Tag: jazz

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Here’s an escape-from-politics-post for the weekend: Kick back with a Blue Hawaii and this mix of some of my favorite smooth Hawaiian rock, funk, and soul from the ’70’s and ’80’s (and one from the ’90’s). If you’re interesting in learning more, read on past the track list for artist and song descriptions and many […]

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Thanks to Rick Beato for reminding me of this one. As a pianist, seeing this level of divinely inspired playing makes me want to shake my head and give it up. He is no longer with us, mostly likely because the Creator called him back and said, “Time for you to come back home and […]

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Take Five, Buddy: Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, A Match Made in Heaven (and Hell, and Everywhere in Between)

 

Jazz is often a cooperative enterprise. But that doesn’t mean that jazz musicians are always good at cooperating. Far from it, as, for example, Charles Mingus learned when Duke Ellington demanded that he resign from the Ellington Orchestra for having chopped Juan Tizol’s chair in two with a fire ax in the middle of a performance after the trombonist pulled a knife on him. 

Probability says that Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond should have gotten along about as well as Tizol and Mingus. An amphetamine-dependent, chain-smoking womanizer certainly doesn’t seem like the ideal partner for an (eventually) deeply Catholic, even-tempered family man. But to understand such an extraordinarily improbable 33-year partnership, we’d better go back to the beginning. 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Arnold Rampersad, the Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in Humanities at Stanford University and recipient of the National Humanities Medal for his books including The Life of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison: A Biography. They discuss what teachers and students today should know about Langston Hughes’s celebrated literary life and poetry, including his influence on African-American literati during the Harlem Renaissance, and how his works, such as “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” and “Mississippi –1955,” impacted the Civil Rights Movement. They then turn to Ralph Ellison, whose 1952 novel, Invisible Man, is among the greatest works of 20th-century American fiction. Professor Rampersad shares the major formative experiences and intellectual influences on Ellison’s life and writing, including his Oklahoma upbringing, Tuskegee Institute education, and interest in literary figures such as Dostoevsky, Hardy, Melville, Twain, and Faulkner. He also offers insights on the connection between the writings of Hughes and Ellison, and blues and jazz music, with its complexity and exploration of suffering. Professor Rampersad concludes the interview with a reading from his biography of Ralph Ellison.

Stories of the Week: In an effort to stem COVID-related learning loss, more than 230 public schools in Hawaii will offer summer school on campus for free, using federal relief funds. In Baltimore, high school students started a mentorship program to help younger peers on topics such as financial assistance, standardized testing, and course selection.

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Music featuring wind instruments has never been central to my home catalog. Yet, a series of performers and pieces, across genres, stand out over the decades of my life. This is the windy music soundtrack of my life. My mother likes jazz, while my father does not. So, us kids got early exposure to jazz […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and guest co-host Kerry McDonald continue our celebration of Black achievements with Terry Teachout, drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, and author of such books as Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. They explore how Louis Armstrong became such a brilliant, internationally beloved musician, and the indispensable genius of the distinctly American art form known as jazz. Teachout talks about the influence of Armstrong’s roots in New Orleans on his long career spanning several decades, from the Jazz Age of the 1920s-30s into the 1960s with his #1 hit, “Hello Dolly.” They then turn to Duke Ellington, described by Teachout as the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century, whose works were complex and ingenious, yet accessible, and whose demeanor was polished and elegant. Best known for classics like “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Mood Indigo,” he led the 1920s-30s-era orchestras at the famous Cotton Club. As a writer and former jazz musician himself, Teachout offers insights into what educators, students, and aspiring young musicians can learn most from these widely contrasting giants of jazz about their craft, as well as about race relations in early 20th-century America. The interview concludes with a reading from Teachout’s biography of Armstrong, Pops.

Stories of the Week: In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the school district reached a deal with the teachers union to reopen elementary and middle schools in March, after 10 months of remote instruction. Is there a correlation between school reopening and factors such as the strength of union leadership, or competition from private alternatives? Colby College in Maine will be the first small liberal arts school to launch a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) institute, that will integrate machine learning and big data into its instruction and research programs. AI could change teaching and learning forever – presenting both challenges and opportunities.

A Modern Day Medici: The Life and (Tumultous) Times of Pannonica de Koenigswarter, Bebop Baroness

 

When we think Rothschild, it is almost inevitable that banking and high finance are the first things to spring to mind. Conspiracy theories come in a close second. But beyond their involvement in shaping the monetary map of modern Europe, or leading the lizard people, the Rothschilds were also major contributors to culture. (Baron Phillipe alone was a prolific vigneron, race car driver, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and poet). Even the family rebels had much to help give the world.

Charles, son of the first Baron Rothschild, was a Harrow and Cambridge educated banker who loved nothing quite so much as chasing after insects in the English countryside and around the world. In the Sudanese town of Shendi, a former stronghold of the Nubian Ja’alin tribe, he discovered and named Xenopsylla cheopis; what we know as the Oriental rat flea, the primary vector for the bubonic plague which devastated Asia, Africa, and Europe in the 14th century. He was a dedicated partner at NM Rothschild and Sons, though, and never missed a day at the bank. Instead, he used his scientific bent to the family’s benefit, keeping a close watch on the company’s gold refinery and working on new inventions for the extraction, location, and refinement of the precious metal. 

Music critic and historian Ted Gioia joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the 4,000-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval—topics explored in his new book, Music: A Subversive History.

The music business is a $10 billion industry today. But according to Gioia, innovative songs have always come from outsiders—the poor, the unruly, and the marginalized. The culmination of his decades of writing about music, Gioia’s new book is a celebration of the social outcasts who continue to define this art form.

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Our local Jazz station which is a favorite – WSBZ 106.3 The “Seabreeze”, seems to being going Muzak..  I love Jazz, old, new and anything in-between. I’ve discovered new artists like Jesse Cook and Damien Escobar on this station.  I have Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits on CD – it puts me in an instantly happy […]

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So, I was just looking for material by Stanley Clarke on Youtube and what do I find but this video from 2017. Check out the drummer: This cat is 22 and he’s already got terrific phrasing. His name’s Mike Mitchell and I think we can expect a long a great career from him:  Preview Open

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Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald

 

My post yesterday was to say something worthwhile about Ella on her centenary. I tried to show her moderating effect on Cole Porter’s music. Let me summarize my remarks without repetition: Ella has power, but she has sweetness as well, and no one ever got a heart attack from her music. Her phrasing and diction have the wonderful power of removing from Porter’s wit his least attractive characteristic, his fickleness. Her command of the music allows the wit to shine but removes most of the sting. Her mood is not as ironic as his; instead, there is something better even than his self-deprecatory humor about his fickle love — she can console even as she pleases. This is a rare achievement and there is little more that I can do than signal it.

I will return to my theme, and give it a name. Ella Americanized Porter. I have joked here before that my contemplated book on Porter has a title already — Love We’d Prefer Immoral — and I will write about Cole Porter again. But Ella is the exception to that attitude. I want to talk to you again about her moderating effect as a singer, but in a surprising way: Not by a soft lyrical attitude, as before — but by jazz. I’ll talk to you about a number with much more swing to it, “It’s All Right with Me.”

Quote of the Day, Feb. 25: Keep It Simple, Stupid

 

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” — Charles Mingus

When looking for quotes, I was considering some lofty sentiment from a philosopher or war hero. But I’ve found that musicians offer some of the best quotes I’ve come across. In providing the advice above, Charlie Mingus doesn’t only speak to his fellow jazzbos, but to every writer, professor, architect, and anyone else trying to communicate in any medium.

Born in the border town of Nogales, AZ, Mingus was steeped in church and classical music. Since it was tough for an African American to play a cello in an orchestra, he switched to bass in a swing band.

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I was originally going to post this yesterday, as a means to temporarily escape the immanent approach of a new Clinton administration. That didn’t happen, so here’s the mix as a general escape, and as an opportunity to hear songs that you’ll recognize in terms of musical styles, but (unless you’re acquainted with Japanese popular […]

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