Kareem Abdul Jabbar Talking Jazz
Basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is a well known as a jazz fan. He has hosted radio programs on the subject, gathered a jazz record collection of legendary proportions, until a tragic fire destroyed many of his personal possessions, and he personally put himself on the line for the music he loves by attempting to establish his own record label, Cranberry Records. Like the famous record collection, the label is no more, but the man, by his very presence within the extended jazz family, continues to bring strength and visibility to the music. We spoke, in part, because of my interest in the similarities between playing jazz and basketball, thinking about the physicality of both, of both being improvisation within a group situation. Kareem in person is very gentle and thoughtful, and appears to be a man who has come to terms with life, or fate, and is not hesitant to credit jazz music with providing much of the wisdom and guidance that has delivered him to this point. We spoke at his home in Bel Air, California on a balmy spring morning. We sat across a small desk from one another in the den that houses his new collection of jazz records, with the sounds of birds and a water sprinkler in the background.