jazz

A Brief History Of Jazz Education, Pt. 1

Nov 5, 2012

One year ago, when I began graduate study in ethnomusicology at UCLA, I found myself undergoing what has become a familiar ritual. As I played my trombone in a near-empty classroom accompanied by a play-a-long recording, it occurred to me that I was in the midst of my sixth college big band audition. A professor — in this special case, guitar legend Kenny Burrell — led the proceedings. When he engulfed my hand in his massive grip, I learned that I was in.

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, oldest son of New Orleans pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, released an album with his quartet this week. He spoke to weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about the failings of modern jazz, his hopes for the next generation and leaving New York City to move back to the South.

Vappielle, Inc.

Don Vappie can play just about anything on banjo — classical compositions, traditional jazz, even funk music. So wherever he goes musically, there's always an audience eager to hear what he has to say.

What most people may not know is that Vappie's talent extends to bass, guitar and any other instrument that needs playing. His ears are just that big. And his hands are just that good. Maybe that's why Vappie tells Music Inside Out that one of his favorite songs is the old Charles Wright hit, "Express Yourself." Because that's what Vappie does best.

When Billie Holiday died in 1959, thousands of mourners attended her funeral at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in New York City. The overflow crowd lined the sidewalks. Honorary pallbearers included such jazz greats as Benny Goodman and Mary Lou Williams. Newspapers and magazines ran heartfelt tributes.

In a good jazz rhythm section, the players function independently and as one. Their parts and accents crisscross and reinforce each other, interlocking like West African drummers. Beyond that, the bass is a band's ground floor. When it changes up, the earth shifts under all the players' feet. From moment to moment, Linda Oh's bass prowls or gallops, takes giant downward leaps, or stands its ground.

Jazz has evolved into a genre of music that incorporates many distinctive styles since it began on the streets of New Orleans a hundred years ago. Often, the key to its evolution is cross-cultural cooperation.

On this week's Notes from New Orleans, we'll hear from the leader of a French jazz group that has returned to Louisiana in pursuit of his persistent desire to collaborate.

It is a weekend for Jazz harp. The New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society is hosting its first Jazz and Pop harp weekend at the University of New Orleans, helping students from around the country improve their Jazz harp skills.  Professional members of the local harp society and guest artists will perform in two public concerts.

The 12th annual Satchmo SummerFest will be held Aug. 3-5 at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint.

The festival is dedicated to the life, legacy and music of New Orleans' native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. 

Kickin' It With Han Bennink

Apr 18, 2012

Here's a great shot of drummer Han Bennink, who turns 70 today, deploying one of his signature moves: the "putting a foot on the snare drum." It's quite a spectacle when you see it live. There's the visual display of a big man (he is well over 6-feet-tall, and muscular) contorting himself with the gleeful strain of a mad scientist. There's also a practical basis, which has to do with ingeniously modifying the timbre of the drum. He explains in this short video:

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