Ted Curson - Man behind piimäboogie

Ted Curson. Copyright: Suvi Härkönen

He just doesn't seem to get enough of music. He has been visiting Finland for thirty-eight years, most of the time playing his music at Pori Jazz Festival. Ted Curson is a trumpeter who started his career in Philadelphia's ghettos at the age of ten. His first recordings were mainly avant-garde jazz, which he most famously performed with Charles Mingus. Lately he's mostly been playing bebop, but according to him, he has done it all. He is a man who enjoys piimä so much, that has even composed a song called piimäboogie.

In the beginning his father wanted him to play the saxophone, because there was very famous saxophone player from the ghetto called Louis Jordan, who played alto sax. If Ted started to play saxophone, his father promised that he would buy a new saxophone every year. "I said I want a trumpet, because trumpet looked easier to me. He said if you want to play trumpet, I'll buy you one old one, and you buy the rest."

He was raised around a very famous family - the Heath Brothers. That's how he met all the great musicians when he was kid, Charlie Parker, Jerry Marlow, Ted Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis. "I'm from Philadelphia, and all the musicians who came to Philadelphia used to stop at the Heaths' house. That's because Mrs. Heath, the mother, used to cook for everybody. So I could ask people dumb questions, I could ask questions which were really stupid. And I did. And everybody was there, I was lucky to come up that way", says Curson.

What kind of jazz have you been playing?

Curson doesn't have much spare time. He's leaving Europe on the 11th of September, and he's performing in New Jersey that very same evening. When he's not playing trumpet, he's sitting behind his piano. "My schedule is incredible. And I don't know how long I can keep this pace up. Especially on my age, but I want to keep on going as long as I can. I would say piano is my only hobby. When you're involved with music, you're putting hours and hours into it. There's no time for anything else."

Ted Curson. Copyright: Esa Hakkarainen

Curson thinks that there are a lot of fine musicians in Finland. More now than when he first came here, when there were just a handful of guys hanging around Helsinki. "But now you have the Sibelius academy, and another jazz school, and you're turning them out. I'm just wondering where they're all going to work at. You're going have same problem that we have in America, too many musicians, not enough venues."

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The video clip is roughly five minutes long. Viewing requires RealPlayer (version 8) and an ISDN connection or better is recommended. Interview Ville Häkkinen. Video editing Esa Hakkarainen. Production manager Matti Markkanen.

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