Free jazz trombonist Jeb Bishop offers his musical picks

April 28, 2014
By Chris Saunders

When Jeb Bishop was studying philosophy at NC State in the 1980s, he traded in his classical trombone training for the freedom of punk on the Raleigh music scene. He played in a couple bands, like Angels of Epistemology, which is remembered for its eclectic and outside-the-box approaches to music. He says that time set the stage for him to take his trombone to Chicago in the 1990s and make a name for himself on the Windy City’s improvised music scene.

We profiled Bishop in the spring issue of NC State magazine. But his musical knowledge is so vast that we conducted a subsequent email interview with him to discuss some recordings that have helped shape him as a musician.

Bishop6376What are some of the recordings that you’ve appeared on that stick out to you? These are in a different category for me because (a) I can’t listen to them in the same way I listen to other music, and (b) I don’t, in fact, spend much time listening to recordings I’m on. However, some recent representative ones I’m willing to mention include:

–Recordings on the Driff Records label. You can click through there to stream some tracks:

* The Whammies: Play the Music of Steve Lacy, vols. 1 and 2

* Jorrit Dijkstra / Jeb Bishop: 1000 Words

What are some records that have been influential for you? Here are some recordings I keep coming back to. The idea is that these are ones that keep drawing me back — I have a lot of recordings I enjoy, but these are some that have evolved into a place of central importance for me.

* Thelonious Monk, Alone in San Francisco. Just Monk and the piano. I keep finding new things in here; my current favorite track is “Bluehawk.” I can’t figure out how he does it.

* Bill Evans, The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. The art of trio interaction at its highest level. A beautiful whole that rewards much repeated listening. I’m especially taken with Scott LaFaro’s solos here, but it feels a little unfair to single any one thing out.

Bishop6473* Miles Davis, The Cellar Door Sessions 1970. Great music brought to you by a giant corporation, go figure. Completely burning and intense and my personal favorite Keith Jarrett recording.

* Complete Webern / Pierre Boulez, conductor: One of the most important 20th-century composers for me.

* FMP In Retrospect box set. Essential documentation of the development of improvised music in Europe, a very important area of music for me. Still digging into these; everything here is great so far.

Of course I could go on quite a bit about European improvised music. Maybe I should just say that I got my first record by Derek Bailey and Evan Parker at the Record Hole on Hillsborough Street in 1983.

How about recent pop records or rock bands you find yourself listening to?  Here I am really kind of an old fogey. A lot of rock music has been important to me (Stooges, Velvet Underground, Minutemen, Sonic Youth), but I don’t seem to pay as much attention to new bands these days, and for whatever reason when I do hear them, they often don’t interest me too much. Then there’s stuff like Katy Perry and so on, which I have nothing against and might even play on my trombone for my 5-year-old nephew, Noah, who loves Katy Perry.

A rock record I love is Gang of Four’s Entertainment! I think I first heard a track from it on WKNC in the early ’80s. It still bites like an animal with a mouth full of sharp teeth. (There’s a reason I’m not a music writer.)

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One Response to “Free jazz trombonist Jeb Bishop offers his musical picks”

  1. Jeb Bishop says:

    “A rock record I love is Entertainment!’s Gang of Four.”
    As Willy Wonka once said, “Strike that. Reverse it.”

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