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Kurt Ellenberger

Kurt Ellenberger is a pianist, composer, and author whose work includes music for a wide range of ensembles. His writings include a jazz theory book, other pedagogical writings, and many essays that appear in his arts blog entitled Also Sprach FraKathustra, which is published by The Huffington Post–Arts and Culture. He has recorded on Innova Recordings, Ghostly International, and Challenge-A Records (the Netherlands), among others, and has been hailed as "a gifted pianist who combines the lyricism of Bill Evans with the energy of Keith Jarrett." He is a member of the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, whose recent recordings of Terry Riley’s “IN C: Remixed” and Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” have been featured in The New York Times, as well as in many of the nation’s leading publications, including The New Yorker


Article: Jazz Ed

Five Killer Comping Strategies

Read "Five Killer Comping Strategies" reviewed by Phillip A. Haynes

A fabulous 'ole collegiate chum, with whom I've produced & drummed with for 40+ years now, recently urged me to share some approaches of accompaniment creativity I'd recently suggested to him. Indeed, these following conceptions can expand most any serious musician's resources significantly:    Accompany in the way(s) you always do, yet now insert much more intentional ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

Jam Session: How Armenian Jazz Improvised Its Way Onto The World Stage

Read "Jam Session: How Armenian Jazz Improvised Its Way Onto The World Stage" reviewed by Michael Sarian

Note: Originally published in the December 2021 issue of AGBU Magazine. At the turn of the 20th century, world events began to mark a major shift in the cultural and socio-political landscape that would reverberate across the globe for the next hundred years. During this period, as the drum beat of existential ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

From Chart to Reality: The Editorial Role of the Pianist in a Big Band

Read "From Chart to Reality: The Editorial Role of the Pianist in a Big Band" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

Note: This article was first published in the Jazz Education Journal in 2005, and was revised for All About Jazz. Preamble This article was written to address an issue that needed clarification, and indeed still needs clarification almost 20 years later, regarding the vagaries inherent in many of the published big band piano charts ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

Introducing Jazz History And Literature, Reconceived

Read "Introducing Jazz History And Literature, Reconceived" reviewed by Phillip A. Haynes

When I was invited to offer jazz coursework in 2007, as Bucknell University's first Kushell Jazz Artist-in-Residence, my Chair asked what single subject I thought was most important to teach. I responded, “an integrated jazz history & literature sequence, including a semester of classic jazz and one of modern jazz." To which he replied, “Fine, just ...


Article: Jazz and the Net

Artificial Intelligence and All About Jazz? DIG 9000 jams with ChatGPT

Read "Artificial Intelligence and All About Jazz? DIG 9000 jams with ChatGPT" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

As the internet's oldest jazz resource, All About Jazz (AAJ) has always been on the cutting edge of using new technologies in the promotion of jazz and jazz musicians. This commitment continues to this day with the new technology that has emerged in recent months, namely, the so- called “Artificial Intelligence" (AI) known as “ChatGPT" that ...


Article: The Big Question

Music and Evolution: Hearing Math, Seeing Sound, and other Unanswered Questions

Read "Music and Evolution: Hearing Math, Seeing Sound, and other Unanswered Questions" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

Music and Evolution: A Brief Overview The evidence presented in the research on music and evolution, beginning with Darwin himself,[1] focusses largely on music's purported ability to support “mate selection, parental care, coalition signaling, and group cohesion," [2] language development, [3] and other things. The prevailing evolutionary theories about music follow Darwin's lead--they are predominately sociological, ...


Article: What is Jazz?

A Tale of Two Genres: The Surprising Similarities in the Development of Jazz and Classical Music

Read "A Tale of Two Genres: The Surprising Similarities in the Development of Jazz and Classical Music" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

Jazz and classical music are two of the most monumental achievements in human history. Together, they encompass a range of expressive capability that is simply astounding, giving voice to the human experience from centuries past to the present and in doing so, enriching our lives immeasurably. This is more remarkable when one considers that they have ...


Article: Readers Poll Results

Musical And Lyrical Sophistication In Jazz And Other Genres

Read "Musical And Lyrical Sophistication In Jazz And Other Genres" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

This scatter graph (directly below) shows the results of an All About Jazz Readers' Poll that was conducted during portions of 2021. There were almost 400 participants who rated these genres on their “musical and lyrical sophistication" on a 10 point scale. No instructions were given on the definition of “sophistication"—the participants were free to use ...


Article: Interview

Michael Wollny: Treasures from the Wunderkammer

Read "Michael Wollny: Treasures from the Wunderkammer" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

German pianist Michael Wollny is one of the most exciting and important jazz artists of our time. His work is marked by exquisite pianism and a restless creativity and search for expression that knows no stylistic boundaries. Wollny's output has been remarkable both in quality and quantity--he is in his early 40s, and has released almost ...


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