Sunday, August 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
As a kid I sat in on a couple of George lectures and saw his student bands at New England Conservatory a few times.
He had an compelling and, to me, useful lecture on the acceleration of units of time from the early Jazz world of King Oliver to the present, (circa 1974) using modes of travel as his working metaphor wherein the whole note units of early jazz expressed the tempo of the day like horse drawn carriages and then the movement to half notes was Tin Lizzy and quarter notes was a Streamliner locomotive, Basie's super chief.
The 16th notes of Bird's time were fighter planes from world war two and the 32nd notes of Coltrane where jet aircraft and Ornette, why he was a rocket ship.
I folded it into my own narrative. George loved to play with time and his late period ensembles found amazing juxtapositions wherein a large ensemble might entail several sub units working in different time frames for astonishing dynamic tempo tensions.
The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization is his monument and another of the rare working texts in the small canon of reference works of value to a jazz composer. He had a very quiet voice, maybe an outcome of his debilitating wrestle with tuberculosis which compelled him to abandon his aspiration to be a drummer.
And yet this aspiration transformed into a way of thinking about sonic architecture as if ensemble sections were metaphors for toms, snares, cymbals and kick drum. He was in the center of things in the early 60s with many innovations such as sonic movies like New York, New York.
Stratusphunk, rendered by the Gil Evans Orchestra, has an unique bubbling buoyancy about it. Ezzthetic has to be one of the most gorgeous recordings ever, especially 'Nardis', a Miles tune that never found its way into Miles own recordings of the period. I can still whistle its haunting Arabesques.
Evans and Russell together were something and it's sad they didn't work together more often as Gil went off to infatuations with Jimmy Hendrix that sound like Uncle Ralph trying to wow the kids at an undergrad mixer.
Hendrix was such a singular force that attempts to repackage him often end up sounding odd and dorky as if he is impervious to them and lord knows it wasn't for lack of trying. Gil shoulda stuck with George instead of trying to wow the boomers.
George was one of the people I found on old WBUR radio before NPR wrecked it. And then I was surprised to discover someone of his stature was right here, in Boston, a school within a school and far more majestic and compelling than that odd enervated Ran Blake third stream mess that seemed to owe its existence to an effort to fabricate a form pleasing to dotty blue blood endowment dowagers.
For some reason I'm hearing Shane MacGowan in my minds ear right now.."And we tipped a glass to JFK and a dozen more besides.." That could just as well apply to George, a lingering living time vestage of Camelot now at last laid to rest.
Sleep you well.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
1.What brought you to music? The musical genes in my family, I suppose. My parents went to concerts with me, mostly classical and opera, since I was a little boy. I started to sing first. When I was three years old, I knew all the kindergarten-lieder by heart. We also had a record player, and I played some very thin, unbreakable plastic 7" singles with children songs over and over again. (My love to vinyl is yet unbroken since then.) Prokoviev's "Peter and the Wolf" (recited by 17-year old Romy Schneider, and conducted by Herbert von Karajan) with the various instruments and "Mein Freund Mozart" (an introduction to the composer for children) belonged to my favorite LP's. I heard my first jazz in various television series, Disney's "Jungle Book", and with the age of 13, I started to listen to Glenn Miller. My parents had the soundtrack of "The Glenn Miller Story" in their collection, and so I was hooked to jazz from then on. I listened a lot to jazz in the radio, and I attended concerts, and I even wrote reviews on these jazz concerts in one of the local newspapers.
2.Describe your role models, muses and mentors. My very first role models, I would rather call them "idols", were the great trumpeters of the swing era: Harry James, Roy Eldridge or Cootie Williams; but I realized soon that it made no sense to "copy" them, and that there were others like Dizzy, Miles and Fats who influenced me a lot more later on. My "muses"? -- Charlie Parker ... Err, well, that's hard to explain. There are so many: Certain films, books or nature in general, some of my girlfriends, even postcards inspired me to write music. It depends as well a whole lot on the musicians of the bands I'm writing for. I would even dare to say, that I'm lost in the woods when I don't have a working band. Really, to write music only for the drawer is not my cup of tea. I must hear what I wrote.
My mentors today are the musicians I'm listening to in the first place. In my early days as a student, several teachers made a strong impact on me, people like Enrico Rava, Manfred Schoof, Matthias Rüegg, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Dave Liebman, Adam Nussbaum, Alexander von Schlippenbach, or Lee Konitz, whom I have all met at various jazz workshops or at the Kölner Musikhochschule. It sounds strange, but listening to saxophonists inspired me more than playing the records of trumpeters. I dig Sonny Rollins and Steve Lacy, but I also love Stan Getz and Paul Desmond. Their rhythmical and melodic concepts fitted best to my way of playing the trumpet. Booker Little is my all time favorite trumpeter. I could listen to him the whole day, and not only because he has the same initials! As a European I have to mention all the classical composers from Monteverdi to Mozart and Mahler, from Bach to Bartok, from Beethoven, Schubert to Brahms, from Schönberg, Webern, or Berg to Ives, Cage and Stockhausen -- I love them all, and they influenced my musical language although I'm a jazz musician. The ancient composers show you how to write a good melody, disregarding the "style" you're composing in, be it harmonic or free. I love to listen to vocalists, if classical or jazz.
3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences. You can meet folks of all ages at our concerts, family and friends, my youngest students with their parents or my friends from the neighborhood. Since I don't belong to an exclusive community of musicians, I'm inviting all colleagues who might be interested to listen to our music. Then they will come by, or not. Most musicians are too busy with their own projects, and so we meet more at occasional jam sessions here in Cologne or in Berlin.
4.What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition? I appreciate clearly audible and friendly announcements, paired with a little humor and the respectful introduction of the band members. The audience must be entertained. The repertoire should contain a variety of moods and tempos. I hate all-up-tempo sets. There should be a ballad included. I also find it important to play tunes in different and / or "unusual" keys and rhythms. I don't want to bore the audience. Since I have several bands, the repertoire varies from classic standards to quite atonal "freeprovistations". You could call me a multi-stylist. Many hearts are beating and at least "two souls alas! are dwelling in my breast." But calling me a musical chameleon would be a little too harsh. I always try to play as deep and expressively as possible.
It's unpredictable where my improvisations lead me to, and there aren't many routines I can depend on. I hardly practice licks or patterns, just the usual major and minor scales and chord progressions. I practice to a lot of recordings, but not to play-alongs or "music minus one" records. If there is a special harmonic problem, I accompany myself at the piano with the left hand and play the particular phrase or chord on the trumpet with my right hand. I try to learn music by heart as soon and as quick as possible.
5.What role does teaching have in your work? Teaching not too seldom helps me to solve my own problems with the trumpet. I've learned a lot myself through teaching others. There's an economic aspect too: The kid-students of today are the audiences of tomorrow. As a jazz musician one could hardly make a living without teaching, which is the other, the plain monetary side of the coin.
6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work? It's more or less the same as it was five or ten years ago. If I'd decide to send around more demo-CD's I could have more gigs. It simply depends on how actively you're promoting yourself. They won't call you. You have to call them.
7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time? You would find me most of the time in Berlin when I'm not playing in Cologne. When I had my septet, I travelled quite a lot, did a lot of broadcasts and concerts in Germany and various other countries. The business is tougher today as it was 20 years ago. But I have my working groups and my solo projects at art galleries which keep me busy. It's still important to be around where other musicians meet. It's also recommended to send demos to clubs or local radio stations. But the "mafia" is everywhere, that's true too.
8.How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work? The digitalization has not yet arrived at my place, except that I can burn CD's for my students. I'm still writing music at the piano, and I don't use notation programs. I write with pencil, correct with eraser, then I transcribe the single parts or the whole scores for the particular instruments. Since I can send mp3's today, it would be easier to show others what I'm doing. But I still believe in snail mail and some good old "hardware" like a nice CD cover the recipient could touch.
9. Describe your current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do. A potential future project could be my first CD. A current project are some concerts with my quartets "The Madhattan Four" (harmonic jazz, standards and own compositions) and "The Free Lights" (free improvised jazz, own compositions) in September.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Selen Gülün began her musical education at the age of 7 at Istanbul Municipality Conservatory part-time Piano Performance Division. After attaining a degree from Istanbul University Business Administration, she continued her musical education at Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory in 1992, studying Piano with Hülya Tarcan and Composition with Ercivan Saydam and Ilhan Usmanbas. She also studied jazz privately with Aydin Esen during 1993.
At the very beginning of 1996, Selen Gülün left for Berklee College of Music on a talent scholarship. There she studied Jazz Composition and formed the quintet Just About Jazz which performs her own original compositions. Their album Just About Jazz, Live has released at 2005 by DMC Jazz, and re-released by RecJazz, 2006 at Turkey. She graduated with a special degree in two years, with honors, from Berklee College of Music Jazz Composition Department.
During her career, she has received many awards for her musicianship such as the ..Bülent Tarcan Performance Award.., ..Charles Mingus Award and Scholarship,.. and ..British Council Visiting Arts, Creative Collaboration in Music Award.. for her unique compositional style.
Since the fall of 1998, Selen Gülün has been the music department faculty member of Istanbul Bilgi University. She finished her MA in Composition at Istanbul Technical University, MIAM program, studying with Pieter Snapper, Mark Wingate and Kamran Ince. Selen Gülün works actively as a composer and a performer in different styles of Contemporary Music. She regularly performs in Clubs and Festivals inside and outside of Turkey.
Her Music was performed around the world including England, Italy, France, Boston, New York, Chicago, Brazil, Pakistan, Lithuania and Russia. Her last album Selen Gulun Trio, Surprizler was published by Rec by Saatchi Jazz at 2006 .Ms Knezevic has the most charming version of 'Shiny Stockings' I've run into in quite a while. And it is impressive to me that she managed to do so much to learn during the insanely chaotic run of civil conflict that attended the breakup of former Yugoslavia, no doubt dodging ordinance and other horrors while trying to master 9th chords. Sofija Knezevic Born 02.04.1990. Finished two secondary music schools in Belgrade . The first one is ,, Mokranjac ,, -where i was attending at two departments – theoretical and vocal and instrumental department for the piano. The second school is ,, Stankovic ,, the jazz singing department. I also finished general subjects of secondary music school . I finished Primary school ,, Vuk Karadzic ,, as well as primary music schools ,, Dr. Vojislav Vuckovic ,, and ,, Mokranjac ,, . I finished the exams for the final year of primary school in ahead of schedule - in one month total – because I had enrolled secondary music school ,, Mokranjac ,, in the previous year . I was awarded the title of the best pianist among all the candidates from Serbia and Montenegro . I finished both secondary schools a year earlier on the same way like I did with my primary school, because I passed the entrance examination in the University of music and dramatic arts Graz. I was also acting in the movie that was made for the Festival in Belgrade ,few years ago .And also was writing in a few fashion magazines , cause before that I was some of the top people in fashion.Have been performing in Europe since I was seven years old, both as a soloist and as a member of a group of singers . I had concerts in Italy and Slovenia . I sang at 10 concerts in the Kolarac Foundation , 4 concerts in the Sava Centre ,1 in jazz club ,, The bird ,, , 1 in ,, Movie bar ,, , 4 concerts in the National Theatre , 1 in the gallery ,, Progres ,, , one at the Republic Square and I also sang at numerous concerts in famous Serbian and Austrian concert halls and jazz clubs . I was the winner at the town singing competition ,, Golden Mermaid ,, . I was also the winner at the municipality competition ,, Golden Mermaid ,, , as the leading group singer . I recorded several CD – s with various groups and choirs . I sang in the choirs ,, Kolibri ,, , ,, Krsmanac ,, , ,, Obilic ,, , etc . I sang as a backup vocal at numerous performances . I played the piano at over 20 public classes and openings of exhibitions and galleries , and many other public performances . In 2005/2006 I had my last two soloist humanitarian concerts . I was a soloist in ,, Mokranjac ,, hall , the oldest hall in Belgrade ,, Stankovic ,, and in the Student Cultural Centre . I was an excellent student, scoring high marks at the end of each year . I sang at the opening of jazz club ,, Dizzy..s ,, in Belgrade in 2007 . I worked with many jazz musicians like Shawn Monteiro , Peter Herbolzheimer , Aria Hendrix , Jelena Revisin , Dusko Gojkovic , Stjepko Gut ,Anette Giesrigel, Sheila Cooper, Claus Raible, Fritz Pauer, Dena DeRose, Ed Partyka,Felipe Riveira, Chicco Renato, Sheila Jordan and many others . I sang at the jazz Festival in Novi Sad for Sheila Jordan in 2006 . Ms Vaczi doesn't play piano and is primarily a singer. The Magyar version of jazz often favors something like Sade and it is interesting as their folkloric music is loaded with pantonality, micro tonality and many other surprises. Western diatonicism must sound exotic to them. I remember the folk fiddler and musicologist Csaba Okros once mentioning that they like playing a bit sharp as it is spicer to their ears. Eszter Vaczi and the Szorp - The band was founded by Ivan Gatos jazz pianist, session musician and Eszter Vaczi, acknowledged Hungarian jazz vocalist together with 7 professional musicians. The members are all prolific musicians who play in several well known Hungarian bands such as Harshegy, HOBO Blues Band, Freeport, Studio 11 (Hungarian Radio's Big Band), Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, etc.. The band regularly plays in Budapest and in other major cities of Hungary, feel free to drop in to any of the shows.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
One of my oldest friends among the musicians is very persistent at urging me to 'fill the void' and spend less time at my neo dunciad chronicles of the collapsing Jazz Biz.
I usually explain that it is just part of the territory and tells a part of the story not significantly covered. I've come to see it as the demolition phase of a reconstruction. The bulldozer knocks down what's left of a rotting building, dump trucks haul away the debris and the site is ready for something better.
But it is less necessary. Hell, the Newport capitulation of a last minute Parker-Ali-Gayle Trio is telling and has few precedents. The floundering of much of bloat o rama is another tell.
I've been looking to more engaging void fill options. One will be more pieces on music methods as there isn't much useful writing about improvisation aesthetics or practice when compared with 'classical' where there is a classic set from Walter Piston, Schoenbergs own work on Harmony, Slonimsky's thesaurus and a trove of other works.
Derek Bailey wrote one of the few interesting and useful books so far and Lewis Porter includes music analysis in his works.Another facet to filling the void is increasing the number of artist profiles. My usual routine is to invite people to answer a set of survey, query questions and just post whatever they answer but many of the invited don't follow up and who can blame them? People are busy, have writing inhibitions or question the merit of parking some piece of themselves in my dubious hell hole. That aside, one way to handle this is to just gather stuff from their own web sites, do lots of linky and toss in a few sentences of my own. For the first one of these hack jobs, I decided to bother guitarists as it is a popular instrument. My My Space page has quite a few and the platform is still the best resource for finding out what the under 50 musician world is up to. Facebook still sucks at this and I have little use for something that will clutter my life with breathless entreaties from tertiary friends of friends yammering about the soocer score their kid got. I never would have known about Mike Baggetta were it not for my space. He has this striking and sturdy approach that will no doubt unfold with new marvels over the course of his participation. TIN/BAG is particularly interesting to me because of the unusual possibilities in a simple duet of guitar and trumpet. Here are the basic contours of his story thus far from his web site bio with a bit of trim from me for flow. Note to Mike: It's okay to write in the first person, god these conventions of bio writing really need an upgrade. "Mike is originally from Agawam, Massachusetts. Inspired by his father, he began playing guitar in high school after bouts with violin and trombone. He first learned from guitarist Tom Dempsey while performing with state jazz ensembles and local jazz musicians. His early talents won awards from the I. A.J. E. and Berklee. He went on to study music at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University for Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Jazz Studies. Throughout his formal education Mike was invited to events by the New Jersey Jazz Society, Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead residency program at the Kennedy Center, the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Competition and the Gibson Guitars Jazz Guitar Competition.
His musical growth has been well fed by teachers he has sought, Ted Dunbar, Vic Juris, Ralph Bowen and Stanley Cowell. He also enjoyed masterclasses with Jim Hall.
Mike works as a sideman, composer and instructor, and as a leader of his own ensembles. The Mike Baggetta Quartet released its first album, Small Spaces, on Barcelona’s Fresh Sound New Talent label. His trio showcases originals written for guitar, bass and drums, and fresh interpretations of standards. Mike co-leads TIN/BAG with Los Angeles trumpeter Kris Tiner, which has recorded two highly acclaimed CDs and has completed multiple tours throughout the United States.
Mike's compositions got a 2009 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. He's worked with Tom Harrell, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ruth Brown, Conrad Herwig, Tony Reedus, Bill McHenry, Steve LaSpina, Jeff Hirshfield, Kevin Norton, George Schuller, Ralph Bowen, Christian Howes, Lukas Ligeti and has toured the Czech Republic, performed at Montreux and the East Coast Jazz Festival, and other venues throughout the world."
Photo by Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net
Mary Halvorson is another compelling fret board wrestler who needs someone to come up with a useful descriptive survey of her work. I'll get to it eventually but the least I can do is point toward her for now and mention I find her duet to be another pleasing development in the creation of duets. This one matches timbres of viola and guitar and is a further example of the first rate, less is more austerity employed by the Tiner/Baggetta venture.
Again, I've done a puckish tweak of her basic site bio. Note to Mary: Jeeze ,we really need to see some useful description from writers so you can upgrade the quotes..yikes. Also see note to Mike.
Ms Halvorson landed in New York in 2002 after jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. In addition to her trio, she co-leads a chamber music duo with violist Jessica Pavone and the avant-rock band, People, with drummer Kevin Shea.
A veteran of Anthony Braxton ensembles, she works with Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Trevor Dunn, Tomas Fujiwara, Curtis Hasselbring, Tony Malaby, Nicole Mitchell, Jason Moran, Matana Roberts, Elliott Sharp, John Tchicai and Matthew Welch thus far.
Mary teaches guitar and composition lessons for students of all ages and skill levels in Brooklyn, New York. She has taught students through the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, workshops at the School for Improvised Music (SIM), and private lessons for both adults and children.
The success of her trio’s debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records),in 2008 led critics to accuse Ms. Halvorson of being original and striking in various embarrassing ways that recall a pooches leg hump. It's hard to fault em though it would be nice to see em keep it in their sneakers and actually describe her work. The Pudgy Dunce did his odd circular pitch letting us know about critical acclaim as a benchmark in the herd mentality of the posse. Mere merit won't do.
Eric Hofbauer is my third victim for extolling. Unlike, his colleague's above, he still soldiers on in the arid environment of Boston and has done a lot of work to make grassroots institutions. His American Vanity solo sounds like my kind of project and with luck I'll get to give it a listen.
Note to Eric: I like the way your bio focuses on aspirations and outlook on community building. It also seems to get the scribblers better focused.Stuck in Boston since 1997, Eric has exemplified the oft-mentioned DIY ethic for the past decade, collaborating with many of the city’s most prominent jazz musicians as both an award-winning performer and a purveyor of concert series and recordings under the auspices of his record label, Creative Nation Music. He teaches jazz guitar and jazz history at Emerson College and The University of Rhode Island.
He gained widespread attention as a guitarist through the response to his 2004 release, American Vanity (Creative Nation Music), which explored what he called “the many faces of hubris in American culture” through the distinctive solo guitar recasting of material ranging from “Old Man River” to Waylon Jennings’ theme song for The Dukes of Hazzard to the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” to the ubiquitous 80’s pop hit “Take On Me” among many others.
Critics handed it a bit more gravitas than their shabby drooling treatment of Ms Halvorson, (a guy/chick thing from the sausage party of Pudgy Dunce criticdom?) They still deftly evaded useful description, pointing in their vague fuzzy way.
Hofbauer is also a co-leader of The Blueprint Project, as well as working duos with vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton and Garrison Fewell. Eric Hofbauer & The Infrared Band, released Myth Understanding,in June 2008.