Sunday, January 17, 2010

Artt Frank Interview

I think it was early October of last year. I was heading home from the city after a Friday meeting with Nadeau sensei and I called Artt Frank. I hadn't talked to him in a while. Artt is a bebop legend, a drummer who plays completely by ear and heart. He has played with such other legends as Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Duke Ellington. And a host of others. To get more of a complete list and much more information on an incredible man and resource, check out his website And he was Chet Baker's closest friend.

During our conversation Artt let me know that he was going to appear nationally on an internet radio station interview. He kindly e-mailed me the interview prior to the broadcast. But even so I was online to hear his interview with Lisa Raphael on Purejazzradio. With his permission I am putting the interview on in segments on youtube with a photo background.

Artt is one of the most passionate individuals I have ever met. Talking to him makes jazz and jazz history come alive. He has given me more tips over the phone on music than I can ever repay him for. Hopefully my putting these segments of his interview on will do some of that. Artt has also just completed a book about Chet Baker's lost years. In the mid 60's Chet lost his upper front teeth as well as suffering nerve damage to both sides of his jaw during an assault. He was told he would never play the trumpet again. Much of Chet's time during this period was spent locally in Milpitas and San Jose. But with Artt's help along with his family, Chet learned to play with dentures and was able to continue and play perhaps his best music after the beating. And so I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Artt's book.

For me music has been an happy aside, as my main career is aikido and martial arts. But I feel music and martial arts are connected. Much of what Artt talks about in the interview, about responding in the moment to what one has heard, I believe, is similar to what Ueshiba Osensei talked about when he mentioned Takemusu Aiki. I personally believe that when Chet sang or played he was coming from what Osensei called the divine realm. Just a hunch.

Anyway, here is the interview. Even though you might not be a jazz or Chet Baker fan I think you'll enjoy it:


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