It Was An Experience To Behold: Woody Shaw Locks In With Victor Lewis
This 1979 live version of “On Green Dolphin Street” is an absolute killer for Woody Shaw’s phenomenal fluegelhorn solo. Listen to how drummer Victor Lewis drives and colors Woody’s playing. They locked up like that tune after tune, night after night for years. – Michael CuscunaView Video
Dissection of Classic Solo: Sonny Rollins Blue 7
Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation (excerpt) by Gunther Schuller The Jazz Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 1958)
A close analysis of Rollins ’ three solos on Blue 7 reveals many subtle relationships to the main theme and its 3-bar sequel. The original segmentation is preserved throughout. Rollins ’ phrases are mostly short, and extended rests (generally from three to five beats) separate all the phrases \u2014 a n excellent example of how welltimed silence can become a part of a musical phrase.
There are intermittent allusions to the motivic fragments of his opening statement. At one point he introduces new material, which, however, is also varied and developed in the ensuing improvisation. This occurs four bars before Max Roach’s extended solo. A partial repetition of these bars after Max has finished serves to build a kind of frame around the drum solo. In this, Rollins ’ second full solo, thematic variation becomes more continuous than in his first time around. After a brief restatement of part of the original theme, Rollins gradually evolves a short sixteenth-note run which is based on our ex. 1, part a.
He reworks this motive at half the rhythmic value, a musical device called diminution. It also provides a good example of how a phrase upon repetition can be shifted to different beats of the measure thus showing the phrase always in a new light. In this case Rollins plays the run six times; as is shown in ex. 3 the phrase starts once on the third beat, once on the second, once on the fourth and three times on the first beat.
Another device Rollins uses is the combining and overlapping of two motives. In his eighth chorus, Rollins, after reiterating ex. 2, part a, continues with part b, but without notice suddenly converts it into another short motive (Ex. 4) originally stated in the second chorus.
But the crowning achievement of Rollins ’ solo is his 11th, 12th and 13th choruses in which out of twenty-eight measures all but six are directly derived from the opening and two further measures are related to the four-bar section introducing Max’ s drum solo. Such structural cohesiveness\u2014without sacrificing expressiveness and rhythmic drive or swing\u2014one has come to expect from the composer who spends days or weeks writing a given passage. It is another matter to achieve this in an on-the-spur-of-the-moment extemporization. (Ex. 6)
The final Rollins touch occurs in the last twelve bars in which the theme, already reduced to an almost rock-bottom minimum, is drained of all excess notes, and the rests in the original are filled out by long held notes. The result is pure melodic essence (Ex. 7.) What more perfect way to end and sum up all that came before!View Video
Mike Abene on Jazz Education: Learn your Jazz Roots
Pianist, arranger and educator Mike Abene, caught at the recent Jazz Education Network Conference, laments the indifference of many composition students to the great jazz tradition of Ellington, Basie and Lunceford: how Ellington and Strayhorn often draws a “blank stare.” What students miss when they overlook their jazz heritage.View Video
Vijay Iyer: What you know shapes what you hear in music
In this brief BBC clip, pianist Vijay Iyer points out that context affects your perception of music you hear. At the piano, he demonstrates.Read More
Lenny Breau – The Tragic Life Of An Extraordinary Guitarist
Guitar god Lenny Breau is absolutely worshipped by those who know his work. Breau had a toubled life in many respects. He moved around quite a bit musically as well a geographically and I don’t think the general public had a handle on who he was and what he was trying to do. Maybe he didn’t either. This Jazz Wax feature includes a full-length documentary on this unique artist in seven parts on YouTube.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
The Personal and Musical Odysseys of Eberhard Weber
John Kelman’s in-depth article on Eberhard Weber, rich in quotes from Weber himself, starts with Weber’s life-changing stroke in 2007 which ended his playing career, moves on to more recent years and eventually takes in his whole output from the early ’70s to now. The remarkable bassist/composer is surprisingly candid and personal in this fascinating, sometimes heart-breaking piece.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Charlie Parker Talks With Paul Desmond
Charlie Parker being interviewed by Paul Desmond on a ‘50s radio show. The world’s slowest alto player meets the world’s fastest! This conversation gives insight into Parker’s gentile demeanor, intellect, charm and articulation.View Video
Anat Cohen: Clarinet for the Global Village
In this edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Anat Cohen vividly recounts her journey to unlock the expressive potential of the jazz clarinet, in the worlds of Louis Armstrong, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ellington, music of Latin America and yes, even her native Israel.
-Nick MoyRead More
Musicians in Mali Fight for their Right to Make Music
Amid the internal conflicts that have shaken Mali, the country’s musicians are battling what they see as grave threats to the country’s rich and deep musical tradition. Soon, musicians from Mali will bring their message to the US. Jim Fusilli’s account focuses on the coalition of musicians in Mali fighting to defend their music against Islamic fundamentalists seeking to suppress music within Mali; he also sheds valuable light on the music they’re fighting to preserve.
(In photo: Battake Sissoko)Read More
The One Drop Rule of Jazz
Seth Colter Walls posted this interesting column on Slate. Inspired by Wayne Shorter’s new album and recent Carnegie Hall concert, Walls tackle the history of and attitudes toward black composers on the American concert stages. Great reading, followed by a very unique playlist.
-Michael CuscunaRead More