making connections with the Mingus Big Band and Sue Mingus?

Well the first connection--I think what happened, when I first started out, I changed my mind about how I was going about making music several times. I was very pure-minded about music, and didn't even want to try to make a living out of it. Then I realized I didn't want to work in an office, and I was going to try to make [music] both my vocation and my livelihood, and had very little success persuading anybody to let me do that. And I narrowed my focus to the kind of songs that were on my first few records, and once I had an audience I started to reveal the interest I had in other music that--I hadn't to exactly deny it, but that I just left out of the picture.

And also, simply by benefit of travel, I encountered more [music]. The first time I came to America and discovered all of the great second-hand record stores that--we're at the late '70s now--I was picking up every kind of record, from jazz records to country records to gospel records. I'd just go home with a suitcase full of records every time I came to the States. There was just so much more available--this was before CDs, of course--so much more stuff than I could have been exposed to back [in England].

After that first initial, very disciplined patch of two or three years at the very beginning of my career, I went on all sorts of adventures through my listening and among with them were periods when I listened to, almost exclusively, classical music or to jazz. Early '80s, when I was making records like Trust and Imperial Bedroom, I might have been aware of the other pop records that were out at the time, or rock 'n' roll records, but my chosen listening was Debussy or the 'Round About Midnight album by Miles was one record I listened to over and over again. And Chet Baker--I had lots of Chet Baker records. And Mingus. They were all very different, just depending on your mood. And I found that I went more and more towards instrumental music, even though I didn't write it and it really didn't influence the way I wrote; you couldn't hear the influence on the way I wrote except for maybe some of the placement of some of the instruments and some of the harmony.

And all of this went on until, I suppose, '89, when I broke with Columbia and I moved to Warner Bros. and I was given the opportunity to--I went in with the blueprint of five albums, and they told me to choose one, to basically do whatever I wanted, so I decided to make all five at once, which was Spike. I had encountered the Dirty Dozen Brass Band a couple of years before, and it was the first attempt to use people--to use horns on a record in other than a quite typical R&B pop way. They were a jazz ensemble that came out of the marching-band tradition, and I actually met them when I was in New York with my mother.

I had taken my mother on a trip to New York, and being such a night owl she wanted to go to the jazz clubs. So I took her into Sweet Basil, and I couldn't get her out of there; she just wouldn't come out of the club. She saw the Dirty Dozen, and that was it. She just wanted to stay to the close. Then the next night we went to the Blue Note and saw Billy Eckstine. It was just great. We had this great adventure, and a little while later I got in touch with [Dirty Dozen Brass Band] and asked them to play on [Spike] and that bleed into the record after that.

Elvis Costello on Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus

I had gotten to know Hal Willner by then and he asked me to play on the Weird Nightmare record [in 1992], which was interpretations of [the music of] Charles Mingus, but in all kinds of very extreme ways. We were in Astoria, in a recording studio housed in the same place as they made the Marx Brothers movies. And the studio was decorated with the contraptions and instruments made by Harry Partch. It was the first time they had been used to play anything other than Partch's compositions. Cloud Chamber Bowls, the Harmonic Canon and all these imaginary--I don't know what they were all called; they were incredible. And they were all set up to play the 42-tone scales that he heard, so whatever you did with them it was like discovering new colors or something. They were great for coloring the music, and it was my first time I had met Bill Frisell. Henry Threadgill was on that session. It was a terrific lineup. Marc Ribot was on that session. And in the midst of this we're doing this interpretation of "Weird Nightmare," which is based on a percussion foundation, using the Partch instruments and totally confusing tonality--it was in the vague sense of D minor. And Sue [Mingus] is visiting the studio at this point to hear this, and I'm starting to think, "Is she going to think this is kind of a travesty of this composition?" Because you can't hardly hear any of the original harmony until we hit the kind of B section and then Frisell came and rescued everybody. It was very free. We did one take, which I thought was pretty good; despite the strangeness of it all, I really enjoyed it. And there was a, "Well, maybe we should do another one." And I just heard this voice say, "Just fucking leave it alone," and it was [Sue]. And she just loved it. And I thought, "Well, if she is the person who is here representing the aesthetic of Charles Mingus, then I like this woman very much."

We did two more [takes] just to see, and it never was quite as good again; it started to sound studied, and we started to try and play the Partch instruments as if they could be played conventionally, which, of course, they couldn't. The minute you tried to approach them with any sense of logic, you lost everything that was good about playing them there. So, it was a very weird introduction; you couldn't be any further away from the root of the Mingus composition, but I think the composition was so strong it withstood that [treatment], and in fact flourished in it.

[Hal Willner and I] had been introduced and we had become friendly and we talked about music a lot, and he knew that I knew all the music. Over the years, once I had a little money, I bought all the [Mingus] records I didn't have. I had all the Mingus records. Particularly I had been attracted to him. I think I was attracted to the composers of jazz more than the soloists, truthfully, because I'm not an instrumentalist myself in the strictest since. I've never played a scale on an instrument since I was seven years old. I can't improvise in that sense; I can give you random noise on the guitar. I never learned how to do it, and I can't site read. So I can't play classical music and I can't improvise in the way that jazz players do. So, my relationship to jazz is much more attracted to the compositional element. I was obviously very attracted to Mingus because of the ambition of the compositions. I was also attracted to Monk for the same reasons because the themes are so incredibly distinctive and original.

Elvis Costello on Learning to Read and Notate Music

How do you write then when you are doing the classical pieces or orchestrations?

Just after I did [Weird Nightmare], before I met up with Sue again, I started working with the Brodsky Quartet and when I realized it was really self-defeating to maintain this mental block that I had about musical notation, and I wasn't able to communicate very accurately to them--and I had done some film music where I had composed the themes, but they'd always had to be orchestrated for other people. Although I enjoyed the experience, I was very frustrated that some ideas were getting bent out of shape, so I enlisted some help with a musician here, and I got through this mental block [about notation]. I literally had a mental block about musical notation; it's a very foolish one to describe, but I got through it and within six months I was writing, you know, four-part string parts. And now I just wrote the 200-page orchestral score with a pencil; I don't use computers. So, I learned really fast.

I've always been able to hear harmony really clearly, so it wasn't a question of I didn't understand the music--I understood very well what I was doing, I just had no need to write down--I had written 200 songs by that point--I just had no need to write them down because they were pretty simple; most of the ones I wrote early on in my career were very simple, and they mostly revolved around, 'Well, we're stealing this kind of groove from a Supremes record and the chord sequence is the Beatles and the way I'm singing is something else, it's all sort of done by example.

Elvis Costello on Writing Lyrics to Mingus' Music

With the Mingus Big Band's new Tonight at Noon album, you only sing on one song. But last fall you did several songs with them live were you wrote original lyrics, right?

Yeah, I think we did about six or seven. I wrote some of them very close to [the show in L.A. on Sept. 27, 2001] and I had written the words for "This Subdues My Passion" about five years ago--the Mingus Big Band and I were invited go down to the free jazz festival in Brazil [Oct. 1997] and that was really strange because I had never performed in Brazil my own material, and suddenly I turned up as a guest vocalist with a jazz orchestra. Around the same time [1996] I worked with the Jazz Passengers for the first time and also with Bill Frisell, so I was starting to have performing connections with people who are named as being in the jazz world, although I think of them as just musicians, composers. I mean, I guess they're jazz musicians, but I don't think it's the most defining thing about them that the word jazz is attached to their name, to Mingus anymore than it is to [Jazz Passenger Roy] Nathanson. They're just American composers of great note and originality to me. I'm not saying jazz is a bad word, either, it just means that it sometimes can be confining to people's perception of it, just as I don't like the word rock.

Do you have plans to record those other Mingus songs?

I'd really love to. The performance of them in Los Angeles, particularly the second night, had an unbelievable atmosphere. We had come into New York on the 20th of September [2001], so the atmosphere in New York to rehearse was extremely odd; among musicians that were just getting back to work. We rehearsed there and then flew out to Los Angeles, and although it was very far away, it was still very affected by what had just happened. And the force of life in the Mingus music was just a tremendous thing to behold. And you have to understand that my contribution to this is--as I say, I'm not an improvising soloist, so in the same way that a tenor player or a trumpet player might be part of Mingus' theme, with an improvisation of their own devising, I'm only doing the same thing as a lyricist and a vocalist.

Some of the time I'm singing Mingus' theme with words fitted fairly accurately to that theme in the case of "Self-Portrait in Three Colors." In the case of "Don't Be Afraid, the Clown's Afraid Too" I took a melodic line of my own invention that was improvised at the time of devising it, and then I wrote words to complement that theme, but it has a relationship to the Mingus composition. It's not improving it, it's not perfecting it and it's certainly not proposing that I've defined it, because the original composition still exists and it still has its integrity, but this is another view.

That's the crucial misunderstanding that the jazz purist has of such an endeavor--to do this with words is the same spirit as any investigation of musical material by an improvising soloist, which is the fundamental aspect of jazz beyond a certain disposition to harmony that isn't strictly classical or as simple as you find in folk music or modal or any of the other elements of music. To be suspicious of people from other disciplines investigating the music using different techniques is a totally self-defeating position to take in defense of purism, which as you know, any kind of fundamentalism is deeply dangerous, particularly when it is brought to bear on music.

What were some of the challenges of fitting words and melodies to some of the harmonies and intervals that Mingus wrote? Are there any tunes you attempted to write words to but just couldn't?

No, I discussed which songs with Sue. I was very attracted to "Don't Be Afraid, the Clown's Afraid Too," the most ambitious, I suppose, of the pieces. I was very attracted to this film noire quality that was in "This Subdues My Passion." They were written in the '40s and very much could have drifted in and out of a Dashiell Hammett story or a Raymond Chandler story. And this is very much true of "Invisible Lady," the piece on the new record, that it is actually written as a mystery story; the lyric is written about the elusive person who comes to bring you beautiful thoughts about words or music but who doesn't always arrive, but it's written like a murder mystery. I think the music really suggested that.

"My Jelly Roll Soul," because it's such a classic--I was reading a biography about Jelly Roll Morton about the time that I was listening to that piece. I was just really struck by how many times it referred to [Morton] being demeaned, being reduced to a cartoon by society at the time. The whole "jungle music" thing, really, it's very hard to accept that great composers like Ellington were made to play caricatures some of the time, or be presented as caricatures, when they were writing music of much greater worth than any serious composer ever created in that same time period. It's just unacceptable; we wouldn't tolerate it now because we have very formal, rigid rules about those things, but then--so I suppose I wrote a more aggressive text than you might expect for "Jelly Roll," which is a celebratory piece, but it came out that way and it was an honest thought.

Again, that's the thing that a lyricist can do: You can have a beautiful theme and blow it into pieces, can't you? That's also been done time and time again in jazz really, really creatively. And I supposed the lyrical impulse to do that same thing to that was too much temptation for me.

Elvis Costello on Jazz Musicians and His New CD

Do you have something in your new contract with Island that allows you to make something like Spike or like what you did with country music with Almost Blue?

Well, I don't know how thrilled Def Jam/Island would be to receive an Almost Blue. My contract is with Universal Classics, which when I first signed on Polygram Classics did have Verve in that group--it no longer does under the reorganization under the Universal umbrella. But having said that, a number of [my] records have appeared on Decca, including [The Sweetest Punch], the Bill Frisell jazz reorchestrations of the Burt Bacharach co-compositions. I believe that if I were wanting to do something with an ensemble that includes jazz players to a greater degree than they are employed on When I Was Cruel [I could], because it's not a dominant factor in the record but it's a very vital and beautiful element of the record.

The timbre of the group--one of the things that influenced that greatly, apart from the understanding that Jay Rodriguez, Roy Nathanson and those folks have having played together very much, was the fact that I had actually asked Kumba Frank Lacy to play solo trombone on "Spooky Girlfriend," and when I booked the session I spoke to his agent to make the arrangements and she said, "You know, Frank plays trumpet," which I didn't know. And Frank came along with his trumpet; now, a trombone player playing a trumpet is a very different sound, and it's kind of a rude sound that I just love. He was just the magic ingredient on top of those guys that have the almost sireny effect that they create.

Roy understood that the lines I had written, particularly for "15 Petals," had an almost Arabic, or almost a klezmer effect to it at times, and at the same time Frank brought this kind of rude--I guess it's just his embouchure. It's just that [the usual] bright, crisp and sometimes, I have to say, a little slick sound that some trumpet players bring to those kinds of figures; this thing just sounded like sex. And Frank just roared through the session, and it was just the greatest and it was the very thing I wanted. I didn't want the horn section to sound like a very crisp fusion section; I wanted it to sound like it had come out of some African country we haven't discovered yet, or some music from a culture we don't even know about. It was just this great, unusual combination for sounds.

Elvis Costello on Chet Baker

Speaking of trumpeters, Chet Baker played on "Shipbuilding" from 1982's Punch the Clock, and I read that he was mad that echo was put on his horn, and I remember that you wrote once that you were disappointed that it was on there too.

I think that what it was is that I have this sort of liking that kind of reverb on a lot of things. If you listen to that record there's quite a lot of that kind of reverb on all sorts of things. And I guess I heard somebody do it on a Miles record or something like that, and we did it once in the mix and it stayed on there because of the atmosphere of the track. It wasn't a pure jazz [song]. It was a very unusual, very English chord sequence that Clive Langer had written. Bear in mind I had nothing to do with the writing of the music at that time, I was just the lyricist on it; it had been written for Robert Wyatt t sing, who is simultaneously very grounded in jazz composition but also a totally English type of singer. And the subject matter was very English. And Chet, when he first came in--I went to see him in a club; he was playing in the Canteen in Coven Garden in London. He just arrived, as he always seemed to do, kind of without any announcement, suddenly turned up in London. Suddenly, I open the paper one day: Chet Baker's playing tomorrow. I was in the middle of making the record. Steve Nieve had already played on the Robert Wyatt recording, which had previously been made.

I had been speaking with the record company about who might play the solo on this thing. I had got it in my head that we wanted trumpet, and I didn't know any trumpet player in England that I thought would necessarily be right to do it--except maybe my father. There was definitely a sense that the sound I wanted was a particular plaintiveness that--I was completely obsessed with the 'Round About Midnight record by Miles; more than Kind of Blue or some more famous record. I actually had a conversation with Wynton [Marsalis] about doing it--this was kind of like when he had just made one record. We had one conversation on the phone, and I think he was totally bewildered some guy from England calls him to come play on a record, and he couldn't do it. It wasn't until later that I realized that, "Hey, that's that guy I spoke to on the phone, that Wynton; that famous Wynton guy's this guy I talked to about doing the record." So, Wynton's not going to do it; guess Miles isn't going to do it--who knew how to ask him? And there wasn't anybody in England I trust, and I open the Melody Maker and Chet Baker is playing the next day. And he's only my favorite trumpet player--as far as I can tell, alive--that I can actually get to speak to, or so I thought. Maybe if I go down there and ask if he'll play, all he can say is, "No."

I go down to the club; everybody's talking right through everything. He's playing so beautifully. He isn't playing standards. He actually has a band that knows his material, which is very rare for him. He was mostly playing "I'll Remember You" over and over again, but [that night] he was playing these really beautiful modern compositions. And at the interval he just walked off the stand, and he went up to the bar and bought a drink and nobody bothered him--[the audience] just kept on eating and talking and yakking. I went up to him and introduced myself--he had no idea; he had never heard of me. I said, "I'm a musician. Is there any way in the world you would consider coming and playing on a session." He said, "Well, yeah, I'll do it for scale." I said, "How about we give you double scale?"

So, he came to the studio the next day and played it. And he played over the sequence [of chords] and it wasn't like any kind of standard sequence; it wasn't like anything else that he'd ever heard. The structure of the song is really unusual; it has things that look like they're going to repeat, then they don't. So, we went through it a couple of times, and he did the takes, and like I said, the one thing I regret is in the mix that we [added echo], and I almost wanted to remix it, but then we'd have to remix all the other elements, and the record is very beautiful. And there is much embellished playing on the record that's glorious.

From then on, [Chet] and I developed this sort of weird relationship where when he'd come to town--I'd never, ever speak to him when he wasn't in London--and when he came to London I would just go to Ronnie [Scott's Jazz Club] or wherever he was playing. And here I was in the club and he name-checked me, and all these old, very purist jazz fans would hear my name and say, "Why did Chet say that guy's name?" And he'd just leave the stand right in the middle of a number and we'd go have a drink. I was sitting with him in Ronnie's, and some dreadful [vocalist] in a pink dress was singing "Lullaby in Birdland" and he just said to me, "She's got a lot to learn." She was just an appalling cliché of a jazz singer. And he would sing with this incredible delicacy, even then, even when he was quite sick.

We did one gig at Ronnie's that was taped, which was an amazing thing. He had that drummerless trio, which was him and a bass player and a pianist, a French and an Italian guy. I went to rehearsals and they didn't even know I was coming; Chet wasn't there, I had to teach them the numbers; we didn't have any language in common. They were very good musicians. And the weirdest thing happened: as I was walking out of my flat in London to go to the gig [soundcheck] in the afternoon, Van Morrison was right outside my front gate. Van lived around the corner at the time. He said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I'm going to play a television at Ronnie's with Chet Baker, believe it or not." He said, "Can I come with you?" which was about the most unlikely thing--Van would never say that normally. So he walked in with me, and the two young guys that taped this thing had been trying to contact Van for about six months to do something with him and, I dunno, Nina Simone or something. So they got Van to sing with the band [during soundcheck] as well. So Van did, like, "Send in the Clowns," which was just the most bizarre thing: Van doing "Send in the Clowns" without a drummer and Chet playing "Send in the Clowns." They taped the soundcheck, which is just as well because [Van] never showed up for the gig. So, I dunno, that's pretty jazz!


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