23 December 2008


The Jazz Session
with Jason Crane
A few weeks ago, while wandering around the iTunes store, I stumbled upon The Jazz Session, a weekly jazz interview show available exclusively via podcast. Upon looking at the show's past guests, which include Sonny Rollins, Kenny Garrett, and Eddie Daniels, I decided to give the podcast a listen. I was not disappointed. The show is hosted by Jason Crane, a radio veteran and jazz enthusiast who has contributed pieces to All About Jazz. He is also a musician himself, which gives him an added advantage in talking to musicians about their craft.

Crane is quite adept at interrogating the craft of jazz through his interviews. Interviewing jazz musicians is an interesting challenge. Most musicians are quite thoughtful and channel a lot of intellectual energy into their art, but if the interviewer does not ask the right questions, or does not ask to clarify at the right moment, the conversation runs the risk of going over the head of the interviewer's audience. Crane does not suffer from this problem. He asks probing questions that require his subjects to consider the underlying principles of their music, and gets his interview subjects to clarify their answers so that the layperson can understand them.

Whereas most interviewers keep things simple for their audience (What do you think about sideman X? How did you like playing with Y?), Crane moves beyond the standard interview questions. For instance, in an interview with Jason Moran (episode 18), Crane asks Moran about how he structures a set with his band. This does not seem like an obvious question to ask, but it enables Moran to begin discussing his mentor, Jaki Byard, and how his teaching influenced Moran's playing. Perhaps Crane did not have that in mind when he asked the question, but a good interviewer knows which questions get the subject to open up an interesting discussion, so I am giving Crane credit for that here.

Most of Crane's interviews fall under the thirty-minute mark. Sometimes this leaves an interview feeling incomplete, but considering the format, that is a forgivable sin. Podcasts work best (for me at least) when they are somewhere around thirty minutes long. That way they are long enough to cover a lot of ground, but not so long that I need more than one sitting to complete an episode. I highly recommend the podcast for connoisseurs and nascent jazz fans alike. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or the show's RSS feed.

1 comment:

Jason Crane said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, David. They are very much appreciated.

All the best,

Jason Crane
The Jazz Session