What is Jazz?


A Sublime Question: What Does Jazz Want?

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Does does jazz want something from us? Strange as this may seem, the answer is yes! As is true in every other area of life, something is desired of those with whom the art form interacts. It wants our engagement. It wants to elicit a response. It may ask much of us. Consider a few examples before we reach jazz. Students need to know the great traditions of humanity, but these great traditions need to be known. Wise ...


Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaks on Jazz

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Thank you to reader Howard Bankhead for mentioning this speech. It is a short address to the audience of the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival by civil rights leader and Nobel peace prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The speech is entitled “Humanity and The Importance of Jazz." Humanity and The Importance of Jazz God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create--and from this capacity ...


Sir Hildred Humphries. It's all about the music.

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Ahh Hump. My man. Hildred was my first mentor. Unlike most of the young guys today, at 44 I have spent extensive time learning from authentic masters of the Art. In 1986 legendary music educator Bert Hughes spent the summer helping me to get my chops back after 3 years of not playing so that I could be part of a big band tour to Russia. He also introduced me to Hildred Humphries. Hildred was so much more than a ...


Jazz Meets Death

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There once was a great music. It was born in America and branded with the name Jazz. The music was later re-named madam Zzaj, by one of her lovers, the Duke. She grudgingly accepted the moniker of Jazz over the years. It was how she was bought and sold after all. Jazz had several intimate relationships over the years. Each one of these caused her to experience tremendous spiritual and emotional transformation. There was the great Armstrong, who raised her ...


A Look Back At Robert Glasper's Enoch's "Inaugural" Meditation

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One of the most powerful jazz documentation of a Presidential Inauguration was a YouTube presentation of Robert Glasper's “Enoch's Meditation," a piece from his 2005 album entitled Canvas. Glasper, a Blue Note artist and Grammy Award winning jazz piano star, has received critical acclaim for his trio style that weaves together a tapestry of diverse musical genres from rock, hip hop, gospel to even country, staying within the jazz aesthetic in a way that is mind-blowing. Through the ...


How Teachers can Swing in the Classroom

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I am a jazz aficionado as well as a philosophy professor. Being in front of a classroom teaching is my favorite place on earth, second to a good jazz club with hip friends. In the midst of a philosophy class, I may wax enthusiastic about the transcendent qualities of a John Coltrane saxophone solo or the preternatural swing of Buddy Rich's timekeeping or the song-writing and band-leading genius of Duke Ellington. These comments are not merely idiosyncratic. They reflect something ...


The Virtues of Jazz

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Any jazz aficionado knows the musical virtues of jazz, whether they are a musician, a jazz writer, or simply a committed jazz listener. In classical Western thought (that is, in the musings of cats like as Aristotle and Plato), a virtue is a kind of excellence in performance that flows from a settled habit. One who plays the flute as it ought to be played--the proper tone, pitch, and timing--displays a virtue or sharp skill in that musical instrument. One ...


The Power of Jazz

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"Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together...Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity." Spoken by Quincy Jones at the First International Jazz Day in 2012 at the United Nations. The soul of Jazz is expressed in the life of its humblest most gifted people. Musicians find expressions humility, courage, and deep heritage, from the past to its vast promise for the future.


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