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A Conversation with Leroy Jenkins

Interview by Thomas Wilmeth with the late violinist and composer from 1979

In the fall of 1979 I had been interested in the current jazz scene for several years, but nothing had prepared me for the far reaches of the music universe that Leroy Jenkins explored one night in Minneapolis. I was told that Mr. Jenkins would have a few minutes before his solo concert at The Walker Art Center. I had heard his latest album and looked forward to speaking with this unique artist, an avant-garde jazz violinist.

If the music of the avant-garde is often purposefully formless, the same cannot be said of Mr. Jenkins’ thoughts, which were focused and articulate. He possessed an unhurried and reflective attitude, choosing his ideas and words with care. Jenkins was patient with the limitations of a young man from the Midwest that night. I think he knew that I was trying and that I was sincere in my interest of jazz.

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