DATE June 23, 2000 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Review: Jazz musician Jimmy Scott's latest CD
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
On this archive edition, we have an interview with jazz singer Jimmy Scott.
But first, Kevin Whitehead has a review of Scott's new CD. Jimmy Scott made
his name with Lionel Hampton in 1950, singing the ballad "Everybody is
Somebody's Fool." As a solo artist, he recorded for a variety of labels
through the '50s and '60s, then gradually fell into obscurity until he was
rediscovered in the early 1990s. David Lynch used him to the soundtrack of
the film "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." And he recorded some high-profile
records featuring pop songs for Warner Bros. His new CD is a more
straight-ahead jazz program. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says this time,
Scott's really in his element.
(Soundbite of Jimmy Scott performing)
Mr. JIMMY SCOTT (Jazz Performer): (Singing) Blue skies smiling at me.
Nothing but blue skies do I see. Bluebirds singing their song. Nothing but
bluebirds all day long. Never saw the sun shining so bright.
KEVIN WHITEHEAD (Jazz Critic):
That's, by far, the fastest number on Jimmy Scott's new CD. And even there he
tugs against the beat to make the tempo seem slower. Most of the time, for
Scott, dead slow is full speed ahead. It's like he lives in the cracks
between the beats and the spaces between syllables. He'll stretch out a word
the way Henry James extends a sentence.
(Soundbite of Jimmy Scott performing)
Mr. SCOTT: (Singing) Imagination is funny. It makes a cloudy day sunny,
makes a bee think of honey, just as I think of you. Imagination is crazy.
Your whole perspective gets hazy. Starts you asking her, `Daisy, what to do?
What to do?'
WHITEHEAD: Jimmy Scott's attempt to make time stand still is a metaphor for
one thing that makes him special. He inherited Kallmann's syndrome, which
prevents the onset of puberty and the change of voice and spurt of growth that
go with it. For a long time, he was known as Little Jimmy Scott. That
condition gives this 50-year veteran of show business the voice of a
world-weary boy. An air of freakishness hovers over his art. Not for nothing
did David Lynch have him sing "The Immortal Sycamore Trees" in that "Twin
Peaks" movie. But Scott has carefully honed his instincts for selling a song
on the installment plan. When his voice cracks or he wavers on a long note,
the high drama he brings to the slow burn is no kid's stuff. He's always on
the brink of going too far, but too experienced to let that happen.
(Soundbite of Jimmy Scott performing)
Mr. SCOTT: (Singing) How far is the journey to be where you are? How long is
the journey from here to a star? And if I'd ever lost you, how much would I
cry? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?
WHITEHEAD: Jimmy Scott is a riveting live performer, as anyone knows who's
seen him in a moment of ecstasy throw his arms wide and shoot his
shirt-sleeves 14 inches out his tuxedo cuffs. His new CD, "Mood Indigo,"
which is on Milestone, is closer to the spirit of his live sets than some
pop-oriented records he made in the '90s. His road band, the Jazz
Expressions, plays on a couple of tracks, but mostly he's surrounded by named
guests, including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, alto saxophonist Hank Crawford and
guitarist Joe Beck. But Toots Thieleman's clone on harmonica is Gregoir
Moray. But it really doesn't matter so much who backs up Jimmy Scott. When
he has the spotlight, he commands your attention so completely the band just
GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the author of "New Dutch Swing." He reviewed "Mood
Indigo," the new CD by singer Jimmy Scott. I spoke to Jimmy Scott in 1992 at
the beginning of his comeback following a long period during which he rarely
performed, and when he did, it was likely to be at a seedy bar. He's the
title track of his comeback record, "All the Way."
(Soundbite of Jimmy Scott performing "All the Way")
Mr. SCOTT: (Singing) When somebody loves you, it's no good unless she loves
you all the way. Happy to be near you, when you need someone to cheer you all
the way. Taller than the tallest tree, that's how it's got to go. Deeper
than the deep blue sea, that's how deep it goes if it's real. When somebody
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Interview: Phil Jackson, head coach of the LA Lakers, recounts
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
Monday Coach Phil Jackson led the LA Lakers to their first NBA championship in
12 years. It was Jackson's first year with the Lakers after leading the
Chicago Bulls to six championships. Over the years, he's coached such top
players as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Shaquille O'Neal. I spoke with
Jackson in 1996, after the publication of his book "Sacred Hoops," in which he
described his style of coaching, which includes meditation and other
principles he learned studying Zen Buddhism. Zen is about transcending the
ego, whereas star athletes are often known for their inflated egos. We talked
about how Jackson deals with that paradox.
Do you ever say `Go meditate, and realize that you're more important than
your ego, that you must put your ego in'--you know, I mean, do you tell
them--do you try to use...
Mr. PHIL JACKSON (NBA Coach): Yes.
GROSS: ...the principles that you follow of meditation and Zen Buddhism to
try to get them to just get rid of some of that ego?
Mr. JACKSON: There's no doubt that we try to teach them that tool, you know.
I think it's real important that, you know, you carry some of your belief to
the marketplace with you when you go out there. And that's something that you
can't sit on or hide. So, you know, I have a professional person that comes
in, that I really respect, that can come in and teach what we call
mindfulness, or focusing, without using the term meditation, because it may
carry some weight to the term. And we talk about its values, its values to
play, its values to relieving stress, and we talk about how we can do it. We
practice it as a group. But we--you know, it's not something we daily come to
practice and sit on our cushions and meditate; you know, this is something
that I think is--we open the door and maybe give them the key, and say `Here,
it's yours to use if you want to use it.' Because that's as far as I want to
go as a coach. I don't want, you know, to be forceful or controlling, but,
you know, allow that freedom.
But there's other things. You know, we'd like to teach yoga. We'd like to
have, you know, a tai chi instructor. You know, I mean, there's other things
that we'd like to have, but when you only have so much time we think that
being focused, mindful, is maybe one of the most important things that we can
teach or can give them as a tool. So that's one of the things we talk about.
Then we sit down, and when we're going to do something that requires this
mindfulness that's incorporated in our work, then we can talk about it as a
group. How connected are we so that we have mindful behavior, or that we're
really, you know, working from an awareness level as to how we perform, or
what kind of level we're performing at under stress even in very--games of
great magnitude? So it's a tool that is used, not only for a personal level,
but it's also used at a level to help make the team a better team, I think.
So that's why I've incorporated it.
GROSS: You said that you try to get players to try to connect with something
larger than themselves. How do you do that?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, I do it in, you know, whatever ways--you know, a cause
that's greater than, say, `Well, let's win the NBA championship. You know, we
wanna win the NBA championship, and we want to have a great contract, and we
want to have material goods bestowed upon us.' Those are things that are all,
you know, so ephemeral--material, that to me, it's got to be something that's
bigger than that. And, you know, every year I just think of a different--try
to think of different challenges. You know, last year, you know, we kind of
had this motto that the journey is the reward, that the reality of working
day-by-day practice, if it's a practice day game, if it's a game day, in the
journey of doing this thing day in and day out, is in itself the reward, and
it was, because we won, you know, 72 games last season, which was an
incredible feat for a team that plays an 82-game schedule, to do that day in
and day out.
GROSS: Do you have a sense of how much of your success comes from this
approach to coaching, where you're applying certain spiritual principles and
so on? How much of your success comes from that, and how much of it is just
much more practical things about calling plays and analyzing strengths and
Mr. JACKSON: Well, you know, I'm trying to paraphrase, you know, Yogi Berra's
comment about yoga.
GROSS: Uh-oh. Yeah?
Mr. JACKSON: You know, 90 percent of it's mental, and the other half of it's
physical, or something like that.
GROSS: Right. Right, right, right.
Mr. JACKSON: Well, 90 percent of it's mental, and the other 50 percent of
it's physical. The reality is that you've got to have the athletes and the
players that can do this, there's no substitute for the talent, and that you
have to have talented people.
Mr. JACKSON: The jollies that I get from, you know, doing this spiritual or
goal seeking at a higher level, is just--I tell them, `You're just appeasing
your coach and you're letting me have my fun,' so that they have an idea that
they're letting me have some fun while they're doing the game playing. They
get all the fun playing the games; I get some fun playing mind games.
GROSS: You know, professional sports is so much about money and power and, of
course, winning. And those are things that don't seem that compatible with
Zen Buddhism and meditation and spiritual values and so on. How do you
deal--I mean, when you lose, how do you deal with that? And why is winning
very important if you're trying to be in a more spiritual plane that's not
about ego and so on? How do you correlate all that in your mind?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, there's a lot of times we come in and we win, what we
call win ugly, and I don't like to use that phrase. It's just that we didn't
do as good a job as we perhaps could do, and there are still lessons to be
learned. But we always think of a lot of lessons...
GROSS: That means you won, but you made real blunders even though you won?
Mr. JACKSON: Yes. It wasn't a pleasing game. You know, we're trying to
play a game at a level in which people will remember how we play basketball.
That's one of the goals that I say, you know, it's one of these types of
things that lets you have something beyond just `Hey, we won, and that's it.'
Let's do it in a style, or a way, that's remarkable, that's, you know,
inspiring to people, because we have that ability; we should play at that
level. And there are some games that you come in and you lose, and you feel
pretty good about losing; it was still a great battle, it was still a
wonderful night, and you can still benefit from something that you've had that
hasn't been a win. And there are some nights a win may feel just as bad as a
loss. And so we don't always say that's it's measured by wins and losses, but
it's measured by how you play.
GROSS: Did you always feel that way?
Mr. JACKSON: No, I don't think so. I think winning was the all important,
driving motivation for me as a younger person.
GROSS: And when did that change? Why did that change?
Mr. JACKSON: It changed somewhere in my professional career. When
professional ball became a continuation of a very long season of 82 games,
and I came to a basketball club that was struggling, and suddenly became very
good in the New York Knicks, for a seven-year period of time. And during
that period of time, the enjoyability of winning, and the focus on how to do
that, became more important than just on winning, as it was when I was a
rookie, and this was when the Knicks were a struggling team. And if you
could just win a game, it was the most important thing that you could do.
GROSS: What are your pep talks like before a game?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, first of all, they're very low-keyed, and they're not pep
talks, I wouldn't put them as those. It's a matter of bringing to focus what
the group has to focus on. And so, it may be on energy, it may be on
developing enough energy for the game, but more or less it's on, you know,
what we can do that strengthens us, as opposed to what we can do that can take
away from the opponent's ability to operate at full strength. And so it's
just trying to bring key points out to a group. I have the oldest team, they
tell me in the NBA, average age over 30, and they have probably heard every
pep talk possible by the time they're 25. And so pep talks are usually going
to leave them deflated and, you know, they bring their own energy to it, so
what we like to is bring focus.
A lot of times it's just a moment of quietness, and sometimes it's a two or
three minutes of let's just be still and quiet before this game, and get
ourselves thinking as a one-man unit, or one team, and a mind of one. So,
just so that we can get in stride together, because it's been disjointed, we
may have a hard travel schedule, the media may have been busting their seams
to try and get into our locker room and they stayed too long, and we just need
to focus. But, for the most part, the players that are the premier players,
have great focusing ability, great concentration skills, and to bring
everybody to that level is always important.
GROSS: When you were playing with the Knicks, what worked for you best before
a game, and what were some of the things your coach Red Holtzman would do?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, Red, was very constant, he used to say almost the same
thing before every game. And his speeches were probably, at most, two to
three minutes. And at some point during the talk he'd usually say `If you
guys have any trouble concentrating, just nod your head so at least I think
that you're focusing on what I'm saying, or if you have to prop your eyelids
open with toothpicks don't mind me, I'll watch you do it. You know, he'd
joke about it himself, he was saying the same thing, but what he was trying
to do is he would try to get us in the same kind of focused mood, and
concentrating on the same activity. For me, what worked best of all, was to
stretch and to be quiet before a ball game. That was the things I enjoyed
GROSS: We're listening to a 1996 interview with Coach Phil Jackson. More
after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Let's get back to our 1996 interview with Coach Phil Jackson. He
just led the LA Lakers to their first championship in 12 years. It was his
first season with the Lakers after leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA
How were you first introduced to Zen Buddhism and how did you start
incorporating that into the game?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, I had a brother that was college student, a graduate
student, and he picked me at a baseball game I was playing in North Dakota, I
was a senior in high school, and drove me from Bismarck, North Dakota, back to
Williston. And in that very late night drive, was telling me about some very
exciting things that were happening in his life, and among them were the
introduction to Zen Buddhism. It kind of opened my mind to a new format, I
was raised a fundamentalist Christian. In the process, I started searching a
little bit on my own, and, you know, ended up as religion as one of my minors,
a composite major actually, one of my majors in college was religion. And I
kept exploring until, really, I kind of found a group that I could sit with in
the early '70s.
GROSS: And that connected to the game for you right away, or did it take a
Mr. JACKSON: Well, it really did. I was disconnected from the game.
Actually, you know, athletics was so opposed to my spiritual life, that it was
kind of a schizophrenic life for me, I could play sports over here in the very
world, or I could be over here holy in the very spiritual world, in church and
in the community that I was born and raised in. And the two supposedly didn't
meet. And as a consequence, I think that's one of the reasons I loved
athletics so much, was to get away from all this religion. And in the process
of finding out that, you know, really, it goes with you everywhere, when I was
a little bit older, I can realize that, you know, this was something that you
carry with you, you don't have to carry on your shoulder as a chip, but you
can carry it in your heart.
GROSS: Your father was a minister, what were your parents' reactions to you
pursuing sports professionally?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, my mother was a high school basketball player.
GROSS: Oh, no. Really?
Mr. JACKSON: Yeah, she was a high school basketball player, and a letter
winner. And I often wore her sweater when I was a little kid, you know, she
liked to come out and shoot hoops. And there was a great competitive level
that she had. And so basketball was really kind of an accepted format in our
family as a game, although I liked it all the sports, football and baseball,
too. But as long as it didn't interfere with church it was OK.
And we had Friday night meetings in our church, and my brother, who is an
older athlete, six years older than I was, was not allowed to participate in
athletics because they had Friday night games in the high school basketball
teams, so that was a real conflict. When we moved to a new church out of the
state of Montana, to the state of North Dakota, they didn't have those Friday
night services, they had Wednesday and Thursday night church services to go
along with their Sunday services. And so the Friday and Saturday ball games
did not interfere, and it was OK. And so I was fortunate.
GROSS: Did you ever go wild after leaving the more regimented life of your
Mr. JACKSON: No. I don't think, in that regard, never went wild. I did
explore and was a person that liked to try different experiences, but I'm not
the one that went wild.
GROSS: I want to paraphrase something that Dennis Rodman says in his
best-selling book, he says, `You know, in the NBA, off the court 50 percent
of life is sex, and the other 50 percent is money.' How do you deal with
watching some of your players get really caught up in that off-the-court life
of sex and money? You come from a much more, like from a very disciplined
background, and you're very disciplined as a coach as well. You have a
spiritual side to help and to fall back on. So, do you take a part in their
private lives off the court, the part that might have to do with sex and
Mr. JACKSON: Well, you know, right there, that's a level sometimes of some
of the people that, you know, have to live in this world of athletics. It is,
most people assume, that that's really where athletics live at that level, but
that's not so. I think athletics live at all those levels from the conscious
to the, you know, the very mundane, and the very earthy areas of our psyche.
And, you know, from this standpoint, I'm able to do some things that are kind
of fun with the team, you know. There's this kind of a collection of people
that know that I give books out to the ballplayers. And we have a long road
trip at the early part of the season, after usually a weekend of the year in
November, we usually take off on the road trip for two weeks, covers
And during this period of time, I give them books in which, you know, I make a
little attempt to try and, you know, move them along on this path, you know.
And one of the things I picked up from one of my teammates, Senator Bill
Bradley, was that there's--people want to move up, people want to be more
conscious. And, you know, just from my association with him and, you know,
maybe going to art museums here, are some things that, you know, I wasn't
really associated with when I was a young man and learning, you know, some
kinds of things that were culture or taste-oriented, I found myself intrigued
by them. And I feel that other players, and professional players
particularly, want to improve their life, they want to be educated, they go to
college, a lot of them don't get through college. Some of them still want
that education even when they come to the NBA. I like to help push that along
and move that in a direction they like to go.
GROSS: Could you mention any of the books that you've given out?
Mr. JACKSON: Well, you know, one of the players I gave "Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance" to, was John Paxson, one of our great players in the
past. And at the other end of the spectrum, you know, I gave "Beavis &
Butt-Head" to, you know, Stacey King, who loves cartoons and loves television.
GROSS: Have you had to deal with players who grew up poor, and now have big
money, and don't necessarily know how to handle it?
Mr. JACKSON: Oh, of course, I mean, you know, that's quite obvious. The
younger players in our league, regardless, you know, have never had this kind
of money, and no one would, regardless of whether you've grown up in an
affluent family or not, suddenly have 3, 4, 500,000 a million dollars at your
disposal, is, you know, ridiculous to think about, so there's a process that
goes through the NBA of young players come out of college, and the first year
they buy their toys and the second year they buy their cars, and the third
year, you know, they're doing other things with their money. And it usually
takes a two- or three-year period of time for these players to realize that
all the material growth and wealth, and everything else that they have, has
not brought them any happiness, it's brought them diversion, it's brought them
some, you know, comfort. But it really hasn't brought them the kind of
happiness--and they start to get back and think about the fact that `Hey, you
know, this is a career, I better be a professional, and all this has just made
me want maybe to explore life a little bit deeper.'
GROSS: Phil Jackson, thank you so much for talking with us.
Mr. JACKSON: It's been my pleasure, Terry. I've listened to so many
programs, it's really been a pleasure to be part of one.
GROSS: Phil Jackson, recorded in 1996, after the publication of his book
"Sacred Hoops." He just led the LA Lakers to their first NBA championship in
12 years. Coming up, a review of the Farrelly Brothers' new movie, "Me,
Myself, and Irene."
This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
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Review: New Jim Carrey movie "Me, Myself and Irene"
TERRY GROSS, host:
Jim Carrey suffers from a split personality disorder in the new comedy "Me,
Myself and Irene," directed and co-written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the
team that also made the hit "There's Something About Mary." Carrey starred in
the Farrellys' first hit, this 1994 film "Dumb & Dumber." Guest film critic
Henry Sheehan, has a review.
Mr. HENRY SHEEHAN (Film Critic):
"Me, Myself and Irene," is bound to go down as the movie where Jim Carrey
poops on his neighbor's lawn. This groundbreaking, or ground smearing, moment
comes early in the picture when Carrey's character, a Rhode Island state
trooper named Charlie, flips out. Years before the lawn incident, Charlie's
wife had left him for an aggressive African-American college
professor/chauffer, who, as it happens, was also a dwarf. But before she
left, Charlie's Wonder-Bread-white wife, had given birth to black triplets who
she leaves with Charlie. Charlie is very happy with his children, geniuses
who speak in hip-hop street slang, but the cuckold still suffers from the
ridicule of his neighbors in his small seaside community. Until one day, he
Charlie's persona disappears and is replaced by that of Hank, the last word in
acting out. After Hank's tough guy personality takes over, the uniformed
milquetoast goes on comic rampage, almost drowning a bratty little girl,
driving a bully's car into a barber shop, and fertilizing the aforementioned
neighbor's lawn. Eventually, Charlie gets medication for schizophrenia and
that keeps Hank in check. Hank may be a snarling cauldron of hostility, but
he's no paragon of judgment. He wants to fight more than Charlie does, but
he's no better at it than Charlie is. And children, in particular, get his
goat as in this scene where Hank catches an eight-year-old boy staring at him
over his milkshake.
(Soundbite of clip from "Me, Myself and Irene")
Mr. JIM CARREY (Actor): What are you staring at? You want to start me up,
just open the choke and pull the cord, pal. I'm due for a seismic event,
you're dancing on the fault line.
Unidentified Man: Hey, what is your problem, pal?
Mr. CARREY: I got no beef with you, it's between me and the kid.
Unidentified Child: Stop it.
Mr. CARREY: He started it.
Ms. RENEE ZELLWEGER: I'm so sorry, I have to apologize for that. I mean he
suffers from this thing.
Mr. CARREY: I'm standing right here four eyes. Let's go.
Ms. ZELLWEGER: He has this thing where he just...
Mr. CARREY: Oh, poor baby. And so he has his daddy fight his battles for
him. (Makes chicken sounds)
Mr. SHEEHAN: The woman you heard getting Hank out of trouble, is Irene, who
turns out to be the object of both Charlie and Hank's affection. Played by
Renee Zellweger, with a suitably unrelenting sense of outrage, Irene was
arrested in Rhode Island on a trumped-up warrant issued by some corrupt New
York cops. Not knowing the whole story, Charlie's superiors assign him to
deliver Irene. It all gets needlessly complicated, but Charlie and Irene
figure out something is wrong, and hit the road. In the confusion, they leave
Charlie's pills behind, as a result, Hank comes along as an unwanted and at
first undetected, third companion.
It's all wildly funny at times, if always funny in the same taboo-shattering
way, but for all its chutzpa, it's never offensive. The excessive effrontery
and lack of offensiveness is typical of the films directors, the brothers,
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who together with Mike Cerrone, also wrote Irene.
There's an odd shrug it off quality to the brothers' work, whether here, or in
"Something About Mary," or in "Dumb & Dumber." First off, like a couple of
impish kids, the Farrellys dare you to take offense at their wildly
over-the-top conceptions. This movie virtually begins with a
nunchuk-wielding black dwarf, assaulting a cringing Charlie and accusing him
of all manner of prejudice. The scene is so cartoonish, and just so
astonishingly unexpected, that we never have a chance to get our sensibilities
in shape to react.
But most importantly, the Farrellys' hearts are always with the most abused
and humiliated of their characters. Our point of identification isn't
supposed to be Irene, or any of the other normal people in the movie, we feel
with, for, and through Carrey. And if we are continuously laughing at what
happens to him, we are also at the same time, rooting him on. Charlie may
describe his problem as schizophrenia, but it's a lot less clinical, and a lot
more universal than that. Charlie is simply another man who can't live up to
his own expectations of masculinity and he's terrified of the rage and
resentment that that failure has sparked. Hank, though, doesn't postpone
gratification, but lunges for what he wants, when he wants it. So when we
laugh, it's not at Charlie's handicaps, but at his brilliant, mad grab for
freedom. Wherever that takes him, even if it's just to his neighbor's lawn.
GROSS: Henry Sheehan, is the film critic for the Orange County Register.
GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Milt Hinton, one of the most versatile and prolific bass players in jazz
history, is celebrating his 90th birthday today. We'll close with one of the
recordings he made with Cab Calloway in 1941. Happy birthday.
(Soundbite of music)
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