Jesse Jarnow

ornette coleman on interviews

Ornette Coleman, quoted in Howard Mandel’s Miles, Ornette, and Cecil:

When you ask a question or make a statement it’s either that you know the subject that you’re talking about or you’re trying to express something without the persons you’re talking to changing their views of it. You try to make their view of it more clear to them so they can stay more natural, rather than to think that you’re just trying to get them to repeat something to make you feel more secure or something.

Coleman gets at the artificial casualness of the typical interview, where the interviewer has to figure out how to best ask a question without leading the witness, so to speak. Often, this involves some sort of carefully managed reduction of the questioner’s knowledge of his subject. Despite wanting an interview to flow like a natural conversation, the very relationship between interviewer and subject makes it virtually impossible.


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