A Musical Biography of Bill T. Jones

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

This special episode features an exclusive, gripping two-hour interview with MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner Bill T. Jones, tracing his life through music. 

The legendary artistic director, choreographer and dancer reminisces about listening to B.B. King back in the days when he and his parents pulled potatoes as migrant workers; discovering Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez at college; sharing Barbra Streisand recordings with his late partner, Arnie Zane, with whom he would later found the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in New York; and the music that played as Zane died in his arms.

Read more about music in the choreography of Bill T. Jones



St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244 - Make Thee Clean, My Heart, From Sin
Johann Sebastian Bach
William Wildermann, bass
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
New York Philharmonic
Sony Music 60727

Woke Up This Morning (My Baby She Was Gone)
B.B. King, composer, guitar, vocals
Classic Masters
Virgin Records

(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay
Otis Redding, composer, vocals
The Very Best of Otis Redding
Rhino Records 71147

I Put a Spell On You
Screamin' Jay Hawkins, composer, vocals
Cow Fingers and Mosquito Pie

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244 - Come, Ye Daughters
Johann Sebastian Bach
William Wildermann, bass
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
New York Philharmonic
Sony Music 60727

If I Can Help Somebody
Alma Bazel Androzzo
Mahalia Jackson, vocals
The Essential Mahalia Jackson

When The Revolution Comes
The Last Poets
The Last Poets (The Original)

A Day In the Life (disambiguation)
The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper Lonely's Hearts Club Band

The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bob Dylan, composer, vocals, guitar
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Sony BMG Music Entertainment

The Sound of Silence
Paul Simon, composer, vocals, guitar
Art Garfunkel, vocals
The Sounds of Silence
Columbia Records

Just in Time
Jule Styne, Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Nina Simone, vocals
Nina Simone at the Village Gate (Live)
Blue Note Records

Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Sam H. Stept, Sidney Clare
Billie Holiday, vocals
Ultimate: Billie Holiday
The Verve Music Group

Brilliant Corners
Thelonious Monk, composer, piano
The Essential Thelonious Monk

Tears of Rage
Joan Baez, composer, vocals
Any Day Now
Vanguard Records

Pace Pace Mio Dio
Giuseppe Verdi
Rosa Ponselle, soprano
Rosario Bourdon, conductor
Uncredited Orchestra
Nimbus 7818

Study No. 5
Conlan Nancarrow
Other Minds Records 1012

God Bless the Child
Billie Holiday
Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet
Stockholm Sessions
Enja Records

Dreams Freud Dreamed
Charles Amirkanian, composer, vocals
Mental Radio

Les nuits d'ÈtÈ, Op. 7, Absence
Hector Berlioz
RÈgine Crespin, mezzo soprano
Ernest Ansermet, conductor
Suisse Romande Orchestra
London/Decca Legends 460973

September Song
Kurt Weill
Lotte Lenya, vocals
Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill / Levine, Lenya, Armstrong, Gilford, et al
Sony Music

Idle Chatter
Paul Lansky, composer, electronics
Bridge 9050

Octet in E-Flat Major for Strings, Op 20: II. Andante
Felix Mendelssohn
The Guarneri String Quartet
The Orion String Quartet
Arabesque Recordings

12 Microludes for String Quartet, Op. 13
Gyorgy Kurtag
Avanti Quartet

Eyes II
Kenneth Frazelle
composed for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. work Still/Here

Fela Kuti, composer, vocals
Knitting Factory

Song of Solomon
Composed by Jerome Begin, Christopher Antonio William Lancaster, and George Lewis, Jr.
Performed with Clarissa Sinceno
composed for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. work Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray

Weavily Wheat
American Folk Song
Arranged by Jerome Begin, Christopher Antonio William Lancaster, and George Lewis, Jr.
performed for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. work Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray

String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135, III: Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
Alexander String Quartet
Foghorn Classics

Notalina (Call Them All)
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) composer, violin
Bill T. Jones, vocals
BTJ & DBR: Lights, Bridges And Endless Miles
DBR Music Productions

This program was produced by Ave Carrillo and Terrance McKnight. Our executive producer is Limor Tomer.

Watch a video from Serenade/The Proposition, a work about the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and appearing at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival July 21-25.

Major Productions from the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company

Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane
Lois Greenfield
Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane
Bill T. Jones by Arnie Zane
Bill T. Jones by Arnie Zane
Lois Greenfield
Bill T. Jones: Animal Trilogy
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Another Evening - I Bow Down
Paul B. Goode
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Another Evening - I Bow Down
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray
Paul B. Goode
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Still Here
Joanne Savio
Bill T. Jones Dance Company: Still Here
Sahr Ngaujah as Fela Kuti and the Broadway cast of FELA!
©Monique Carboni
Sahr Ngaujah as Fela Kuti and the Broadway cast of FELA!

Comments [11]

gina ballinger from Graz, Austria

so appreciative of such a direct and inspiring conversation with bill t jones thank you! gina ballinger graz austria

Feb. 23 2011 07:12 AM
Dianne Chapitis from Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Since listening to this interview a few days ago, I have continued to cherish the courage and brilliance of a true artist, found in Bill T. Jones.

Thank you, Terrance for your ability to water and participate the wild garden of art!


May. 24 2010 02:11 PM
Dina Denis from Queen, NY

Thank you for the Bill T. Jones interview. As a dancer and choreographer, I have been inspired by his work for years. I am so pleased that Terrance McKnight brought Bill T. Jones on air and happy that I was able to listen the interview online again! Thank you for bringing the WQXR listeners' awareness to such a wonderful, intelligent, passionate, and creative choreographer.

May. 18 2010 10:30 AM
Ann from Morristown, NJ

It was an interesting experience to drive home from my church home fellowship Saturday night, turn on QXR in my car and hear "make me clean Oh Lord" followed by B.B. King, Otis Redding and hear the remembrances of a pk's kid and the "devil music" admonition in the Jones' home.

I picked up the interview again at home with the Joan Baez song and went to bed with my Walkman CD/Radio player headphones on. Seduced by sacred music. I drifted off to "Song of Solomon".

I don't agree with all of the interview content. But I will say mixing sacred music, pop music and original music for dance was pretty cool.

Blessings in our matchless Savior!

May. 16 2010 09:39 PM
Richard Benari from Jerusalem, Israel

This was a terrific show and I'm grateful. Thanks, Terrance. Nicely done.

May. 16 2010 05:55 PM

I often enjoy your show enormously, but tonight was amazing! I just have to say thanks. I learned a great deal about Bill T. Jones and have been blown away by his work for years without really knowing anything about him. Thanks!

May. 16 2010 12:32 AM
Patrick from New York City

Just want to say it was so important and wonderful that Terrance McKnight asked--and Jones told--about the many layers of his partnership with Arnie Zane. So often gay relationships are elided in these contexts.

And I'll just say it -- how great to have a black man interview another black man with thoughtfulness and candor.about his relationship with a white man. Where else are you going to hear something like that but public radio? Thank you for this excellent program!

May. 16 2010 12:20 AM
Sandy Campbell from East Elmhurst NY

Thank you so much, Terrance, for this evening. I look forward, always, to listening to your show. The richness of your presentation and content contributes to my growth and I am reminded that learning never stops. It just gets better. Listening to you and Bill T. Jones filled my heart with such spirit.
You are a blessing!

May. 16 2010 12:15 AM
Kathleen Marie from NYC

From some of the music featured on this particular program, I feel this program would be better suited for an experimental -independant or jazz based radio station rather than a classical station!

May. 15 2010 11:43 PM
edward j sullivan from usa

Bravo to Terence McKnight for this evocative, sensitive and intelligent interview with Bill T. Jones and the music that supports his investigation into the roots of BTJ's creativity with Arnie Zane. I am very impressed and very grateful.

May. 15 2010 11:18 PM
Mardi-Ellen Hill from Brooklyn Heights NY

Wow, what a dynamic and fabulous program driving the many forms of music through the many vistas of Bill T. Jones' life.
I am listening to Bill T. Jones speak about his relationship with Arnie Zane as I write this.
I worked ( was a pianist and singer and compser) at the American Dance Festival when Bill T. Jones came there with his company.
Since I share many of the same ERA and ART issues focused on by Jones, I am thrilled to be home this evening and have this work brought right into my living room. It brings me back to so many wonderful moments.
I myself have written a musical pentimento -- www.menduniversebuzz.wordpress.com Indeed, the idea of a collage of music bites as the measure of an unfolding fabric of one's life, really speaks to me!!
thanks. Mardi-Ellen Hill

May. 15 2010 10:51 PM

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