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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 in Long Form

Harmony and the Harmonic Series: I-V to Rule Them All

Read "Harmony and the Harmonic Series: I-V to Rule Them All" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

Preamble Since writing my article on Music and Evolution, I have received many emails asking the same question: “How does harmony and the movement of chords function in conjunction with the harmonic series and our ability to predictively 'hear' simple resolutions to complex wave relationships?" This article will try to answer that question by delving into ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

Strange Bedfellows: Jazz and Pop and Heinrich Schenker?

Read "Strange Bedfellows: Jazz and Pop and Heinrich Schenker?" reviewed by Kurt Ellenberger

I. A Brief Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935) was an Austrian musician, composer, and most notably, music theorist whose ideas about analyzing and explaining music were groundbreaking and successful. Along with other theories, like Allen Forte's “Set Theory" and Arnold Schoenberg's “Serialism" (two mathematically oriented theories of analysis (Set Theory) and music composition (Serialism), ...


Article: Rediscovery

A Sonic Compass: A Journey Through Prince's N·E·W·S

Read "A Sonic Compass: A Journey Through Prince's N·E·W·S" reviewed by Giulia Bianchi

It is indisputable that musician, composer, singer, actor, and producer Prince Rogers Nelson has been one of the most prolific and committed musical artists of all time. With an enduring career spanning over five decades, the virtuoso mastered a plethora of instruments, perpetually exploring and trailblazing new creative horizons. His music is steeped in a timeless ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

Busting Myths in Jazz History: Focus on the Music

Read "Busting Myths in Jazz History: Focus on the Music" reviewed by Rob Foster

In the tradition of providing the basis of a liberal arts education, it is common for institutions of higher education in the United States to offer some type of music appreciation course in the undergraduate curriculum. In some instances, this may be an elective towards fulfilling a required number of credits within a larger category, such ...


Article: Jazz in Long Form

The Vocal Music of Charles Mingus, Part 2

Read "The Vocal Music of Charles Mingus, Part 2" reviewed by Ellen Johnson

Part 1 | Part 2 Early Years: 1945 to 1953 Charles Mingus demonstrated his prowess as a songwriter even in the early stages of his career. Surprisingly, he started writing songs as early as 1945, a fact that often goes unnoticed. This collection of early vocal compositions includes titles such as “The Texas Hop" ...


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 ...


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