Ten Questions with Steven Bernstein

11 05 2010

Steven Bernstein is a composer/trumpeter that lives in NY. He leads the amazing bands Sex Mob and Millennial Territory Orchestra, and has played with many many many great musicians currently including Levon Helm and The Swell Season. I first met Steven when he visited Richmond to record with Fight the Big Bull—the sessions that would eventually become All is Gladness in the Kingdom, out now on CleanFeed Records. I took an arranging lesson with him, something that only Matt White had done up until that point. I didn’t know much about him, outside of his Diaspora work and Sex Mob, but I realized that he was a kindred spirit in his love of film and improvised music with direction. The lesson went great, and led to another one at his home in Nyack, NY where we ate pasta and listened to music all day, and I learned way too much! Bernstein’s interest in Richmond has really helped our scene immensely and we can’t thank him enough (though we constantly try)!

Be sure to check out his album with Fight the Big Bull and visit his site to find out when he’ll be in your area (or on Letterman).

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

I joined Peter Apfelbaum’s band at the end of 6th grade…in  the summer before 9th grade we started listening to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and our practices started to involve  “free” improvisation…. this is what I do.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

What does this mean?

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

Everything affects my work…..

4: Favorite Film(s)?

I like all kinds of movies……its hard to pick a favorite……I don’t like films that are stupid. I also like the tv show Kojak, and Ernie Kovacs.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

It matters what day….today I am listening to the cd version of Taxi Driver, very different than the lp.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

I read fiction as road distraction…… mainly Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiasann, James Burke…..
I do love James Ellroy’s trilogy.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

I read musician autobiography’s constantly, and biography’s…..also books about music… there is always a connection to be discovered. Recently reading bios of Hot Lips Page, Pee Wee Russell, Hollywood Film composers, and autobiography’s of Nelson Ridddle and George Martin.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

No music is a guilty pleasure.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

No musicians are rated….its not like anyone cares…the people that are rated are athletes and people on television
I would recommend listening to Jimmy Nottingham, Marcus Belgrave, David T. Walker, Billy May and Ray Lucas…all very successful musicians…but maybe you haven’t heard them.

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

Dud Bascombe , Lester Young, Cornell Dupree, Defunkt, Ray Anderson, Jimmie Maxwell, Joe Mcphee, Jonathan Finlayson, Avishai Cohen.

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