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Meet Bassist/Vocalist Kristin Korb

By Published: June 3, 2004

Ray Brown / Introducing Kristin Korb (Telarc CD)

Nobody sounds like him. He put a certain amount of finger into the string, and there was so much soul. Any instrument he picked up always sounded like him. I went to one of his concerts, met him afterward, and asked for a lesson. I was finishing up my master's, and I had a lot of insecurity about my future. Was I good enough? It meant so much that he made time for me. I was in awe, but I went in and had the lesson. I'm swinging, grooving. "That's nice. Now do it in B." I tanked on it. "You don't own it. What if you're playing behind somebody else? You have to be able to turn the wheel." It wasn't one of these big intellectual things. It was just this is the next thing I needed to do. I had a lot to work on, but he let me know I was OK. He called me later and said, "We're going to make a CD. Is that OK with you?" I just sang on it. He would call and say, "There's this Basie tune—(sings fast) dadadada dadadada dadadada dadadada DEE-dow. I think you need to do that." It ended up being "Whirly Bird" with a solo by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. I wrote a lyric to it. I was really into Eddie Jefferson at the time so I also wrote a vocalese to the solo. I called Ray and said, "I've got the song done, but I don't know if this is what you want." "Well, sing it to me." I did the whole tirade. Silence. "Ray, are you there?" "I think that'll work."

Jazz education

My heroes like Ray Brown and John Clayton are educators. Educational outreach is a big thing for me. It's part of the responsibility of the music to pass it along to the next generation. It can be educating your audience to the music. I had a university job for two years where I was the director of jazz studies [Central Washington University, Ellensburg]. I directed the top jazz band at the school. The first year I went back to my favorite stuff—Clayton-Hamilton, Count Basie, some of Ellington's more obscure charts, Bill Holman, Bob Kurnow things of Metheney. By my second year we were doing Maria Schneider, more Bill Holman, Thad Jones, Mingus Big Band. Every once in while we'd pull out a Kenton chart or Bob Mintzer. Musician friends would come through and kick us around a little—it was very cool. I administrated three jazz bands and three vocal ensembles, assembled course work, developed a master's curriculum in jazz pedagogy, administrated a two-day jazz festival (vocals and instrumentals), taught the bass studio, and taught a general ed. jazz history class with 180 students a quarter. I wanted to develop new jazz fans. By the end of the term the students could identify any 30-second snippet of pieces like Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues," Basie's "Taxi War Dance," Ellington's "Harlem Air Shaft." Kids that were into the Punk scene loved avant-garde music—Eric Dolphy and Don Cherry. I only have a couple of private students because I'm on the road so much. I teach at a lot of camps in the summer for young bassists (electric and acoustic), vocalists, and jazz combos. There's stuff I can do because I've been trained for it. [Korb's bachelor's degree is in music education.] For beginning bass students one of the first things I want to do is develop a sound and make it feel good physically. If your arm is tense it's not going to be an open, relaxed sound. Vocalists have typically been singing a lot longer, and they already have their sound. With younger singers it's usually an honesty issue—what's the story? Separate the lyric from the melody and make them read it.

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Download jazz mp3 “Always Searching For My Baby” by Kristin Korb