What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
There are so many, but the ones that stick out in my mind are the following: hearing Charlie Parker's Verve Recordings; watching Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, and hearing John Coltrane's live performance of “My Favorite Things” on the 1965 recording, Selflessness. My father passed away when I was eight-years-old, and one of the things I did to cope with the loss was to methodically go through his record collection. He was a semi-professional trumpet player, so there were a lot of Maynard Ferguson LPs and even a recording of Haydn's trumpet concerto by Wynton Marsalis. But when I came across Selflessness—a recording my Mom had purchased, as it turns out—I was stopped dead in my tracks. There is so much about that live recording that is so special. The overall performance is exceptional, but the way that the recording captures time (1963), place (The Newport Jazz Festival), and people (John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Roy Haynes) is downright spiritual. I was touched and fascinated and listened to that 17-minute performance of “My Favorite Things” over and over again, for years.
Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman is one of the most innovative players in contemporary jazz. Like the label he records for, Pi Recordings, he simultaneously honors the music's progressive past and pushes it forward. He's done amazing work as a solo artist and with the band Fieldwork (which also includes pianist Vijay Iyer). Lehman's new disc, Dialect Fluorescent, is an excellent example of his prowess, with its bold originals and interpretations of pieces by Coltrane and Jackie McLean. You can catch Lehman's trio tonight night at Windup Space. It's a late show... starts at 11 pm.