A short Interview

Here is an interview I did for a Greek music magazine:

When your first desire to become involved in the music was & what do you learn about yourself from music?

I was attracted to music from the first time I heard music on the radio as a young lad. There was a piano in our house growing up, and I would spend hours sitting there trying to play songs I would hear on the radio. I was so curious as to what made music sound the way it did, and what the inner components of the music, vis a vis harmony, rhythm, and melody was. I think music chose me at an early age.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD saxophonist, composer/arranger, big band leader and educator?

Being a good musician is a life-long endeavor, and I’ve committed to spending many hours of each day working on this craft. What makes one a good musician is dedication, hard work, attention to detail, and tenacity.

How do you describe Bob Mintzer sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

Your sound is who you are and what you’ve worked on and experienced in life. Being a musician is a work in progress.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the music?

Anyone and everyone in and out of music. Every time you play you learn something if you are paying attention.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Thankfully I’ve had lots of great moments. The challenging moments make one stronger and you learn to focus on gratitude for getting to play music under any circumstances.

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

I’ve had an interesting life in general. A successful 40 year career in music is quite interesting.

How has the music business changed over the years since you first started in music?

The music business is constantly changing along with the rest of the world. Musicians must learn to adapt and be flexible so as to weather these changes.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

Work hard, pay attention to detail, know why you play what you do and where it came from, work on yourself in general, learn how to “be on the team”, have a positive and cooperative attitude,have a vast repertoire and knowledge of music in general, be well-read and well informed, be a good listener.

Why did you think that Bob Mintzer continues to generate such a devoted following?

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I guess if you work on something long and hard enough in a genuine, honest way, eventually people take note of what you are doing.

With such an illustrious career, what has given you the most satisfaction musically?

I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to work on musical craft for most of my life and be able to play with some of the greatest musicians on the planet, and actually have the music connect with people all over the world. This is an incredible gift.

You have played with many musicians (from Art Blakey, Jaco, and Tito Puente, to Gil Evans, Buddy Rich, and Aretha Franklin). It must be hard, but which gigs have been the biggest experiences for you?

Every gig I’ve ever done has had a lasting impact on me, both the good ones and not so good ones.I’ve learned things from every musical experience and felt gratitude to be able to get to play at all. My colleagues in jazz would always get on me about doing broadway shows in N.Y., wondering how I did not go out of my mind playing the same music every night. I looked at the experience as an opportunity to develop the discipline of playing my best every note of every time, no matter what the music was.

Are there any memories from Yellowjackets, which you’d like to share with us?

There are so many great memories over the last 22 years. It is a joyous occasion every time to play with the band. The Yellowjackets is about 4 distinctly different people hanging and playing with love and respect. It shows me that human beings can coexist and get along beautifully if they have the right mind set and empathy. The music reflects that, I think.

Tell me a few things about your meet with Papa Nebo, which memory from makes you smile?

Papa Nebo was a country-rock band I played with just out of high school. I met the violinist Ann Leathers at the arts high school we went to (Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, US). It was my first experience being an a band with older more experienced musicians, and I had a blast. We did one recording for Atlantic records in 1971. I started to write and figure out how to play in a band during that time. It was very exciting for an 18 year old to experience these things, playing around New York and recording in the old A and R studios in NYC for Atlantic records. I had my first publishing experiences as well as my first dealings with a manager who was less than honerable.

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you’ve had?

I’ve sat in with the Dave Mathiews band a few times as well as with Bela Fleck’s band. I sat in with Rhassaan Roland Kirk’s band at the Village Vanguard when I was 17, and not at all ready. I got my ass kicked right out the door of the club. This was a great motivator, and I swore I would never let this happen again!

Do you remember any interesting from the recording time from your solo and sessions projects?

I’ve made 20 big band recordings and 15 small band recordings of my own. I’ve played on hundreds of recordings with all kinds of musicians in every genre of music. It is all pretty interesting!

Some music styles can be fads but the jazz and blues is always with us. Why do think that is?

People are generally looking for the next great new thing in music and art. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. The music that is from the heart and substantive usually stays relevant for a long time (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington). Music that is a fad, and is acknowledged for surface reasons fades rather quickly.

From the musical (…and feeling) point of view is there any difference between a jazzman and bluesman?

Jazz and blues are two different dialects from the same language. Jazz evolved out of the blues.

Which things do you prefer to do in your free time? What is your “secret” music DREAM? Happiness is……

Happiness is doing things that are meaningful with people you love and respect, enjoying the moments in life, going through hardships with a positive attitude, helping others, taking a hike in a beautiful place, making a great salad!

 

Is there enough work for university jazz students?

My dear friend and colleague, David Leibman recently circulated an email which posed an important question: Will students currently studying jazz in university settings find adequate employment upon graduation in the jazz scene. This is certainly a valid and pressing question, especially in light of the big tuition many schools are charging for an education, particularly in the United States. While this condition is not just particular to music students (record graduates from universities are unemployed due to a world-wide recession), Dave feels that part of a well rounded education in jazz should include the skills to survive and thrive in the music biz and particularly the jazz music biz. I concur!

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

 

For better and for worse, my approach has always been the triple threat concept: playing, writing/arranging, teaching (carrying the message). I try to convey that this is an option to my students. Not all are takers. I made a point of studying all kinds of music from a writing and playing perspective so as to expand my work possibilities, again, for better and for worse.

While we focus on the tradition and where it went from there, many of our students, given the chance to write and record original music, gravitate towards hip hop. When Robert Glasper is on the cover of Downbeat and makes a hip hop cd many aspiring jazz artists take note. Everyone needs to find their own road!

So, without professing to have any revelatory answers here, I try to preach the concept of students developing a clear message in their music, remaining focused and true to that message they want to convey, while studying music, art, and whatever else in a general way so as to provide skills that enable them to work while their true passion develops and hopefully is recognized. Those who instigate (writing tunes, gathering people together to play, seeking out playing situations, using the internet to spread the word) seem to thrive and survive.

This is what I do, for better and for worse!

The jazz students at USC are doing extra work in television, playing in pop bands,doing small jazz gigs  and teaching in order to fund their study of the music we call jazz. Whatever it takes!

 

July

Wrapping up the tour with Yellowjackets and Bobby McFerrin. It’s been an amazing few weeks. Bobby is such a warm-hearted and incredible musician. Adding him to the Yellowjackets made for a great catalyst to take our little quartet in yet another direction. As is usually the case. the key word here has been “listening”, trying to find the proper fit between saxophone/ewi and the new addition to the band. Bobby is so pliable and adventurous to the point where you stumble onto all kinds of interesting somorities and new places. Very inspiring indeed.
The “bebop special” mouthpiece is feeling very comfortable as of late, and I am very grateful to have made the switch. It is the best mouthpiece I have ever played, and playing has been an absolute joy as a result. Bravo to Rafael Navarro, mouthpiece maker in Florida (rafaelnavarro.com)
USC is getting ready to start up again in a few weeks, and I commence as chair of the jazz department this year. I look forward to collaborating with the great faculty and students at school. All the USC jazz faculty are full time working musicians, many the best at what they do.

We had the opportunity to hear Sonny Rollins play two nights ago, and he was in fine form playing-wise. He is still reaching for the super-creative notes that have always been the signature mind set of his blowing. So inspiring! I love Sonny’s combination of swing, lyricism, and abstraction. He is the greatest! The band sounded great as well. Peter Bernstein sounded wonderful in the guitar chair. Bob Cranshaw, about to turn 80, has been playing with Sonny since 1959. HE looks as youthful as ever.

Starting to write for the next Yellowjackets recording project. There was ample inspiration flying around on the tour between McFerrin hearing the Crusaders and Sonny. I feel ready to move forward. There is so much great music out in the world.
The new big band cd “For the Moment” hit #11 on the jazz radio charts this week, so at least some folks are getting to hear it. We had such a great time doing the Bluenote in Tokyo back in June with the band and Kurt Elling. There are some tentative plans to do more with this configuration.
All in all, a great musical couple of months. Looking forward to doing more, learning more, and making a salad using the avocados and figs from our backyard!
Keep the faith, Bob

All in a day’s work

On June 18th 2012 I embarked upon a journey that was anything but a straight line. I brought a big band of 18 people to Tokyo to play the Tokyo Bluenote for 4 nights. There were 8 musicians traveling from New York, one from Sao Paulo, Brazil,  one from San Francisco, and 7 of us from Los Angeles. I would like to recount the story of the L.A. contingent’s journey.

We arrived at LAX. L/A’s international airport at 11 AM for a 1:15 flight to Tokyo Narita airport. Roughly one hour before departure an announcement is made that a truck banged into one of the aircraft’s doors, is being repaired, and should be fixed shortly.  At 3 PM we finally board the plane, which is a United 777 full to capacity. We then sit on the plane until 4:30 waiting for the proper inspection to be completed.

At 5 PM an announcement is made that the flight has been cancelled because the pilots have surpassed the allowed hours. Since there is no other crew available the flight is cancelled. As you can well imagine, all hell breaks loose. What do you do at a time like this? Call the airline rather than get in a line to be rebooked.

We find out that there are no other flights with seats available that day, and the best we can do is fly out of San Francisco the following morning.. This is the only viable option to get us to Tokyo in time to play the first night at the Bluenoite. We will have to go straight to the club from the airport and most likely won’t have time for the one rehearsal that is scheduled.

My colleague Peter Erskine is on the phone for 2 hours with a United representative rebooking the tickets for the 7 Angeleans. The lines to rebook at the service desk and in the lounge are a mile long. The United staff are moving slowly and seem unsure how to handle this. In any event, after the two hours on the phone. Everyone except Pete has an assigned seat on the new flights. Nice!

Our flight to San Francisco is supposed to leave at 8:30 PM. It doesn’t leave until 10:30 PM. No explanation is given. We arrive in SFO and walk almost a mile to the only service desk open at that hour to get hotel vouchers. I approach the service desk and explain our situation, that we were re routed, and had 7 hotel vouchers supposedly waiting for us. The United employee says “We only have 4 rooms for you. I repeat we have 7 people and need 7 rooms. Very much like an Abbot and Costello bit, the guy again says “we have 4 rooms”. Not acceptable. I ask for a supervisor. He comes an hour later and magically finds 7 rooms, although it takes another hour to generate the vouchers and arrange for a shuttle to the hotels (they put the 7 of us in two different hotels).

Get to bed around 2:30 AM and rise at 6:30. Exercise a bit, take a shower and take the shuttle to the airport. Thankfully the flight from SFO to Narita leaves on time. I spent the whole flight doing an orchestra arrangement for Toninho Horta, who is doing a concert with the Sao Paulo Philharmonic in Brazil.

We arrive at the airport, grab our luggage, and drive the 2 hours through traffic to the Bluenote Tokyo.  We do an hour rehearsal, have dinner, and play two shows.  The band sounded great despite our travails. Sadao Wantanabe showed up to offer support. He is perhaps the best known saxophonist in Japan for many years, and a beautiful person.

At the end of the day what I remember foremost is the great experience we had playing the 4 nights at the Bluenote Tokyo. The airline problems seem like a distant memory.

I sure hope United can get it together. They are my airline of choice, and generally do a good job and offer good service. I think the merger with Continental is more than they can handle at the moment. Hopefully they will work through this.

In the mean time, this is the kind of stuff we encounter getting from point A to point B.

We get paid to travel, not to play music. Grateful for the opportunity!  Bob

 

 

Donald Trump Again??!

Donald Trump, again with the Obama not a US citizen routine??  Who let this guy out of his cage?  And Mitt Romney joining with Trump in the Obama bashing. Wow!

We ARE living in a reality tv show.

Firstly, who gives a flying f**k whether Obama is legally a US citizen or not. The fact is that he came up and trained in the US system, and is a hard working, intelligent, and empathetic human being and president.  I don’t have a college degree, and have been on faculty at several major universities over the last 30 years. You could focus on my not having a degree, or you could look at my professional track record as a working creative musician. Thanks to the level of freedom and opportunity we have in the US I was able to work very hard to better myself as a musician, educator, and human being to the point where my merits are acknowledged without pinpointing and harping on a technicality.

If Obama were to stoop to Trumps level, he might respond with a question for Trump. That question would be: how can Trump squander tax payer funds through having FDIC insured banks fund his real estate deals that go bust. How can Trump continue to live in his lavish lifestyle by scamming the unregulated real estate system and being a fictiious boss on a reality tv show?  And should Trump’s shenanigans and Romney’s  leading a corporate takeover company be the models for success in  our society?

Lets be honest. Trump and Romney and their cohorts want to keep government small, regulation non-existant, and taxes low so they can continue to run their games and keep the wealth in the family. It’s not about jobs or doing the right thing for society at large. It’s about the directing of WEALTH, GREED, DECEIT, and  ironically, a way of  life that is anti-Christian, and un-American.

How do they get away with this? The American people are not paying attention.

 

 

To Play or Not to Play?

To play or not to play, that is the question. Excuse the Shakespearian pun, but this actually is an important question any improvising musician ultimately considers.

How does one integrate stepping out and making a bold statement while occasionally taking the horn out of your mouth, letting someone else get a word in edgewise., and more importantly, letting your musical message breath.

Saturday night. The club is packed. The weekend crowd is ready for some high-energy jazz. Do you come flying out of the gate guns blazing/ If so, how do you build from there? If you are filling up all the spaces as a soloist, are you playing at the band or playing with the band? Do you wind up over-playing, and staying in one dynamic and tambral range for an extended period of time?  If you do, listeners could tend to drift, very much the way one tunes out someone who is babbling incessantly in conversation.

For a time I would succumb to the intensity of the moment and usually wind up over-playing and inevitably not presenting a clear musical story with purpose and direction. What’s a player to do? Do you wear an outlandish outfit and perform acrobatic body moves. There certainly is something to the way you look on stage. You can play with attitude (“acting important for no apparent reason”) Do you play fast, loud, lots of high notes while riding a unicycle and playing a cow bell with your left foot and a berimbau with your right foot? I don’t know. Some performing musicians are naturally entertaining while playing some serious music in the process. Then again, John Coltrane stood still in a stone-like stance, and, well, you know the rest of the story.

My approach has been to give some thought to how you phrase, how these phrases interact with the rhythm section, hopefully telling a cohesive story, one idea leading logically to the next. By leaving a good deal of space between my phrases I welcome in the other players to join in the conversation. By leaving more space, when I do play something it stands out, seems more relevant.

The players who did this so masterfully: Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Lester Young, Wayne Shorter, Ben Webster, all had a strong sense of drama in the way they constructed their solos.

Here are a few devices to help reign in your blowing, and leave out some of the superfluous chatter:

 

  1. 1. Think motivically! Pick a rhythmical motif and play it several times with space in between, working it through the changes (Wayne Shorter’ solo on the Miles Davis recording of Pinocchio. He quotes the first phrase of the melody repeatedly towards the end of his solo).

Do the same thing with a melodic motif, repeating it and working it through the changes.

  1. 2. Use repetition!  Repeat an idea many times at points along the way to create a compositional event in your soloing.  Perhaps embellish the idea with each subsequent repetition. Eave space between repetitions and the rhythm section will construct a beautiful accompaniment to your solo..
  1. 3. Practice playing step one and two by yourself in a way where your time feel is strong and implies the groove. I like to think of projecting the whole rhythm section feel in the way I put the notes together on the horn. If you are paying sufficient homage to the groove you are less like to run off at the mouth.

The Yellowjackets have an incredibly strong ensemble sound in great part, I think, because we make a big effort to leave lots of space when we play together. The music is spacious, interactive, and breathes in an organic way. Things are frequently implied rather than stated.  When I solo in that band I am trying to be vigilant of fitting my soloing into what everyone else is doing. In that regard, we are all soloing. When it is working and we can hear each other clearly there is no better feeling I can think of! Having a great conversation with friends.

 

 

 

Courage to Change

Writing to you from Bochum, Germany in the middle of a Yellowjackets tour. After a week of very little sleep we were finally able to catch up last night.

Despite the rigorous schedule I’ve managed to exercise every day (sometimes twice a day), finish three octet arrangements and an orchestral arrangement, and write an article for Downbeat magazine., and most importantly, play great music with my favorite musicians!

This as a far cry from when I first started in the music scene.  Not that I was any less enthusiastic about music back then. But I now realize that I hadn’t attained the focus, spiritual connections, and systematic approach to doing things in and out of music that I am working on now.

At some point I realized I have a choice: I can hang out late after the gig and pay the price the next morning, or turn in early and get up early to exercise, meditate, work on some music.  I don’t have to drink and drug. If I hang out with people that are like-minded in this endeavor, I get the support I need. I can eat right and exercise, which gives me the energy I need to get a lot out of each day. I can choose to be dark and focus on what is wrong, or I can celebrate all that is right in my life and project gratitude.  I can accept where I am at in the moment and commit to working towards making things better.  I can either make decisions on my own or take the stance that I don’t know everything, and enlist others to collaborate with in decision-making.  I can dwell on my situation in an obsessive way, or focus on others by reaching out and expressing interest in what they are doing.

Throughout the course of my life I have adopted various habits out of fear, uncomfortability, or environmental influences, I would over-emulate certain saxophonists (Trane, Brecker, Joe Henderson) because I felt on some level that I had little to offer of my own (which was somewhat true).  My ability to hear the detail of these players enabled me to sound a lot like them. I eventually realized that I did not have to do this. I initially would identify the clichés in my playing associated with these players, and would then make a conscious effort to not play them. I also went on a quest to listen to ALL the great saxophonists as well as trumpet, piano, guitar, and vocalists to find a greater understanding of the music. I also began to practice improvising from a compositional standpoint, where patterns and intervallic structures became the foundation for my improvisations. I also gave some serious thought to what I was trying to project in my playing, and what would the components be. Little by little, with the courage to step out and play things outside of my comfort zone, I’ve been able to change my playing in a way where I feel like I’m “in the music” on a more profound level.

Sitting in the restaurant of the Renaissance hotel in Bochum eating breakfast I couldn’t help but notice the disparate levels of food consumption. European hotels frequently have lavish breakfast buffets. Many folks had their plates piled high with eggs, bacon, sausage, breads, pastries, and cheese. Their guts reflected their food choices.  I was one of these people for many years. I would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one sitting.  I eventually realized I could change my eating habits to better support what I was trying to do with m life.  Yoghurt, fruit, granola, green tea, then if I really wanted to stretch out, go back for some smoked salmon, cucumber, tomato, and a piece of wonderful whole grain bread with nuts baked into the bread.  This meal energized me rather than sending me into a food coma.  Serious groovilation!  And I feel good about the fact that by taking care of myself today my family won’t be burdened by me lapsing into chronic illness later in life.

It’s exciting to me to think that one can continue to change, evolve, and grow throughout their lives. It takes a certain level of courage and humility to do so, but the payoff is that you wake up each morning with excitement and wonderment, anxious to see what life will bring on this new day.

 

 

 

Balancing a career in music with family

Balancing a career in music with family life can be a challenging endeavor. To play an instrument well requires tremendous dedication. If you add to that the craft of composition/arranging, promotion via social networking, overseeing the business aspects of being a musician, this usually goes well beyond a 40-hour workweek. Next you have to consider that many performing musicians travel half of the year or more. In my case I do all of the above plus chair a jazz department at a university in Los Angeles (USC).

What’s a husband, /father/ friend/member of a community to do?

It isn’t easy, brothers and sisters. The divorce rate of traveling musicians is pretty high.  I am blessed to have a dedicated wife who has stuck with me for 34 years of being a full time musician.  We’ve definitely made sacrifices along the way. I can’t recall all the times I’ve been on the road during our anniversaries, birthdays, our son’s school events. I even recall leaving for Europe with the Yellowjackets the day after my dad’s funeral in 1993, with no time to sit and digest the feelings of this life event.

What I do to make a difficult situation somewhat manageable is try to be totally present when I am at home. My wife, son and I spend time together whenever possible, and we keep the lines of communication open in a big way. We take weekends off whenever possible, and go hiking or just go somewhere to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

While on the road, I don’t hang out all night, I exercise every day, and I try to return home in some kind of reasonable shape. Traveling is far less exhausting if you take care of yourself.

I remember our son asking, “when are you coming home” along the way, and feeling heart broken in a certain way. He did not have a father for half of the year while growing up. My wife did not have a husband for half of the year as well. These are the sacrifices we make to be involved with music.

The good news is everyone seems to be doing well and surviving this unconventional life style. There have been some cool trips where Carla and Paul have come along to exotic places while we were playing a festival or club engagement.

Our son has grown up with a pretty good take on the world and how it works.

This is what it is, and we make the most of it!

 

 

Implementing new ideas into your soloing

The age-old question for improvisers is how to best introduce new material in your soloing in a concerted, organized way. When I think of the great jazz soloists I realize that the wonderful shapes they come up with in their soloing, in a seemingly spontaneous fashion, are in fact worked out in a deliberate way, in the shed well ahead of getting on the band stand.

Here, then, is my approach to going about this task.

1. Think of a melodic device or shape. These ideas can come in the form of a pattern devised from a scale corresponding to a specific chord quality.  For example, you can, and should be able to play any scale in a thirds configuration (13243546 etc., both ascending and descending). You can also make a pattern out of the scale (1342, 3564, 5786, 79108, 7986,5764,3542, 1)  Finally, you can play the scale in diatonic 7ths (1357, 8642, 3579, 10864) Do this with all the modes, dimished scales, and pentatonic scales as well!

You can also take any pattern and play it starting a minor third up each time.

A cool shape to do this with is 1,4,5. So it would be  C,F,G, Eflat, Aflat, Bflat, F#,B,C#, A,D,E.

These “shapes” can come from just about anywhere: someone else’s solo, a classical etude book (check out the Bozza Caprices and Karg Ehlert saxophone studies), or something you inadvertently improvise while practicing. Play them a whole step apart, a minor third apart, a major third apart. Change them slightly by trying to add one or more connective notes. Typically one pattern or shape will lead you to another.

2. Get the shape under your fingers Practice the device for a good long while so you can play it  in a variety of keys, various intervals apart, and at different tempos. Play it with different articulations and at different dynamic levels. Try accentuating different notes or starting on +1 or on 2 rather than on 1.

3.  Figure out where you might use this device Playing an interesting pattern or shape is all well and good. But you also need to find out where specifically you can use this shape. Find a specific place in a standard or blues progression and practice interjecting the pattern by starting a few bars earlier, and connecting your ideas with the new pattern in the appropriate place. For example, you can play an altered scale pattern any time you have a dominant 5 chord going to the tonic.  Practice getting into and out of the pattern in any places where it might work.

One other way to get comfortable with playing the shape in real time is to sequence a piano comp that you can play along with. Using the altered scale as an example again, have a piano part that includes quarter notes playing the bass note, and the altered dominant chord on one and +2.  Play along and play your altered pattern in a variety of ways (mentioned above).

 

The Grammys

I think this is my 7th or 8th time going to the Grammys while being nominated some 18 times. It is an honor to be recognized by your peers for artistic achievements, and interesting to have the opportunity to see what is happening in the world of popular music up close.

In a general way, this year’s Grammy telecast was a highly polished production that focused on pop music (hip hop, country, rock and roll,) and conspicuously left out jazz blues, and classical music.  Most everything was incredibly loud, somewhat unimaginative, and lacked most sense of subtlety. It seemed like there was far more focus on the “look” of the music rather than the content. Even Tony Bennett sang a duet with an average pop singer, hence diluting his greatness and sense of style.

There were a couple of nice moments in the country-rock genre where you could really appreciate the musicianship and craftsmanship of the writing (The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift) but by and large we were witnessing a dumbing down of music, where technology is replacing subtlety and texture. A DJ named Dead Rat, or Dead Mouse performed (??) a number that was so loud that it felt like the molecules in your body were permanently re-arranged.  Don’t people realize that this kind of volume will cause severe hearing loss? Chris Brown danced his ass off, and sang (did he sing live?) a pretty nice R and B tune.

Most of the “music as craft” was relegated to the pre-telecast in another building. Latin Jazz, Native American Music, and contemporary jazz was conspicuously missing this year, thus destroying the prospect of certain artists being recognized.

How on earth do you choose between the Yellowjackets and Sonny Rollins in the jazz category? To delete many of the detail oriented categories further confirmed that detail in music has taken a back seat to production, promotion, and appearance.

The highlight of the pre-telecast was an opera singer who sang an aria. She was really the only performer that displayed any sense of virtuosity the whole day.

So on one hand you have the Grammy foundation doing some terrific things in music education and helping those in the music community that are in need. The paradox winds up being that by leaving out blues, jazz, and classical music from the live telecast, and losing certain important categories in the pre-telecast sends out the message that subtlety and complexity are not relevant, and the very music that paved the way for current pop music is insignificant.

The ratings of this year’s Grammy broadcast were the highest in several decades. NARAS has to pay the bills, to be sure. It seems to me, though, that part of this windfall needs to go towards keeping quality music in the ears and eyes of the public.