Jazz Stories

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    View Simbawani Anad's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because it's life music.

    I was first exposed to jazz by my Grandmother.

    I met Stefon Harris.

    The best show I ever attended was Steffon Harris and Blackout.

    The first jazz record I bought was Blues Walk by Lou Donaldson.

    My advice to new listeners... keep listening!

    Published on: 2017-03-25
    View Angela T. Clark's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because how could you not love JAZZ! It's amazing and one of America's only original forms of music.

    I was first exposed to jazz because of my parents and their wonderful tastes in music.

    I met Frank Foster in college and he told me he loved the timbre of my voice. Sigh...

    The best show I ever attended was jazz singer Nancy Wilson.

    The first jazz record I bought was the Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books.

    My advice to new listeners always be open, you never know what you'll find.

    Published on: 2017-03-24
    View Torben Westergaard's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because of it, to me, combines craft and creativity in a way that both challenges the soul and touches the heart.

    Published on: 2017-03-23
    View Mauricio de Souza's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because it allows me to fully express myself artistically.

    I was first exposed to jazz at home and in my dad's car, he used to (and still does) play all sorts of records.

    I met Marc Copland while parking to go hear him play at Birdland in 2010. He's one of my favorite Jazz pianists, it was a great
    pleasure and honor to record with him.

    The best show I ever attended was Chick Corea's Electric Band during Chick's 70th birthday celebration at Blue Note in 2012.

    The first jazz record I bought was Dave Weckl's Master Plan.

    My advice to new listeners... Enjoy! And also explore, there's so much talent and so many great albums out there.

    "The secret to failure: trying to please everyone. The secret to success: being too dumb to quit."

    Published on: 2017-03-20
    View J. Robert Bragonier's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because I can still remember how it made me feel the first time I heard it. This love of mine dates back nearly 65 years. I can’t remember exactly where I was, but a woman, accompanied by a pianist, was singing. I was like someone who had previously seen only in black-and-white, who suddenly saw the world in Technicolor. Having mostly only heard church music (with piano or organ accompaniment), I remember thinking, “Oh, my god! Listen! She’s singing, but he’s not playing what she’s singing. He’s not playing any of the melody! And, they’re not even together; she’s lagging way behind him! (Oh, wait; there, she just caught up.)”

    “And, listen to those chords he’s playing: they’re gorgeous! Where have those chords been hiding on MY piano? And, the rhythms: how can he play such different rhythms with his two hands and not get mixed up? And, look: he doesn’t even have any notes written on his music! Just notations, like, ‘G-7,’ ‘F-7,’ ‘EbΔ,’ ‘A7b9,’ ‘GbΔ,’ ‘Fsus,’ ‘Eb-7,’ ‘Bbsus,’ ‘Bb7,’ ‘EbΔ’. (These are notations for the chord changes in the first ten measures of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes.”)

    My parents both sang in college, and my mother continued to sing in church choir; she played the piano a little as a child, but neither parent listened to music in the home. They started me with piano lessons at age 4 and were supportive of my talent, but they actively discouraged my interest in jazz; I think my mother actually believed that jazz’s influence was evil, in a religious sense. My piano teacher was rigidly classical in orientation, and the notion of jazz lessons was totally out of the question.

    My first three LP records were jazz: I distinctly remember that they were Kurt Edelhagen’s Jazz from Germany, The Four Freshmen and Five Trombones, and George Van Eps’ Mellow Guitar. I was an exchange student to Sweden at age 17, and all the way over (10 days on the MS Seven Seas), I hung over the shoulder of Del Cummings, a student bound for Germany and the best young jazz pianist I had ever seen play, soaking up his every riff and nuance. During my senior year, after I returned, I played trombone in jazz big bands and combos whenever I could, but I remained frustrated at my inability to progress, untutored, in playing jazz piano.

    In college I learned to play and improvise on the vibes, surreptitiously and entirely self-taught. My exposure to recorded jazz blossomed, however, when I got a job disc jockeying jazz and classical music at the college radio station. I worked my way through undergraduate school, and into medical school, in this manner, absorbing as much knowledge and appreciation of jazz as possible. At some point, I realized that my discrimination and taste had surpassed my talent; as a performer, I clearly did not meet my own standards. Since I questioned how good I could be, and since I had neither the time nor opportunity to practice and improve, I resolved to limit my playing to the record player, radio, and ultimately, the CD player. There are just too many people I’d rather listen to, and too little time, for me to waste it attempting to entertain myself.

    Highlights of those early years include taking my wife of more than 50 years, Barbara, to hear the Dave Brubeck Quartet on one of our first dates in late 1956; meeting George Shearing when he came over to the fraternity house after a campus concert in the spring of 1957; listening and dancing to the big bands of Les Brown, Ted Heath, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and numerous others during those years; and spending many late evenings listening to our housemother’s collection of jazz records, hour after hour…

    What is it exactly that I love about jazz? It’s hard to put into words, but its swing and blues tonalities resonate in my soul in a way that no other music does. Jazz is America’s “classical music”; it is truly America’s gift to the world. Its hypnotic rhythms, and its syncopation, with the melody falling just a smidge ahead or behind the beat, give a feeling of forward motion, a sense of tension and release, that never fail to enthrall me, to grab and hold my attention and never let it go. When a jazz master improvises on a common theme, I continue to hear that theme in my head during the presentation; together, the theme and the overlying improvisation create for me a beautiful and exciting internal counterpoint. Finally, a live jazz performance is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event; an improvised solo will never, ever be played in exactly that same manner again. This fact gives the jazz performance an immediacy, uniqueness, and evanescence (like a snowflake, bubble, or sunset) that totally composed music can never attain. For me, these qualities keep jazz ever fresh and new, and ever fascinating.

    Published on: 2017-03-19
    View Roy Prinz's All About Jazz profile

    I grew up in an environment filled with music. Our family owned a resort hotel in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Music from the
    twentieth century played at home from New Orleans jazz, swing, big bands and the resort featured performers in the styles of the
    day ranging from Dixieland, swing, folk, blues and rock. Summertime in the Berkshires offered a plethora of live performances
    from modern jazz, rock and classical. As a small child I played piano but that eventually changed to guitar influenced by the
    popular era. While attending the University of Massachusetts I participated in the jazz program where my music/jazz education
    accelerated with classes and workshops taught by Dr. Frederick Tillis, Max Roach and Archie Shepp. The inspiration from those
    beginnings remains and I've been an enthusiastic student/player ever since.

    Published on: 2017-03-18
    View Jay Epstein's All About Jazz profile

    The best show I ever attended was: The John Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmie Garrison, Elvin Jones at the Guthrie
    Theater Minneapolis 1964. I was a high school jazz musician, but totally unprepared for the astounding, direct communication I
    received from the Quartet. It was as if Trane knew all of my life's feelings, joys, sorrows, angst, ecstasies, regrets, & spiritual
    searches and was saying to me,'Yes, I know you, Jay, we are alike as brothers.' I had an epiphany that night that has carried me
    through my life.

    Published on: 2017-03-17
    View Ginger Wireman's All About Jazz profile

    I have a son who plays bass, and I love watching him interact with the others when they play, the eye contact and nods that
    are a secret language only they understand... I love jazz because of the creativity and fluidity it allows musicians. I love when
    they pull quotes from other songs. Drummers and pianists, in particular blow my mind.

    I was first exposed to jazz records in my home growing up, big band and swing. But I was a band kid in HS and college (well
    more like a band groupie in marching band color guard). I learned to like all styles.

    The best show I ever attended was Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, just last fall. Those guys are just amazing players, so
    much fun. My advice to new listeners is to try different periods and types of jazz. There's jazz for everyone. If you find
    someone you like, do a little research to see who they were influenced by and follow that path.

    Also, sign up for Jazz at Lincoln Center on Livestream, especially if you're not in a big city and don't have access to live shows.

    Published on: 2017-03-16
    View Frank Jones's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because it is a music that feels good every time you play it.

    I met Max Roach in Newark NJ.

    The best show I ever attended was Count Basie in 1974 at the Frank Daly's Meadow Brook Night Club.

    The first jazz record I bought was Oscar Petersen's Trio Playing West Side Story.

    Published on: 2017-03-15
    View Samirah Evans's All About Jazz profile

    I love jazz because...because it's our music, american music, that came from the hearts and souls of African Americans from a
    city I lived most of my life, New Orleans. In my opinion, it's a music that is an expression of freedom.

    I was first exposed to jazz at a very young age. I started taking notice around 7 or 8. I came from a family of musicians who
    listened to recordings of the masters and shed it at home and played it in clubs.

    Published on: 2017-03-14
    View Laurie Fagen's All About Jazz profile

    I was first exposed to jazz by the late great Jack Oatts, our jazz band leader in a small
    Midwestern town in Iowa, where I played alto and tenor sax.

    I sang in many other genres after that, but recently came back to jazz and all that early
    training has served me well.

    Published on: 2017-03-13
    View Shimon Israel's All About Jazz profile

    I was first exposed to jazz in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by my father, playing big-band records of the '40s and
    '50s.

    I met John Scofield in his home town of Katonah, NY, when he took my son for an audition at the Steinhardt School (NYU). My
    son, Cale Israel, landed up going to NEC (Boston) and still lives there playing jazz, alt-rock, parades; also teaches piano and
    music theory.

    My advice to new listeners... start with mellow stuff--Ahmad Jamal (trio); Gerry Mulligan; early Miles Davis; also watch videos of
    the Sant Andreu Jazz Band of Barcelona, and the Essentially Ellington Jazz competition at Lincoln Center. You'll never regret it.

    Published on: 2017-03-12
    View Paula Harris's All About Jazz profile

    I am not a purebred Jazz lover like many. I grew up listening to Dinah Washington, Helen Humes and Count Basie on my grandmothers 78rm records. I graduated to DIane Schuur, George Benson, and Al Jarreau in high school and college. Then admittedly I moved on to classic soul and funk like Earth Wind and Fire, Bobby Caldwell, Phyllis Hyman and more. I loved pop, rap, big band, country... you name it I listened to it. I am actually a classically trained vocalist and worked with several symphony orchestras. But that style is not what speaks to me. Jazz and blues do! I love the sophistication and complexity of jazz--especially when I get to mix it with the passion of blues. My kind of jazz is not subtle. It kind of knocks you over the head. I've been called brassy and I'll admit to that I DO know the value of understatement when it is called for. But I don't think an entire show should be made of that.

    Several years ago I was trying to book jazz jobs and an agent told me I was " Too over the top" then went on to tell me I was a "blues singer" As someone who didn't know who Robert Johnson, Sun House and others were until in my '40s, I was at first inclined to disagree. But then I stopped and asked "Who do you consider jazz singer to be?" The agent said " Dianna Krall and Norah Jones" If you know me you'll understand why that made me laugh! Then I asked "Who do you consider blues singers to be?" The answer was "Etta James and Big Maybelle" They had a point! LOL

    That was pivotal for me and since then--the blues as a genre has opened it's arms to me and I am primarily known as a blues singer. But to me--there is a close correlation between jazz and blues--especially when you come from such a diverse music background of influence as I do. My shows pull from jazz both standards and modern, as well as blues--both traditional and modern, original material and even some soul and pop tunes that I think fit the vibe of what I am trying to do. Could anyone deny that Adele doesn't have blues roots or that George Benson and Whitney Houston's pop- leans heavily towards pop?

    So my shows tend to be a conglomeration of music that I feel exhibits the jazzy sophistication structurally or melodically, while keeping that earthy passion and humor that blues is known for. That said--I am not adverse to provocative lyrics and love to throw in a naught straight ahead blues right after doing a beautiful Great American Songbook Ballad. It keeps the audience engaged and wondering what will be next! Hopefully that means I am appealing to a wider audience. And All I can say it it seems to be working for me. My favorite thing is when I hear a jazz fan say "Wow I never knew I liked blues" or a blues fan say "Wow I didn't know I liked jazz!" when they leave my shows.

    Published on: 2017-03-10
    View John Marley's All About Jazz profile

    I was first exposed to jazz in college when I was asked to play sousaphone in a Dixieland quartet.

    The first jazz record I bought was a collection of early Louis Armstrong recordings.

    Published on: 2017-03-09

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