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Jazz Pioneers

 July 28, 2022 at 10:00 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to the KPBS Summer Music Series. In this episode , we'll talk to music pioneer and jazz legend Herbie Hancock , who shares his musical influences , gives a history lesson on Auto-Tune and reflects on the first time he saw Aretha Franklin perform. And. Trumpet player Bill Caballero joins us to talk about his Latin jazz jam in Barrio Logan and the importance of providing an inclusive stage for all levels of musicians and a special live performance by King Tito Capital. That's next. Welcome to the KPBS summer music series. San Diego's own Music Discovery podcast that features encore presentations of our best in-studio performances and interviews celebrating our diverse music scene and beyond. I'm your host , Kurt Conal. Trumpet player Bill Caballero has been making Barrio Logan move to the music for over 18 years. His Latin jazz jam is unique , with an endless roster of musicians , seasoned and beginners alike , performing together on the same stage. And it's with this welcoming approach that he created a space for the community that's built to last. A place where people of all ages gather and experience the joy of music. Midday Edition's Maureen CAVANAUGH talked to Bill. But first , a live performance of La Bruja by Tito Caballero and.
S2: That was Bill Cafiero with La Bruja , performed at Garage Mahal in Pacific Beach. Bill , welcome to the program. Thank you.
S2: Now , as I said , every Thursday is your Latin jazz jam in Barrio Logan.
S3: Everybody's just happy at the jam. They can expect to see some seasoned musicians , and then they're very supportive of the not so seasoned musicians. Every jams different. I never know what's going to happen and how it's going to be , but in the end it's always pretty cool.
S3: People get all excited and then three weeks later , if it's not back , they close it down. And I knew that if I did it , I was going to be committed to it because I didn't want to quit. So I just didn't want to commit to that. And he finally talked me into it. And eight years later , I'm still doing it just out of stubbornness.
S2: You let players of all scales , they get up on the stage with you. That's that's really unusual.
S3: At my jam , I feel that it's one place where everybody's equal , no matter how good or how bad you are. Like my teacher in college told me everybody's got their voice , so I just enjoy it , you know , everybody gets up. And for instance , Omar Lopez , who played bass , he was attending my gym when he was just a kid , freshman at San Diego State. Those guys come back and they go , Thanks for letting me sit in. Thanks for letting me , you know , start learning the the ropes and all that stuff. And it comes back to pay me back. Omar plays with the Wailers , you know. Yeah. He doesn't have to play with me. And I'm very lucky to have him play it right on the line. All the various musicians I use. I just like the fraternity , the brotherhood , if you will , of musicians hanging out.
S3: Very good question. That's very important to me as well. I use a veteran band every time. So the house band , they're not beginners. They know what they're doing. So they provide support to the ones that don't know what they're doing so much. I do , you know , a little bit of directing stuff like that , but pretty much having the veteran in the house band is what gets me through with whoever sits in.
S2: Now a lot of musicians spend time releasing albums promoting their work , but your focus exclusively is on live music and performing.
S3: I don't know , to be honest with you , because I do make a living at this , not a not a great living , but I'm doing what I want to do and I just don't like the business side of it , really.
S2: And your song , Funky River was recorded by San Diego band Surefire Soul Ensemble on an album that won a San Diego Music Award.
S3: The song. If you ever listen to Lee Morgan , you'll hear Lee Morgan in that in that song. And the guys liked it and we recorded it.
S2: Let's hear Funky River by Bill Caballero , recorded by Sheer Fire Soul Ensemble. Well , your music certainly sounds great recorded.
S3: I like the band's proximity to be as close to the people as possible. There's energy that goes back , back and forth. When you do that , the band feels it , the people feel it , and it's a real turn on , you know , when you're recording and stuff like that. I really respect the people that record because you're in an empty room and you're trying to recreate what you do live in an empty room. It's just very difficult and I like playing off of the energy of the audience and being as close as possible to them as well.
S2: Now you've been a session musician when big acts come through town.
S3: So like we always provided horn sections for , like The Temptations , The Stylistics , Natalie Cole , Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. It was always fun to meet those guys and hang out with them a little bit and stuff like that. And like especially The Temptations , we did them God about eight times , so after a while they get real friendly with you and stuff like that. It's kind of cool.
S2: And you work with the San Diego Opera for the program Words and Songs , and that's where you bring together young musicians from different neighborhoods. And I would imagine that that's really rewarding.
S3: I was working with the kids. They really think I'm good. So that's that's a goal. And and they see that a professional musician is just a regular person. There's no airs or any pretentiousness put on. And I just get a kick out of the kids and they're really good. Another thing I like about it is the diversity. Kids from Point Loma High School , kids from Hoover High School , black , white , Asian , brown. It's just all mixed together and everybody's respectful of each other. I'm happy.
S2: Tell us about the song we're going to hear next. Watching Water.
S3: What you want to is called Jada. I believe it's like a standard with regard to Latin jazz or I've kind of moved to my own word homey jazz lately , mixing in oldies with Latin jazz networks real well. But what you write is a pretty cool song , has some nice lines , and it only has one chord , so , god , anybody can play on that song. What you want to.
S4: What you want to. Why did you lie to. Why do you wanna.
S2: That was watching what a performed by Bill Fabiano at Garage Mahal sessions in Pacific Beach. We're going to hear one more song , Harvest Moon. We're going to go out on it performed by Bill Cubbie Era.
S3: You know , they're like listening to going , Oh , my God , that's harvest moon. They're doing Harvest Moon. And what do you call it ? I like that. It's kind of like a little surprise song. And and to be truthful with you , I'm going to probably start doing more of that take in songs that are kind of pop ish in Latin them.
S2: Bill , thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
S3: Thank you. I appreciate it.
S1: To the. Coming up next , jazz legend and music pioneer Herbie Hancock talks about his musical journey and what inspired his iconic album , Headhunters. From Jazz to post-bop. Herbie Hancock is one of the architects behind much of the music we hear today. He spoke with Midday Edition's Jade Hindman about taking creative risks , who influenced his style and career and why Auto-Tune is old news.
S2: Herbie Hancock , thank you so much for joining us today.
S5: My pleasure. How are you.
S2: Doing ? Doing just fine. You know , your career in music , it started before you even hit your teenage years. You performed with the Chicago Symphony when you were just 11.
S5: I had a great teacher named Mrs. Jordan. She was the one that that entered me into a young people's concert series. And I won. I won for the piano. And the prize for each of the instruments is to be able to play the concerto that use for the audition with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. So I won and I got a chance to play with them.
S2: You draw influences from all over on your debut album , for example , taking off in 1962. Your song , The Watermelon Man , pulled from gospel and blues music.
S2: That is the sound of Chicago.
S5: If you're from Chicago and you can't play the blues , that means you're not really from Chicago.
S2: You've performed with countless legends over your long career.
S5: To New York with his band. And. And he's the first president to tell me. To hold on to my publishing that he would set up a publishing company for me because he liked the songs that I was writing. He's the first person to actually get me. The record contract with Blue Note. He told me how to do it. I told them I was being drafted into the army and I wanted to make a record before I left. I kind of told them no , I guess they call it a white lie. So they said yes. And anyway , one of the songs was Watermelon Man. So so Donald. But then it was Myles because he hired young musicians and Myles encouraged us to always try new things and because there were new influences from the avant garde that was happening at the time , you know , in the sixties and Myles one of that. So he encouraged us to , you know , keep exploring new territory and keep writing tunes. And so that kind of encouragement I've kept since then , and I always try to try to encourage my musicians in exactly the same way.
S5: At the time I was living in New York. Anyway , there was an opening and the opening act was was a trio led by a very young woman who played kind of bluesy piano. And she sang I Came Early before we were to go on to here with this young lady whose name was Aretha Franklin. I to hear what she sounded like. And she played nice piano , you know , and funky kind of piano. That was cool. And then she got up and sing and sang and it was. It was all over then. Unbelievable. She blew everybody away. And then. Then we had to follow that.
S5: It was Miles Davis , his band. Remember that with Tony Williams on drums and and at the time , Wayne Shorter on saxophone. But Ron Carter was on bass and miles. So we didn't do too badly. Let's play it that way.
S2: Your Headhunters album was the first jazz album to go platinum and successfully combines funk with jazz.
S5: But what I was listening to was Sly Stone and The Commodores. And then I got tired of playing out in space. I wanted to do something that was , you know , more earthy and something that was closer , really closer to my my own. And at the same time , synthesizers had come out. Mm hmm. And being a , you know , former engineering major in college , that intrigued me to add up that science part of it. And so , you know , I immediately gravitated to that. I had no idea it was going to blow up the way it did. But I'm happy it did.
S2: You know , you've had tremendous success on the pop charts and influenced hip hop and electronic music. And as you mentioned , you double majored in music and electrical engineering.
S5: But even before that , back in 75 , I even ran across this device called a vocoder. Who knew that that was going to wind up being Auto-Tune , which all the singers use , you know , in the pop and R&B world ? Now.
S5: What I like to do is break things. What I like to do is break rules , things that kind of keep us locked into a comfort zone , you know ? And I like to go beyond the comfort zone because every human being has infinite potential. Well , let's open up the walls and explore new territory. It takes a lot of courage to do that. But we have that. We have that actually built inside. It's just a matter of deciding. You want to continually grow. As long as you live.
S2: Herbie , thanks so much for joining us.
S5: Thank you. Thank you very much.
S1: Thanks for listening to the KPBS Summer Music Series. To catch a new episode every two weeks , subscribe wherever you get podcasts and for performance videos and more great artists visit KPBS Jorge's Summer Music Series. John Decker is Interim Associate General Manager of content. Lisa Jane Morissette , operations manager. And Megan Burke , senior producer. I'm Kurt CONAN.

Music pioneer and jazz legend Herbie Hancock shares his musical influences, gives a history lesson on auto-tune, and reflects on the first time he saw Aretha Franklin perform.
Plus, trumpet player Bill Caballero has been making Barrio Logan move to the music for over 18 years. His Latin Jazz Jam is unique, with an endless roster of musicians; seasoned and beginners alike performing together on the same stage. And it’s with this welcoming approach that he created a space for the community that is built to last, --a place for people of all ages to gather and experience the joy of music.

Credits: Produced and hosted by Kurt Kohnen, Jade Hindmon, and Maureen Cavanaugh. Megan Burke is senior producer.