All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Artist Profiles

Jazz Honors The Beatles

By Published: September 30, 2009
As a huge fan of The Beatles, sometimes it's hard to quantify how they have impacted my own music, because I think their influence runs pretty deep on me. While I'm not sure my ability to win a trivia contest about Revolver-era recording techniques has much influence on my jazz piano playing, I think I've learned two very important musical lessons from them that I can apply to my own music. The first is a reminder of just how vital and important a truly great, memorable melody is (especially when it allows me to cover the song and screw up all the harmonies!). And the second lesson is that it's always worth it to truly be what you want to be musically, to not get constrained by genre or other people's expectations; to have the courage to go ahead and record "Tomorrow Never Knows" or "Strawberry Fields Forever" or what not, even when it departs from the formula that initially brought you success.

class="f-right s-img">—Randy Ingram
Randy Ingram
b.1978
piano



Sometime during my 8th year of life, I discovered that my parents had a collection of Beatles albums. They were Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, and the two collections with the cover of the band looking down over the railing ("Red Album" 1962-66, and "Blue Album" 1967-1970). I remember every detail of these records, the condition of the jackets, which songs had scratches, which song marked the point of flipping the album over, etc. During that year, I learned every song on them, and in so doing, learned a lot about the guitar and music in general. I generally think about this as the point in my life of discovering real music. But there was a missing link in the collection, a mysterious recording I had heard about called "The White Album." The unattainability of this record (remember, this is pre-internet, and also in small-town Pacific Northwest) made it even more desirable, and the idea that there were more Beatles songs out there to hear was driving me crazy. Throughout that year, I dropped hints, then asked for, then begged my parents for a copy of this record. On my birthday, it finally arrived, mysterious as I expected with its blank cover and title "The Beatles" at a slightly skewed angle. I immediately went to the record player and listened through the first three sides, in total amazement, with the feeling of hearing a great story—not wanting it to end, but at the same time wanting to know the final outcome. Then, at the end of the fourth side, a strange voice began chanting "number nine, number nine, number nine..." panning left and right, followed by the strangest and most beautiful collection of sounds I had ever heard. It was my ninth birthday, and the appearance of this chanting voice was confirmation to me that The Beatles were not only the greatest thing in the entire world, but also that they were speaking to me personally, that there was some convergence of the fates that led me to hear that song on that particular day.

class="f-right s-img">—Miles Okazaki
Miles Okazaki
Miles Okazaki
b.1974
guitar



I've always been a creative musician. Even as a teen I could always conjure up some pretty interesting music even though my experience was narrow and my chops limited.

For awhile I studied with a great composition teacher who surprised me with a question when I was mired down in the middle of a piece. "What are you trying to say?" he asked. I was sort of dumbstruck. I guess I was just trying to solve musical problems... you know, establish an intro, get a tempo going, state a main idea, and then...? Well I didn't have an answer for him and it took awhile to even figure out the question.

Finally, in a few years, I began to understand that solving composing issues, one measure at a time was OK, but after awhile all the pieces can start to sound the same! It really helps to have a scene, an imaginary movie or a personal feeling to act as a springboard. With those in mind, you can actually write many different pieces, not just one piece many times!

During those years of musical soul searching, the Beatles came along and I was awed that so much of their music not only portrayed vivid emotional landscapes but that the breadth and scope and variety seemed limitless. They were just kids! It was almost like people were mailing them weird little movies and they would just set them to music. In just a few years they created a little universe of scenes that one could never visit in real life. To this day, so much of what they created was so personal that I don't think many singers can touch it. I speak of course about "Lucy in the Sky" or "Strawberry Fields" or "She's Leaving Home." That stuff is the musical equivalent of Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte!


comments powered by Disqus