7th December 2015: A 90 Minute Introduction to Jazz; Nothing Too Heavy by George Wilson
Come along to the Blind Poet at 7pm for a music event with George Wilson followed by live music from Sukh:
A 90- minute introduction to jazz, nothing too heavy.
Delivered by a non-professional, non-musician, this short event involves listening to some music on CD, with a little light discussion, for people with a bit of curiosity but little or no understanding of jazz. Hopefully we’ll have coffee available – bring your newspaper if you want, this is meant to be relaxed!
To equip you with enough insight to develop your own journey into jazz
Format is simple:
Listen to the piece, discuss around the table, move on to the next piece ….
Let’s ease your way into some jazz; Here is some of the music I will be taking you through:
- BBC 4 commissioned the TV production company Somethin’ Else to produce a sixty minute documentary “1959 – The Year That Changed Jazz Forever”. (Broadcast March 27th 2009)
- Somethin’ Else said on-line that 1959 was a social, political and economic watershed for America. In that year four, now famous, jazz artists each made albums that would change the music forever.
- Miles Davis recorded Kind Of Blue – an album that defined cool and has gone on to be the best selling and best know Jazz LP of all time.
- Ornette Coleman made The Shape Of Jazz To Come.
- Dave Brubeck returned from a CIA sponsored tour and recorded Time Out featuring the huge hit Take Five.
- And the politically active Charles Mingus produced Ah Um containing direct attacks on the racist leaders of the age. Together these records re-wrote the jazz rulebooks.
Take 5 – Dave Bruebeck And Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
Could this music, music which some now say made black music accessible to a white audience, have opened the way for a black man to become President of the United States, as was suggested in the programme? Then forward a year to hear Sketches of Spain – Miles Davis Concerto d’Aranjuez – Joaquin Rodrigo: spot the similarity? Then in a similar way we can hear another touch of classical – J.S. Bach, and then some Play Bach – the jazz of Jacques Loussier
In 1959, pianist Brubeck, Paul Desmond on saxophone, Joe Morello on drums, and Eugene Wright on bass, released “Time Out”. The album contained original compositions, almost all in unusual time signatures, but surprisingly it achieved platinum status. It included Blue Rondo a la Turk, Take 5, and Pick Up Sticks. The “Time Out” album was in the mode of what was known as Cool Jazz, as was the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” album.
Miles Davis was born in Illinois in 1926, and died Santa Monica in1991. He was a jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer, and was a top jazzman all his playing life. Kind of Blue featured Davis on trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on alto saxophone, John Coltrane played tenor saxophone, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers was the bass player and Jimmy Cobb was on drums. A collaboration between Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Sketches of Spain was recorded between November 1959 and March 1960.
Wikipedia says “Sketches of Spain is considered to be one of the most accessible albums of Davis’s career: the most recent edition of the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD describes it as “elevated light music”. Less improvisational than much other jazz, contemporaries suggested that Sketches of Spain was something other than jazz”. Davis said “It’s music, and I like it”.
Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre (22 November 1901 – 6 July 1999)
A Spanish composer of classical music and a virtuoso pianist. In spite of being blind from an early age, he achieved great success. He was born in Valencia, and diphtheria at the age of three resulted in him losing his sight almost completely. He began to study piano and violin at the age of eight, but despite being best known for his guitar music, never mastered the instrument himself
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a German composer and organist. Bach’s works include the Brandenburg concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Partitas, the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B Minor, the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Magnificat, The Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue, the English Suites, the French Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo, the Cello Suites, more than 200 surviving cantatas, and a similar number of organ works, including the celebrated Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. He is now widely considered to be one of the greatest composers in the Western tradition.
Jacques Loussier Trio
SkyArts says “Born in 1934 in north-west France, Jacques Loussier seemed set on a career as a concert pianist when he entered Paris Conservatoire at 16. But Loussier loved be-bop as much as baroque, and cool-jazz as much as classical, and developed a unique blend of the two”. Loussier founded the Play Bach Trio, which used Bach’s compositions as the basis for jazz improvisation, and Decca released an album in 1959. Loussier’s group achieved the breakthrough to popular commercial success enjoyed by only a select few jazz musicians, selling over six million albums in fifteen years.
Links & recommendations
- Stan Getz – Jazz Samba (Universal 2007)
- Louis Armstrong – Pure Gold
- Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong Live in ’59 (2006) (DVD – available on Amazon)
- Adagio – Karajan: Deutsche Grammophon 445 282 2
- Essential Jazz – Dave Brubeck: Columbia 467148 2
- Sketches of Spain – Miles Davis: Columbia Legacy 65142
- Very Best of Play Bach – Jacques Loussier: Camden BMG 74321 698742
- Kind of Blue – Miles Davis: Columbia Legacy 64935
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