Freddie Green interview at Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan, USA
The recorded tape of this interview is at the University of Michigan - Dr. Eva Jessye's collection of Afro-American music studies. Recorded circa 1980(?)
Jim Standifer: Freddie Green, you are something of a tradition with Count Basie. Could you tell us anything about your experience, such as who you are and what you hope young people, college students, young people, and America in general, will remember about you and your time with Count Basie?
Freddie Green: Well, as you know my name is Freddie Green, and I have been with Basie since 1937. I've been happy to be a part of the Basie band, which has contributed quite a bit, I think, to American jazz. As far as the young people are concerned, as far as I am concerned, contributing what little I offered toward jazz, I think they should first of all think about the music. If you like it, if you think that you want to become a musician, I think you should really study hard and try as hard as you can to produce whatever you have to offer in jazz or any other form of the arts.
As far as being with Basie's band, I really enjoyed being with it and Basie has taught me quite a bit. As far as jazz is concerned, I think Basie is one of the true giants of jazz. As for Interlochen,I have never seen anything like this here. I am really amazed at what is happening here. I can't express it; to see so many young people that really take to music. I really hope that they will continue to do their best for the arts, and I am sure when Mr. Basie speaks he will justify what I am saying.
JS: You are an inspiration to many of the music students, as well as non music students, and particularly the black students in the course of your reputation, being a fine person and fine musician. How did you happen to start in music? How did you get into it?
FG: Well, I really liked music in my home. I'm from a town called Charleston, South Carolina. Music to me...I first really heard it at an orphanage there called the Jenkins Orphanage and they had musicians, young kids, playing horns. I think they had about four or five bands and used to go around the corners and play. Whatever I was doing, I would stop and go follow them. They used to play on one corner and they would play 10- 15 minutes and then they would go to another corner and play and I would just follow them, follow them right out of my neighborhood. So I think they...I was kind of influenced much so through them.
JS: You mention Charleston, do you know Ashley River?
FG: Yeah, there's the Ashley River and then there is the Cooper River.
JS: There are many things...fine music being made in Charleston.
FG: Oh, yeah. Porgy and Bess, let's not forget that. It was all written about Charleston, really.
JS: Well, it has been a delight talking with you. In a few minutes I understand you begin your music. I'm going to let you go and again thank you. And I wish you all the greatest success in all you do in the future. Thank you for being you.
FG: Ok, thank you very much.