PM: Anyhow, I've been listening a lot to Intersections. It's an amazing retrospective of a still-blooming career. How did that come about, and what feelings did it bring up as an artist?
BH: Well, I've just felt through the years there was not really a--well, I felt a couple things. One, that my career has been so varied and so sort of singularly, stylistically, widespread.
PM: No doubt.
BH: And I felt that most people really didn't know that. I felt that most of the most interesting music that I've made has fallen way under the mainstream radar screen--which is pretty typical, frankly.
BH: Because I think most of the best music is made under the mass appeal mainstream radar screen. And so I felt that I had this sort of career. And I didn't feel there was one document where if someone said, "Hey, I've heard of you, but I don't really know what you do. What is it that you do?"--I didn't have one thing I could give them. I guess our live record, Here Come the Noisemakers, is the closest thing. After that I would give them my double record, Spirit Trail, which is my favorite of my records. But anyway, I thought I didn't really have one document. So I put this together with that in mind. Also I feel like my musicianship has improved some. I feel like it's very obvious.
BH: A lot of solo piano playing on here.
PM: And it’s just unreal.
BH: And I couldn't even do--I recommitted myself to the study of piano about ten years ago, and took my playing to a completely new level. And once again, when you deal with virtuosity on an instrument, you're really guarding against commercial appeal. That's never been what it's about. Virtuosity has never been prized on the radio or in popular music in general. But it's very much what I'm about. So I wanted to--I felt that, for instance, the way we play the songs now is miles beyond the original records. Some of the original records are unlistenable to me, mostly vocally.
BH: Yeah, just for my money. Like for instance, the "Mandolin Rain" on here is a live version.
PM: It's a superb version of that song.
BH: Well, to me it's just miles beyond the original, although the original was a big number four hit. Through the years, the playing of it and singing of it has grown so much. So I wanted to be able to create something that I thought was definitive, that this is really what I'm about. So, for all those reasons, I put this together.
PM: Wow. Now, the advance copy, predictably, had only the four discs without the booklet and the DVD. But the booklet sounds like it's going to be special.
BH: It is special. And the DVD has got a lot of interesting footage on it. There's a duet with Roger Waters on "Comfortably Numb."
PM: [laughs] Wow.
BH: There's a duet with B. B. King, jamming with B. B. King on "Mighty Quinn" at the China Club in L.A. There's three Spike Lee videos, one from a song I wrote with Chaka Kahn for his movie Clockers. There's Gregory Hines tap dancing with our band. It's just all over the place. There's a Grateful Dead cut.
PM: Wow, the late Gregory Hines is tapping in the video with you guys, that's unbelievable.
BH: Oh, yeah. It's fantastic. It's one of the best parts.
PM: He had to be an incredible dude, right?
BH: He was the best, a great person. I miss him so much. He called me every Christmas day just to check in.
PM: No kidding.
BH: So from the Dead to Gregory Hines, to Ornette Coleman--
BH: --to Ricky Skaggs, I just think it's a uniquely varied program.
PM: And although the breadth of your musicality was well-known to me, I think you're right, that most people don't know that about you.
BH: And there's no reason they would. I mean, I wouldn't blame anyone. There's no reason--people don't have the time to delve into all this.
BH: I wouldn't blame them a bit. But at the same time, if somebody wants to know what I do, the sum total, the full breadth of what I do, well, here it is.
PM: There it is.
BH: And there's no other way to do that, because when you make a record, a standard record, you're trying to make a specific statement. For instance, I just finished a bluegrass record, a full record with Ricky Skaggs. We just made a full bluegrass record together.
BH: And I just made a jazz record with Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride.
PM: Wow. [laughs] That's fantastic. continue