Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

ELLA FITZGERALD: American Jazz Singer, Queen of Jazz, The First Lady of Song and a 50 Year Career

Ella Fitzgerald in 1968
Ella Fitzgerald in 1968 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ella Fitzgerald was classified as a Jazz singer but this talented lady singer was so much more than that. She could sing Jazz, Ballads, Swing, and Pop. And she had the special talent of being able to sing Scat. She started singing scat while working with Dizzy Gillespie's band. In reference to this Ella said, "I just tried to do with my voice what I heard the horns in the band doing". The New York Times described her Scat recording of "Flying Home" as one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade."

Ella started her professional singing career in 1935 with Big-bands such as Chuck Webb's Orchestra. At the time they were playing at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. She recorded several hit song such as "Love and Kisses", and "If You Can't Sing It You'll Have to Swing It." She recorded over 150 songs while with the orchestra.

In 1942, Ella left the band scene to begin a career as a solo singer. She signed with the Decca label and she had several hit songs while working with Jazz producer Norman Granz. In the mid-1940s following swing music, jazz began to take on a different style called Bebop.

In 1955 Ella left Decca to sing on Norman Granz's new record label, Verve Records. Ella said that Granz produced her album of The Cole Porter Songbook and it was a turning point in her life. It was the first of eight multi-album "Songbook" sets that she would record for Verve until 1964.

Another album production of Granz was "Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Duke Ellington Songbook." It was the only Songbook that the composer of the songs actually played with her.

During the years that she was recording the Songbooks, she also toured 40-45 weeks per year in the United States and internationally which helped her to become one of the most important live jazz performers.

In her later life, Ella kept busy touring but her health began to decline. She had heart surgery in 1986. She also had diabetes, her eyesight was failing, and both of her legs were amputated below the knee. She was unable to perform and she never completely recovered. She died in 1996 at her home in Beverly Hills, California.

One can tell much about a person by some of the comments she has made over the years.

She said, "I sing like I feel." That comment shows that a singer has to have emotion about the song she is recording. Without emotion, it is pretty bland.

She also said "A lot of singers think all they have to do is exercise their tonsils to get ahead. They refuse to look for new ideas and new outlets, so they fall by the wayside". With those words, she is so right. Anyone that just does what she is referring to has no concept what it is to develop as a singer and indeed would not have a clue as to why they are not progressing.

And finally, she stated, "The only thing better than singing, is more singing". By that, she is saying she just loves to sing. She is passionate about singing. It's what makes her successful.

Read what others had to say about Ella.

Arthur Fielder "Ella's voice becomes the orchestra's richest and most versatile sound."

Bing Crosby "Man, woman or child, Ella is the greatest of them all."

Richard Rogers "Whatever she does to my songs, she always makes them sound better."

Perry Como "She has been one of my all-time favorite singers for many years and still is - she's terrific."

Johnny Mathis "She was the best. She was the best there ever was. Amongst all of us who sing, she was the best."

Vincente Minnelli "If you want to learn how to sing, listen to Ella Fitzgerald".

Pearl Bailey "Ella is simply the greatest singer of them all."

She won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million records. In 1987 President Ronald Regan awarded her the National Medal of Arts.

We are so blessed to have this talented lady singer be a part of our music profession. The one thing I want to say about this superb singer is "Swing Ella, Swing!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


English: Head and shoulders portrait of jazz m...
Head and shoulders portrait of jazz musician Louis Armstrong.
(Photo credit: 
For the last 15 years, I have been living in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the International Olympic Committee has its HQ, and where the writer (most famously for A Many-Splendoured Thing) and controversial "provocative" Han Suyin lived before she passed away on 2 November this year, among other things. It is also where the world-famous business school IMD is located where I have been working. I love this world, and when one is in love with the world Lausanne is not a bad place to be.

It is by the lake Léman, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, with most of the time blue skies, no pollution, and riotous colors of nature in the city as well as around. My flat is about 15 minutes' walk to IMD. I am often away and travel perhaps 75% of my time. But when I am here, I invariably walk to work and in so doing pass by gardens, hear birds, see squirrels, sometimes, if it's especially early, a fox or two, all depending on the season of course, but always splendid. I get to my office and hum Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved the world. But not just the flowers, lakes, trees and hills, nor just the birds, squirrels, and deer, but also the men and the women - or at least many of them, the tremendous variety of languages, cultures, histories, literature, painting, music, topographies, architecture, food and drink, and so on. Of course, there is a lot of evil in this world, there is misery, which needs to be combated; there are lots of jerks; but in aggregate, what a wonderful world indeed.

Danger to the wonderful world
But the world is in grave danger of losing its splendor, its identity, and its diversity. On the last, diversity, I refer not only to biodiversity, but also to cultural diversity and indeed cultural identity. The world has never been so interconnected and so open. Yet, as an educator, I am constantly struck by how little people actually know or learn about not only other countries but often even their own!
An illustration: A few days ago I took a flight from Dhaka to Istanbul. 

Just before departure an announcement came on that the audio/visual system was not functioning, hence there would be no "entertainment". The business class was full. With very, very few exceptions (I was one), the passengers, when not sleeping, spent the nine hours flight staring into emptiness. They had no books with them, nothing to read, nothing from which to learn, nothing to challenge their minds. They are traveling physically, but not intellectually.

In his brilliant book Collapse, author Jared Diamond has shown how societies can commit ecocide and indeed have committed ecocide. That is a major threat this wonderful world faces. Another major threat is the destruction of civilization due to excessive materialism and absence of curiosity.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SWING JAZZ Guitar Solos - George Barnes Had A Unique DIXIELAND Style!

George Barnes was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 17, 1921, and came from a household that was full of artists! He began to play the guitar at 9 with his father who was his very first teacher. Barnes was raised in Chicago, a city that had actually ended up being a major center of jazz music advancement. He stated that his primary musical influences were Jimmy Noone (in whose band he played at the age of 16), Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong.

One of several studio portraits of Broonzy.
One of several studio portraits of Broonzy.
(Photo credit: 
As a youth George Barnes was associated with the excellent blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson who obviously had a major influence on him. He also listened to numerous records by the French gypsy jazz guitar player Django Reinhardt. At 14 Barnes already had his own jazz quartet. He won a Tommy Dorsey Amateur Swing Contest when he was 16 and at 17 was working on the Chicago NBC personnel staff as a guitar player, conductor, and arranger which was a truly amazing accomplishment!

During the seven years that preceded 1942, George Barnes was regularly included in tape-recording sessions with lots of legendary folk and blues artists including Big Bill Broonzy, Washboard Sam, and Blind John Davis. Upon leaving the military after the war, Barnes returned to a life which ended up becoming one of the busiest in jazz history. In 1951 he moved from Chicago to New York City. Here his phenomenal musical talents won him a job with Decca Records as arranger, guitarist, and composer.

Because of his multiple skills, George Barnes was much in demand for many years as a backing guitar player for top vocalists and jazz artists consisting of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Louis Armstrong. He made many historical jazz recordings with his own numerous quartets and quintets however his most important contribution to jazz guitar history was his creative guitar duets with Carl Kress (and later Bucky Pizzarelli after the death of Kress) in addition to the quintet he led collectively with cornetist Ruby Braff.

Always a strong individualist, George Barnes had a really distinct sound partly due to his personally developed archtop jazz guitar constructed without the typical "F" sound holes. This instrument was made specifically for him by the Guild Guitar Company. He likewise utilized an unwound 3rd string which was unusual for a guitarist of his generation. In 1975 Barnes transferred to Concord, California. There he devoted his time to playing in jazz clubs, recording, and teaching until his death following a cardiac arrest on September 5, 1977.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

SAXOPHONES, Jazz Musicians, and the Influence of Inner Personal Conflicts

Saxophones, in comparison to many other instruments, do not have a very long history. The first one was designed around 1840 by a Belgian named Adolphe Sax in an attempt to improve the sound of the clarinet. Adolphe planned the saxophones as a family of instruments ranging in size from the sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass, and sub-contrabass. Saxophones were first introduced into a musical score in 1844 by Jean-George Kastner. Saxophones were initially used in symphonies, military bands, and chamber music, then in big bands, and in the 1920's saxophones were incorporated into jazz music.

Saxophone Music - Photo  by 
Jazz music began it's infiltration into American music in March 1917. The principal instruments used included the trumpet, cornet, slide trombone, valve trombone, French horn, baritone, clarinet, family of saxophones, percussion, string bass, and piano. When members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band were recording their music in a New York studio, they were instructed to play faster in order to fit the whole song on a record. This exciting, lively, assertive, rowdy, and bold music is what caught the attention of everyone's listening ears. It was a time when America was hard at work and needed an outlet, a way to play. They grasped this new style with full force and made jazz a favorite pastime.

Although this seemed like new music, it was not totally new in the truest sense of the word. It involves taking apart an already established song and then putting it back together in a novel way. Jazz also involves, to a large extent, the component of improvisation in order to interpret the melody or harmony in a fresh way. Playing jazz involves elements of spontaneity, spirit, creativity, and rhythmic drive. As stated by Gary Giddins, "It's the ultimate in rugged individualism. It's going out there on that stage and saying: It doesn't matter how anybody else did it. This is the way I'm going to do it." Jazz allows the expression of a full range of emotions with whichever instrument the musician is using.

Clearly, one of the most expressive instruments in this type of music are saxophones with their ability to squeal, laugh, shriek, and whisper. Saxophones are able to release the inner voice, the feelings, the inner personality of the musician playing them. Not only is jazz music an outlet for those listening to it, but also for the musicians playing the music with their saxophones. Certainly what wasn't able to be said in words was often verbalized musically whether through a soulful lament or a happy energetic, playful sound, especially with the tenor, alto, or soprano saxophones.

This means of expression is portrayed in the music of not only the early innovators of swing, but also in bebop, hard bop, jazz, free jazz, and electric jazz/rock/funk. Some of the best and most renowned music came from those musicians with the most difficult inner personal conflicts. It seems though that those with the most troubled lives had the most inner drive to make their music as brilliant as possible.

    This author is a saxophonist, novice pianist, and novice guitarist. In addition, she is an occupational therapist who works with a host of disabilities utilizing sensory integration and neurodevelopmental therapy in combination with music and a variety of other techniques to assist these persons in achieving the highest level of function and quality of life possible.
    Article Directory: EzineArticles

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

JAZZ MUSIC: A Quick Lesson on Its Roots

Ask anyone, even Jazz experts or Jazz musicians and they will have very different definitions to describe the music, or they will tell you that defining Jazz is impossible. It is, of course, easy to identify when you hear it despite the diversity of the genre. It is a home grown, the United States born music with its birthplace credited to New Orleans and it is highly associated with the South.

Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Scanned by Infro...
Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Scanned by Infrogmation from original 1918 promotional postcard while the band was playing at Reisenweber's Cafe in New York City. Shown are (left to right) Tony Sbarbaro (aka Tony Spargo) on drums; Edwin "Daddy" Edwards on trombone; D. James "Nick" LaRocca on cornet; Larry Shields on clarinet, and Henry Ragas on piano.
(Photo credit: 
To understand how diverse the genre of Jazz music can be one has only to view some of its sub categories: Bebop, Ragtime, Dixieland, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Free Jazz, Latin Jazz, Post Bop, Soul Jazz, Swing Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Jazz Funk, Smooth Jazz, Acid Jazz, and Punk Jazz, and many others. The word "Jazz" is as hard to define as the music itself. 

The origin of the word has been heavily researched and the American Dialect Society named it the "Word of the Twentieth Century" because of the difficulty in finding the origin and original use of the word and the amount of research that has gone into understanding the word. Despite the music being played many years before the use of the word "jazz" to describe it, the use became common in Chicago around 1915. The first use of the word found is actually in a baseball article from 1913 and it was not associated with anything having to do with music, instead it was a form of slang mostly heard on the West Coast, yet it soon became a well-known term for the unique and individualistic music to become well known as Jazz music.

There are many that claim to have first used it to describe the music genre. Wherever the origin, it is one of the most recognized terms to describe a music genre despite there being few that can define it fully. The music just defines itself without words having the ability to fully do it justice.

"Individual and unique" are very good words to describe Jazz. The Jazz artist is often considered to be interpreting the music when they play. It is usually enjoyed live more than recorded due to the ability of the musician to individually interpret and play the music differently throughout performances. This is a unique property of Jazz music.

What has been commonly known as the "Jazz Age" is the time period of the 20's to early 30's that included the rise of speakeasies" where an older generation regarded the new music played in these clubs as immoral. It was so degraded by many that were threatened by the new wave of music, that they even blamed Jazz as having caused a heart attack of one music composer. The music persevered past its critics and soon there were standout Jazz musicians that were making a name for themselves that would keep them as historical figures. Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington became well known and respected musicians and helped bring more fans to Jazz music.

Jazz has been described as "moving, passionate, and strongF320 music influencing the senses of the body and soul". For those that discover a love for their particular brand of Jazz, it becomes a sought after music for times of relaxation, rejuvenation, and celebration. For those that have yet to fully discover all that Jazz Music has to offer, visiting a live Jazz concert, or a Jazz festival can be a very enlightening and enjoyable experience. Due to the popularity of Jazz and its American roots, there are many opportunities for someone to experience the music live in clubs, concerts, and events across the United States.

One of the most popular Jazz Festivals on the east coast of the United States is the DC Jazz Festival, or lovingly nicknamed the "DC Jazz Fest". It unofficially kicks off the Summer season for those that are familiar with the event. It takes place this year from June 1 through June 13 and will include over 100 performances at over 45 venues across the city. It is the largest music festival in the Nation's Capital. The festival offers a wide variety of Jazz music types and top musicians from all over the globe. There is not a better place to get a real lesson in Jazz Music.

CAISO is proud to be a part of the music performance lineup for the 7th Annual DC Jazz Festival and will be performing on June 4 from 3 to 4 PM at Gallery O on H, 1354 H Street Northeast, Washington, DC. For more information on the DC Jazz Festival visit their Web site:
For more great information about CAISO SteelBand's Blog visit:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

3 Absolutely Essential Tips For Buying Used JAZZ RECORDS Today

English: Art Hodes Docot Jazz - Blue Note records
Art Hodes Docot Jazz - Blue Note records 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now there is a resurgence in interest for vinyl records. Amidst all of the genres that you can look at, jazz is a premier one. Collectors in this genre aren't just willing to buy new recordings, they are willing to shell out a lot of money for a good condition vintage record. Not just from the mainstays in the genre, but also rarities, singles, and a lot more. If it's in good condition, chances are that a collector will want to spend upwards of thousands of dollars to get their hands on it. If you're one of the many fans of this musical genre, or perhaps you want to buy records for fun and profit, then you need to adhere to these 3 tips.

Know The Value of The Record
First and foremost, you should know the inherent value of a recording. You can go to a variety of locations to do this, but chances are you will not find accurate data. The best way to gauge public interest and sales price for you to move forward will be to search auctions. When you search auctions, look for the ended listings, and see what the top price paid for each item you want to buy, or sell. Keep tabs on the shifts in price, and see what a premium, mint condition album was sold for. Once you know that, you will be able to determine whether or not it's worth picking up or it's best to focus on another option.

English: Dixieland Jubilee Records 78rpm disc ...
Dixieland Jubilee Records
78rpm disc label
(Photo credit: 
Look For Grading Protocol
Every piece of vinyl from the jazz age will have a grading if sold. These range from Near Mint (NM) to Good (G) and beyond. These are important. You need to know how conservative a seller is in regards to this. Sometimes, when you're purchasing items online or in stores, you will find that they list things based on their perceptions, and therefore, you may be buying wax that has fine lines, scratches, scuffs, and a lot more. Grading protocol shifts depending on a variety of different factors, so make sure that you take time to really understand this for the albums you want to buy.

Look At Thrift Stores
In recent years, the amount of records that have landed into thrift stores has grown exponentially. If you're serious about finding some long lost and loved treasures, this is where to look. Thrift stores are notorious for not organizing, caring for, or pricing records. The clerks just don't know a lot about what they have on their hands, so you could turn a one-dollar investment into a thousand dollar one, if you know what jazz artist you're looking for and the records they've put out.
These tips are meant to help you get some used recordings for cheap. Of course, you could always go to a flea market, used music store, or just about anywhere media is sold. Chances are you can find great things for a discounted rate, if you just keep searching.

    By Jorge Orduna

    Sell Out Records is a music blog that aims to review just about every record possible. If you're looking for music conversation, reviews, notes, and more, check out the constant stream of updates on Sell Out Records HERE and discover new and used music from past, present, and future.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Origins of JAZZ MUSIC

There are a lot of people nowadays who enjoy great jazz music. In fact, almost every home has somebody who loves to listen to its cool rhythm and its moving beat. However, jazz music did not come along that easy since it all started. In fact, based on the origin of jazz, this type of music genre had its share of low times before it hit the popularity spot. While jazz is now being enjoyed by a lot of people, there was a time in its history when it was not as accepted as it is today.

Papa Dré's Dixie Paraders
Photo  by    FaceMePLS   (cc)
Somehow, the popularity of jazz or its unpopularity at the onset had to do with its being clearly identified as black music. But now, when the issues of racial discrimination is slowly starting to wane, anyone can say that jazz music, which is being played not only by black people but also by white, is here to stay.

In general, the origin of jazz was believed to have started in New Orleans before it spread to Chicago and then on to Kansas City, then to New York City and finally the West Coast area. Both the vocals and the instrumental sides of the blues are known to be essential components that we can still predominantly see in this music genre today. There have been and there still are many types of the genre and this was all started with the ragtime that officially started in New Orleans or what is also known as the Dixieland jazz. Then, after this, there came the swing jazz, which was also known as the bop or bebop. Cool or progressive jazz followed thereafter, which was also then succeeded by the hard bop or the neo-bop.

Then, there was the third stream and the mainstream modern and the jazz type that a lot of people like to dance, which is the Latin jazz. Of course, rock and roll also made its influence on this music genre with the coming out of the jazz rock, which was followed lastly by the avant-garde or what is commonly known as the free jazz.

The origin of jazz actually started out in the later years of the 19th century and this was derived from the work songs of the blacks, their sorrow songs, their field shouts, their hymns and their spiritual songs, the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic elements of which were seen to have been dominated by African influence. However, because it was seen as a music genre that was improvisational, emotional and spontaneous in nature and because it was mainly associated with the blacks, jazz did not garner the level of recognition that it deserved.

It was the European audiences that showed warmer reception to jazz, making the jazz musicians of America go to this country to work on their trade. Jazz only gained a wider audience when adaptations or imitations of it were made by white orchestras. It was in the later part of the 1930's when it was known to have become a legitimate entertainment and this was when Benny Goodman initiated concerts at the Carnegie hall of groups having mixed racial origins.

Monday, July 3, 2017


Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker was one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Known also as Yardbird, or simply Bird, Charlie was an early bebop pioneer; many of his songs remain standards to this day.

It might surprise you, but Charlie Parker started playing the saxophone at age 11, but wasn't a child prodigy by any stretch of the imagination. He joined the school band at age 14, and by one account, was kicked out because of his bad playing as a result of his lack of formal training. Charlie didn't let setbacks bother him though, and an in interview once said that for three to four years he practiced 15 hours a day. Part of this practice regime included playing the blues songs he learned in all 12 keys. During this time, Parker's improvisational skill flourished, and he began to develop some of the musical ideas that would give birth to bebop.

Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Max Roach (Gottlieb 06941).jpg

In the late thirties, Charlie played with local jazz bands in the Kansas City area. Ensembles led by Count Basie and Bennie Moten were popular in the area around this time and influenced Charlie's playing. By 1938 Charlie Parker had joined pianist Jay McShann's band, Jay McShann's Territory Band. The band played all over the southwest and occasionally travelled to bigger markets such as Chicago and New York.

It was with Jay McShann that Parker would play on his first professional recording. Bird moved to New York in 1939 and took a job as a dishwasher at Jimmy's Chicken Shack to supplement the income he made with Jay McShann's Territory Band. Pianist Art Tatum frequently played at the venue and his use of fast paced arpeggios would have an influence of Parker's playing.

In 1942 Charlie Parker left Jay's band to play with Earl Hines' band. A band that included Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet. A musician's strike from 1942-1943 has made it difficult to document much of what happened during that period. We do know, however, that in that year Paker played with a group of young musicians who embraced the new bebop form of jazz. This group of musicians included not only Parker and Gillespie but other soon to be legends, such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian and Kenny Clarke.

During these formative years of the genre, most of the older, established jazz musicians did not embrace it. Some, however, such as Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman, appreciated the new art form, playing and recording with bebop stylists. The genre which Charlie Parker all but invented, had arrived.

Charlie was famous for showing up to gigs without an instrument and borrowing one from somebody else at the last minute. For this reason, he could be seen playing many different makes and models of sax. These include Conn 6Ms, Selmer model 22s, and 26s, and even a Grafton plastic saxophone. In 1947 he had a King Super 20 made exclusively for him. He seemed to prefer Brilhart mouthpieces, having used both Ebolin and Tonalin Streamlines. According to rumor he used hard Rico reeds early in his career but later switched to a 2 ½ in the fifties.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

JAZZ: The Growth of Contemporary Jazz Music

Born in the early 20th century in African American cultures, jazz is a musical style that has developed and evolved all different genres of music. Dating from early 1910s to the 1990s, jazz has contributed to the growth of music. Sparking a rise to a variety of music styles, the spread of jazz across the world influenced trends from early New Orleans Dixieland styles to Latin Afro-Cuban even playing a part in the development of funk and hip hop in the 1990s.

Wayman Tisdale and Dave Koz at the Dave Koz & ...
Wayman Tisdale and Dave Koz at the Dave Koz & Friends Smooth Jazz Cruise 2006
(Photo credit: 

Aside from playing a part in the growth of subgenres, jazz within itself has been influenced by a variety of musical genres. Most commonly the trends of R&B, funk, rock, and pop music styles helped shape jazz fusion into what we know to be smooth jazz. With tracks of encoded rhythms and downtempo beats, smooth jazz is often confused with styling of contemporary jazz music. A modern growth is urban contemporary jazz, which slot in aspects of hip-hop; which is intended for listeners who would normally listen to radio stations that play an assortment of hip-hop and R&B. While smooth jazz is soft and mellow is content; contemporary jazz music is blunter and grabs the attention of its listeners.

Among the players who commonly perform free jazz are Dave Koz, Boney James, Paul Jackson Jr., Nick Colionne, Bobby Perry, Urban Jazz Coalition, Streetwize, and Tha' Hot Club. As well as other free jazz artists such as Bob Baldwin, Michael Lington, Brian Bromberg, David Lanz, Bobby Ricketts, Kim Waters, Daniele Caprelli, Ken Navarro, Walter Beasley, and Peter White. As popularity for late night radio airplay throughout the years grew; doors where open for contemporary jazz music artist like Kenny G, David Sanborn, the late George Howard, George Benson, Marc Antoine, Bradley Joseph and contemporary jazz flautist Najee. These modern jazz musicians had a tendency to play their instruments in at such a harmonious frequency that it was rare for the measures to go un-noticeable.

The free jazz radio arrangement, which commonly played fifteen-minute sets involving instrumentals wrapping a vocal song or two continued to grow and flourish over the 1990s and early 2000s. In the late 2000s, most markets began losing jazz stations and in a variety of media markets, this arrangement does no longer exist over the air except online or on HD Radio.

By 2009, as contemporary jazz remained on its persistent decline on the syndicated radio airwaves, an increasing number of non-commercial stations have grown an interest in the music and began to add it to their programming.

More recently contemporary jazz music downloads, in opposition to radio, has been at high volumes on iTunes. If you find these artist to be of interest, Richard Brown is must have in your collection. With hits like “It’s A Boy” and “My Heart” from his new cd “Dreams” flautist songwriter Richard Brown has a unique flute style. You can hear some of his songs from the album “Dreams” by logging on to Even receive a free contemporary jazz music download.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

THELONIUS MONK - One of the Pioneers of Bebop

From amongst all the jazz legends and pop legendary pianists, Thelonious Monk is most known for what can be called 'straight forward jazz'. Born Thelonious Sphere Monk on the 10th of October 1917, Monk began playing the piano at the tender age of nine. Most of what he knew on the piano was self taught in addition to the tricks he learned while slyly dropping in on his elder sister Marian's piano classes and a little formal training.

English: Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, ...
Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, ca. September 1947.
(Photo credit: 

He dropped out of Stuyvesant High School where he was doing his schooling to start playing the piano professionally. He toured with an evangelist for whose meetings he played the church organ. In his later teens, he got gigs playing jazz piano. He was the house pianist at a club - Minton's Playhouse - in the early 40's. His influences at the time were most the stride pianists of the era - Duke Ellington, James P Johnson and the likes.

His trademark style of playing was something that he polished incessantly during the cutting competitions that took place at the club late at night featuring all the piano greats of the time. His stint at Minton's Playhouse brought him in touch with the other exponents of Bebop - Charlie Christian, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Kenny Clarke. It is this period of time that the bebop style of playing was created . He influenced the the bebop style of playing so much that he has arguably been referred to as the founder of bebop.

Monk then moved on to playing for groups. His first ever studio recording was made featuring the Coleman Hawkins quartet in 1944. He became the leader of the Blue Note three years later. His recordings with Blue Note displayed his penchant for coming up with composing music with strong melodies. The same year saw his marriage to Nellie Smith, with whom he had two children. His son TS Monk was born in 1949. He is a jazz drummer, composer and band leader. His daughter Barbara was born in 1953.

In 1951, Monk ran into trouble with the police. A car in which he and fellow pianist Bud Powell was found to contain narcotics. During the trial against Bud Powell, he refused serve as witness testifying against Bud Powell. As a result, his New York City Cabaret Card was taken away by the police. Thus not being able to play in New York where there was liquor being served. He continued to play in other places though.

He continued recording, touring and composing. After his contract with Blue Note Records lapsed, he moves to prestige records. At Prestige, he recorded some not-so-successful but critically acclaimed albums with Sonny Rollins on saxophone and Art Blakey on drums. It was around this time that the famous Christmas Eve sessions were recorded which were released in the form of the two albums - The Modern Jazz Giants and Bags Groove and Miles Davis - both of these by Miles Davis.

He visited Europe in 1954. He went to Paris to record and perform. He met jazz patron and member of the Rothschild family, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, with whom he struck a friendship that lasted his life long.

Though Monk was well recognized in jazz circles by his contemporaries and the jazz audience , his records didn't sell as well. He shifted from Prestige Records to Riverside Records, who bought out his contract. In an effort to get the masses in tune with his style of music (which was thought to be too difficult at the time for the average listener), Riverside asked him to record an album two album of his own versions of the jazz standards of the time.

Thus Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington was released with the intention of increasing Monk's market. The album has Duke Wellington's tunes redone by Monk for which he had to study Duke Ellington's pieces from scratch. On his next release, Brilliant Corners, he got a chance to actually record his own tunes. Expectedly the title track of the album was so difficult that it had to be put together from a total of three takes. Sony Rollins accompanied him on the album.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

JAZZ: The Forbidden Music

There was a time in history when Jazz the music was banned during World War II when it was considered a plight for freedom against Hitler's Nazi regime due to what it represents. Jazz music is the product of America that was creatively invented by African American from culture, and all the elements of the American life that influenced this style of music.

English: King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra, Hous...
King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra, Houston Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jazz music is a symbol of freedom, hope and the ability of express ones self in through one of best art forms which is music. Meaning, African Americans fought oppression  since the beginning of slavery, and Jazz music represented that resistance.  Jazz music has a foundation of the basic rules of composition, but it has since expanded its way toward newer forms of music.

America who also gained their freedom from Europe joined showed their patriarchy by listening to the Jazz music on records and on the radio to encourage their fellow Americans to believe in their country, and the freedom it stands for. Hollywood, celebrity musicians and Jazz musicians even supported freedom by joining patriotic films to get their point across to the world. This act caused Hitler and Stalin to fear the effect Jazz music would have on all who listens who could easily be influenced by the idea of freedom, and patriotism.

In the year 1921 there were Americans who did not favor Jazz music or the Jazz dance. There were activist who stated that Jazz is a type of menace that is worse that alcohol, and that it would be better to wipe Jazz out of existence. In Germany, Jazz and all other American music was banned in the country before and after Americans joined the war. Stalin forbid the playing of Jazz music at the end of the 1945 war throughout the Soviet Union, and banned the use of saxophones. Jazz was called "the music of blacks by Hitler as a reason for the prohibition of Jazz music. Nevertheless, Jazz music was embraced by all who heard it around the globe.

In fact, It was adored by those who supported the resistance of such a war. In the area of Azerbaijan the year of the 1950's produced even more forbidden Jazz music into a new style of Jazz known as Mugam that came  from the Baku style of music. The sound of Jazz produces an atmosphere of relaxation and freedom that even spread to Algeria who wrote a form of Jazz that spread all around their country and in Europe known as Rai in the late 1960's. Though there were many haters of Jazz music who forbid the use of it those who understood loved it.

Those who did not like Jazz wrote books on it titled "Vo do do de o Blues" against Jazz and blues. Another title was "Anti rag time girl" about a lady who hates Jazz music. However,  when the underground clubs broke the law discreetly to make a home for jazz in Speakeasies they also spread the gospel of Jazz music all around the world.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017


The beginning  career of jazz music legend Art Blakey was amazing. He took piano lessons at school. When he was in the seventh grade he played music full-time and was leading a popular band. Not too long after, he started playing drums in the style of such players as Ray Bauduc, Chick Webb and Sid Catlett. He taught himself how to play.

Le batteur américain de jazz Art Blakey en con...
Art Blakey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He played with Mary Lou Williams at Kelly's Stable in 1942. Next, with Fletcher Henderson for the next two years, and he toured with. Art then went to Boston to lead a big band, then joined Billy Eckstine's band in St. Louis. Art stayed with that band from 1944-1947.

Art was considered to be among jazz music's finest musicians such as Fats Navarro, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon. In 1947 when Eckstine's band broke up, Art started the Seventeen Messengers. He would go on to have several other groups with this same name. He then went to Africa to learn all about Islamic people for over a year. By the 1950's he performed with Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Horace Silver.

After they performed together many times, he started another group with Horace which included Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley with the name Jazz Messengers. Horace left a year later.  He was the known leader of the band. The Jazz Messengers played hard-bop jazz music. The roots of which were blues music. Hard bop is a mixture of bebop with gospel and soul music. An example of this is his album Moanin' recorded on Blue Note Records in 1958. They fought hard to keep black people interested in jazz, when the ballroom  jazz music disappeared. Many young musicians during the years have been influenced by this style. Jazz musicians such as Keith Jarrett, JoAnne Brackcen, Woody Shaw , Donald Byrd, Delfeayo, Branford  and Wynton Marsalis.

In 1971 to 1972, Art world toured with the biggest names in jazz music such as Kai Winding, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. He also performed a lot at the Newport Jazz Festival. The best performance was when he was in a battling performance with Buddy Rich, Max Roach and Elvin Jones in 1974. Art continued to tour nonstop with help from Donald Harrison and Terence Blanchard, along with younger musicians such as Benny Green.

Art never thought of his music as similar to African style, although he did use some of their techniques such as using his elbow on the tom-tom to alter pitch. His trademark, the forced closing of the hi-hat on each second and fourth beat was created in 1950-1951, which many jazz musicians copied.

A major jazz musician and innovative in his drum style, he was unique and performed with power. The way he played was loud and aggressive. The jazz critics basically ignored what he did in the 1960's. American audiences  left him behind in the 1970's when rock music took over the scene.

He always made time for young jazz musicians, listening to them, and helping them with their jazz music careers.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Different Styles Of JAZZ

Do you love listening to that smooth, toe-tapping music we call jazz? Do you love to dance with your significant other to the sounds of Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, or Duke Ellington?

English: Duke Ellington, a famous jazz musicia...
Duke Ellington, a famous jazz musician, poses with his piano at the KFG Radio Studio
(Photo credit: 

While it’s undoubtedly cool to use words like ‘Swing’, ‘Bebop’ or ‘Bossa Nova’ when describing a jazz style, not very many people really know the difference between Hot Jazz, Classic Jazz or Afro-Cuban Jazz. If you don't know the difference between one style of jazz and another, this article is for you. Read on if you want to up your cool quotient while discussing Hot Jazz:

Classic Jazz: More popularly called ‘New Orleans jazz’ because of its origins, classic jazz originated in the late 1800’s - early 1900’s with brass bands performing for dances and parties using an assortment of musical instruments including the trombone, saxophone, tuba, clarinet, cornet, guitar, bass, drums and cornet. At the time, musical arrangements varied significantly from one performance to another.

Hot Jazz: Pioneered by Louis Armstrong, hot jazz was characterized by improvised solos that built up to an emotional and ‘hot’ crescendo that was supported by bass, drums and guitar or banjo.

Chicago Style Jazz: If New Orleans was the birth place of jazz, Chicago was the breeding ground. Several young, dynamic players including Bud Freeman, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Eddie Condon significantly furthered jazz improvisations with a combination of high technical ability and harmonic, innovative arrangements.

Swing: During the classic 1930’s, most Jazz groups were Big Bands who played a robust and invigorating version of Classic Jazz. More popularly called Swing, for the first time jazz was used as dance music. Many of the most famous musicians the world has every heard were swing jazz musicians. The famous jazz swing players include people such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, and Louis Armstrong, to name a few. Of course, the genre of ballroom dance called swing grew out of jazz swing music.

Bebop: Immortalized by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker who engaged in chordal improvisations, Bebop was a complete deviation from mainstream jazz that was typically derived from the melodic line.

Bossa Nova: Initiated as “Brazilian jazz” by Brazilian’s Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, Bossa Nova is a blend of seductive Brazilian samba rhythms, classical European harmonies and West Coast cool. Adopting the Bossa Nova style, West Coast saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd gave this jazz form a huge boost in the United States around 1962.

Afro-Cuban Jazz: Also known as Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz can be traced back to percussionist Chano Pozo and trumpeter- arranger Mario Bauza. Characterized by its highly infectious rhythms combined with Jazz improvisations, Afro-Cuban jazz is typically played using rhythm instruments including bongo, timbale, conga along with assorted Latin percussion instruments and is often accompanied by guitar or piano and joined by vocals or horns.

Now that you know what the different types of jazz music are, you can speak intelligently about the music that you love! So get out there and have some great jazzy fun!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The American Influence Of JAZZ MUSIC

The Jazz music sensation began to rub off on other parts of the world which encourages the experimentation of melding their familiar sounds with the essence of Jazz.  In Europe's country in the Region of France  came the Quintette Du Hot Club de France who was responsible for the making of the early "Gypsy Jazz".

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, M...
Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson and Timmie Rosenkrantz in September 1947, New York
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt created gypsy jazz  by mixing the style of French Musette which was used in the dance halls, eastern European Folk known as Jazz Manouche, and American swing of the 1930's. The sound was developed by instruments from the string family which are a steel string guitar, violin, and an upright bass. The atmosphere of the Jazz music is seductive with sudden unpredictable twists, and accelerating rhythms. The French artist Bireli Lagrene plays this unique music with old elements of the past.

Another style of Jazz music that allowed the musicians to express themselves freely was the invention of Avant-garde or free Jazz music.  Both of these styles stemmed from the Bebop era, yet produced a relaxed form of harmonic and rhythmic music in the 1940's and 1950's. The musicians John Coltrane, Dewey Redman, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman and many more were the creators of the free Jazz music. Between the 1960's and 1970's the Latin musicians created the Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Jazz Music styles after Bebop musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Taylor cultivated it.

Gillespie and Taylor was influenced by the music of Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians Chico O'farrill, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo, Xavier Cugat, Mario Bauza and Arturo Sandoval. Jazz music expressed in a Latin interpretation was termed Bossa Nova with origins in Samba music which is a mixture of Jazz, classical and pop music from the 20th century.  Bossa is a moderate sound of music with Classical harmonic structure from Europe, Samba polyrhythm's from Brazil and cool music. The tempo of such a work is about 120 beats per minute. The instruments used in this particular sound is nylon stringed guitar, piano, high hat tap of eighths, tapping on the rim of the drum like Sade's "Sweetest Taboo", and a vocalist.  The sound produced is a new relaxing sound where the acoustic sound of the guitar can lull one to sleep with it's easy melodic line.

Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim became popular in the sixties with this style of music. The influence of Jazz music returned to the place of its origins in the religious music known as Urban Contemporary Gospel from the spirituals music. Much of spiritual music sung by southern slaves in the past has a haunting dark and mournful sound during the 1800 and 1900's. The churches know as the sanctified or holy churches took a more happier approach by encouraging member to sing speak their  personal testimonies as they celebrated with song and dance.

The sanctified artist Arizona Dranes  who was a traveling pastor made recordings that would fit in many musical categories such as  blues, and  boogie-woogie with the use of Jazz instruments. At the time the Jazz instruments used with religious themed music were percussion and brass instruments.