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Jazz Stories: 2017

Michael Ricci By

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My advice to new listeners... jazz is about feeling so don't try to be too analytical about it; just react as you feel.

From Peter Campbell

I was first exposed to jazz or what could be considered foundations of jazz through musicians not typically associated with it: Joni Mitchell and Stephen Sondheim. Both "pushed the envelope" when it came to musical genres and vocabulary. Both have explored the harmonic and structural possibilities of song. As a vocalist who works within traditional song structure, I look for those harmonic and rhythmic possibilities to inspire my work.

From Jana Nyberg

Growing up, jazz always filled our home. I played jazz as soon as I could in school bands and summer programs, on flute and piano. It wasn't until college that I happened into singing jazz when asked to step up from the piano and sing Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss" with the big band. Jazz is such an exciting musical playground. Each time you play a tune, it's different—based on who you're playing with, the arrangement, and the improvisation. Jazz is America's true original art form, and it brings me great joy. As Louie Armstrong said, ..."you can even live your life by it."

From Lila Ammons

I love jazz because it's in my blood. Albert Ammons, boogie pianist, and Gene "Jug" Ammons, tenor saxophonist, were my grandfather and uncle.

I was first exposed to jazz, listening to my parents' records of Gene Ammons, Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing, Earl Garner, etc.

I've performed and worked with many wonderful artists, including Leonard Bernstein, Axel Zwingenberger, John Pizzarelli, Charlie Watts, Houston Person, Bennie Golson, Jon Faddis, etc.

Some of the best jazz shows I've ever attended were Lena Horn's "One Woman Show" in NYC, Sarah Vaughan in concert, Sippie Wallace, Count Basie Big Band in concert, and Cab Calloway at Carnegie Hall. I enjoy listening to a number of vocalists, such as Bessie Smith, Johnny Hartman, Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, and more.

The first jazz record I bought was Miles Davis's, "Kinda Blue."

My advice to new listeners is to listen to all styles and learn jazz and blues history. Above all, enjoy every minute learning about the jazz experience.

From Eddie Becton

I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me. As a life-long jazz lover, I eventually became a jazz educator and producer/host of a very popular jazz radio program in Los Angeles, California.


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